Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Time Has Come - CreateSpace Dissolution

In case you haven't seen it yet, CreateSpace is officially transitioning to Amazon KDP. They're going in waves, so you may not have received notification yet (I haven't.) From what I've seen, people are getting an email when the transition has been enabled on their CreateSpace account. Some people are also getting notifications that their pricing will be changing, or that there is some other issue (for example, unsupported languages) that needs to be dealt with.

For the most part, the claim is that it will be an easy transition. The training video they have up shows three simple steps. Here's hoping!

If you haven't heard of this yet, here's their information on the topic: CreateSpace and KDP to Become One Service

When they started offering paperback services on Amazon then phased out author services on CreateSpace, most authors saw the writing on the wall. Those of us published in anthologies put out by small publishing houses had already been impacted by the beginning of the migration when we could no longer purchase author copies using a discount code on CreateSpace, sending the publishers scrambling to contact their contributors to let them know what alternative they might be offering. The fact that Amazon didn't have something in place to take over this mechanism doesn't bode well. Making the move easy on authors and small publishers, the very people who used the services CreateSpace offered, doesn't seem to have been a priority.

If you're like me, you've been quietly dreading the inevitable shutdown of CreateSpace. I've had great experiences with customer service at CreateSpace. On the other hand, there are always complaints about Amazon's author services, but perhaps that will improve with this growth. The claim is that they'll be printing the books in the same place, on the same machines, as CreateSpace printing. Though that raises the question of why certain printing services and types of books will be going up in price if it's the same machines and setup.

Bear in mind that if you're published with a small publishing house, magazines, etc., many of them will be impacted by this, too. CreateSpace is where many of them print up and distribute their books and magazines. They'll have to transition just like those of us who are independently published.

I've seen people saying they won't move their books over, and won't leave until they're forced to. Personally, I'm afraid if I don't do the migration myself, something will get messed up and there'll be nothing I can do about it. I'm also frustrated that we'll have to move to the Amazon pay structure, which means we get paid 60 days after the money comes in, rather than 30 days. This was my best month since right after the book launch, and now it looks like I probably won't see that money for two months. Add that to the fact that complaints have been made of Amazon payouts not matching reports, and it's looking a tad dismal. At least I could depend upon CreateSpace having trustworthy reports and payouts.

We, as authors, have had to weather quite a bit of change in recent years. This is just one more thing to adapt to. And we'll do it, like we always do. Hopefully, this change turns out to be a good one.

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:

Splickety Magazine is seeking stories with the theme Christmas Abroad for their December issue. Young adult. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline September 21.

The Puritan is seeking literary fiction, essays, poetry, and interviews. Pays $20 to $100. Deadline September 25.

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores is seeking fantasy and science fiction short stories and poetry. 1000 words and up. Pays $.06/word. Open for submissions September 21 to 28.

Chicken Soup for the Soul has two topics closing for submissions on September 30: Grandparents and Mom Knows Best. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200.

World Weaver Press is seeking dieselpunk and decopunk combined with fairy tales for Grimm, Grit, & Gasoline. Up to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline September 30.

Nashville Review is seeking fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 to $100. Deadline September 30.

Voices of Tomorrow is seeking stories from kids age 13-18 years old. Speculative fiction. Up to 5000 words. Pays $20. Deadline September 30.

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is seeking fiction and poetry about heroic fantasy. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $25 to $100. Submissions open for the month of September.

Augur is seeking fiction, graphic fiction, and poetry in the realm of literary speculative fiction. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.02/word. Submissions open for the month of September.

Less Than Three Press is seeking post-apocalyptic stories for Life After All. 8000 to 15,000 words. Pays $150. Deadline September 30.

What do you think about the move? Have you gotten your email yet? Will you be waiting until they force the move? Any of these links of interest?

*Blue Eyed Scared Face, by OCAL,
*Angry Eyes, by OCAL,

Friday, August 24, 2018

Horror List Book Review: A Scanner Darkly

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 A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick.

I really had to stew on this one for a bit after I read it and just let it sink in. Ultimately, I rated it better than I would have had I done my rating and review right away.

At first, I thought, huh, this is more sci-fi than horror. Of course, as it simmered in my brain it was obvious where the horror lived within the story. It follows a cop named Fred who is surveilling a junkie drug dealer named Bob. Mixed into the stream of consciousness thoughts of the narrators, who are fried on the drug Substance D, we discover Bob and Fred are the same person, only they don't know that most of the time.

The horror of the story lives within the twisted brain of the cop who took on a dead end position where it was expected he'd dabble in the very drugs he's trying to track and stop. Not only that, but it turns out there's more behind the story than one might expect. Who are the real bad guys?

Dick's writing has elements familiar in the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey, and William S. Boroughs. In his end comments, we learn he's used his own experience with drugs to write the often confusing and random discussions within. In fact, the end commentary is a horror story all its own, listing the friends who've died or been dangerously impacted by their drug use. Philip K. Dick is on that list.

This style of writing isn't for everyone, but the story is solid, the subject matter disturbing in a very real world sort of way. There's nothing gory or visceral here. The horror is in the stark sadness of one man's devolution, the cost of his career.

My top ten stands.

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)

Have you read A Scanner Darkly? What did you think? Read anything else by Philip K. Dick? Seen the movie?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Keeping it Real

I attended a great dinner with other writers this past week. There were eight of us, and several folks asked questions to get feedback from the others, which is how this group works each month.

One of the things that came up while answering a question was that we, as authors, judge ourselves harshly, but something that makes this worse is that we're seeing a flawed image of how everyone else is doing due to the nature of social media. Most people post the good things, but not much of the bad. (Guilty!) We don't see other people's losses, only their wins. Which makes it look like they're doing way better than we are, which further compounds our insecurities and makes us feel like failures.

This isn't going to change any time soon, but it's something we can all try to be mindful of. We all know we shouldn't be comparing our successes and failures to those of other people, but it's hard to avoid since it comes naturally to many of us.

And, for the record, I post my submission stats each month on my Insecure Writers Support Group posts. I can assure you I get far more rejections than I do acceptances. To give you a more realistic view of it, here's a summary of my submission stats since January:

Total submissions sent out: 36
Total acceptances: 9
Total rejections: 24

Note that the numbers won't line up, because I had some out for submission already at the beginning of the year, and have a bunch pending now. Also bear in mind that I had a higher rate of acceptances this year over last year, and that those numbers are atypical. Last year I got 80 rejections and only 6 acceptances for the entire year. I submitted a total of 95 times for the year, so I sold 6 out of 95 stories submitted in 2017.

I've also been querying a novel. So far, I've gotten 2 requests for the first 50 pages, both rejected after I sent them. Plus 14 rejections and 5 I've assumed rejected after no response.

Persistence matters more than a lot of other factors. I send a story back out within a day or two of getting a rejection.

Anyone who thinks I don't get discouraged is dead wrong. I frequently get discouraged. Some rejections hurt more than others. The stories I think will be The Ones fall flat once submitted. The ones that seem like a hard sell often sell the quickest. I definitely don't have it all figured out yet, and I've been doing this for several years.

Don't get discouraged. Don't compare yourself to other authors. Don't beat yourself up when you don't perform quite how you think you should. Instead, set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate the wins, even the small ones.

Do you find yourself in a slump and beating yourself up too often? What do you do to get out of it? Do you track your submission statistics?

May you find your Muse.

*Sad Scarecrow,, OCAL
*Quality Control: Rejected,, OCAL

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

August W.E.P. - Change of Heart

It's time for Write...Edit...Publish! It's been a long time since I participated, and I'm excited to be jumping back in.

Speaking of first times, it's also the first time I've done W.E.P. in conjunction with IWSG, now that the two have paired up!

The theme this time around is Change of Heart.

An Uninvited Guest

Jenny sat in her understated sedan, her cell phone held up to her ear. The house she watched existed in a flurry of activity: cars, bikes, kids, their friends. It exhausted her just observing them. Imagine living such a busy life, constantly running errands, driving kids places, picking them up. The single life worked out perfectly fine for her.

As usual, things calmed down at the Harris residence as dusk fell, everyone settled in for dinner and homework. It would only be a few more hours before the beds filled and the other rooms emptied, the youngest kids slipping off first, followed by the older ones in a stairstep of bedtime routines. Finally, the adults would drift off to bed, their bedroom light blinking out around 10:30.

At midnight, Jenny would strike. The serpent in the fold.

Her instructions were to make it look like a burglary gone wrong. She'd scoped out the house when it was empty (not an easy feat with a family of six living there). She'd gathered various possible weapons from inside the home: an old cord from a no longer used landline phone, a kitchen knife, duct tape and a wrench from the garage, and a few other items that probably wouldn't get used. Better safe than sorry.

The light went out right on time.

The night sounds of suburbia drifted through the windows while she waited for midnight. Crickets, distant car rumblings, leaves blowing in the breeze. The pleasant scent of grass drifted on the air currents.

She studied the house. At night its flaws weren't so visible. She could no longer make out the faded paint or the bald spots in the lawn. It looked almost flawless in the low light. Other than the gentle drift of the shrubs and the tree's branches,  nothing moved. Every door had been locked multiple ways, the windows properly closed and locked.

Every window but the basement one she'd broken yesterday to ensure it couldn't be closed. Chances are, they hadn't noticed it yet. If by some miracle they'd fixed it, she had other means of egress.

Her phone indicated it was 11:58. Close enough.

Jenny looked around to be certain no one hovered outside. Her car hid within a long line of cars, all parked along the curb, gaps left at driveways just in case the norms decided to go for a late night spin. The lights were out in every house. Even the exterior lights had been shut off by most of the residents. Didn't they know people like her took advantage of the darkness?

With no sign of humanity observed, she quietly exited her car, grabbing the messenger bag she used as a kit for these jobs. She'd turned off the dome light in advance, so she didn't draw attention to herself. Instead of trying to be sneaky, she strolled up to the house as if she lived there. Digging through her pockets, she expressed frustration through the climbing of her shoulders and her rigid movements. Hopefully, anyone watching would figure she'd forgotten her key.

The phantom key left unfound, she stepped off the porch and moved around to the back of the house, remaining tense, hands waving in the air as if she were ranting. In the darkness at the back of the house, she slowed, no longer putting the act on. Time again for caution.

She found the window still broken. No attempt had been made to fix it or block it closed, which told her they likely hadn't noticed it yet.

The cops certainly would when examining the crime scene.

Her pulse only now accelerated. Now came the time where everything could go wrong.

From her bag she pulled out a pair of leather driving gloves and put them on. She eased the window open, going slow to ensure it didn't creak.

No creaks.

Feet first, she eased herself through the window then reached out for her bag, from which she extracted her flashlight. She moved through the basement with quick, silent feet. Walking up the left edge of the wooden steps kept them from making any noise save a gentle squeak here and there. The door at the top of the stairs stood partially open, and they kept it well oiled, so it slid open without a sound.

The kitchen stood empty. As did the living room. It took no time at all for her to climb the stairs to the second floor, where all the bedrooms stood. Two of the doors were closed--the teens's rooms. Two others let out faint, amber lights, indicating night lights. The fifth was at the end of a hallway, the door open, no light spilling from it.

With any luck, none of the children would awaken, and she could be in and out in ten minutes. There were to be no casualties other than Mr. Harris.

She slipped into the master bedroom, easing the door shut behind her. Padding across the room, Jenny reached the foot of the bed. She crouched, waiting for her eyes to adjust the rest of the way. The bed shook gently as one of them adjusted their position.

Her pulse pounded raucously, and she breathed gently to calm it.

A small voice whispered, "Mommy?"

Jerking her gaze to the door, she saw it remained closed. Panic-adrenaline assaulted her veins. Where the hell was the kid?

Then the bed stirred again.

A woman's voice whispered, "Hush, go to sleep, baby boy."

Goosebumps rose on Jenny's arms.

This wasn't the deal. Traumatizing a grown woman by killing her husband beside her was a price she was willing to extract, but not this. This little boy didn't deserve to watch his dad die, to witness something most adults went a lifetime without seeing.

She slumped down to a seat at the foot of the bed, waiting for them to fall asleep so she could make her way back out the way she had come.

993 words.

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:

Gypsum Sound Tales is seeking horror/sci-fi short stories for Thuggish Itch, an anthology. The theme is Scientific. 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $5-$10 AUS. Deadline September 14. (You also have one more week to submit to their all-genre anthology, Colp, with the theme Sky's the Limit.)

18th Wall is seeking adventure, pulp, thriller, mystery, horror, and other speculative fiction tales for Overdue: Tales of Mystery and Adventure Returning History's Lost Books to Circulation. This is a shared universe collection. 4000 to 20,000 words. Pays quarterly royalties. Deadline September 15.

Corpus Press is seeking non-themed horror short stories. 2500 to 4500 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline September 15.

Gehenna & Hinnom is seeking weird fiction and cosmic horror. 250 to 3000 words. Pays $30-$50. Deadline September 15.

Eye to the Telescope is seeking poetry in the theme of Witches. This will be edited by Ashley Dioses, who did a guest post on horror poetry for me in February! Submit 1-3 poems. Pays $.03/word. Deadline September 15.

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

Did you participate in WEP? What's your interpretation of a change of heart? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*artwork, ocal

Friday, August 10, 2018

Horror List Book Review: Shadows

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 Shadows, Edited by Charles L. Grant.

This collection is made of subtle horror, for the most part. There weren't any I hated, but there were some that left feeling pretty neutral. My favorite two stories were both by the same author, and that was Ramsey Campbell. Two others that stood out to me were The Butcher's Thumb, by William Jon Watkins, and Picture, by Robert Bloch.

I really don't have much to say. The type of horror found in this collection isn't really my favorite, so it doesn't stick with me. If you like quieter horror, you'd probably enjoy this collection. It's a strong group of successful horror authors, most of whom I've enjoyed other stories by.

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)

The next book I review will be A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IWSG & Two Exciting Announcements!

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

The IWSG exists to provide support for writers online. Get support, give support, meet fellow writer/bloggers. Just click on Alex's name above to sign up then post on the first Wednesday of each month. Be sure to visit others to lend your support, too!

Speaking of which, this month's co-hosts are  Erika Beebe,Sandra Hoover, Lee Lowery, and Susan Gourley! Be sure to pay them a visit.

This month's optional question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

Honestly, everything that's happened has been a learning experience that's gotten me to where I am now. The only thing I can think of right now is to not let anything you learn or experience deter you from your writing journey. It's fine to take a break and digest things, but always come back to your art.

Before I jump into the announcements, it's time for my monthly submissions. Each month for IWSG, I post my submissions stats to keep myself accountable. In July:

6 submissions
2 acceptances
4 rejections
11 currently on submission

We at the IWSG have a surprise for you this month. We're announcing the anthology theme a month early!

The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance



A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

There's more! The IWSG is partnering with WEP (Write...Edit...Publish). You can participate on your blog or Facebook. Let's have some fun!

WEP posts are the third Wednesday of every second month, so the next posting is this month.

This month's theme is Change of Heart. Some suggestions for the theme are as follows:

  • a commitment made when a prospect looked attractive, 
  • a decision on a course of action, and then regrets and reluctance to follow through,  
  • an engagement, a date, a diet plan, a chore someone said they’d do and didn’t follow through,  
  • a strip poker-game. Or maybe a gamble with super-high, panic inducing stakes, 
  • a break for independence that once made, gives pause for second thoughts,
  • a bolt for the grass-always-greener pasture and then wanting to vault-n-turn right back,
  • a broken relationship where one/both parties regret the loss
  • something offered, then withdrawn.  
And now for the links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Splickety Publishing Group is seeking flash for Spark with the theme of Lab Coats and Love Letters. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline August 24. 

Qommunicate Publishing is seeking short fiction with the theme Geek Out. Queer meets geek. Up to 5000 words. Pays $5 per printed page. Deadline August 31.

Rogue Blades Entertainment is seeking fantastical crime noir for Crazy Town. 3000 to 7000 words. Pays $25. Deadline September 1.

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

Blood Bound Books is seeking horror short fiction about furries (either Furries or anthropomorphic critters) for Burnt Fur. 1500 to 7000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline September 1.

Barnhouse is seeking poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays, and flash fiction. Up to 2000 words. Pays $20. Deadline September 1.

Will you be submitting to the anthology? What's your advice to new writers? Do you take part in WEP? Have you submitted anything this month? Any of these links of interest?

May you find your Muse.

*Flourish One, Horizontal Clip Art by OCAL,