Friday, May 25, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Drive-In

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 review The Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale.

When you scroll down, you'll see that Joe R. Lansdale's The Bottoms is one of my top ten so far in this reading challenge. However, I wasn't overly fond of The Drive-In. I went in prepared to love it, as I love his voice. It just didn't do it for me.

From what I can tell, the primary reason I didn't enjoy it all that much was the fact that I didn't care about the characters. It didn't matter to me. The narrator lost me because he goes into shock and zones out during a portion of the story, and everyone goes off their rockers. In fact, the friend that takes care of the narrator during his shock is the closest I come to caring about anyone. He's a good guy, keeps his head, controls the situation where he can, and lets things go if he can't control them. So I guess I cared about one character.

The Drive-In is about a bunch of people stranded at the drive-in after a freaky comet with a face leaves behind a black substance that surrounds the drive-in like some kind of foam filling agent and burns through anyone that tries to go through it. Chaos ensues, anarchy reigns, and things get crazy.

Super crazy. The Popcorn King is the pinnacle of crazy.

At first, I thought this was going to be a Lord of the Flies-style examination, wherein we observe society breaking down when they realize they only have so much food and they're trapped in this dark world for who knows how long. Perhaps that's why what actually happened didn't appeal to me. I like a bizarro, freaky horror piece as much as the next person (okay, probably more), but I wasn't prepared for it in this case. Perhaps this would have been easily solved had I read the description of the story, but since I've agreed to read this entire list and review it, I usually go in without having read what the story is about. Sometimes this works in my favor. Sometimes it doesn't.

Instead of a gradual breakdown, we speed-surf through the initial breakdown and then we screech to a halt and watch the already crazy antics take place. There are supernatural elements. Aspects of this vaguely reminded me of Stephen King's writing, but they didn't quite fit.

My top ten remains the same.

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. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
6. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
7. Needful Things (Stephen King)
8. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
9. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

My next book will be either Bubba Ho-Tep, by Joe R. Lansdale, or Ghost Road Blues, by Johnathon Maberry.

Have you read this? How about the rest of the series? Are you a Lansdale fan? What did you think of this one? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Author Platform: Accessibility on Social Media

I've noticed a lot of authors with Facebook pages and other forms of social media don't mention they're a writer or provide any helpful information that's easily accessible on their accounts, and this is a mistake. If your social media is intended to be part of your author platform or has anything to do with book advertising, etc., you should have information regarding yourself as an author readily available to those who might be seeking you out. What's the point in making it a mystery? You want to be accessible!

Here are a couple things you should have available for possible readers or even fellow authors:

A lot of the friend requests I get are from people who have a bunch of mutual friends who are authors, but they have nothing written under their intro or on their "About" page. That's two strikes right there. If I'm in the right kind of mood, with a bit of time to kill, I'll scroll through their posts to see if I can identify whether this person is an author, book reviewer, or why it is they might be sending me a friend request. Many of them have their page locked down so thoroughly that I can't figure anything out from that, either, so how am I supposed to know if they're just spam accounts? Well, I don't, so I delete that friend request.

At the minimum, you should have something brief under the "intro" section, which shows up on the top left of your profile. Example: Mine says "Horror and fantasy short story author. Fan of all things creepy." It conveys what I do and what I'm interested in. No mysteries here!

You can also update your job on the "About" page, and you should link to any other social media you want people to see, such as your blog and/or website. I have links to my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

Consider making some of your posts public. If that's something you prefer to avoid, pick a couple that you feel will be representative of you (book release posts or updates on writing or anything random about writing) and just make those public. This means someone checking your page will see you're a writer/author.

Have cover images, author photos, etc.? It's a good idea to have those visible to the public, as well, either in your cover photo, profile photo, or visible on your timeline.

This one's easier. Say something about being a writer or about your work in your profile information showing under your name. If your "handle" is not your name, be sure your actual name shows up on your profile somewhere so you're searchable. If you have a book cover, it's good to have it as your banner.

This is where you really must have some personal information, and there are plenty of places to do it. It should be clear on the front page somewhere who you are. If your name is not in the title, be sure it's visible on the front page. Write a visible bio that includes any pertinent writing details. Make sure there is a visible way to find any books you may have out. Mine are listed along the side of my blog, as well as in a publications tab.

It's a good idea to have a few types of tabs with information. For instance, I have an about me with some random facts and pictures, a publications tab that lists all my available publications and where to buy them, a media kit tab where information about me can easily be grabbed (long bio, short bio, my social media links, headshots, and how to contact me), and an appearances tab so people know where I'll be signing and/or speaking. All of these hopefully make me more accessible and save people some legwork.


See the IWSG blog for a brief post about GDPR that includes information on how the IWSG is dealing with it and a few links I found helpful in getting the IWSG newsletter GDPR compliant.


Horror Addicts have put out another collection! Here's the press release below:

Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction. is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.
Crescendo of Darkness includes:
“Audition” by Naching T. Kassa
This could be a guitarist's ticket to the big time, if he survives auditioning in a ghoul-protected graveyard.
“Circe’s Music Shop” by A. Craig Newman
A music store owner, who won’t be bullied into submission, teaches two hitmen the meaning of pain.
“Last Lullaby” by Emerian Rich
An opera diva is haunted by a dangerous secret which threatens to end her career and her life.
“Loved to Death” by Sam Morgan Phillips
Death explores his dream of being a rock star, but can’t avoid his purpose when a young woman forces him to live up to his destiny.
“The Music Box” by Daphne Strasert When a mom finds her childhood music box, she unleashes a tragic horror on her family, dooming them to repeat history.
“While My Guitar Gently Bleeds” by Benjamin Langley A rock musician is visited by an undead band member and forced to pay for his crimes against rock ‘n’ roll.
“Six String Bullets” by Cara Fox
The pull of a busker’s song becomes too much for a young woman to resist.
“Lighthouse Lamentation” by R.A. Goli
A lighthouse keeper helps a mysterious guest, but the stranger’s haunting sea shanty might drive him mad.
“Solomon’s Piano” by Jeremy Megargee
A grieving husband builds an unnatural piano, but can his music raise the dead?
“They Don’t Make Music Like That Anymore” by Kahramanah
A musician’s obsession with creating a masterpiece leads to him discover why they don't make music like that anymore.
“Become the Music” by H.E. Roulo
A cellist would do anything for her child, even give up music, but that might not be enough to stop a curse from consuming her baby.
“Keep the Beat” by Calvin Demmer
A young girl questions why her tribe plays the djembe drums every night and finds it may be more than just a tradition.
“The Legend of Crimson Ivory” by Sarah Gribble
An audiophile finds a legendarily sinister demo at a used record store and decides to play it, despite his friends' warnings.
“A Whisper in the Air” by Jeremiah Donaldson
Employees at a job find solace in playing music on break, but a haunted melody draws in more than just new musicians.
Crescendo of Darkness
Direct link:
Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson
Cover by Carmen Masloski Press

Let music unlock your fear within.

Have you maximized your social media? Do you have information that's readily accessible for those searching you out? Have you gotten your page and newsletter updated to be GDPR-compliant?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

See You Later, Alligator; After Awhile/A While, Crocodile

I was recently a showcase author at Mountain of Authors, an event put on by our local library district. Mountain of Authors was my very first writing event years ago, before I got involved with Pikes Peak Writers. It's a great event for unpublished writers, newly published authors, and indie authors. The event is held in one room, with some combination of panels and single speaker workshops, and goes from 12 to 5, with a keynote speaker at the end of the day.

Aside from educating writers, they provide opportunities for authors to sell their books and for writing groups of various types to give out information. All of this, and it's completely free! Just one more wonderful element of support in Colorado Springs for local authors.

It was good to get out and see members of the writing community, especially as we lost two local authors in the last month or so, a painful hit to a close-knit community. I met a lot of people, many of whom stopped by to chat, and I hope I helped a couple burgeoning writers who had questions about submitting short stories and that sort of thing. Selling some books was a wonderful bonus!

As an amusing aside, I had to put Chucky away, because people kept asking if it meant I wrote horror for children. No, I absolutely do not! I know better than to take him with me to events now, at least. He'll stay in my office where he belongs.

Okay, words, words, words.  If you missed the previous posts on this topic, they were Already vs. All Ready and Alright vs. All Right.

On to today's words. What's correct, awhile or a while?

This one's tricky, because they are both correct descriptions of a passage of time. However, their usage varies a bit. This is one I really have to think through when using the words.

Technically speaking, awhile is used as an adverb and a while is used as a noun. But technical speaking doesn't help me in this case, because I haven't diagrammed sentences since eighth grade.

There are other technicalities we'll get to, but the way I find it easiest to suss out the difference is to place the "what word could you replace it with" game.

When "a" and "while" are separated, while is a noun, so the sentence is using while as a noun. If that's so, you could then keep the "a" and replace "while" with a word like bit, hour, week, year, spell. In other words, another passage of time.


I want to sit down for a while.
I want to sit down for a bit. (abit isn't a word)

I haven't seen him in a while.
I haven't seen him in an hour. (anhour isn't a word)

Another way to look at is if you can qualify it as a three-word phrase, like for a while, in a while, after a while (crocodile), it should be two words, not one. As in, it is part of a prepositional phrase, a preposition being for, in, after, etc.

When awhile is one word, there should be a different noun in the sentence already and it should not be part of a prepositional phrase. It would be replaceable by another adverb, not a noun. Adverbs are words like quickly, quietly, patiently or anywhere, there (adverbs of place) or always, sometimes (frequency adverbs), etc.


He watched awhile.
He watched silently.

I want to dance awhile.
I want to dance sometimes.

Note that you can change a sentence slightly and have to change the word. Let's switch up example sentences:


He watched for a while.
He watched awhile.

Notice that when a while is used, there is a third word directly involved in the phrase: for. When awhile is used, it follows a verb: watched.

Clear as mud?

Before I jump into this week's links, I wanted to let you know about C. Lee McKenzie's new book!


By C. Lee McKenzie

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Release date – May 15, 2018
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.

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

Accepting submissions:

Existere is seeking prose, poems, graphic art, photos, and postcard stories. All genres and forms of art/literature welcome. Up to 3500 words. Pays a small honorarium.

The Arcanist is seeking fantasy and science fiction flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $50.

Zealot Script is seeking short stories and poetry that introduce a new world. Submissions of any length. Pays $10.

Factor Four Magazine is seeking flash fiction and art. Up to 1500 words. Pays $.08/word.

Mystery Weekly is seeking mystery short stories. 2500 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word.

Do you have trouble with awhile vs. a while or do you find it simple? If you have trouble, did this make it any clearer? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Image Alligator Clip Art, OCAL,

Friday, May 11, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Ignored

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 Ignored, by Bentley Little.

This one gave me a lot of mixed feelings.

I found the idea intriguing, but at times it dragged and felt like the main character was whining endlessly about his own insecurities. And I felt the premise pushed the boundaries too much for me to get behind. Yet I found myself returning to the story each day and having trouble putting the book down, because I wanted to see where Little took it.

The Ignored is about a Bob Jones, a regular schmo. Overlooked by those around us, the only attention he gets is from a boss that seems to have it out for him. He never gets a word in edgewise. No one at work invites him out or talks to him. His job is dull and takes no skill.

His doubts about himself at work extend to his home life, and he starts questioning his significant other's interest in him. Ultimately, he falls in with a crowd of his fellow Ignored, leading to terrorism in an attempt to become visible to society.

Oddly, this story brought to mind the book American Psycho, but combined with Office Space. Instead of discussing the numbness of society and its reliance on consumerism, it addressed feeling lost in life and trying to stand out, plus the generic middle of the road variety of consumerism, where what's readily available is what is pleasing or at least neutral to the average person. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) disappears behind his grandstanding and brand knowledge (and everyone else's dire self-involvement), despite his violent and narcissistic tendencies, whereas Bob Jones just disappears, because he's every-man. He's nothing. He's forgettable. Given, it turns out there are other reasons for how average Bob Jones is and why he's Ignored, but in general he's representing the average guy, lost in a dead end job, invisible to his peers. 

I was unprepared for the fantastical elements that came into play later in this book, so they threw me. Don't let the premise fool you--there is violence and there are weird things that happen. So, while it may sound fairly mundane, it isn't.

The book makes an impact for sure. I imagine I'll keep waffling on how I feel about it for a long time to come. There's no doubt it's skillfully written, though.

My top ten remains the same.

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. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
6. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
7. Needful Things (Stephen King)
8. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
9. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

My next review will be of Joe R. Lansdale's The Drive-In.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Subprimal is seeking poetry and flash fiction. Pays $20. Deadline June 15.

Independent Legions Publishing is holding a horror novella contest. The winner gets published with a $600 advance. 45,000 to 50,000 words. Deadline June 15.

Lamplight is seeking literary dark fiction. Short stories and flash fiction. Up to 7000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline June 15.

Spider Magazine is seeking fiction, poetry, activities, etc. appropriate for ages 6-9 with the theme of Monsters. 300 to 1000 words. Pays up to $.25/word. Deadline June 15.

Have you ever read The Ignored? How about other works by Bentley Little? Do you ever feel ignored/invisible? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IWSG - Forward Progress, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, & Links

It's the first Wednesday in May, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Purpose: 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!

This month's co-hosts are:

This month's optional question is: It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

For me, spring doesn't inspire me to write, though it's my second favorite season (fall wins!). I don't think there's a season where I write more than usual, but I often write less than usual in the summer.

I've been so busy and tired, I haven't finished a new short story since the last week in January. But yesterday I finally got one finished, and I'm hoping this means I'll catch up and make progress again. I've started a bunch, but not finished them. Here's to getting more done!

In keeping myself accountable, I list submission stats each month. April:

2 submitted
3 rejections
1 acceptance
7 currently on submission

The IWSG anthology is out! 

Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda RenĂ©e, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

$14.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 204 pages, Freedom Fox Press
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

“Each story is fast paced, grabbing the reader from the beginning.”
 - Readers' Favorite, 5 stars

“I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of thought-provoking crime stories.” - Denise Covey, author

Tick Tock links:

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:

Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing is seeking horror short stories with a pizza theme for Tales From the Crust. 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline June 1. (Note: I have worked with PMMP via Dark Moon Digest, and they're wonderful to work with.)

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

Splickety Spark is seeking romance for The Aww Factor. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline June 1.

Feed Your Monster is seeking flash fiction and short stories. Up to 1000 words for flash, 3000 words for short. Pays a small amount per publication. 

The Patchwork Raven is seeking short stories set in different countries (one for each country) for a project called Backyard Earth. There will be one book/anthology per inhabited continent. Up to 5000 words. Pays $25.

Of Interest:

Dancing Lemur Press is seeking an intern for marketing research and development. See the link for more details.

What are your insecurities as a writer? Do you write more in spring? Will you be buying Tick Tock? Did you submit in April? How'd it go? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.