Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Recent Books Read & Recommendations

 This week I figured I'd share some books I've read recently that I'd recommend:

Wonderful, calming, inspirational book of a woman's post-cancer journey to climb 100 summits in Japan within one year. Includes tidbits about foods enjoyed in the region, too.

A murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. A group of co-workers from a tech company get stuck in a ski lodge after a massive avalanche must figure out who's murdering them one by one.

A beautiful, lyrical, but dark literary piece about the damaging cycles shared by the women in a family. Murder, abuse, and loss. Some sensitive themes.

A book written in the 90s about what we're doing to teenage girls that kills their strength, their bravery, and their individualism in their teen years, and what to do to get that back. Deals significantly with media, society, and culture. 

I posted asking people to recommend anything they've read lately that they'd recommend to others, and these were the answers I got:

The Ladies of the Secret Circus, by Constance Sayers

When the Stars Go Dark, by Paula McClain

The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave

Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories, by Ray Russell

The Last Final Girl, by Stephen Graham Jones

Severance, by Ling Ma

The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman

Know My Name, by Chanel Miller

Sinner, Priest, and American Queen, by Sierra Simone

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

Tell Me, by Anne Frasier

My Best Friend's Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Vampire Slaying, by Grady Hendrix

The Codebreakers, by David Khan

Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown

The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown

The Gift of Fear: Surviving Signals That Protect Us From Violence, by Gavin de Becker

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain, by Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD

A Master of Djinn, by P. Djeli Clark

All the Murmuring Bones, by AG Slater

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini, PhD

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

My Name is Memory, by Ann Brasheres

Still Life, by Louise Penny

Dragon Weather, by Lawrence Watt-Evans

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab

Monarchs of the Sea: the 500 Million Year History of Cephalopods, by Dana Staaf

Sweet Silver Blues, by Glen Cook

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

The Searcher, by Tana French

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong

Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor

Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue

Sorrowland, by Rivers Solomon

We Were Never Here, by Andrea Bartz

The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner

Torchship Trilogy, by Karl Gallagher

Love, Lies, & Hocus Pocus, by Lydia Sherrer

Level Six, by William Ledbetter

We Are Satellites, by Sarah Pinsker

Wanderers, by Chuck Wendig

Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

These Toxic Things, by Rachel Howzell Hall

Getaway, by Zoje Stage

Cat Among the Pigeons, by Agatha Christie

About Grace, by Anthony Doerr

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

A Thousand Brains, by Jeff Hawkins

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Live Girls, by Ray Garton

Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

I also asked for recommendations of nonfiction books on the following: McCarthyism, the black plague and other pandemics, and the World's Fair, due to my own curiosity. These were the recommendations (some were clearly fiction, but I included them anyway):

World's Fair, by E.L. Doctorow

All the World's a Fair, by Robert Rydell

Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, by Ahmed Rashid

Of Plagues and Peoples, by William H. McNeil

Guns, Germs, & Steel, by Jared Diamond

The Speckled Monster: A Tale of Battling Smallpox, by Jennifer Lee Carrel

The Doomsday Book/Fire Watch, by Connie Willis

The Stand, by Stephen King

Flu, by Gina Kolata

The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston

1939: The Lost World of the Fair, by David Gelernter

I hope you find a good new read from this list!

Have you read anything lately that you'd recommend? Or do you know of a book you'd recommend on the topics I asked about (McCarthyism, pandemics, the World's Fair)? Have you read any of these, and would you agree with the recommendation?

May you find your Muse.

Blue Swoosh, by OCAL,

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Short Story Tips: Choosing Where to Submit

I was asked some questions about submitting to short story markets recently, and I thought it would be a good topic for a blog post. There are a lot of markets out there, which means countless options for your stories. So how do you choose where to submit?

First, we'll get the obvious stuff out of the way. 

The number one item to look for is that the genre requested by the publication matches the genre of your story. Submitting a mystery to a speculative fiction market isn't going to fly, no matter how good that story might be. Publications will list this information on their submission guidelines pages, but it will likely also be obvious from other aspects of the web page.

Some other things to consider:

Magazine or anthology? 

This may not matter to everyone, but it's something to consider. With an anthology, your story is in an actual book. They're usually put out by small presses in an attempt to bring in more readers for the single author books they put out. Their readership may be lower than a magazine, but that certainly isn't a hard and fast rule, and it completely depends upon the publisher.

Hard copy, e-copy, or audio?

Some magazines are put out in a paper version, some as online/email only, and others are put out as podcasts. There are, of course, also publications that come out in all three or some variation of them. If this is an important detail for you, make sure you check out what format the publication will be in, and don't submit if you don't like the format.


Pay can vary widely, with the offering being anything from zero pay to pro pay. With zero pay, you may get a contributor copy or a discount on copies. Pay could be royalties or a profit share, with no guarantee of a minimum amount of payment. It's important to consider whether you're okay with the payment offered before submitting. It's completely up to you, but I have two specific recommendations here. First, start at the top. You'll never know if your story is good enough for pro pay if you don't submit to a pro pay market. As you get rejections, you can trickle down to semi-pro, then token. Just don't start by selling yourself short. Second, if you're going for a royalty-type payment, understand that you may never see a dime. For me, this isn't an automatic no. I make the decision based upon the publication itself, and whether I'd like to work with them, what their reputation is, etc. Some of my favorite publishers to work with have been those that paid royalty split or a token amount. I'd work with them over and over, even if I never saw a dime. A category I didn't mention previously is charity pay. In this case, you don't get paid, but any profits get donated to a specific charity. Make sure they list the charity in advance. If they don't, they may be trying to pull one over on you. Plus, you want to be sure you support where they're donating it.

Pay to Play

There are markets that charge for you to submit a story. My personal rule is to not submit to anyone I have to pay for the privilege. However, my personal opinion on it is by no means the be all and end all on the subject. Plenty of people choose to pay to submit. One thing you might consider is what reason they give for asking you to pay. For some, it's to support their ability to pay those they publish. For others there might be a different reason, such as the ability to pay their staff (most magazine staff is unpaid, and are doing it for the love.) make sure you're okay with their reason for asking you for money to submit. (Side note: some give the option to pay for a critique or a quicker response. I also don't opt for these, but you may want to, especially if you're just starting. You have to decide what's best for you. I personally believe you shouldn't pay to be published--your goal should be to GET paid.)

In addition to those things mentioned above, there are plenty of other things to consider. Look into the market you're submitting to and make sure you're okay with everything you see/hear/read. For example, as shallow as it sounds, I look at the covers of their other publications (and the one they're taking submissions for if it's posted in advance, which often happens with anthologies). If I don't like the quality of the covers, I may not submit. I want to be able to be proud of what I'm in, and that includes the exterior. Reputation is even more important. If you've seen authors complaining about working with them, you should consider whether you want to do so. At least if it seems like the author is giving valid reasons. Are they hard to work with? Did they cheat the author out of pay? Do they provide trustworthy contracts?

If there's anything that makes you doubt wanting to submit, maybe consider why that is. Even if it's just a bad feeling that you can't quite put a finger on. That means you've seen something that put you off, whether you realize what it was or not. This is something you'll be attached to as long as it's in print. Make sure you're okay with that.

Places to look for submissions:

Duotrope (paid service)

Submission Grinder


Horror Tree

Published to Death

Authors Publish (sign up for the newsletter)

Search for Facebook groups with "open call" in the name.

Did I forget anything? Do you have any questions on this topic or have another you'd like to see answered? What are some reasons you've decided not to submit (or that you overlooked and wish you'd seen)? Do you know of any resources for finding publications that I haven't mentioned?

May you find your Muse.

Microphone Clipart, OCAL,

Nosmoke Clipart, OCAL,

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Submission Roundup Sep/Oct

I haven't done a submission roundup in a while, so this one should catch us up until mid-October.

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

Reckoning is "seeking speculative fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry about environmental justice[...]" Up to 20,000 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline September 22.

Dragon Soul Press is seeking stories for anthologies with two themes: History and Heroines. Both must involve dragons. Up to 15,000 words. Pays in royalties for one year. Deadline September 30.

Madhouse Books Publishing is seeking stories for "a steampunk adventure anthology" entitled Clockwork Chronicles. 3000-7000 words. Pays $10. Deadline September 30.

Angela R. Watts and Michaela Bush are seeking fantasy stories with the theme light in the darkness for Where Giants Fall. 2000-8000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline September 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking personal pieces on Angels, Kindness, Grieving/Loss/Healing, Messages From Heaven, and Miracles. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadlines are September 15 and 30, depending upon topic.

Black Coffee & Vinyl is seeking literature, visual art, and music around the theme of The City. Up to 2000 words. Pays $50. Deadline September 30.

Corvid Queen is seeking fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction and feminist retellings of fairy tales. Up to 5000 words. Pays $5. Deadline September 30.

Cicada's Lament Literary Magazine is seeking Southern gothic/horror pieces with the theme of (Re)birth. Disabled and LGBTQ+ writers only. Up to 5000 words. Pays $5. Deadline October 1.

Kandisha Press is seeking slasher horror by women for Slash-Her. 3000-5000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline October 1. 

Taking the Lane is seeking feminist books and bicycles in space stories. 1000-6000 words. Pays a guaranteed minimum of $50, with final dependent upon Kickstarter. Deadline October 1.

The Last Line is seeking stories that end with the line "Welcome to the family." 300-5000 words. Pays $20-40. Deadline October 1. 

Quill & Crow is seeking stories that give Grimm's Fairy Tales a unique twist. 5000-8000 words. Pays $40. Deadline October 5. 

Any submission calls to add to this? Are you familiar with any of the publishers?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

IWSG - It's Writing Time!

 Ack! I'm late getting this up, but caught up in work on the podcast last night and totally forgot to get the post written ahead.'s the first Wednesday of September, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group exists to seek and provide support to insecure writers. Anyone can join. Just click on Alex's name above and put your blog on the linky list. Then hop around and visit your fellow IWSG'ers. 

The co-hosts this month are:

Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

Since it's mid-afternoon and I'm just getting this post up, I'm going to keep it brief. 


I'm just waiting to get that shiny diploma in the mail. 

That also means I've started planning out writing-related business, but I'm also trying to take it easy for a bit. Completing a Bachelor's in less than a year has left me in a weird sort of mental limbo. It was the only thing I could focus on if I wanted to make it happen, and now with that removed my brain is just kind of twitching in my skull, because it doesn't know what to do. But I've already sat down and set some deadlines, plus started a plan, and I'm looking forward to doing all the writing things!

My submission stats this month (you'll notice there's quite a difference from past months):

In August, there were:

16 submissions

2 acceptances

6 rejections

21 stories currently on submission

I hope your summer was magnificent, as it draws to a close. 

Have you been submitting? What are your stats? Any good news to share? What are your insecurities?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

IWSG - One More Month!

 It's August, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists for insecure writers to gain support, as well as give it. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and link to your blog, then be sure to hop around and visit other participants from the list.

This month's co-hosts are 

PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox! Be sure to drop by and give them a visit, plus some thanks for their hard work.

This month's optional question is: What is your favorite writing craft book?

Mine is still "On Writing," by Stephen King. He knows what he's doing, plus what he's supposed to be doing. It's inspirational and informative. I always feel ready to jump into writing after I read it.

This month's insecurity: reviews. I posted asking people to review my books if they've read them, and got ONE review. One. I'm still getting monthly royalties (teeny), but searching on my name doesn't bring up all my solo books, and the ones it does bring up, don't pop up first. There's a Reverend Lawrence Shannon that pops up first. If people can't find me, they certainly can't buy my books. I've seen people offer free books in an attempt to get reviews, but even that doesn't usually work. Anybody have a secret they're willing to share? I intend to hit the ground running as soon as I finish school (three more classes!), and having more reviews would certainly help. Tips?

Okay, time for writing stats. Again, with school being top priority until I finish, I'm not super active, but I did get some submissions done.

In July:

5 submissions

7 rejections

1 short listed

3 requests to send something else

0 acceptances

I hope to be posting that I'm done with school by the September IWSG. Wish me luck!

What are your insecurities? What's your favorite craft book? Have you been submitting? Any great news to share?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Damien Larkin's Release: Blood Red Sand

 Mars will run red with Nazi blood…


After World War Two, Sergeant McCabe knew the British army could send him anywhere. He never imagined facing down another Nazi threat on Mars.


In New Berlin colony, rivalry between Generalfeldmarschall Seidel’s Wehrmacht and Reichsf├╝hrer Wagner’s SS threatens bloodshed. The Reichsf├╝hrer will sacrifice everything to initiate the secretive Hollow Programme and realise his nightmarish future for humanity.


McCabe, Private Jenkins, and the Mars Expeditionary Force must overcome bullet, bomb, and bayonet to destroy the Third Reich. While Jenkins fights to stay alive, McCabe forms an uneasy alliance with MAJESTIC-12 operatives known as the Black Visors. Will this be the final battle of World War Two or the first confrontation in an interstellar war?


Release date – July 6, 2021

$17.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 252 pages

Science Fiction - Military FIC028050/Alternative History FIC040000/War & Military FIC32000

Print ISBN 9781939844781 / EBook ISBN 9781939844798

$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Order from Ingram, Follett School Solutions, or publisher direct


“Brilliant follow up to Big Red.” – Tripp Ainsworth, author


“I’m awed by Damien Larkin’s imagination… So truly Heinlein.” – Phil Parker, author


“Blood Red Sand is top class military sci-fi with plenty of heart pounding action sequences, excellent characterisation and a growing sense of mystery that readers will crave to uncover.” – Book Nest


Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction author and co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community. His debut novel Big Red was longlisted for the BSFA award for Best Novel. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

IWSG - School, Marketing, & Getting Pumped

 It's July! Time for the next Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists to give writers a forum to air their insecurities in order to seek and provide support. All are welcome to join. Simply click on Alex's name and sign up, then be sure to post the first Wednesday of each month.

This month's co-hosts are:

 Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

This month's optional question is: What would make you quit writing?

I'd say school, but I've slipped a few new stories in here and there, so that wouldn't be true. It has made me set it aside temporarily, for the most part, though.

The "political" climate in speculative fiction is off-putting in many ways right now, with people who don't share certain ideas being ganged up on by other writers, and some even being pushed out entirely. That won't stop me from writing, but it's certainly making me narrow my circles and be cautious.

If family needed me and I had to give it up, I'd do it then. Until I could return to it.

As far as insecurities this month, I'm actually feeling pretty hyped up. I'm just about finished with a digital marketing class, and my brain is burgeoning with ways to incorporate what I've learned. I also intend to share a lot of it once I've worked out how to apply it all to the business of writing. I've started jotting down ideas to update my various platforms, including my website, and I've planted some ideas in my husband's head so he can start thinking about how to make the technical parts happen so he can help me rebrand. That will be the first thing I do when I finish my degree, and I'm absolutely pumped to get started. Not only that, but I feel like once I have a firmer grasp on how to make it all work for writers, I can help other people, too.

Onto submission stats. In June, my stats were:

2 submissions

7 rejections

0 acceptances

12 stories currently on submission

I need to turn around those 7 that are just sitting there and get them submitted

One of the stories on submission has been out to that market since August. It's at 308 days out. The longest I've ever had a story out before this was 324 days before receiving a rejection. It's looking like this one will set a new record. 

What would make you stop writing? What are your insecurities? What's making you excited right now? Are you submitting?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021


 It's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group for June, and I almost forgot, because the holiday and school ending have completely thrown off my schedule. So today will be a super brief post, because we haven't had a hot water heater since Sunday, and my fibromyalgia flareup doesn't understand WHY I have not taken my hot bath for the last couple days. It's almost 2 AM and I am not going to be until I've taken a bath! Because I am basically made of pain right now. BUT since I just finished a class, I'll probably be taking today off, so I can finally spend more time visiting you guys during the IWSG!!

So with that intro (haha), let's get into it.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG serves to create a community of support around our writing insecurities. Anyone can join. Just click on Alex's name, go to the IWSG tab, and put your link in. 

Co-hosts this month are: J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

My insecurities this month have caught me by surprise. Since my writing career has been mostly on hold, other than still writing a story here or there, and still going through spates of submissions every once in a while, I haven't felt much like part of the writing community lately. More than that, I feel like I'm watching everyone else go on ahead of me, and that I'll be playing catchup.

Most of this is, of course, irrational. There's no race happening. I don't feel I'm in competition with others. It's hard to explain the conflicted feelings I've had during this. It's taken until my forties to be able to go to college, and I'm so incredibly privileged to be able to do it now. It's just very hard to set aside something that is such a big part of me, because it's not like I've been able to shut off that part. I'm pushing it down continuously and ignoring, for example, urges to write. I jot down ideas, but can't take the time usually to pursue them yet. So it's a building list of "later."

I had a weird realization that I get a pang when I see a project come out that I saw the call for, but simply didn't have the time to write for. So we're not even talking about being upset by rejections. It's me being upset that I could have possibly had a chance to be in this project, and that I didn't do it. So again...weird.

Anyway, that's my insecurity. I just need to finish up school and jump back in. And as of tonight, I've finished another class, which puts me at exactly halfway through the classes this term. 22 credits to go, with 7 of those having to do with capstone projects. That means only five more actual classes to go before I hit those final projects/papers.

Stats for May:

17 short story submissions

5 rejections (because the spate of submissions came on the 24th of May, so very near the end of the month.)

20 stories currently out on submission

I'm seriously looking forward to visiting people today, because I didn't really get to last month due to a pending final.

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

IWSG - Finally Some News - New Release!

 It's time for the May Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists to give and seek support about our insecurities. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and enter your blog.

Thank you to this month's co-hosts: 

Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

If you've read my last few month's IWSG posts, you know that I was struggling with not having sold a short story in a while. Well, guess what?! I sold one this month. And it's already out. I can't even tell you what a relief it was. I was starting to think I'd never sell another story again. That I'd somehow forgotten how to write.

I'm also on season break (just two weeks) from my podcast. We've reached over 1000 downloads, so that's an exciting benchmark. 

So I'm finally having a good writing-world month, even if I haven't written a word since April 1. Well, it had been a month until yesterday, when I rewarded myself for completing 12 credit hours of college classes in one month by taking a day off to go to a local cafe to write for a bit. It felt nice to let the words flow, for as long as I lasted there, anyway. It was a bit too busy for my liking, and I was highly distracted, but I did still get 1000 words down, which was nice. Plus, I treated myself to a Thai tea, a salad, and a lemon blueberry muffin. 

I've also gotten out on a couple hikes on nice days. I almost melted at the last one! It was mid-80s outside. Of course, this being Colorado, it snowed the next day, and we've had rain the last two days. Gotta' love the mood swings here. Sometimes I do, but admittedly, I'm done with snow for the year. I'm ready to be outside. I'm ready to be on the porch each night, relaxing with my husband.

I hope something positive has happened for each of you this past month, even if it was getting a bit of sun, treating yourself to something nice, or accomplishing something.

Before I jump to my submission stats, I figured I'd share my new release, plus one from Dancing Lemur Press. The publisher for my newest release gave each of the authors a personalized image to share with the info and our name, which was quite fun. They were quite pleasant to work with, and are taking submissions for the next themed books, as they're doing the entire alphabet. 

I is for Internet includes my story "Watched."

If you're interested in submitting, they have their next few themes up. J is for Jack-o'-Lantern is open for submissions through May 31. They must be horror short stories.

Dancing Lemur Press has put out the next IWSG Anthology, Dark Matter: Artificial!

Dark Matter: Artificial
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Discover dark matter’s secrets…

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!

Release date: May 4, 2021
Print ISBN 9781939844828 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844835 $4.99
186 pages

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter. A Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website for Writers and The Write Life’s Best 100 Website for Writers


Congratulations to everyone in the IWSG anthology!

Okay, submissions stats:

0 submissions
1 acceptance
3 rejections
8 short stories still on submission
2 novel queries out

Like I said last month, I'm kind of holding off on submissions until I decide if any of the current stories should be held back for the next anthology, which would likely come out in October. Until I make some decisions, which I need focused time for, I may only submit a story here or there if I see a specific, relevant call for a story like that one. Other than that, I probably won't submit much while school's going on solid fast forward.

If you haven't checked out the podcast, now's a good time to check it out or catch up! New episodes return May 19, with "D is for Dangerous." It was nice to have two weeks off from researching, recording, editing, uploading, and posting, but I'm ready to get back to it. You can always find episode information and the last few episodes at, or find us on your podcast or music provider.

Any news to share? What are your insecurities? Are you submitting? What were your stats for April?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

IWSG - Pushing Boundaries

 It's time for the April Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG serves to provide support to insecure writers and for writers to support each other. Anyone can participate. Click on Alex's name to view the rules.

Thank you to our co-hosts this month:  PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton!

I've just finished classwork and am tiiiired and ready for bed, so today's post will be short.

Optional Question: Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

I do try to stretch myself and try new things, including different styles and genres. I've written in all POVs. I've changed up my style multiple times. That's the beauty of short stories. There's more latitude to explore. And, yes, as I write horror there can be controversial topics involved. It's kind of the point of horror, other than to terrify, horrify, make uneasy, etc.

As for insecurities, I got some writing done during my week off between school terms, and I've submitted those stories. It felts amazing! I'm itching to work on projects I want to work on, but I need to focus more on school for now. I'll relax once I've gotten ahead of the schedule I need to be on, and then I'll have time and freedom to write.

Monthly submission check-in:

9 submissions

6 rejections

0 acceptances

13 stories currently on submission

I'm probably holding submissions that get rejected so I can consider what stories I might want to keep for my next collection and which ones I want to keep submitting. Some stories are, by nature, harder to find a home for, and I often know before I start submitting them that their chances of finding the right editor who loves them are low, but I often try a couple place that are possible first. After that, I keep them. The reasons for this can simply be because they have gore or another hard aspect that's a hard sell (most of the semi-pro and pro horror magazines want literary horror, which is not something I write much of), that they're horror comedy (which a lot of markets aren't interested in), or that the overall aspect of the story isn't something that will fit into niche markets. I do also check in to see if there are new markets that might be more receptive to a certain type of story, but otherwise, I hold those stories until I can put them out on my own.

I did address that I'd be changing things up in the future (when school is over), but for now I'll keep submitting what I've already got written so I don't get rusty, and because that's at least an aspect I can keep going during school. But ARGH, the new and different projects want my attention NOW!

Are you writing? Submitting? Publishing? Any personal publication news you want to share? What are your insecurities? Do you push boundaries with your writing?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Solution for Mom & Open Markets

Since I haven't posted open markets in ages, I figured I'd do a market roundup post for April. But first I figured I'd post a couple mini updates and a solution that freed up a little time for me a couple nights per week. 

First, I finished my first term of college classes. Forty credits done. I've got forty-seven more to go by October. I did take a week off instead of trying to finish another couple of classes this term, but I needed it. I've been able to use the week to relax, but also to get end-of-year tax stuff done, as well as a couple other projects. My new term starts tomorrow, and I'm ready to go. 

Second, with school more than full-time I needed something taken off my plate. I didn't even plan that pun. Anyway, I decided to give Hello Fresh a try, which is a meal service. We do it three days a week, so my husband, son, and daughter each choose a meal for that week, then they prepare it. We do pizza night once a week with a family movie, so that only leaves three days a week I have to worry about dinner. With my time stretched so thin, we'd been grabbing food to go a lot, anyway, and this actually turned out to be cheaper. I highly recommend it if you're the cook in the family and would like a break. Though I'd make a couple notes:

1. Set limits on types of food (example: they'd pretty much all choose pasta for every meal, so I've limited it to one pasta dish per week).

2. My next step needs to be to teach them to clean up after they mess up the kitchen. :p

3. I add an extra meal for the week if there's something I really want to try or if the things they chose aren't "real" food. Like if they choose flatbreads, quesadillas, or things like that, I'll probably make some sort of meat and potatoes dish.

4. Some meals need additional seasoning. At least in my opinion. 

To be clear, this isn't a sponsored post (though if they want to sponsor our podcast, that would be awesome.) But there's something called emotional labor that comes into play with meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prep, cleanup, etc. I'm not just making dinner constantly. I'm having to think through what I'll make for the next week, then go through all the steps. It takes up more mental space than people not in that role understand. The same goes for stuff like planning all the family appointments and planning what we do each week, etc. Doing this, I was able to do a month's worth of shopping for easy meals, stock the freezer and pantry, and with the HF meals coming into play, I'm no longer doing extensive meal planning all the bloody time. Yeah, I still end up dictating who makes their meal and when, but this is such a huge relief, so I wanted to pass it along in case anyone else could use something like this, and hadn't thought of what else it could relieve. 

Oddly, with this little taste of freedom I've been baking more fun stuff, like muffins, making fresh smoothies for snacks. I run to the store for fresh produce and oat milk when I'm out, but this even makes the produce thing easier. Before, I'd have to basically use up produce early on in the week then move onto things that weren't necessarily so fresh, but now I have exactly the amount of produce I need, and I don't have to waste anything if I don't get to it in time. The only produce I have to get now is fruit and veggies for snacks, plus I get salad stuff, because we can add a salad to any meal. Easy.

(I forgot to take a picture of the meal I made that first week. My husband hadn't chosen one that week, because we switch off some weeks, depending.)

Due to my kids being trapped in the house for a year, courtesy of the pandemic, we've also started taking them out once a week to pick a dessert somewhere. We've hit a couple local bakeries, a convenience store (for candy bars), an ice cream place we hadn't tried before, and locations like that. It gets them out of the house, gets us out of the house, and we get a real dessert once per week. Plus, we get to support a small business.

Okay, on to publications accepting submissions.

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

Goodman Publications is seeking sword and sorcery fantasy short stories for their magazine Tales From the Magician's Skull. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $.04/word. Deadline tomorrow, April 1.

Ninth Letter is seeking short stories with the theme "distanced." Up to 3500 words. Pays $25-$75, depending upon type of submission. Deadline April 5.

The Novelette is seeking YA and NA stories for Aesthetic: A Dark Academia Anthology. Any sub-genre. 1000-15,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline April 10.

Grist is holding a writing contest with no entry fees with the theme "Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors." 3000-5000 words. Prizes range from $300 to $3000. Deadline April 13.

Cloaked Press is seeking science fiction and fantasy short stories for their anthology Summer of Speculation. 4000-10,000 words. Pays $15. Deadline April 20.

Shooter Literary Magazine is seeking short stories with the theme "Escape." 2000-6000 words. Pays 25 pounds. Deadline April 25. 

Cryoseism Press/Frost Zone Press is seeking horror short stories for the anthology Handmade Horror. 600-5000 words. $10-$25 CAD, depending upon length. Deadline April 28.

Bronzewood Books is seeking gaslamp fantasy (fantasy paired with historical fiction) for their anthology Gaslamp Fantasy. 2000-8000 words. Pays $.015/word. Deadline April 30. 

Denver Horror Collective is seeking horror short stories for their anthology The Jewish Book of Horror. 3000-7500 words. Pays $30 for the first 3000 words, then 1/2 cent per word after that. Deadline April 30.

From the Farther Trees is seeking deep time fiction and poetry for their magazine The Mesozoic Reader. 1000-15,000 words. Pays $10. Deadline April 30. 

Accepting Submissions First Week of May:

Improbably Press is seeking cryptid short stories for their anthology Cryptids Emerging: Tales of Dark Cheer. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.05/word. Deadline May 1.

Spider Road Press is holding a writing contest with no entry fees for women and those who identify as women only. 20-100 words (microfiction). First prize is $150. Deadline May 1.

The First Line is seeking stories beginning with "Lena was raised on violin lessons and minimal parental supervision." 300-5000 words. Pays $5-$25, depending upon entry type and length. Deadline May 1.

Have you tried a home meal delivery kit? Which one? How did you like it? Any of these markets of interest? Anything to add?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Book Release: Jennifer Lane's Rivals


Title: Rivals
Author: Jennifer Lane
Genre: Sports Romance
Release Date: March 19, 2021
Cover Design: Dan Irons, Designs by Irons

“I embrace my rival. But only to strangle him.”
~Jean Racine

After landing her dream job as head volleyball coach at Ohio State University, Lauren Chase’s career has become a nightmare. Her only hope of saving her job is to recruit a star player to her team. Too bad the player’s twin has signed a football scholarship for OSU’s chief rival, Michigan. And too bad Michigan coach, Jeremy Trent, sends sparks through Lauren every time they cross paths. But no way will she pursue an attraction to a man who represents the university she hates.

Jeremy detests his boss, and he hopes that signing the nation’s #1 recruit is the ticket he needs to become a head coach himself one day. Lauren Chase is already a head coach, and Jeremy has to admit that she intrigues the hell out of him. He wants to know why her performance has tanked after winning a national championship. He wants to see beneath Lauren’s fast pace and dirty mouth. But he can’t get with a Buckeye, right?

Maybe rivals don’t have to remain enemies. Maybe they can learn to appreciate their opponent’s strengths. And, if they’re lucky—if they excel at the game—maybe rivals can bring out the very best in each other.

"Absolutely loved this book. The rivalry was spot on. This book has it all, humor, love and sports." ~Michelle from Besties & Books
"The uncanny portrayal of recruiting high-profile athletes in Rivals completely transported me into the story. I became so invested in Lauren Chase's success! When Coach Chase met Coach Trent, the chance of finding love on the recruiting trail turned into such a charming contest--a game more meaningful than they could ever imagine on the court or field." ~Gwynn Harrison, Head Swim Coach, Bridgewater College
"Fun read that captures the best of the greatest sports rivalry in the midst of a smoldering romance."~Kevin Kropf

Psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane invites you to her world of sports romance and romantic suspense with a psychological twist!

Jen fell in love with sports at a young age and competed in swimming and volleyball in college. She went on to become the Honda Award Winner for Division III Athlete of the Year. She still gets high from the smell of chlorine and the satisfaction of smashing a beautiful volleyball set.

Jen’s latest novel is Rivals, a romance between coaches from rival universities. Her Blocked trilogy also explores the transformation from hate to love. Particularly in this time of division, Jen’s favorite theme is finding common ground.

A romantic suspense trilogy (The Conduct Series) and a psychological thriller (Twin Sacrifice) complete Jen’s collection of stories. She calls Ohio home and shares writing space with her two trusted feline collaborators: Tuxedo and Tessa.

Whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time, she likes to exercise and visit her amazing sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.