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.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

IWSG - Epiphany & Streeeeetching

 It's time for the March Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists for writers to get support and lend support. Anyone can join. Just click on Alex's name and sign up, then hope around and visit as many people as you can, including these great co-hosts:

Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!

This month's optional question is: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

I read pretty much anything. I'm not big on romance, but read some here and there. Historical would also be less read, as would science fiction. But if I hear of a story that sounds good, I'm going to read it, no matter the genre. Plus, I read friends' books, no matter the genre. I will say that I lean more toward horror, urban fantasy, and mystery/thriller. I also enjoy memoir, comedy, and some women's fiction. I should probably note that I do also write in other genres, so it's all a matter of the nature of story I think of and what I feel like writing. I just usually tend to want to write horror.

For this month, my insecurities stem from having recently had a bit of an epiphany that sprung from being hurt by something that occurred in the local horror community, though nothing was done to purposely set out to target me in any way. With Stoker Con coming up, and with it having been initially scheduled to occur in Denver (it's now online this year and in Denver next year, which I thought I would be really excited by), a souvenir book was put out by a publisher in Denver that's to be sent to everyone registered for the conference, featuring a smorgasbord of Colorado horror authors, as well as bigwig authors in other states. This was done by invite, not by a submission process.

I wasn't in the book.

Of additional note, I'm in the HWA (Horror Writers Association) with most of the other people published (and a bunch of people who I feel have also earned their place there, but didn't make it). Now, it wasn't meant to be a be-all, end-all of Colorado horror authors, but I feel it was certainly meant to be representative. Several of the people published in the book don't even really write horror. Some have dabbled, but really write in other genres. So on and so forth. Having said that, I'm sure it's a great collection of stories. They're all talented writers.

Short version of the story: it hurt deeply that I wasn't included. 

I was contacted by the publisher and they apologized for making me feel like I wasn't part of the local horror community. I want to put that part out there so people are aware that there is a good person behind this who didn't do anything to intentionally leave me or anyone else out. They said they knew other people who they also would have loved to include, but they had only so much latitude.

For me, it was just one more slight in a series of slights that, again, aren't necessarily personal, but that it's hard not to TAKE personally. You see, I don't live in Denver. So while I do get invited to speak at a couple cons in Denver, there are a lot of things I'm excluded from, because I'm not in the right city. Denver is *the big city,* and thus they control a lot of who is seen and who isn't. You'd think it would help knowing it's not about me, but about not living in the right city and therefore being out of sight, out of mind, but it doesn't. Because how do I fix it if it's not about my abilities?

I did try, by the way, to fix it. I finally joined the HWA after avoiding it because I saw the same group of people constantly representing them, and they were almost all from Denver. I didn't feel there would be a place for me. But I finally joined after some coaxing from a couple other members who live down here in Colorado Springs, and what I ended up dealing with was a man leading the group who had led it for decades, had no administration or other "board" members, and had never considered any sort of election to run the group. With the HWA being a national group (which due to another national group I'd been part of, was part of why I avoided the HWA to begin with), I would have thought there was a stricter way of running a satellite group. Then during the pandemic, things went a bit crazy. That crazy escalated into what appears to have been a full blown breakdown by the Denver HWA president that ended in a very ugly fashion and shattered the group. So I got to spend what was already a stressful few months dealing with this inevitable escalation that ended so badly.

Luckily, those people who had originally encouraged me to join started a satellite group in Colorado Springs, and when the Denver group exploded, most of the folks from the Denver group moved to the Springs one, and I was asked to be a founding member. 

And as a founding member, I was STILL left out of that book. Myself and one other founding member. The rest of that group are in it.

So honestly, I'm likely skipping this year's conference, and I'm not positive I'll attend next year. Mixed in with the above, there was also a LOT of drama concerning the conference, and I went from being asked to help out as a volunteer to suddenly being completely in the dark, because the Denver president made a decision about the conference that got planning and such removed completely from the Colorado satellite's hands. I'm also not delighted with the way national handled ANY of what went down, both when it was just conference stuff and during the breakdown.

What's funny about all this is that I'd quit a volunteer position in a different writer's group back in September, because I wanted to have a writing community for which I wasn't doing a huge chunk of the work and where I didn't have to be involved in drama and politics of any sort. In short, I wanted to be just enough of an outsider that I no longer knew what all was happening behind the scenes, who was and wasn't doing the work to keep the organization running, etc. I just wanted to be a member, to have a community, and to be able to do things without having to run those things. It's been a long, long time since that was the case. In fact, I didn't even get to be that person for more than a couple months when I first joined that first group, because I got sucked into taking first one then another volunteer position pretty quickly when they saw someone eager to help.

I'd been desperate all this time to have a community specifically about horror, because horror, like romance, is often on the outskirts and people have a very particular view of it and the people who write it. There is also often a significant lack of understanding and even a feeling of being uncomfortable with the topics a horror writer discusses.

What I got was a crap ton more drama.

So that was awful long, more than I intended, and it doesn't actually cover half of it. It's a pretty vague summary, actually, and probably doesn't truly convey the issues. But it was this combination of things, paired with the fact that I haven't sold a short story since about September, I think it was, that sent me into a full blown spiral of depression and self-doubt. 

But it also led to an epiphany. 

It's past time for me to change things up. To diversify. I've been focusing on primarily horror short stories for a while, and those stories have been kind to me. I was stunned when I was accepted as a REAL writer, despite not being a novelist. And the thing is, I WAS accepted and included in the larger writing community, and that should have been enough. But it's time for me to re-evaluate what I do. It's time to focus on the novels and craft books that have been rotating like a patient twister in the background, constantly on my mind, but overshadowed as I tried to produce, produce, produce the horror short stories, because those were what I was selling. And I didn't know HOW to slow down, how to not be constantly going for that next acceptance. I've mentioned before that the process of submitting short stories is addictive. Each sale you make drives you to sell more, more, more, to get into that publication you haven't been in yet. 

It's time to slow down on that (I'm not leaving it completely behind). It's time to switch things up, to push myself, to stretch myself, and to try my hand at the things I've only really been thinking of up until now.

I also think it's time to stop shopping my novel, to give it one more polish, and to start self-publishing my contemporary fantasy monster hunter books. Waiting for that agent "yes," and more recently that self-publisher "yes," made it so I didn't get a book published before my dad died. I can't stress to you how significant a goal that was for me. I wanted him to see that I could do it, and he never will. He'll also never see me get the degree I'm currently working on, and it was so important to him that I get a degree. He always had full faith that I'd succeed in whatever I did, yet he never got to see that realized. I'm done waiting. I'm done with the molasses-slow process of traditional publishing. At least for that book. It doesn't mean I won't try with future books or series, but I want this baby out in the world, and I want something I love to be seen.

So a hurt that wasn't intentional (and, frankly, it was very kind of the publisher to reach out to me when I lamented on Facebook that I'd been left out once again--I'm not proud of that post, but I was hurt deeply enough that my husband found me shaking and sobbing over it, and I'm not a cryer), along with a series of, as I called them elsewhere, flesh wounds involving the publishing world and writing community, made me realize I'd gotten way too comfortable. While I saw myself as stretching because I tried to write short stories in different genres or even stories that were types of horror I didn't usually write, or responding to calls that were outside my wheelhouse, or just to write in a different style, I wasn't. They were baby stretches. I was stretching, but still within a portion of my comfort zone. 

While school is still going to take precedence right now, know that in the next year there are going to be exciting announcements. I'd like to think of this stage as my chrysalis. From that chrysalis, I intend to come out as a new person with new goodies to offer. By this time next year, I intend to have a business degree and to have metamorphosed my writing career.

And, finally, instead of feeling insecure and struggling as I have been for months and months (some of which I've expressed on here and on Facebook during major bouts of depression), I feel excited again. And any trepidation I have is simply about pursuing the unknown in new adventures. I can't wait to get done with school so I can fully dive in, but until then I'll do what I can.

As for where I stand with writing communities, the jury's still out. I've started thinking that the only way to get everything I've been wanting is to completely withdraw from the communities around here. I can still be friends with those I've become friends with, but I don't need to strive to be part of something more than that.

Aside from that, there have been other life stresses, some of which I've posted about on here, some of which I haven't. Bear with me while I go through these changes, please. 

Submission stats for February:

9 submissions

2 "rejections" due to magazines shutting down :(

11 rejections other than those 2

0 acceptances

10 submissions currently on submission (I've got 7 rejections I haven't turned back around yet)

What are your insecurities? What genres do you read? Have you ever been part of a national writing group? What were your experiences like? Have you ever made a large career change? Have you ever changed direction in your writing?

May you find your Muse.

*Butterfly clipart, OCAL,

*Gymnastic clipart, OCAl,

*People Group clipart, OCAL,

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Media Roundup

 It's once again been a while. School keeps me busy, as does life these days. But I'm trucking along, and I'm still reading every night. I kinda' have to if I want to have any chance at sleeping.


The Glass Forest, by Cynthia Swanson

A mystery about a disappearance and a...suicide? Murder?

The author wraps in a character's story leading up to her disappearance, interspersed with the current investigation of her husband, found dead in the forest behind their house. Skillfully done. A story that will touch your heart and fold you into it as you try to figure out what's actually happening. But sometimes the secret keepers are really good at keeping those secrets.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker

This one was fascinating, not just for its study of a family where a majority of their kids have schizophrenia, but because of the glimpses of history it gave me of the city I live in. I couldn't help but feel deeply for the mother, left to deal with all these kids, many of whom had schizophrenia in varying degrees of severity, by a man who was more intent on getting what he wanted than caring for the family he had. The story of this family is truly heartbreaking, but the studies done on them have and will help future generations.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold

The research that went into this is astounding. A truly human look at the canonical five victims of Jack the Ripper. If you're looking for a book about Jack, this isn't the one. This is a set of mini biographies about the victims, most of whom were wrongly stereotyped as sex workers. The author pulls no punches, giving an honest look at the troubled lives of these women. The streets of England were cruel, even without a homicidal maniac running around. How anyone survived is beyond me.

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, by Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson

This is a collection of mini biographies of the women who shaped horror and speculative fiction. It includes recommendations of books each one wrote, plus similar books if you'd like to explore more. 

Lucky Man: A Memoir, by Michael J. Fox

I grew up with Michael J. Fox on TV and in movies. This book traces the discovery of his Parkinson's Disease, but also his arrival in Hollywood and the shape it took. It's honest and raw. A good read if you're a Fox fan.

Mexican Gothic, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

A gothic horror novel set in Mexico, it's a different spin on the genre. Though it took me some time to get into the main character, Noemi, I realized that what I struggled with about the character was the very thing that made the character so real: her ability to act flighty and fickle, because that's what others around her expected. Creepy, with a setting that's a character, the book takes the reader to different world.

The Women of Brewster Place, by Gloria Naylor

Powerful. Stunning. Heartbreaking. Amazing.

This one caught me by the fingernails and dragged me along with it. The stories of several from a certain neighborhood revolve, some of them coming into contact, to give an unabashed look at the lives and struggles of black women in a troubled era. Raw, real, beautifully written. I wanted to know more.

Angel Falls, by Tess Thompson

Actually written by two women (Charlene Tess and Judi Thompson), it's a romantic suspense that focuses more on the romance, I'd say. The characters are good, especially the main character's abuela. Definitely a different spin on the usual romantic suspense. Magdalena runs a troubled resort plagued by issues. When one of those issues becomes a body in the water tank, it's clear things have escalated to a new level. Then Russell walks in out of the mountains with a backpack full of secrets. It was a little more romance than suspense for me, but once it picked up further along in the story, it grabbed my attention. Lots of little twists.

Night of the Mannequins, by Stephen Graham Jones

It all starts with a prank perpetrated by a group of teens. They dress up a mannequin and sneak him into the movie theater to trick the theater manager. But at the end of the movie, Manny gets up and walks out. Now they're dying off one by one. Is it Manny or something else? A nice, short piece of horror that will twist you up and horrify you.

Flipped: A Jillian McElroy Flipping Mystery, by K.A. Olgren

A cozy mystery that takes place during a house flip. Jillian McElroy knows what she wants, and she's determined to make it happen. But a villainous neighbor wants to stop her. What happened to the previous owner? What's the neighbor after? There's a great sense of humor and a fun cast of characters.


The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
(Amazon Prime)

This film is delightful, but also sad once you get down to the background. Two teens are stuck in a time loop, repeating the day over and over. Each must figure out why it's happening and try to get back to normal. Of course, plenty of shenanigans must first ensue.

Walk of Shame
(HBO Max)

I found this under "NSFW Comedy," so take that as you may. There's nothing truly naughty or dirty in it. Elizabeth Banks plays an up and coming newscaster who gets caught in the ultimate walk of shame. After getting trapped on a fire escape outside a club, having had a few too many shots, she gods home with the bartender. Sneaking out before he wakes up, she discovers her car's been towed and she has no way back in the building, because there aren't any names on the bells, just apartment numbers. Plus, the door's locked. She must find her way through the big city in the middle of the night, with nothing but her car keys since her purse was in the car and she's left her cell phone in his apartment. Mistaken for a sex worker, she gets into progressively more trouble, chased by the cops and an angry cab driver, etc. A funny, if irreverent movie.

Irma la Douce
(Amazon Prime)

This was funny, adorable, and ridiculous. Perfect for a mental escape. I'm a bit late to the game since this came out in 1963. Starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, he's a too-honest cop and she's a sex worker. But when he gets fired for busting the police chief in a den of iniquity (whoops), he somehow ends up as her pimp. But he wants her to himself and devises a plan with an accomplice to keep her from sleeping with other men. Eventually, it leads to a lot of trouble. A Billy Wilder film, which probably tells you some of what you need to know.


Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

An at times overdramatic look at the Cecil Hotel and it's history. The Cecil is where Elisa Lamb met her mysterious fate in the water tank atop the hotel. Footage of her behaving oddly in the elevator is truly chilling every time it's played. They get down to the real details and the official call. 

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch

A "documentary" about investigating the background of Skinwalker Ranch and the reason behind all the strange events that happen there. I put documentary in quotes, because it was very dramatic and silly in some ways, but an interesting watch. If you can get past the cheesiness of the cast, it's worth a watch.

Call Me Kat

A cute, lighthearted show where Mayim Bialik's character regularly breaks the fourth wall. The owner of a cat cafe, Kat gets into shenanigans on the regular.

The Crew

A Kevin James show where he's NOT the buffoon. You heard me. It's a pleasant change. Does he get into dustups? Of course, but the buffoon comedy comes from a couple costars instead of him. My husband and I dipped our toes into this one with trepidation, but are both enjoying it. It's set in a NASCAR garage, with Kevin as the crew chief. The driver's an idiot, but he's good at his job. Along comes the owner's daughter, fresh out of business school and rearing to change everything. Kevin's the dinosaur who has to balance her out.

(Disney +)

Quirky fun that gets darker and more serious as the series progresses. Wanda and Vision are stuck in an alternate reality of some sort. Each episode of this show occurs in a different era, beginning with black and white and parodying the types of shows from each decade. The first episode is a bit Donna Reed and it keeps on going up through the last episode, which was very Modern Family. There are plenty of easter eggs for Marvel fans (many which I'm sure are escaping me). It'll be easier to watch if you're caught up on the Avenger series of films. I'd only seen the last one once, so it took me a bit of catching up at times. If you're familiar with the comics, I've heard there's tons in this show that play off the original stories.



An amusing podcast with co-hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. I happened across this one accidentally, and I'm glad I did! Each episode one of them brings on a guest that's a surprise to the other two, and they come up with interview questions on the spot. Their guests include actors, comedians, and even a politician, so far.

I know I've watched other movies, but I can't for the life of me remember. What have you been watching or reading lately?