Friday, December 30, 2011

Odds and Ends

Xavier Lechard over At The Villa Rose blog has a pair of posts that takes a look at PIs and amateur sleuths.

Spinetingler is looking for your input for the Spinetingler Awards. There's a poll set up for your convenience in nominating novels and short stories. And while you're there check out the newest flash offerings from Court Merrigan and Mike Miner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another 10 or So

My short story reading has been pretty scattered this year from Western to Fantasy and a huge dip into what's called Country or Rural Noir. All of which was to study how other writers work in those genres and because I was attempting to write that kind of fiction myself. If you're going to learn, you might as well learn from those published in the genres you choose to write in.

That said, I found that narrowing down my list to ten was nearly impossible this year as there was so much great writing to found both in print and online. Chris Rhatigan asked me for five must reads that were published on his blog, Death by Killing and which I've re-posted here. Below that you'll find ten more that I enjoyed for a variety of reasons, stories that I hope you'll enjoy also.

1. "Melanie" by Edward A Grainger
This was one of those stories that just pulled at the heartstrings and had you cheering for the hero at the end.

2. "6/8" by Trey R. Barker
With this story, it was the writing that stuck with me, the pure beauty and poetry of Mr. Barker's words.

3. "Veronica" by Doree Weller
From beginning to end this story did nothing that I expected it to.

4. "Why are Mommy and Daddy Fighting?" by Eric Beetner
With this story, Eric puts you into the mind of a young boy and you feel yourself sitting beside him in the dark, holding your breath.

5. "The Uncleared" by Thomas Pluck
You don't expect a happy ending when you start reading this story, but the ending still slaps you in the face and leaves you reeling.

And in no particular order the other 10 or so:

For the same reason that I loved Trey Barker's "6/8". I knew some men were poets at heart but Trey's story and the next two really tap into lovely poetry that make a story sing.

1. "My Beautiful, Brash, Beastly Belfast" by Seamus Scanlon

2. "Anger Burns" by Gary Carter

3. Patti Abbott is a writer who can rip the heart out of your chest with her storytelling and "Father's Day" was the one that did it for me this year.

4. This next story was one of the Derringer winners for 2011. It was originally published in 2010 in the anthology "Thuglit Presents: Blood, Guts and Whiskey". It's a story that blends one of a man's proudest moments with a gut wrenching act of revenge. The story is "Care of the Circumcised Penis" by Sean Doolittle. There's no link for the story but you can check out Sean's website here

5. Another favorite this year was Chris Rhatigan's story "In the Hard Nowhere" published in Beat to a Pulp. Unfortunately BTaP's archives are down but if you drop over to Grift magazine you'll find another excellent example of Chris' work, "What is Your Emergency?"

6. Jodi MacArthur is probably best known for her darker stories but "The Girl Who Was Chased by an Abominable Snowman with a Machete" makes me laugh just thinking about it. What a great joyous ride of a story!

7. Another fun story I read this year was "Romo Samson and the Grandmother Spider" by Chris La Tray and published in Pulp Modern (Autumn 2011 issue) This story wasn't fun in the laugh out loud way of Jodi's story but more in the nature of an Indiana Jones romp. You can find a link to the issue here

And then there was the country/rural noir stories.

8. In 2010 I picked up a copy of "Town Smokes" by Pinckney Benedict and pretty much inhaled this anthology, so I was pleased to discover another of Mr. Benedict's stories online. "Pig Helmet and the Wall of Life" just takes hold and doesn't let go until the blistering end.

9. The entire collection of "The Outlaw Album" by Daniel Woodrell is a lesson in how to put your reader into a setting without sacrificing the storytelling. All of the stories are gems but my favorite was "Returning the River". If you haven't read this collection yet, please do, you won't be sorry.

10. Joe R. Lansdale was my discovered author this year. Like Woodrell he gives you place without forsaking the story. Last week I mentioned "Torn Away" But there was one other story of his that I read this year that's really stuck. If you want to learn how to put a twist ending on a story, this is the lesson plan. "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road".

Well, that's just a small sampling of the great stories you can find out there, both in print and online. Happy reading, everyone!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Science Fiction Trails

Science Fiction Trails is an annual print magazine that's opened for their 8th edition. They're looking for sci-fi stories set on earth in the Wild West era (1850 - 1900). Payment is a flat $20 for 1000 to 7000 words. You can find all the details here

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Market

I stumbled across "Every Night Erotica" while clicking on links today. They're looking for erotica stories up to 2000 words, pay is $3. You can check it out here

And the New

While we did lose quite a few zines, the good news is that we have an equal number of new markets.

PulpPusher and Over My Dead Body came back from the dead with a vengeance publishing some great new stories.

Filling out the crime scene we have Shotgun Honey, Grift, Pulp Modern, Noir Nation, and Dirty Noir. All new zines with a great deal of promise.

The Laughter Shack is a new humorous flash site manned by David Barber of the Flash Fiction Offensive.

Then you have the markets that blend the genres. Comets and Criminals, Al Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History, The Writer and the White Cat, and Trembles.

You can find links for all these markets over there on the right.

All in all, 2011 was a good year for new zines, with many of the older zines, like Plots with Guns and All Due Respect getting new editors and others like Spinetingler making changes that will improve readership.

And that's your crime market rundown for the year - Happy writing, everyone!!

RIP 2011

So, I spent the day going back through the blog archives for 2011. It's always interesting to review the past year, read old stories and discover markets I'd forgotten about. But then there's the sad news also, the death of so many zines this year.

Epubbing is changing the face of not only print but the online world as well. Stories that might have been published in zines are now being collected into anthologies or single author collections but the upside is that the zines are also using the new format to get the work out to a wider audience. We're all learning as we go with this new publishing world and it's an exciting time to be a writer.


DF Underground
Dark Valentine
Southern Grit
Thieves Jargon
Crossed Genres
Basement Stories
Pulp Carnivale
Macabre Cadaver

On the "Iffy" list we have

The Back Alley
Dirty Noir
Pine Tree Mysteries

Hopefully these four will turn things around and begin publishing again in 2012.

And then, of course, we had zines like Demolition, La Criminophile, and Ice Media who announced they were open then closed up shop without a word.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Short Story Christmas Gift

O Henry is probably best know for his wonderful Christmas story, "The Gift of the Magi" but he also wrote several others that I'm rather fond of and thought I'd share.

"A Chaparral Christmas Gift" A lovely Western offering.

And a crime story, "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking"

I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful holiday season!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dirty Noir Update

I'm happy to report that Dirty Noir isn't dead, but they are closed to submissions while they get caught up and reorganized. They won't be publishing stories online, just the quarterly. The first issue due in January 2012. You can read all the details here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And You Thought

you were the only one. The long road to short story success as told by Charlie Jane Anders.

Flip Sides

To brand or not to brand - that is the question every author has to wrestle with. Do we want to be placed in a nice comfortable pigeon hole or do we want to explore every possibility open to us as writers. The links today look at the flip sides of that question.

One of the reasons I love the short story form is that I get to experiment in any genre that suits the story I'm working on. And yes, I've probably disappointed some of the readers who have come to expect crime stories from me, but those story voices that speak to me in other genres just won't be silenced.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joe R. Lansdale - Again

One of the "new" writers I discovered this year was Joe R. Lansdale. I first heard his name over at Bill Crider's excellent blog but really came to his work through his wonderful essays over at the Mulholland Books website. Today, Mr. Lansdale has another essay up over at Mulholland called "The Battery Powered Christmas".

If you haven't read any of his shorts, you're missing out on a real treat. Don't believe me? Try this one called "Torn Away" One of my favorite stories this year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Epubbing Thoughts

With a hat tip to Charles Tan I have three links to some interesting articles about epubbing.

First up is Nancy Fulda's post about putting together a collection of shorts. She has some interesting ideas.

Over at Grasping for the Wind there's an article about how self-publishing can go wrong.

And Richard Parks takes a look at how ebooks are (or should be) changing the way new books are reviewed.

Market Links from Friends

From Paul Brazill we have a link to a new zine that's looking for "gritty, interesting short fiction" called "Near to the Knuckle" There's already stories up from some familiar names from the crime zine world but they're also looking at stories in other genres. This is a non-paying market. I do have one nit, there's no editorial staff listed. Please folks, let us know who we're dealing with when we submit. I really hate writing "Hey You, Here's a story I'd like to submit" in my cover letter. :)

And from the lovely, Katherine Tomlinson, we have a zombie anthology call from horror author, Matt Nord. This anthology is looking for zombie stories of 1000 to 8000 words with March 15, 2012 deadline. Payment is 1 digital copy. You can find all the details here

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spinetingler Flash

Spinetingler has posted their first flash fiction piece today, and tah-dah, it's one of mine.

The Use of Words

"The following story is, in my opinion, both gruesome and beautiful and is ultimately a brilliant piece of writing.

It’s gruesome because of the subject matter, the incest and all the gory details. But this happens in our world and it should not be flinched away from simply because it puts our nerves on edge or makes us want to turn away and sweep it under the carpet.

That is, in my opinion, the biggest no-no in writing. You write about things that hurt, that make people want to turn away. You expose the light to these dark things. You don’t write about the simple stuff, or at least not all of the time."

That is part of editor, Christopher Grant's introduction to "Purgatory Sex Twins" by Cullan that he published on the site yesterday. The story is disturbing, yet it makes you ache for the characters and the choices they made. And the ending stops you cold.

After reading the story yesterday my thoughts went to the novel "Paris Trout" by Pete Dexter. There is a scene in that book where Trout rapes his wife with a full coke bottle. I remember thinking when I saw the movie that the scene in the book was more powerful because of the words Mr. Dexter used to pull you into that scene. You could feel the soda running down her legs and feel the pain of what he'd just done. But mostly you admired the dignity she displayed by not showing her husband how much he'd hurt her. She never lowered herself to his level.

And that's just it, isn't it? How we use our words to show the devastation of life on a person. We can do it with a beauty that haunts the reader or we can slam them with in your face violence that sends them reeling.

John Harvey touches on this very subject in his blog post today about Country Noir where he looks at the differences between Daniel Woodrell and Frank Bill's collections of short stories.

As writers we have to make a conscious decision of how we want to tell a story. Yes, we can put in all the graphic details for the shock value or we can find a way to show the same situation with a dignity that goes beyond the reveal of the violence.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Issues

It's certainly looking like a dark and deadly Christmas over at Yellow Mama with the publication of their December issue. You'll find stories by AJ Hayes, Jan Christensen, and Richard Godwin to name just a very few.

And issue #2 of Pulp Modern is now available with stories by Chris LaTray, Patti Abbott, and Matthew C. Funk to name a few.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


From friend of the blog, Paul Brazill, I received this link for a new crime imprint called BANG!. Details are sketchy on the site, but they're looking for crime novels that can be developed into series. On their twitter feed they also stated that they'll look at short story collections as long as the collection centers around one detective/crime solver. This doesn't seem to be a new e-publisher, though I expect they'll also make use of the new technology. Please query with caution and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes Yes Yes

Thank you, Mr. Parks, for saying it so much better than I ever could!

Joe R. Lansdale

There's a great author interview with Joe R. Lansdale over at Fantasy Magazine and he's talking shorts

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dirty Noir

There's been rumors floating across the net that Dirty Noir is closing up shop, some from reliable sources. Their online site and Facebook page hasn't been updated since September, and Twitter has been quiet since October. They use a Submishmash submission page so before you submit, it would be best to contact the editors through their online site If you have stories with them, you might want to query as to their status.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Short Story Roundup

I found two essay written in praise of the short story. The first popped up yesterday over at Murderati and written by Angela Savage And Terri Farley Moran writes about why we should read short stories

Brian Lindenmuth passed along a link to a new zine called Conjectural Figments They're looking for short stories up to 5000 words in all the genres. The theme for the first issue is Transhumanism, deadline is December 23 with publication on January 3, 2012. This is a non-paying market.

Schlock Magazine has published its Apocalypse issue Congrats to friends of the blog Manuel Royal, Ron Scheer, and Thomas Pluck who all have stories in this issue!!

And if you're having a bit of trouble tapping into that Christmas Spirit ( that's spirit, not liquid spirits, guys!) drop on over to the Drowning Machine for a real Christmas treat. Naomi Johnson's newest short story, and it's loads of fun!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Writer or Author?

I really love this post by Theodora Goss about the difference between writer and author.

Strange Beginnings

Back in June of 2010, David Cranmer, editor of BTaP, asked me if I'd be interested in working on a long term project with him. His idea was for a steampunk serial story about "Calliope Andrews: Steampunk Princess". I was to write the first installment. He outlined his idea for freezing this princess and bringing her back to life in the future. He wanted to open the story with a steam powered motorcycle and have a steam powered flying machine of some sort waiting in the wings. He also supplied me with a cast of characters. The rest of the story was mine. And of course, the first thing I did was dump the freezing bit. Why? Because I'd watched a piece on cryogenics on the History channel that pretty much freaked me out, but also made me realize that making the story line realistic was pretty iffy. Besides, didn't Mel Gibson do this movie? :)

After turning in my installment, David asked me who I thought should take over the story and suggested Charles Gramlich because, hey, he writes this kind of story. David agreed that Charles would be great, but he had a different idea. Why didn't I write the entire story? Do you ever have moments in your life when you wish the person you were emailing was standing next to you so you could physically kick them in the nether regions? Yeah, that was my moment, then I said I'd give it a shot.

And so I began writing until even the very first installment had changed into something very different from what David or I had imagined for the story. But, it did still start with a steam motorcycle with a steam airplane in the wings. Why am I telling you all this? Because the final installment of Calliope's adventures, "Into the Green Beyond" is now up at BTaP. You can read it here Unfortunately for those of you who haven't read the prior installments, something called Cold Fusion isn't working with BTaP's server so the rest of the story is not available at the moment.

And if you're not tired of me yet, my five picks for Chris Rhatigan's "Five You Can't Miss" series is up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interesting Reading

I enjoy reading about authors and how they work and finding all sorts of new things (at least to me) on the 'net. Here's a few I ran across today. Enjoy!

Over at Spinetingler today I read an essay by Reed Farrel Coleman about how he decided to age his series character, Moe Prager.

Mulholland Books had an essay by Joe Lansdale about Jim Thompson.

Timothy Mayer reviewed an anthology called "Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon" that I enjoyed very much because he took the time to give us a history of the Domino Lady, a character I'd never heard of before.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anthology Call

Over at Innsmouth Free Press I found a new anthology call for "Fungl" stories. Yep, they're looking for dark speculative fiction focused solely on the fungal. Mushrooms, anyone? Payment is 1cent a word for original stories and $35 (Canadian) for reprints of stories up to 5000 words. You'll have plenty of time to work on this one - submissions open on January 15, 2012 and close February 15. You can find all the details here

Anthology Call

Dagan Books has issued a call for submissions for a new anthology to be published in 2012 called "Bibliotheca Fantastica". The submission period begins December 15 and runs through March 15, 2012.

They are looking for "stories having to do with lost, rare, weird, or imaginary books, or any aspect of book history or book culture, past, present, future, or uchronic. Any genre. Although the fantastical is not essential per se, stories should evoke a sense of the fantastic, the unknown, the weird, wonder, terror, mystery, pulp, and/or adventure, etc."

Up to 10,000 words. Payment is 2cents a word. You can find all the details here

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pulp Modern Review

Pulp Modern snagged a nice review from Bookgasm today

The Black Orchid Novella Award

The Wolfe Pack held their annual awards banquet this past weekend and I've seen it noted in various places that Louise Penny was the recipient of the Nero Award for her novel, "Bury Your Dead".

What I didn't see posted in the usual places was the fact that James Lincoln Warren won the annual Black Orchid Novella Award. This is one of the most prestigious short story contests available to mystery writers and the winner is published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I'd like to congratulate Mr. Warren on his accomplishment and offer up a Snoopy Dance in his honor.

You can read how Mr. Warren came to write his winning novella here

And you can check out the contest here

Monday Morning Morsels

Brian Lindenmuth takes a look at short stories over at the Do Some Damage blog this morning. Stop on by

Jim Harringon has six questions for Josh Goller, the editor of The Molotov Cocktail over at his excellent Six Questions

If you're stuck and need an interesting prompt to get you motivated stop on over to Peter Rozovsky's blog and take a look at this picture.

I looked at that picture and saw my fictional Mulberry Street where several of my stories have taken place.

Market News

Spinetingler has opened for flash fiction submissions with new editor, R. Thomas Brown. You can find all the details here

For those of you who write spec-fiction we have two markets from the lovely Katherine Tomlinson.

Dragon Moon Press is looking for fantasy novels of 90,000 to 110,000 words. Deadline is December 31. Details here

This call was posted on the spec-fic market blog. Eggplant Literary Productions is reopening for submissions on January 1, 2012 They're looking for novellas of 20,000 to 40,000 words. Payment is a $250 advance plus royalties. They're also looking for flash pieces up to 300 words with a flat fee of $10. You can read the call here and you can check out Eggplant here For more spec-fic markets you can go here

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about expectations lately. In my life, expectations have always been for someone else. I expect little and therefore I'm rarely disappointed, which is a comfortable place to live, but doesn't make for a very satisfying life.

So how do you raise your expectations? How do you become that writer who expects to have every story published and become a best selling author? My family laughs at my writing. I hear, "Oh yeah, Mom's little hobby." constantly. And at first it was a hobby, I wrote to escape my everyday. Writing was a way to deal with those things in life that are difficult to understand. Writing allows you to control the outcome, for better or worse.

But something amazing happened, I was actually published and people noticed. And I wondered, can I expect this to continue or will I just fall flat on my face? Is this small gift something I can believe in, that I actually might be good at? I tamped down the expectations. After all, expectations can only hurt you, strip you of any dignity you might have, right?

I kept writing, submitting. Oh, I got slowed down by rejection, the scoff of family members about not making money. A husband's demand that I stop writing that weekly column because he was tired of people talking about it, stopped me dead in my tracks. I quit submitting and went back to the privacy of my writing closet.

With my first computer though, I discovered an online community of writers. People who encouraged, who taught, who took the time to lend a helping hand and I allowed myself to begin submitting again. Building my writing sentence by sentence and story by story. Even here, I've had people make snide comments about my belief in short stories, telling me that I'm just a coward because I don't write novels. But I'm learning to ignore those voices, to keep writing what I believe in, to tell the stories that exist inside of me. And I'm learning to believe in expectations. And in myself as a writer.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

ShortStory 365

Brain Lindenmuth has issued a short story challenge! Can you read a short story a day for a year? If you can, join in the fun of posting what you've read to Brian's new blog ShortStory 365. And he's promising prizes. You can read his challenge here

And you can sign up for all the fun here

The challenge begins on January 1. 2012.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Top Picks

If you're looking for short stories to read drop on over to Chris Rhatigan's, Death by Killing blog. Chris has a new series starting called "Five You Can't Miss" where readers and editors pass along 5 stories that, well, you shouldn't miss reading. There's loads of great reading out there in the ether and this is a fun way to find some of those stories. The series will run straight through January. Already up are picks from Christopher Grant, Katherine Tomlinson, and Richard Godwin.

A Pair of Markets

With a hat tip to Katherine Tomlinson we have an anthology call. "Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke" is looking for sci-fi/fantasy shorts of 3000 to 5000 words in the tradition of Charles Dickens. The deadline is December 31 payment is a share of the net profits. You can find all the details at

Now, Katherine sent me to this link via another site that's well worth your time to check out called Pornokitsch. And no, there's no porn, but it's a great review site that covers all the genres and seems to have a lot of fun doing it.

And there's a new zine poking its head into the ether called "Crossed Out". They're looking for fast-paced, character driven, socially aware short stories in any genre for their Winter issue. Payment is $20. You can find all the details at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Market Day

New markets will probably be pretty slim pickings through December, it usually is with the holiday season beating on everyone's door. I did find a few open markets though.

Pulp Empire has revamped their site and switched from regular issues to themed anthologies. Payment is royalties and the word count varies for each one. Here's your themes and deadlines:
"Heroes of Mars" deadline 12/31/11
"Modern Pulp Heroes" deadline 3/15/12
"Aliens Among Us" deadline 4/30/12

The World SF Blog is looking for spec-fiction short stories up to 8,000. They'd like to see more stories from other countries. This is a non-paying market.

Bete Noire is open for subs until the 31st of December. Payment is $10. Details at

And Withersin is open for subs until April. They pay $5 to $10 for online content which is flash up to 750 words and shorts to 3500 words. They're also looking for non-fiction and reviews. They've also opened for novella submissions of 15,000 to 35,000 words. These will be published in both print and ereader format and authors will be paid royalties. You can check them out here