Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Flower in My Hair - Reflections on Genre Bias

It's one of those weeks again, where there's been an attack on horror authors via social media, implying we're all psychopaths and terrible people. Happily, I've never had someone tell me to my face that they believe this about me, but on the wider spectrum it can be hurtful to hear this repeatedly.

Angry Eyes, by OCAL,

The good thing is, I can fall back on my communities, those of the blogging world and of the authors here in Colorado who I've gotten to know, and I can remind myself that there are plenty of people who know that being involved in the horror world doesn't make someone a bad person, just a creative person whose creativity has a dark bent sometimes. I also write humor, mystery, memoir, fantasy, and science fiction, and no one has judged me based on those things.

It makes me think of the abuse those in the romance genre also get. The insinuations and side-eyes they receive, because they MUST be smutty people, right? No, of course not. Or how about when a literary writer looks down at genre writers as writing junk or when the opposite happens and a genre writer dismisses a literary writer as being snooty?

We writers know that writing something doesn't mean we've done it, that we want to do it, or anything along those lines. I'm not even sure, though, if this current attack that blew up on Twitter came from a writer or a reader, but I've seen plenty of writers generalize those in other genres, and even in their own genres. After all, we do this all the time about ourselves. Stereotypes exist for a reason. Sometimes we amuse ourselves by playing around with stereotypes. For example, that guy at the bar who laughingly downs his fifth beer and says it's okay, because he's Irish. Or what about all the stereotypes surrounding something as basic and unchangeable (except with dye) as hair color? I bet if I asked you to list a bunch of hair color stereotypes you could bang them out, no problem. You may have even joked about your own hair color before. 

The Beer Snob, by OCAL,

As writers, I think we often employ stereotypes or generalities in our writing, especially in the beginning before we learn to outgrow those bottled characters, settings, or situations. In some ways, it's a necessity, as it's a comfort level for a reader to find familiarity, and one way to achieve that is through generalizing and using commonalities or things we've observed regularly. When there's a story about a group of people, chances are at least some of those characters will fall under some sort of stereotype, like the fiery, short woman or the "Karen" asking to see the manager. Part of writing is pulling the reader in as soon as possible, so if we sat back and looked at the ways we do that, we might find we're generalizing or stereotyping more than we even realized it.

However, I mourn for the days where I didn't hesitate before answering every time someone asked me what I wrote. Now I lob it like a softball and wait for a reaction before I say anything else about it. The two responses I'm most likely to get are either "Oh, I love horror! What have you published?" or "Oh, I don't read that stuff." Sometimes I get a really puzzled or semi-disgusted look and a, "But you're so pretty," as if somehow not looking like a hideous beast means I can't possibly be a horror author. That one cracks me up, and I can usually spin it into something positive.

Hey, to each their own. I don't hold it against anyone if they don't read horror. I admit that sometimes I get tired of hearing it, especially when it's thrown out like a shield or as if they feel they have to state it lest they be judged as a horrible person. I don't respond to someone who writes a genre I don't read with, "Oh, I don't read that," even if I don't or it's rare that I do. I don't hate any genre that I can think of. And I certainly don't think ill of anyone writing any particular genre. I prefer to continue asking them questions about their stories and their love of their preferred genre, so I'm supporting them instead of making them feel defensive or shutting them down. After all, we're all spinning tales and creating worlds and situations, which means there's always something worthwhile to talk about. Even someone writing memoir or other nonfiction is actively creating, whittling down the many details that surround real life, then weaving the remaining threads into a story people want to read.

Things were more fun when I didn't fear people's reactions to me doing something I love. When I didn't have to wait out whether that person might end the conversation with me or get that look of disgust before they realized it and brought it under control. When they didn't eyeball me as if looking for a knife hidden behind my back or horns peeping out from beneath my hair. I'm well aware that I shouldn't care what others think of me. I'm a middle-aged woman, after all, and no matter what I've done as a serial people pleaser, I'm certain I've left behind plenty of people who simply didn't like me.

But those who do like horror, and those who simply respect that it's something I enjoy, and that it doesn't make me a bad person, make it worth it. Because ultimately writers DO support writers. There are bad eggs, but they're greatly outnumbered, and I truly believe that most writers don't judge each other based on the genre they write, and are just intrigued as to the worlds their counterparts create. I know it's that way for me. I want to know about your stories. I want to know what inspires you. 

Photo with my "thank you" mug from Sisters in Crime after a recent workshop I did for them. Note the flower in my hair and the suit jacket.

So I put a flower in my hair to signal that I'm harmless, dress professionally at writing events so they know I'm a normal person, and throw out that softball to wait it out and see where the conversation will go afterward.

If you've ever had a knee jerk reaction about a genre someone writes, I'd love to challenge you to read a story in that genre and to go one step further: write a piece of flash fiction or a short story in that genre and see how you feel about it then.

Do you have a genre you have a knee jerk reaction to? Is it one you've experienced or is it one you've always avoided? Have you ever challenged yourself to try out a genre you weren't fully comfortable with? What happened with that?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

March Media Roundup, Signed Book Available, & New Release

It's been busy around here lately! Job interviews. Jobs taken. Jobs quit. More job interviews. In the meantime, I was interviewed on the Multiple Voices podcast. My episode will be airing May 9, so I'll update when I have links.

Own Voices podcast
Interview with me coming soon!

A magazine release I've been waiting for has finally occurred! Issue #24 of Typehouse Literary was released this past week. It includes my horror short story Coffin Birth. As my story dealt with indigenous issues, I was also asked to do a piece at the end about MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), which was amazing of the magazine to request. This issue is currently available free to read in PDF or for sale in print directly from the magazine. Click on the bolded link above to read it!

Typehouse Literary Issue 24
Includes my story Coffin Birth

You can now purchase signed copies of The Business of Short Stories from the online bookstore Author, Author! They'll have one of my upcoming anthology releases, as well, and there are some fun goodies, including writing-related masks, so check them out!

Okay, on to some media I've enjoyed in the last month or so.


Shattered, by C. Lee McKenzie

Shattered, by C. Lee McKenzie

Libby is on her way to the Olympics until a terrible accident occurs. Or was it an accident? This book combines the heart and drama of YA/NA and the intrigue of mystery. Great characters and solid pace.

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir - J.Q. Rose

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir, by J.Q. Rose

In this memoir, we delve into the logistics of opening a new business and the risks and emotional impacts that come from it. A pleasant read, and inspirational.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware

While I didn't enjoy this one as much as "One by One," by the same author, it was still a good read. It felt slightly cozier than that one. Hal gets a letter that a relative has died and she's in the will. Only...she has no further family that she knows of. Family drama, family secrets, and a multitude of mysteries wrapped into one. 

Striking Range - Margaret Mizushima

Striking Range, by Margaret Mizushima

In the 7th book of the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series, K-9 officers Mattie Cobb and Robo (the K-9) investigate a murder and a missing infant that might be tied to several other crimes. Fast paced and twisty.


No Exit (Hulu)

No Exit on Hulu

I happened across this one after a spate of disappointing indie horror films, and was pleasantly surprised. A group of people are stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard. When Darby steps outside, she discovers a young girl tied up in the back of a van. Unsure who it belongs to, she must try to figure out how to save the girl and herself. Solid cast. Great suspense. Plenty of twists.

Spider Man - No Way Home

Spiderman: No Way Home

Okay, this one felt to me to be a bit forced and to be based on a flawed premise, but it was still entertaining. As someone who's seen the Spiderman films starting with Tobey Maguire and followed by Andrew Garfield, seeing all three Spideys together was fun, as was seeing bad guys from the previous films. My trouble was the stupid decisions that led to this setup, as well as the motives of some of the baddies. This is an emotional one, so be prepared. One mid-credits scene and a trailer for an upcoming MCU film at the end.

Frontier(s) (Shudder)


Shudder recently uploaded a bunch of French horror, and I've been working my way through it when I can watch something with subtitles. This was a standout, though part of that is because I'd seen several of the others already. I described this on Facebook as Texas Chainsaw Massacre set in rural France with literal Nazis. In case you can't tell from the cover photo, this one's violent and gory. Some others I watched that I'd already seen, and that I'd recommend were High Tension and Martyrs. All are extreme. Irreversible is also a good film that's filmed in an interesting way, BUT it has a drawn out (real time), unflinching rape scene that I highly recommend against unless you can stomach it. The other three I've mentioned do not have rape scenes, but are still hard to deal with. This recommendation is for hardcore horror fans only. This is a genre called French Extremity.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There be Carnage

I'm not sure what to say about this one. If you liked the first one, you'll like the second one. Probably? I enjoyed it, but I shut my brain off for movies like this and enjoy the craziness. There was a lot of humor in it, and the relationship between the host and the alien was more fun than in the first film. 

Fresh (Hulu)


A fresh take on cannibalism (get it?), this popped up on Hulu, as well. If you're a fan of Sebastian Stan, here's one for you. Considering it's about cannibalism, there's shockingly little gore or even blood. This one's more psychological than anything else. A woman is kidnapped and held hostage along with several other women so that the Winter Soldier can sell off parts of them to a rich secret society who enjoy the taste of human. Can she free herself while there's still any of her self to save? There are some intriguing differences in this one, setting it apart from the typical gore and violence appearing in movies taking on this topic. A solid, twisted film with a good cast.

TV Shows

Our Flag Means Death (HBO+)

Our Flag Means Death

A goofy take on the pirate life, based on a true story. The cast is fantastic, the setup ridiculous. A silly comic romp. A man leaves behind his dignified life to become a pirate captain. But he's terrible at it. With mutiny a constant threat, he tries to match up his desire to treat his pirate crew well and their need for action.

The Neighbors (Hulu/ABC)

The Neighbors

A regular American family moves into a nice, middle class neighborhood, only to discover their neighbors are all aliens. The humans set out to teach the aliens how to be better at humaning. Funny, but also with some lovely, heartfelt moments. George Takei and Mark Hamill had funny cameos on one of the recent episodes.

Home Economics (Hulu/ABC)

Home Economics

Another comedy sitcom. Easily digestible. I checked it out because of Topher Grace, but the entire cast is solid. A set of siblings deals with each other in their adult lives. There's plenty of competition, fighting, and affection. If you've got siblings, you'll enjoy this. One of the more realistic depictions of an author in a TV show (as in, he isn't a multimillionaire because he published one book--he's not even successful.) 

Have you seen or read any of these? How did you like them? Have you heard of the Multiple Voices paranormal podcast? Any shows or books you'd recommend that you've enjoyed lately?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Guest Post, Podcast Appearance, Call for Guests, & Links

Hello! I was remiss in posting a couple things that popped on IWSG day, so even though I added them to the post that evening after my hosting duties, I wanted to give them due credit before posting this month's submission links.

I visited Damyanti Biswas with a guest post on Writing Short Stories: Benefits for Novelists. As creatives, we always have to be thinking on our feet. My post discusses some ways novelists can use short stories to their benefit. Plus, did you know Damyanti has a new book up for preorder? Blue Bar can be found in various online shops.

Myth & Magic fantasy podcast for writers

In addition, I was a guest on Myth & Magic, a podcast hosted by Neil Mach. He was a delight to speak with. Because he's in England and I'm in Colorado, USA, we met up at 2 AM my time and first thing in the morning for him. You can listen to that episode via Apple Podcasts or via Google Podcasts. Myth & Magic is a fantasy podcast for writers. He also has several novels available for sale.

Neil Mach, host of Myth & Magic

Both of my above hosts are great resources for writers, albeit in different formats. Another resource I've found to be wonderful is PodMatch. It's a website that matches podcasters up with guests. I first found it for my true crime podcast, but haven't actually used it to book anyone yet. It allowed for me to set myself up as both a guest and a host, so I put myself out there as a guest, as well, and have been invited by several interesting podcasts to be a guest. Myth & Magic was one of those. As was DJ Curveball's podcast a few months ago. And I'll be recording with an Italian podcast next week, which is exciting! I'll pass that information along once I have air date and links. As authors, this is a helpful resource, so I wanted to pass it along.

We're always seeking writing guests for Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem. If you'd be interested in being a guest, which would involve you telling us and our listening audience about a true crime, a haunting, or something similar with which you have some sort of personal connection (even if that connection is that this is a thing that has interested you for a time and you want to look into it further and chat about it). You would have about 20 minutes for your piece, and we would each also be presenting a [possibly] related story for 20 minutes each. We record Sundays at 2 PM MT. We always chat for the first few minutes in order to ask you to introduce yourself and your books. If you're interested, please fill out the Google form.

Okay, NOW it's time for links. We're in a busy season for short submissions, so there are a lot in the rest of March and April. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

B Cubed Press is seeking short stories, essays, or poetry with the theme of speculative fiction holidays for Alternate Holidays. 100 to 7500 words, but longer stories are a hard sell. Pays $.03/word, plus royalties, and a portion of profits goes to the ACLU. Deadline March 30.

B Cubed Press is also seeking short stories, essays, or poetry with the theme of female leaders for Madam President. Same details as their anthology above.

Bag of Bones Press is seeking stories set in 2022 in the genre of horror or dark speculative fiction for Annus Horribilis. Up to 2022 words. Pays £6.66. Deadline March 31.

Iron Faerie Publishing is seeking short stories for fairy tale retellings involving a mirror. Speculative fiction. 2500 to 7000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline March 31.

Hiraeth Publishing is seeking paranormal short stories for ParAbnormal. 3000 to 6000 words. Pays $25. Deadline March 31.

Android Press is seeking solarpunk and/or cyberpunk stories for an anthology. 500 to 7500 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline March 31.

Lackington's is seeking speculative fiction about prehistories. 1500 to 5000 words. Pays 1 cent CAD/word. Deadline March 31.

Cohesion Press is seeking weird western action horror for SNAFU: Dead or Alive. 2000 to 10,000 words. Pays AUD5c/word. Deadline March 31.

Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing is seeking speculative fiction stories about previously full spaces that have been abandoned for Legion of Dorks Presents: Abandoned--An anthology of Vacant Spaces. Up to 7000 words. Pays $50. Deadline March 31.

Eric Raglin is seeking body horror stories for Shredded: A Sports and Fitness Body Horror Anthology. 2000 to 4500 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline March 31. 

Cemetery Gates Media is seeking short stories set in a graveyard for Picnic in the Graveyard. Must take place in a cemetery/graveyard. 2000 to 4000 words. Pays $.07/word. Deadline April 1.

Android Press is seeking lunarpunk stories for Bioluminescent. 500 to 7500 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline April 1.

Bullshit Lit Mag + Press is seeking ridiculous riddles, stories, poems, art, and word games. Up to 2500 words. Pays $5. Deadline April 1.

Camden Park Press is seeking stories that combine fantasy (magic) and cozy/soft-boiled mystery for Witches of a Certain Age. The main character must be a female/female-identifying witch over 40. 6000 to 8000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline April 1.

Seaborne Magazine is seeking short stories and vignettes having to do with the sea. 1500 to 4000 words for short stories. Pays £5. Deadline April 3. is seeking stories, poetry, nonfiction, and art about wildfires. Fiction is up to 5000 words. Pays $200. Deadline April 4.

Donnie Goodman is seeking marijuana-related horror for the Strange Weeds Anthology. 1500 to 4200 words. Pays $10. Deadline April 20.

Dragon Soul Press is seeking steampunk stories for Age of Artifice. 5000 to 15000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline April 30.

Ghost Orchid Press is seeking horror stories inspired by neurodiverse experiences for Rewired. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline April 30.

Kopfkino Publishing is seeking fairy tale themed horror for Midnight in the Dying Garden: Fairy Tales for the End of the World. 1000 to 7000 words. Pays $25-$150CAD. Deadline April 30.

Water Dragon Publishing is seeking short stories with positive visions for the future for The Future's So Bright. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline April 30.

Have you listened to Myth & Magic before? Have you heard of Podmatch? Do you have any questions about possibly being a guest on the podcast? Any of these submission links of interest? Are you submitting right now? How's it going?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

IWSG - What's Next? Release Hangover

It's the first Wednesday of March, which makes it time for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists so writers can share their insecurities with each other and seek or give reassurance and advice. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and put your blog on the linky list. Then hop around and visit some of your fellow insecure writers. Plus, be sure to visit this month's co-hosts.

The co-hosts this month are Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence! Hey, that's me!

The optional question for this month is: Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

I'm sure I've faced a few of these, considering the subject matter I've written in horror, but the example that comes to mind is from my fantasy novel that's in the works. I put a super steamy sex scene near the beginning of the book, but it's a mistake for the main character. There were reasons I put it there, but I consulted my critique group. While they were mixed on whether it should stay, I ultimately went with the naysayers and scrapped it, because I wasn't sure it was what the character needed right then. I did save the scene in a separate document, though, because it got great reactions. Someday it will likely be recycled.

My insecurity this month has to do with having finished the major push for my last book release. It was all I was doing for over a month, so once I finished with the bulk of it (of course, marketing goes on), I hit the release hangover. I'm struggling to pick up a new project with any relish. Part of that is that I'd planned to release a second book, a horror collection, this month, but I decided it was too soon and I'd burn myself out if I did it. Instead, that collection will wait until next March, though I'll likely put out a differently themed one before then, as well. 

So here I am, fussing around with a couple short stories, but having trouble deciding on my next big project so I can throw myself into it like I did my last release. It felt good to be in the flow with the writing, then the editing, then the release, then the marketing push. Now everything feels a bit inconsequential and scattered. It's always a weird place to be. Next time I need to have a concrete plan that doesn't involve releasing another book practically back-to-back unless they're both completely ready and the launches for both are pre-planned adequately.

And, of course, I'm waiting for those reviews to roll in, but I have my first two, which is awesome! Craft books and nonfiction take me longer to read, so I expect that of my own NF title, as well, and have just been reminding myself of that when I checked and had no reviews yet. 

I was a guest at Damyanti Biswas' blog today, posting about Writing Short Stories; Benefits for Novelists.

I was also a guest on Myth & Magic, a fantasy podcast, which can be found at the following links:

Okay, it's time for my submission roundup for February. In February, my stats were:

9 submissions

4 rejections

0 acceptances

1 withdrawal (it was a simultaneous submission, and I'd sold the story elsewhere at the end of January)

22 stories currently out on submission

I did a thank you to some of the wonderful folks who helped me get the word out about my new book for last week's post. If you're looking for some great new reads, please check out that post! Huge Thank You, Writer's Fun Zone, Read with Fey, & Free Horror Reading

There's always The Business of Short Stories if you're at all interested in writing and submitting short stories or in doing your own collections. You can click the link or go to my Publications tab for more availability options, including my Square storefront, where you can buy signed copies of any of my solo titles.

The Business of Short Stories
Now available online and in select bookstores

What are your insecurities? What project are you currently working on? Do you get a bit scattered and "hungover" after a book release? Have you ever debated a scene in your book or story? Are you submitting? What did your submissions look like for February? 

May you find your Muse.

*Blue swoosh, by OCAL,