Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tid-Bits from Around the Web

Patti Abbott has announced her newest flash challenge with the theme "A Day at the Zoo". Stories up to 1200 words with a posting date of April 2. You can find the details and sign up here

From David Cranmer comes news that Beat to a Pulp is back to posting new stories for 2012.

While most of you have probably seen the TOC for the first issue of Grift Needle Magazine has also posted their TOC for issue six Both magazines will be available for purchase soon.

And Spinetingler is hosting a tournament of 2011 Crime Fiction Ebooks. Head on over and vote for your favorites

Fantasy Contests

The British Fantasy Society's short story competition for 2012 opens on March 1 and is open for subs up to 5000 words until June 30. There are cash prizes. The contest is free to society members but there is 5pound free to all others. You can check out the details here

And the Jersey Devil Press is having a novella contest. They're looking for novellas of 10,000 to 20,000 words in the fantasy genre. Deadline is March 31 and the prize is publication in the August issue of JDP. You can find the details here

And a late addition: Canadian magazine, "On Spec", is open for regular submissions from March 1 to April 31. But they're also hosting a contest, which is only open to Canadian writers. "All Things Doom: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Apocalypse". 3000 to 6000 words with a March 31 deadline. First prize is $300 and the story will be the lead story in the Fall issue.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Friending Salt

Yes, I've been missing in action here on the blog for a couple of days. And it all started with the box of salt I bought. I was putting it in the cupboard when I noticed the Facebook symbol. My salt wanted me to be friends. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want to be friends with my salt. I want the salt to set quietly in its shaker until I need to season my food.

Is social media getting out of hand? And do you really want to read all that advertising that's passing itself off as friends? I only have this blog and a few Yahoo groups but I just had to step back for a minute and wonder where in the world we're all heading. Because everywhere I look, someone is trying to sell me something. From salt to Viagra to penis enlargments. The whole thing just kind of tires me out.

Now I like reading about new stories and new books that are being published, but do we really need to make friends with our salt?

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Issues

Western zine, Fires on the Plain, launched today with "The Serpent Box" by Jake Hinkson. A new story will be posted every Friday and if this first one is any indication we're in for some very fine reading.

And the Winter issue of Mysterical-e has hit the virtual streets with thirteen new short stories by authors like Albert Tucher, John M. Floyd and Peter Swanson to name just a few. You can check it out here

Thursday, February 23, 2012

e-pubbing shorts

David B. Coe takes a look at e-publishing and short stories. Of course, he's talking about the sci-fi market which has more paying markets than crime fiction but he makes some interesting points.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Write or Not to Write

Graham Edwards had a bit of fun with this list of 10 reasons for writing. While you're there be sure to click on the 10 reasons not to write link at the top of the essay.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Unwritten Rules

There's been a bit of chatter on the 'net today about certain unwritten rules of writing. One young lady wanted to know what the rules were as she didn't know. Huh? I thought everyone knew that killing animals and children in a story was taboo. Not because it doesn't happen in real life, but because it makes readers uncomfortable. It makes writers uncomfortable, too, but sometimes a story requires that we squirm in our seats. The problem lies in the fact that the harder we squirm the more unlikely the story is to find a good home. So we have to choose between selling our story and telling the truth.

For those who don't know the unwritten rule: It's okay to kill, rape, and maim twenty or thirty women in a novel, but don't hurt the dog or the kids. After all, women are a disposable commodity.

And yes, I'm tired and a bit cranky and will probably regret that last sentence in the morning. But for tonight, that's what I'm thinking.

Monday, February 20, 2012

John Horner Jacobs

For those of you who don't think mixing your genres is a good thing, consider this. John Horner Jacobs, art director of Needle magazine, has made the short list for the Bram Stoker award for best first novel. "Southern Gods" is a mix of horror and crime. Congratulations, John!!!

Market News

Shock Totem has opened for submissions to their next issue. This is a pro-paying horror market.

Pulp Empire has changed its url They're also open to submissions for two anthologies. Modern Pulp Heroes has a March 15 deadline and Aliens Among Us has an April 30 deadline. Payment is a percentage of the profits.

Big Pulp opens for subs on March 1. They have two themed issues that they're seeking subs for during this reading period. 1. Gorilla My Dreams and 2. Queer-y Letters. This is a semi-pro paying market.

And a new market called Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi is looking for sci-fi/fantasy. Payment is $10 for flash and $25 for longer work. You can find the details here

Comets & Criminals has also reopened to subs for issue #3. Payment is $10 for flash and 1cent a word for stories up to 10,000 words. They're looking for stories in all genres, straight or mixed.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Night Quote

Read this quote tonight and thought I'd share.

"The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe."
--Gustave Flaubert

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Horror Markets

Over at there's a call for a Steampunk-Cthulu anthology along with an interview with the editors. The deadline for this one is July 31. Up to 8000 words and payment is 3cents a word plus three copies. Details and links here

And Horror Tree has quite a few anthology listings on their site, some paying - some not. You can check them out here

Thieves Jargon

Thieves Jargon hasn't posted a new issue in quite a while and I was beginning to think they were folding the tent. But today I found a note on the site that they're reorganizing. They're looking for a new editor or two and ideas for non-fiction columns. You can check it out here

The Agatha Nominees

The Agatha Award nominees have been announced. You can read the entire list here Below are the short story nominees. Congrats to everyone and especially to Barb Goffman, a good friend of the Corner. Big Snoopy dances all around!

Best Short Story
“Disarming”, by Dana Cameron (in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
“Dead Eye Gravy”, by Krista Davis (in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology)
“Palace by the Lake”, by Daryl Wood Gerber (in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology)
“Truth and Consequences”, by Barb Goffman (in Mystery Times Ten)
“The Itinerary”, by Roberta Isleib (in MWA Presents the Rich and the Dead)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Saw a call for submissions over at Duotrope for "Pulp Spirit" and found three zines published on this site and all looking for pulp stories. These are non-paying markets. They've been publishing for several years and there's plenty of stories in their archives. Open to all genres. You can check them out here

Also found a new horror zine called "Abomination". They're looking for horror stories of 1000 to 7500 words. The quarterly pays 1cent a word for fiction and $6 flat for poetry. But they do have featured stories that they publish between issues and there's no pay for these. You can check them out here

Got Pulp?

Court Merrigan is the guest editor for a special issue of Pank called Pulp to be published in August. Submissions are through submishmash with a July 1 deadline. Stories can be in any genre. You can check out what Court is looking for here

Pank is a non-paying market.

Monday, February 13, 2012

And Of Course

After I post about the lack of markets I discover that Angie has posted her monthly list of open anthologies. You can check them out here

Market Slump

For those of you looking for markets, the pickings have been a bit thin of late. There are quite a few anthologies listed over at Duotrope, but they're mostly non-paying from new epublishers. And after the Trestle Press fiasco, I'm not eager to link to them. If you're of a mind to check them out drop on over to and click on the new listings or check out the calender page.

As always check out the publisher before submitting, read their "about" page. If you have questions, ask them. If you don't get a satisfactory answer, don't submit. If the only payment is a discount for the copies you buy - you're the target market. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Right to Write

In a country where we're supposed to be free to express ourselves, I find it odd that people still object to what people write. No matter what we write, someone, somewhere finds it objectionable. Maybe they consider it a slur on their nationality, or their religious beliefs, or their sexual orientation, or whatever. Why are they always right and the writer always wrong? Are writers not allowed to express their beliefs, or in the case of historical writers, not allowed to tell the truth about the past?

What brought this subject up? Richard Godwin's short story, "Battle for Laughing City", posted over at Thrillers Killers 'n Chillers yesterday. One poster took the moral "high ground" and slammed the story. Now, I'll admit that it's not the sort of story that I seek out. I read it because I heard about the nasty comments and I was curious. And yes, I read the whole thing.

The story reminded me of the Reavers from the movie "Serenity". About how a government tried to make people better. I also saw the cost of scientific experiments on people, the effects of drugs on a country, and how the lack of morals and common decency can change a society. The story was pure fantasy, nasty stuff, but fantasy that rang with a whole lot of truth about people.

And a thought just crossed my mind. You'll find these same basic story elements in the Bible. Heads being chopped off, sexual deviants, and yes, even monsters. So, do we ban the Bible? What? We've already done that? Yeah, from our schools. You see, not even the Bible is safe from criticism.

So all you writers out there, just write. Write what you feel. Write what you see. Write where your imagination takes you. But write the truth and all its ugly. And yes, there will be people who are offended, but hey, you're in good company.

Oh yes, Richard's story is here And you readers out there - you have the right not to read.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wallace Stroby

Great interview with Wallace Stroby on how to write a crime novel.

Thanks to Brian Lindenmuth for the link!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Barry Award Nominations

The short list for the annual Barry Awards given at Bouchercon is out

Here's the list for Best Short Story:

Doug Allyn, "Thicker Than Blood" (AHMM September)
Jeffrey Cohen, "The Gun Also Rises" (AHMM January-February)
Mike Cooper, "Whiz Bang" (EQMM September-October)
Trina Corey, "Facts Exhibiting Wantonness" ( EQMM November)
James Powell, "Last Laugh in Floogle Park" (EQMM July)
Eric Rutter, "Purge" (AHMM December)

Congratulations to everyone!!

Hard-boiled Down Noir

The five winners of Punchnel's "hard-boiled down noir contest" are up on their site. You can check them out here

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Speaking of Noir

Great piece over at Criminal Element about Weegee, a photographer who chased down murder scenes to photograph for the newspapers.

Mixing Noir into Spec-Fiction

Many of you are mixing your noir with spec-fiction on some level so I thought this post might be of interest. I do think though, that the writer has confused hard-boiled with noir, but then who doesn't? Still an interesting look at the mixing together of crime and sci-fi/fantasy tropes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Breaking Elmore's Rules

Max Allan Collins has a great post on his blog about Elmore Leonard's rules.

Odds and Ends

Brian Lindenmuth sent me a link this morning that linked to this list of Medieval Occupations. The Criminals had interesting job names back then! If you're writing fantasy or steampunk, some of the job titles could be worked into your stories.

With a hat tip to Charles Tan I found this interview with Elizabeth Hand.

There will probably be more posts throughout the day. My server has been cutting in and out for the past three days, so actually getting anything done online has been pretty iffy.

Contests and a Charity Anthology

From Katherine Tomlinson we have a charity anthology call called "Creature Feature". Proceeds go to the animal shelters picked by the top voted on stories. Deadline is March 18 for 1000 to 6000 words.

This legal fiction contest came through the SMFS board a few days ago. The deadline is March 15 for up to 5000 word stories that feature the legal (court) system in some way. You can find the details here There is no fee to enter. The top ten stories will be published on the site. It'll be the judges that are the draw for this contest! (Michael Connelly is one of them)

For those of you who write micro-flash I was asked to post a contest for flash fiction up to 100 words. The call is from a reputable group but the $10 fee seems a little steep to me, your thoughts may vary.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Choosing a Setting

Back a few months ago I read a blog post where the writer asked who would you prefer being trapped in an elevator with, than gave two choices. Neither of his choices appealed to me but the idea of setting a story in an elevator did.

I mean, what's not to like? You're stuck in a claustrophobic box dangling in midair. Can you stop the elevator or does it stop itself? Perhaps you're trapped inside with a serial killer. How do you escape? Bottom line is how do you make it believable? Let's be honest, if you kill someone in an elevator how do you escape? There's going to be people around when that door opens.

Anyhoo I gave it a try and the very kind editors over at Shotgun Honey gave it the thumbs up.

So, where's the strangest place you've ever set a story?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

RIP Dorothy Gilman

I discovered Dorothy Gilman and Mrs. Polifax in a stack of Reader's Digest Condensed Books that I inherited when we moved into our house. Amongst the twenty or so volumes there were three Mrs. Polifax stories, the first three of the series, I believe. After that I checked out the few other books Mrs. Gilman had written from our local library.

Mrs. Polifax was the first "old" character I'd come across that didn't spend her time sitting in a chair knitting. She was out in the world and active. Her simple missions for the CIA always took a turn for the worse and she wound up having to fight her way out with her wits and those lovely Judo chops she learned.

This summer I picked up several of the Polifax books that I hadn't read and was soon immersed in that wonderful world that Dorothy Gilman created. And Mrs. Polifax hadn't missed a beat. She was still at the top of her game.

Thank you, Mrs. Gilman, for all the hours of pleasure you've blessed me with.

Musing on a Saturday

Okay, I've been watching the Bravo channel which is filled with commercials for the "Real Housewives" from everywhere. Now I ask you, do you actually believe that those are real housewives? Can you imagine any one of those ladies changing a diaper, cleaning up puke, or dealing with a dishwasher that's just flooded the kitchen? No, because just looking at them you know they've got a houseful of servants to take care of those things for them.

Realizing that, I got to thinking about characters in our stories. We're always told to make them real, make them believable. How do you do that? Take a good hard look at your story. Is your female lead a supermodel or a housewife? If she's a housewife, the woman is not going to have six inch fingernails, Gucci shoes, or diamonds dripping from her neck and ears. Her hair is probably pulled back in a ponytail, she's barefoot or wearing slippers or sneakers, and she's wearing a T-shirt and jeans or sweatpants. What ever she's wearing can come into play during the course of the story. A man grabs her ponytail to stop her. Barefoot, broken glass on the floor. And have you ever tried to run in slippers? Not pretty. Sweatpants, surely she couldn't be dangerous but that gun in her hand gives the lie to that.

Real people go grocery shopping, yes even the men, they do dishes, they scrub the grout in their bathroom. No, you don't have to include that in your story but it helps you the writer to remember just who your character is and not just what they're doing. Knowing that helps keep the character grounded. Most characters are just like you and me, ordinary people with ordinary problems until that moment when everything goes sideways. Use their ordinary to make them real.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The News Story Cupboard

That link sent all kinds of story ideas whisking through my head. And yes, stories have been told about people finding drugs and money, and done well. But hey, this is the ocean. And California. There are boats and beaches and surfers. Do you wonder if all the marijuana was turned in? And how do you haul thirty bales? And where would you hide it? So many questions equals a whole lot of stories.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reading Choices

Since discovering Richard Parks' blog, I've become a regular reader. He writes about short stories and the problems that plague the writers who love and work in the form. Yesterday's post was about name recognition and touched on the subject of writing standalone shorts vs serial shorts. Much food for thought.

Early in my writing I wrote stories that featured a character named Buck Tuff. He was a PI and his ex-wife, Irma, was his partner. They were a broad slap-stick version of a traditional PI. I began writing these characters in a flash group that I belonged to, but I found that whenever I strayed from these B&I stories the readers would suggest ways to make the new story about them. While I loved the characters and a few of the stories were published, I didn't want to get caught in the trap of only being able to keep readers happy by writing about Buck and Irma's adventures.

Another problem with the setup of the stories was in poking fun at the PI genre, the stories weren't being accepted in the mystery markets even though they usually had a mystery at the heart of them. They were both too humorous and had too much sexual innuendo to make them acceptable.

So I stepped away from the characters and began writing for the online noir market, with the stories getting darker and darker. I still have a few series stories, like the ones set on Mulberry Street, but I try to only write one or two of them a year for fear of getting caught in that trap of only being able to write those stories.

How about you? Do you prefer a short story writer who builds a world of characters for you? And are you disappointed when one of their stories isn't set in that world? Or do you just read an author to enjoy the ride no matter where they take you?

And if you'd like to check out B&I here are links to a couple of stories that are still online.

Jingle All the Way

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spinetingler Best Novella Award Winner

The winner of Spinetingler's 2012 Best Novella Award is "The Point" by Gerard Brennan.

Congrats to Gerard!! We're Snoopy dancing here at the Corner today.

Market Notes

DL Snell has a pair of interviews with the editors of the "Fungi" anthology and the "Extreme Planets" anthology. Both are still open for subs.

And be sure to drop over to where they have a call posted for the alternate history anthology "Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories". And a call for submissions for a new horror zine "Abomination".

Trestle Press - A Head's Up

For those of you considering Trestle Press for a possible publisher, you should read this:

Hat tip to Paul Brazill who has pulled his work from this publisher's lineup. It really bites when you trust a publishing house and they betray you.

Update: A few more links

Update: 2/3/12 And a change of heart:

Another Update - From Trestle Press:
Trestle Press has taken down this page as of 2/3/12

In Defense of Trestle Press: