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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Self-Publishing Business Checklist

A friend about to embark on the beginning of her self-publishing journey asked me for a checklist for first steps. I figured if I was going to put it together, I might as well make it a blog post. Anyone with something to add to the checklist, feel free to do so in the comments!

  • Decide whether you will be a sole proprietorship, LLC, S Corp, etc.
  • Decide whether you want a press name, in which case you need to file for your "DBA" (Doing Business As) with Secretary of State (search already existing business names on the site first)
  • File for your EIN at
  • Create a separate business account (once you have your EIN)
  • Sign up for a Square account
  • Sign up for a PayPal account separate from your personal one
  • Create files for any business related documents/receipts/forms
  • Keep track of startup expenses, which are tax deductible
  • Budget self-publishing and business start up costs--what is your break even point?
  • Figure out the price of your book/s once you know the production costs
  • Figure out where you will publish (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Lightning Force, Ingram, etc.) and open accounts with them
  • Get a sales tax license for city and state
  • Purchase ISBN numbers from R.R. Bowker (cheaper in bulk, and you will likely need at least two for each book, as each format requires its own)
  • Contract book cover, editor, etc., as needed
  • Research/complete formatting--ebooks are formatted differently than paperbacks, plus different POD sites may have different requirements (Smashwords has additional formatting instructions beyond what's required by Amazon, for example)
  • Decide on front matter (keep it simple and brief), including any disclaimers
  • Decide on back matter, such as bio, thank yous/acknowledgments, website/social media links
  • Upload final cover/formatted book
  • Order a proof and carefully review the ebook after uploading
  • Make it live once it's ready!
Some resources I found helpful:

I threw this together pretty quickly, so I'm sure I forgot something. Like I said above, feel free to make further suggestions or link to resources you liked in the comments.

And good luck!

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October? Impossible! IWSG

October is my favorite month, hands down. Fall, spooky things, Halloween, sweaters, gorgeous colors in the leaves, pellet stove, and the ability to actually cook real food without spending a fortune on air conditioning or simply roasting. Yay!

Since it's the first Wednesday of October, it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group exists to seek and lend support to fellow writers. Anyone can sign up. Simply click on Alex's name and enter your blog on the link list. Make sure to visit this month's awesome co-hosts:

Don't forget about the IWSG Anthology Contest!

Guidelines and rules: 

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. 

We've had some entries already, but we want more, more, more! If YA Romance isn't your genre, this is an excellent opportunity to stretch yourself and try something new.

This month's optional question: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

For me, I've found that if there's a major negative life event occurring, my creativity buries its head in the sand. When we evacuated during the Waldo Canyon Fire and were staying at a hotel, people kept saying, "I bet you've got tons of writing time!" Sure. Only I was stuck in a one bedroom hotel room with my terrified children, had no idea if my home was still standing, or my parents', or my friends'. I was too busy figuring out next steps, like where to go if the house was gone. Whether my husband's workplace would still be standing. All that jazz.

When my dad was diagnosed with ALS, I froze up for a few months. No writing. No desire to write, because I didn't have the emotional energy.

I can't say writing has helped me through anything. It's helped me cope with things afterward, but my creativity seems to disappear when my emotional energy is low. That's okay, because I always eventually get back to it, and get to exorcise it through the stories that follow.

Before I get to this month's stats, a couple cool things happened this month.

First, Strangeful Things made women in horror trading cards, and I'm on one! If you're attending the Women in Horror Film Festival, check out the Strangeful Things table. They've got some horror goodies, including these bonus trading cards.

And I discovered this awesome Ladies of Horror Fiction website, which includes a directory of female horror authors. And I'm on it! Exciting!

Also, I was interviewed over at Wonderland Press.

Okay, stats for the month. For those who haven't visited here before, I go over my previous month's submission stats to keep myself accountable.

In September:

3 submissions
1 acceptance
2 rejections
2 publications (Fright Into Flight and Society of Misfit Stories, Volume II
1 other (I've assumed it is rejected since I haven't heard back)

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

Accepting Submissions:

Nonbinary Review is seeking literary pieces with the theme Dante's Inferno. Up to 2000 words. Pays $.01/word for fiction and nonfiction. Poetry and visual art are paid differently. Deadline October 24.

Flash Bang Mysteries is seeking flash mystery and suspense. 500 to 750 words. Pays $20. Deadline October 31.

Atlantean Publishing is seeking British folklore fiction and poetry. Short story to novelette length. Pays one penny Sterling per word. Deadline October 31. is seeking short horror pieces for Kill Switch, a tech horror anthology. Think Black Mirror. 2000 to 7000 words. Pays $10. Deadline October 31.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories with the theme Life Lessons From the Dog. Stories should be personal and written in first person. 1200 words or less. Pays $200. Deadline October 31.

Shenandoah is seeking short stories, essays, poems, etc. Up to 8000 words. Pay varies. Deadline October 31.

Our Loss Anthology is seeking fiction or poetry dealing with sadness and loss. Up to 8000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline October 31.

Can you write when things are tough? Does it help? Have you submitted any pieces this month? Care to share your stats? Are you going to submit to the IWSG anthology? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*artwork by, OCAL