Friday, January 26, 2018

Horror List Book Review: Invasion

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 Invasion, by Robin Cook.

This was Cook's first foray into science fiction; normally he writes medical thrillers. He writes an open letter about it in the introduction. It shows in the basic layout of the sci-fi/horror elements, but he brings something new to it all with his knowledge of medical topics, which led to some fascinating information throughout.

I was frustrated with how stilted the writing came across at times, especially in the almost complete lack of contractions. Even the character dialogue was done without contractions, which made it come across as wooden. It slowed my reading.

The pacing was a bit slow to start with, though the aliens take their first victim right off. The slower build up seemed legitimate for the most part, though, as the invasion at first seems like an odd flu virus at first, making it so authorities wouldn't listen when people got wise to the fact that those who recovered from the flu virus acted oddly afterward. This did a good job of isolating the characters and making them fight on their own.

Overall, it was an interesting book. The writing might have gotten to me more if he hadn't done a good job with the characters, the conflict, and the medical details. There were times the characters came across a bit cliched, but for the most part they were done well enough to make me root for them and stay interested in the story.

I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It seems a bit simple, considering how long the book was. However, sometimes there's a satisfaction in the simplicity of a cure.

My Top Ten remain unchanged:

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)

My next book review will be of Ghoul, by Brian Keene.

Have you read anything by Robin Cook? Does he use contractions in his other books? If you've read both his medical thrillers and his science fiction, how would you compare the two?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Year in Review: Year 3

This will be my third year doing  a Year in Review. It's fun to look back through my posts and save some of my favorites, or the ones that seemed most useful, by putting them out in a review post. It comes in handy to have a reference post, but it may also come in handy in case someone wasn't looking for a particular topic when I posted it, and now they need that information.

Before I jump into the reviews, I'm putting out an invitation to women in horror to hand over my blog to you one day in February, Women in Horror Month. It would have to be an actual post, something informative or interesting about horror, but it doesn't have to be horror fiction. And you are, of course, welcome to include a little something about your most recent release or an upcoming release, as long as that's not the entirety of your post. Just drop a comment below if you're a woman in horror interested in doing a guest post in February.

Speaking of which, I'll be putting out sign ups to help with a blog tour for the release of my short story collection. Coming soon!

Okay, now for the review. If you'd like to see last year's, click HERE. There's a link in that one to the previous year.

February 6

Check out these awesome women in horror, from Ripley to the Soska sisters.

March 22

This stemmed from a conversation about horror on Facebook, and spurred more conversations for me, as well as a workshop that I've now done for two different writing organizations. I've continued learning since this post, researching horror through the decades and how it's been classified (gothic romance, dark fantasy, supernatural thriller, etc.)

May 24

Wherein I continued the soul searching and research started in the March 22 post. All about pigeonholing horror. Hey, no one wants to be misunderstood or forced into a cliche.

July 19

A hopefully encouraging post about changing up your routines or writing methods to get yourself "unstuck."

September 13

I answered questions about short stories people had left in comments. Includes where to submit short stories, structure, etc.

September 27

About how I'm using a free online software meant for to-dos and daily chores and goals for my writing.

October 19

Some horror film recommendations from my month of watching a horror movie each month (October).

I did fewer posts in 2017 than 2016, and had fewer posts to pass along today. I figure I'll have plenty of posts on my first foray into self-publishing in the upcoming year to post in a review post in 2019.

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

Accepting Submissions

Ninth Letter is accepting short fiction, poetry, and essays. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 per printed page. Deadline February 28.

Darkhouse Books is seeking cozy to cozy-noir short stories involving librarians for the anthology Shhhh...Murder! They're also seeking poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and creative nonfiction with the theme of sanctuary, refuge, asylum, or shelter for Sanctuary. Up to 5000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline February 28.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories for The Best Advice I Ever Heard. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline February 28.

The Future Fire is seeking short stories and poetry for Making Monsters. They want retellings of classical monsters. Up to 5000 words. Pays £50. Deadline February 28.

Red Rabbit Publishing is seeking action filled sci-fi short stories for Red Rabbit Presents. Up to 6000 words. Pays up to $180. Deadline February 28.

Have you looked over your posts for the last year? Have you slacked off on posting? Any of these publishing links of interest? Anything to share? Are you a woman in horror who would like to guest post?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jennifer Lane's Twin Sacrifice Cover Reveal

Twin Sacrifice
by Jennifer Lane
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Release Date: February 28, 2018

My twin brother is determined to kill himself, but I won’t let him. 

I just discovered the sacrifice he made for me when we were young.

Now it’s time I return the favor. This time I’ll be the one with the secret.

Psychologist Matthew Durante’s twin brother, Justin, has struggled with mental illness since their parents died in a house fire. After Justin is accused of setting off a bomb that killed an innocent woman, he lands in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

In the face of Justin’s unrelenting suicide attempts, Matthew grows frantic to keep him alive. And as the pieces of their past fall into place, Matthew decides bold action is his only choice, no matter the cost.

Set against the backdrop of weapons manufacturing, terrorism, and a dark family secret, Matthew and Justin fight for survival, redemption, and most of all, for each other.

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun.

Jen loves to create sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez finds her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Spiked (Blocked #3) features Lucia’s younger brother, Mateo, and completes the series.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good BehaviorBad Behavior, and On Best Behavior. Her current project is a psychological thriller, Twin Sacrifice.

Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Horror List Book Review: John Dies at the End

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 John Dies at the End, by David Wong.

This is going to be another brief review, because I actually read the book months ago, forgetting it was on my list, and gave it away at a Halloween book exchange, so I can't even reference it. Whoops!

"John Dies at the End" is an oddball journey with Lovecraftian themes. There are some real creepy moments, but also a lot of humor. This was originally published online, if I'm remembering right, and the spelling and grammar shows it, but the voice of the author is enjoyable enough to ignore that (for the most part). David Wong is not only the author (a pen name), but the main character, and he's relating to you in first person what occurred when he and his friend John got dosed with soy sauce, a drug that does insane things to their brains. Suddenly, they're seeing things in a whole new way, things that others can't.

It's juvenile and raunchy at times, but still funny. It's crazy and random. I figure it's worth a read for the fact that it's different than other books out there, though you won't come away feeling like you've read great literature.

As I've changed my ratings to only keep a Top Ten, nothing has changed this week. My Top Ten are still:

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)

Not sure what I'm reading next, but I've got a stack, so yay!

Have you read this or seen the movie? What did you think? Will you be reading the sequels?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 Goal Setting & 2017 Review

I haven't had to date any checks yet, but the title of this blog post briefly threw me, so I'm expecting some incorrect dates coming up.

Now that it's a new year, it's time to review my goals for last year and see how I did. Much like last year, I set the goals then never looked back at them, so let's see how it went.

In 2017, I submitted 95 short stories.
I sold 6 short stories.
4 short stories were released.
I still have 12 stories pending that were submitted in 2017.
I withdrew 5 stories from consideration.
I had...are you ready for it? 80 rejections. Yeesh. Still not up to 100 rejections yet.

My goals for 2017, set back in January, were:

  • Final revision on Novel #2
  • Query Novel #2 in April at PPWC
  • Finish Novel #3
  • Write at least one new short story per month
  • Finish current pending revisions
  • Continue to book speaking/signing opportunities (so far, I have 1 definite and 2 possibles)
  • Evaluate Novel #1 to see if I want to continue pursuing it or trunk it for now
  • Continue submitting short stories - aim for 100 rejections and 12 acceptances this year
  • Write for at least two themed issues or anthologies that are outside my normal comfort level
Not too bad! I not only finished Novel #2, but am currently querying it. I queried it at PPWC and got an ask, but I've never heard it back since submitting it, so that's a no. I wrote at least one short story per month, with one a week for a short time, and finished the revisions I had pending by the end of January.

As far as appearances, I ended up appearing at 7 events, all of them so much fun! I've booked one so far for 2018, with some additional possibilities. Though I did not reach 100 rejections and 12 acceptances, I made the effort. And I wrote several stories outside my comfort zone, both of which were accepted! One has already been published, and the other is coming out in the coming year.

That leaves the things I didn't accomplish: finishing Novel #3 and evaluating #1 to see if I want to trunk it or move forward with it. Those will continue as goals this year.

For 2018, I'm setting the following goals:

  • Write a short story or flash piece each week (this is majorly pushing it for me, but I'm going to try.)
  • Read at least one book each week.
  • Finish Novel #3.
  • Start Novel #4.
  • Continue submitting short stories (aim for 100 rejections and 12 acceptances.)
  • Write short stories in at least three genres.
  • Write more nonfiction.
  • Query craft book.
  • Self-publish short story collection.
  • Evaluated Novel #1 to see if I want to pursue or trunk (though it's obviously trunked for now.)
  • Take more pictures.
  • Send workshop proposals to one conference new to me.
Of course, these goals are all well and good, but they are also fluid. I'll see what continues to be realistic, and I'll allow life to change things as needed. And, hey, I finished the short story for week #1, so yay!

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

Accepting Submissions:

The First Line is seeking flash and short stories that start with the line, "Leo massaged the back of his neck, thankful the meeting was finally over." Open to all genres, including nonfiction and poetry. 300 to 5000 words. Pays $5 to $50, depending upon story type. Deadline February 1.

ChiZine is seeking alternate history short stories for Other Covenants: Alternate Histories of the Jewish People. Open to all submitters. 500 to 15,000 words. Pays $.08/word CAD. Deadline February 4.

Subprimal is seeking poetry and flash fiction. Word counts vary. Pays $20. Deadline February 15.

Electric Athenaeum is seeking sci-fi and fantasy short stories, articles, poetry, and interviews with the theme "For Future Generations." 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays 50 GBP/story. Deadline February 15.

Circlet Press is seeking erotic stories inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $25 for the e-print, and a possible $25 later for print. Deadline February 15.

Any of these links of interest? Did you set goals for 2017? How did you do? How about 2018? Most importantly, are you working your dream?

May you find your Muse.

*New Year Flags by OCAL,
*Dart Board image by OCAL,

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG - 2018 & Flaming Crimes Blog Hop

It's the first Insecure Writer's Support Group of 2018!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG's purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

To join, simply sign up by clicking on Alex's name above and adding your name to the linky list. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and visit your fellow bloggers to lend your support.

This month's co-hosts are Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan,Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!

This month's optional question: "What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?"

I used to be able to keep a writing schedule, but it's simply not realistic for me anymore. The closest I have to a schedule is that I try to block out either a full Saturday or Sunday for writing time. I fell off that schedule over the holidays, but am hoping to get back to it once the kids are back in school. Other than that, I write at night when I can.

Next week I'll be doing my annual wrap-up and goal setting.

Before I get to the links and my December submission stats, it's time for the Flaming Crimes Blogfest!

What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?

I did actually have to pack up to flee a wildfire (Waldo Canyon), and I was trying to remember if there was anything weird I packed. I can't remember anything weird, but I did take four tiny urns I have with the ashes of family members. Actually, I forgot them at first, but a friend who came to help us evacuate grabbed them for me. I figure some people would think having them in the first place was weird, let alone evacuating with them.

Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Page Count: 304 
Digital Price: 4.99 
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 


BLURB: Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.

Donovan escapes what could've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.

Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.

Their lives may just go up in flames…

About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:


Stat time! Each month I post my submission stats to keep myself accountable. In December I had:

6 submissions
5 rejections
1 withdrawn from a market I think has gone under
0 acceptances (until the 1st of January, but that's for next month!)
Sent 0 novel queries (I won't be again until February because of the rush of NaNo submissions.)
0 novel query rejections
I have a total of 12 submissions out for short stories
I have a total of 5 novel queries out to agents


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

Accepting Submissions:

Carrion Blue 555 is seeking work inspired by "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Accepting fiction, poetry, plays, and other formats you might want to try. Up to 7000 words. Pays a half cent per word. Deadline January 31.

Nashville Review is seeking fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 or $100, depending upon submission type. Deadline January 31.

NonBinary Review is seeking poetry, fiction, essays, and art that relate to "The Little Prince." Up to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline January 31.

Hyperion & Theia is seeking fiction, poetry, and art with the theme Rebus. Word limit varies per type of submission. Up to 7499 words for short stories. Pays royalties. Deadline January 31.

Nightscript is seeking strange tales for Volume IV. 2000 to 7000 words. Pays $20. Deadline January 31.

The Writers Circle is seeking short stories and poetry for their anthology. 500 to 10,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline January 31.

Alchemy Press is seeking horror short stories that pervert reality for their Book of Horrors. 3000 to 6000 words. Pays .5p/word. Deadline January 31.

Do you have a writing schedule? What's your writing insecurity? How does Chrys's new book sound? What about that cover? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? Are you submitting?

May you find your Muse.