Wednesday, May 25, 2022

May Media Roundup & Conference Updates

I had a busy few weeks, with Pikes Peak Writers Conference at the end of April and StokerCon two weeks later. Funnily, I was anxious about attending each, though for different reasons, but both went well, and I had a lot of fun. Those of you who also suffer from fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome know well what I'm going through after attending two conferences back to back, but I'm glad I went.

I already posted a bit of a recap of PPWC in my May IWSG post, but I didn't post pictures, so figured I'd share some of those here. Our long-time photographer, and the person who did my headshots, which I still use, Jared Hagan, did a fun photo studio for the Saturday dinner, which was prom-themed. I chose not to go prommy, but I did dress up. 

Me with a couple friends: MB and Kim

MB and I pimping a friend's book (David R. Slayton, Deadbeat Druid)

Hiding in my room to get some downtime

With friends Charise and Pete

With friends (and now my publisher) Sam and MB

Friday horror clothes for a Friday horror workshop (look closely at the jacket lining--I'm not flashing you just for fun)

Me psyching myself up to do my last workshop of the weekend (number five) before folks showed up

Kameron and I in a goofy pose

StokerCon only lasted two days for me. Since I had a reading Thursday night, a panel Friday morning (EARLY), and then the book signing Friday night, I switched my hotel nights to Thursday and Friday, and headed home Saturday. By that time, I was also incredibly sick with vertigo, because I had to use the elevator, as the hotel had the stairwells locked from the inside to keep homeless folks out of the hotel. The hotel, The Curtis, was in the middle of downtown, or what's referred to as LoDo--Lower Downtown. I try not to take elevators when I can help it, which, yes, has meant using the stairs in some insanely tall buildings. For SC, I was on the 16th floor, in a beautiful corner room with a view of the city. I learned the stairwell doors were locked AFTER descending from the 16th floor to the second floor and having to climb back up, trying doors as I went, until I found an unlocked door on the tenth floor. 

My reading went well, with a nice turnout, including several friends. We walked a few blocks to grab dinner afterward, then went to a social with an open bar. There, I made a point of introducing myself to some folks I've only "met" on Facebook before. Everyone was very friendly. Then I went to a fun panel that was split into two teams. Each team was given a famous horror villain and had to make their case for why their villain would beat the other villain. Then a panel of three judges decided who had won. It was a lot of fun, and there were some major horror authors all together on one panel.

Monster Mash panel, with Brian Keene, Jennifer McMahon, Nancy Holder, Sephera Giron, Jeff Strand, Marc Abbott, John Skipp, (and some folks whose names are not popping up in my head right now...sorry!)

The next day, I got up super early and waited at the elevator. And waited. And waited. When you're on the 16th floor during a busy convention, the elevator comes to you quite sparingly, as it turns out. Of course, I normally would have just TAKEN THE STAIRS. Since I couldn't, I was late to my one and only panel, which I wasn't happy about, but I couldn't do anything about it at that point. The panel was about podcasts, audiobooks, and audio adaptations, and the room was packed. My fellow panelists were Wendy Wagner, Tonia Ransom, James Sabata, Alex Hofelich, and the moderator was Marc Abbott. They were a great group, and no one gave me crap for being late, which was nice.

The signing was insane. There were so many people crammed into the room. I don't think I've ever been in a busier signing before, and I've been in plenty. I sold a few books, and some more folks bought them online. I was lucky to be seated near some folks I knew.

Random funny story: a previous editor and current friend had asked if she could ship a couple contributor copies to me, so I could hand them off to two authors, one coming from New Zealand, one from Australia. (And I got a free copy for my troubles!). We were in touch via Messenger and text, trying to set up a meeting time. Well, you know that morning I was late to my panel? When I was stuck waiting for the elevator, a couple from New Zealand showed up, as well, and we waited together. We even introduced each other while standing there. Then I'm sitting at the Denver Horror Collective table later and it hits me that the Lee I was meeting with was the very same Lee I'd been standing at the elevator with, which I confirmed later. I did successfully get them their books, and both women ended up winning Stokers on Saturday evening! Not only that, but after chatting and trying to arrange meeting up to give them the books, we ended up at signing tables right next to each other. The world's a small place, don't you think?

With Lee and Gene at the signing, books handed off!

Before I jump into this month's media, which is pretty sparse since I was doing a lot of prep for conferences, I'll leave you with some pictures of the 13th floor of the Curtis, which is horror-themed. In fact, each floor was themed, and I believe there were themed rooms, as well. 

Down one hallway, the girl from Poltergeist

The wallpaper!

On the wall by the elevators

The Grady twins from The Shining down another hallway

Okay, media! These are some of the media I enjoyed in May and late April.


60 Ways to Die in South America, by Tracy Ashworth

A silly romance with adventure and humorous foibles. A journalist gets sent to South America to cover adventurous travel, something she is definitely not suited for, but money talks. The photographer sent to work with her knows what he's doing, and spends a lot of time saving her from herself on their adventure spree across South America. 

I can sometimes be irritated by the type of main character in these books, because they're a little too stupid for my liking and are frequently constant victims, but I felt like this character held her own a bit better than usual. The romance is sweet and the situation was a unique one.

How Beautiful We Were, by Imbolo Mbue

This book is gorgeous, soulful, and heartbreaking. It traces the line of a family in a small, African village, as they deal with the trouble western civilization (mainly Americans) and their own government and people bring to bear. From people kidnapped as slaves to oil companies destroying the land and the people who must live on it. 

The story is told from different points-of-view, including a collective group called "The Children." It is fascinating how well Mbue weaved their stories together so that there was nothing whatsoever awkward about a group of people speaking as one in those chapters. It's hard for me to explain, but I feel writers should read this for that mechanism alone.

The standout character is Thula, a young woman who starts out as a child at the beginning (her age-mates are "The Children"), watching first her father and then her uncle be destroyed by His Excellency to keep the villagers quiet. But she gets an opportunity to travel to the U.S. and attend a college there. She learns how to fight back for civil rights, and brings her knowledge back to help those villagers still remaining. Her determination makes you want to believe she can overcome her powerful government; the bad decisions of her age-mates, fellow villagers, and patriarchal countrymen; and  and the legal power of an American oil company. Her passion is contagious.

Not a fast read, but definitely worthwhile. Stunning.


The Lost City

I was all in as soon as I saw Sandra Bullock and a preview that told me this was deeply inspired by Romancing the Stone. It very similar to RtS, but updated, with some important changes. Bullock is always funny, and Radcliffe makes for a great villain. Entertaining, funny, and action packed.

Ritual (Shudder)

This Indonesian horror film was horrifying, but then it threw a bizarre twist that made it all that much more horrifying. The twist is well done, the dread palpable, and the horror...well, horrifying. A man wakes up buried under a pile of dirt. He must find his way to safety and try to find his family, who are also being hunted in the woods. And that's all I can say without giving anything away. Seriously, though, this one will stick with me, both for the abject horror of what came before the twist and the dread that followed it.

Senior Year (Netflix)

This could have failed hard and been stupid, but it was both funny and full of heart. A popular senior gets knocked out during a cheerleading exhibition, going into a coma for twenty years. When she wakes up, she's stuck with the mentality of a senior in high school, even though her body is twenty years older. Determined to get prom queen, which she was destined for before her coma, she goes back to school to finish her senior year and get popular all over again.

Jamie Marks is Dead (Shudder)

A fairly quiet film that follows the death of a boy. A different take on the afterlife and the undead. There's little violence and no real gore.

A fellow student happens across the dead body of Jamie Marks by the river. Jamie was bullied while alive, yet people now come out to grieve his death. But when the girl who found him and a boy who never bullied him start seeing Jamie walking around as if he were living, they each handle it differently.

TV Shows

LOL: Last One Laughing - Canada (Amazon)

A group of well known comedians is locked in a room, armed with humor and plenty of props. The last one to laugh wins. 

Hysterical. I guarantee you're going to recognize some of these comedians. Hosted by Jay Baruchel, you'll have a whole new appreciation for comedians after watching this. Absolutely addictive. I also recommend the Australian version, hosted by Rebel Wilson. There are a ton in other countries, including Germany and Mexico, but I haven't tried watching them yet. Not sure how well humor translates with subtitles. I'm hoping they'll do a U.S. one soon, but if not, I'll be happy with new seasons of Australia and Canada.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Hulu) (originally BBC America)

This show is so weird! But incredibly twisty and entertaining. Elijah Wood plays a bit of a sad sack, who works at a hotel and gets sucked into the maelstrom that is Dirk Gently, a detective who is constantly mixed up in bizarre things, such as a the mind of a teenage girl being put into a dog, and vice versa. There's time travel, action, danger, and more. And so. much. weirdness.

The Baby (HBO)

This horror comedy is only four episodes in, but it's made a splash, so far. An unlucky woman who has retreated to a private house on the beach at the base of a sheer cliff happens to be having a smoke outside when, first, a woman plummets to her death right in front of her, and then a baby falls into her arms. 

It turns out that everywhere the baby goes, horrible things happen to people. Deadly things. While the first three episodes were darkly comical, the fourth episode had me seething in rage, so maybe a little too relevant to current affairs. I'm looking forward to the return to dark comedy next week. The serious episode was a bit of an origin story.


I've only just started then, so I'm two episodes in, but it's a good one. Jean Smart is a famous enough comedian to have a nightly show in Vegas and a ridiculously oversized mansion in the desert. A "cancelled" comedian ends up writing for her, and the show is about their relationship.

I love Jean Smart, and have since "Designing Women," though I much prefer her in her savvier roles. She's in full savvy Jean Smart mode in this one. There are some funny elements and some dramatic elements, and it makes for a good watch.

What have you been watching? Any good shows, movies, or books you'd recommend? Attended any conferences or conventions lately?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

May Submission Roundup

I was briefly locked out of my blog for some reason, which freaked me out, but I changed the password and got back in. I would have thought I'd been hacked, but it was Blogger weirdness. Either way, all is well now.

Hey, I don't think I announced I won runner up in the April WEP Challenge!

Since I skipped sharing submission links last week, I'm doing it this week. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting, and don't submit if you're not comfortable with the publisher.

Accepting Submissions

Utter Speculation Publications is seeking speculative fiction about the dancing plague and what was behind it. (Funnily enough, I just covered this on the podcast!). Up to 10,000 words. Pays $10. Deadline May 24. 

Space Fantasy Magazine is seeking "stories that challenge our relationship with space." The theme is "Is There Anybody Out There?" Up to 1250 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline May 31.

Off Topic Publishing is seeking poetry and flash fiction with the theme of "Exhaustion: Limited Reserves." Up to 1000 words. Pays $15 CAD. Deadline May 31. 

Worldsmyths is seeking F/SF stories with the theme of "Seasons" for Seasons Unceasing. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $.005/word. Deadline May 31.

Alienhead Press is seeking ghost stories having to do with Halloween for Literally Dead. 2000 to 4000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline May 31.

Night Terror is seeking horror stories for "There Used to Be a House Here." 2500 to 8000 words. Pays 25 pounds, plus 100% of proceeds are donated to the charity Shelter, Shelter. Deadline May 31.

Death Knell Press is seeking astronomical horror for Nightmare Sky. 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline May 31.

Red Cape Publishing is seeking horror stories for O is for Outbreak. 4000 to 8000 words. Pays 10 pounds. Deadline May 31. (Note: I've been published with them and it was a pleasant experience.)

Apparition Literary Magazine is seeking horror short stories and poetry with the theme "Omen." 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.05/word. Deadline May 31.

Eternal Haunted Summer is seeking short stories for Other Than Human Realms. No word limits. Pays $5. Deadline May 31.

The Massachusetts Review is seeking poetry, nonfiction, or fiction from those who identify as disable, chronically ill, neurodiverse, etc. Up to 7000 words. Pay is not listed on this particular call, but I'm assuming it's the usual $100. Deadline June 1.

Dracula Beyond Stoker Magazine is seeking stories about Dracula for their first issue. 1500 to 5000 words. Pays $.05/word. Deadline June 15.

Eye to the Telescope is seeking SF/F poetry about Veterans of Alien Wars. Preference will go to actual veterans. Pays $.03/word. Deadline June 15.

Mythulu is seeking unique, poetic fairy tales. No retellings. 500 to 2800 words. Pays $.04/word. Deadline June 17.

The Bureau Dispatch is seeking epistolary stories for Dear X. 500 to 1500 words. Pays $50. Deadline June 17.

Dragon Soul Press is seeking horror short stories for Beautiful Darkness. 3000 to 15,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline June 30.

Periculum Press is seeking queer pagan stories for Rites of Passage. 2500 to 7500 words. Pays $25 to $75. Deadline 30.

The Dragon's Roost is seeking Eldritch humor for LOLcraft. Up to 4500 words. Pays $.04/word. Deadline June 30. 

Quarter Press is seeking myths, fables, and folklore for The Quarter(ly) Journal. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $5. Deadline June 30.

Air and Nothingness Press is seeking stories about a Librarian's adventures through the multi-verse. 1000 to 3000 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline June 30.

Anything of interest? Anything to share? Are you submitting?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Alex J. Cavanaugh & Patricia Josephine Book Release Guest Posts - Starting & Ending a Series and The Fun of Short Fiction

Today I welcome Alex J. Cavanaugh and Patricia Josephine, who both have book releases! If you came for one's guest post, I hope you'll also enjoy the other's guest post! Alex wrote about Starting and Ending a Series and Patricia wrote about The Fun of Short Fiction. Alex J. Cavanaugh is releasing CassaDark and Patricia Josephine/Patricia Lynne is releasing A Quick Death.

Note that my usual open submissions post will be next Wednesday instead of this week.

Before we jump in, my interview with Claudia Monacelli at Multiple Voices (a podcast) is now available for your listening pleasure!

Multiple Voices Podcast, episode 97

Starting and Ending a Series - Alex J. Cavanaugh

Beginning a news series is challenging but also exciting. So many possibilities! It’s also satisfying to bring it to an end. After years of living with the characters, sharing their adventures, it feels good to find closure and tie everything together in a tidy package, sending the series out with a bang. 

I’ve started a series once. Ironically, I’ve ended that same series twice now. 

Wait, I can explain! Let’s go back to the beginning. 

The first book was a terrible first draft I wrote as a teen over forty years ago. I watched probably way too much BattleStar Galactica, Star Wars, and other science fiction shows, so the story’s vibe was similar. It sat untouched for almost thirty years before I decided to rewrite it, as the main characters were good but the execution terrible. 

When that first book was picked up by a publisher and released, I was excited. The story I’d imagined as a teen, a book at last. Then fans (and my publisher) started asking for another – in the series! Well, I’d never planned a series, but I did have an idea based on another story from the past. So, I wrote a second book. Of course, who’s ever heard of a series of two? No one! That meant a third book. 

I’d done it! A science fiction trilogy. I’d brought the series full circle, with each book containing its own story arc and theme. Stick a fork in it – it’s done. And while it seemed a little sad to end Byron’s adventures, it was time. I’d jumped forward twenty years with each book, so the main character was showing his age a bit.  Byron: The Geriatric Years didn’t have a nice ring to it. So, I moved on with an entirely new book, a couple short stories, and lots of blog posts. (Those count, right?) 

Somewhere along the line, an idea hit me. In the third book, I’d introduced Byron’s ten-year-old son, Bassan. What if I wrote a story about him instead? I jump forward in years anyway (although this was only a fifteen-year jump), so he’d be an adult. The wheels really started turning then. 

Since it was a different character, I came up with a divergent concept. It needed to stand out from the other three, and since it followed Bassan not Byron, it had to stand on its own. Plus, it was third person point of view from just one character, not two or three. But once I’d finished it, once it was edited and polished, I knew this was a great way to end the series. Sending Bassan across the galaxy on a bit of a cat-and-mouse game with only his wits and unique connection to ancient alien technology to help him survive – perfect! 

So, if you are considering a series, a little advice. If you’re reading one, understand the effort that went into connecting it all together. If you’re writing one, try to plan a little better than I did!

CassaDark, by Alex J. Cavanaugh



By Alex J. Cavanaugh


“Cavanaugh returns to the world of his Cassa Series…for a fourth inventive space opera.” – Publisher’s Weekly


His world is unraveling… 

Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by doubt. Could things get any worse? 

Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet. 

On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each truth reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again? 

Print - 9781939844842

EBook – 9781939844859

Science Fiction – Adventure/Space Opera/Space Exploration



iTunes | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Scribed | Goodreads 

You can find Alex J. Cavanaugh at his blog: Alex J. Cavanaugh

The Fun of Short Fiction - Patricia Josephine

A Quick Death is my third collection of 200 word flash fiction. I have two more collections in the works. It’s something I find myself coming back to again and again. I love writing it. I love reading it. They’re fun bite-sized stories that you can consume like candy. (The perk being that the stories won’t add to your waistline.)


The thing I really enjoy about shorter fiction is it allows me to read an entire story in one sitting. I am notorious for reading a book in one go. I’ve missed appointments because of the fact. There’s also a certain amount of emotion that a full length novel requires. At least for me. There’s a roller coaster ride you go on with a novel. You can go through so many emotions. You get attached to the characters. You cry when the author kills your fav. (WHYYYYYYY?????) I enjoy novels, but my energy reserves aren’t always full enough.


That’s where short fiction comes in. Where novels are roller coasters, short fiction are more like a kiddie rides at the park. They take you for a safer ride and you get off and say, “That was fun.” But your legs won’t be left shaking from the adrenaline. They don’t drain me as much as a novel does. That’s important since reading is a vital author task. (Yes, it totally is! Don’t argue with me.)


If you’re ever feeling a little worn out but still want to get some reading in, check out some short fiction. There’s a ton out there and, while they may not take you on a roller coaster ride, they can still make you say, “Wow.”


A Quick Death, by Patricia Josephine

The Afterlife

These things fascinate our imagination. Delve into a collection of tales that explore death and murder. Each story is told in exactly 200 words and designed to give you a quick thrill no matter how busy your day is.



 Buy Links

Amazon | Universal Link | Goodreads 


About the Author

Patricia Josephine is a writer of Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Romance books. She actually never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she was more interested in art and band in high school and college. Her dreams were of becoming an artist like Picasso. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head for fun. That was the start of her writing journey, and she hasn't regretted a moment. When she's not writing, she's watching Doctor Who or reading about serial killers. She's an avid knitter. One can never have too much yarn. She writes Young Adult Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Fantasy under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.


 Social Media Links:

Website | Patreon | Facebook | Newsletter 


Patricia Josephine:

Goodreads | Amazon Author Page 


Patricia Lynne:

Goodreads | Amazon AuthorPage 

Patricia is doing a giveaway! It's open May 11 to May 18. THE FINE PRINT: Giveaway is US only. (Sorry, but the packages I've sent international have vanished in transit.) Entries only valid for new subscribers and followers. Contest ends May 18th.

Giveaway code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think about their covers? Did you enter the giveaway? Have you written a series? What do you think of short fiction?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

IWSG - To Writing Highs

It's the first Wednesday of May, and I nearly forgot to post today! (~whispers: I also almost forgot to edit this week's podcast episode~) In other words, I forgot it was Tuesday. BUT it was Tuesday, which means today is Wednesday, and that means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists to create a community for writers in which we can share our insecurities and offer support to our fellow writers. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and sign up on the IWSG tab. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and hop around to visit your fellow insecure writers.

The co-hosts this week are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon! Be sure to stop by their blogs and thank them for helping out today.

The optional question this month is: It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the bad times)?

I had some of the writer highs this past weekend at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. I presented five hour-long workshops and hosted a table at each meal except breakfast. That's a lot of "on" time for me, an intense introvert. However, it was incredibly rewarding. I'm not sure I've ever had so many people find me after workshops to let me know how impactful they were. And people were finding me in the halls to have me sign my books! It was an amazing experience, and I left exhausted, yet on such a high. I even had several peers find me after the workshops to let me know they were good workshops. (When I saw one of them sitting in the room upon walking in, I asked if he wanted to teach the class with me, lol).

It turns out that the more successful workshops you teach, the more books you sell. I sold more books this year at conference than I ever have before. I'm certain my numbers would pale in comparison to many others, but it was a new high for me and made all the time I spent preparing five workshops worth it.

And of course there's every acceptance and every book release. Those are my favorite highs.

The lows? All the rejections. Or when a book doesn't sell as well as I hope. Or when a local writing community leaves me out. There are plenty of lows, but the highs tend to buffer them. The highs are much higher than the lows are low, if that makes any sense. It's a roller coaster I thrive on, though the lows do get me down sometimes.

Speaking of highs (okay, it's a delayed transition), I've got a new release! My story "The Killing Tree" about a single woman setting off across the continent to find a new life in the west, only to find that there are much scarier things on the plains than she'd previously thought is in Particular Passages 2: East Wing, available wide.

15 Stories 15 Authors

Down another forgotten hallway lie more unexplored rooms.

Each room contains another world waiting to be discovered.

Some are wonderful and beautiful, others are dark and terrible.

You won't know which until you step inside.

So take a deep breath, and open the door...

Particular Passages 2: East Wing

Featuring stories by:

Edward Ahern - John T. Biggs - Dave D'Alessio - CJ Erick - J.T. Evans - Eric Fritz - Katie Kent - Shannon Lawrence - Matt J. McGee - Peter E. Sartucci - Martin L. Shoemaker - Emily Martha Sorensen - Andrea L. Staum - Mike Wyant, Jr. - Jason A. Wyckoff

Here are universal book links to help you find the ebook:

Here is a link to one of our favorite booksellers:

and, if you want, here is one of our affiliate links:

Now for my monthly submission check-in. My April numbers:

1 acceptance (there will eventually be news of a Kickstarter)

3 rejections

2 withdrawn stories due to long response times

2 submissions

I currently have 16 submissions out and am gearing up to turn around rejections I haven't done in the past month or so.

What are your insecurities? What about your highs and lows? Have you been submitting? Any good news to share? Are you familiar with any of the authors in Particular Passages 2?

May you find your Muse.