Thursday, December 31, 2009

Glancing Back, Moving Forward

Looking back over 2009 I realized that I had a pretty great year writing wise. I did a lot of writing, even started that elusive novel which will probably wind up being a novelette as I'm already closing in on the ending after five chapters. I didn't submit as many stories this year as last but still had about twenty published among the racked up rejections. "Cold Rifts" was nominated for a Spinetingler Award. Several of my shorts were reviewed which was pretty cool and I did an interview over at BSC about short stories. All and all, a good year.

The blog has found its footing which makes for a fun day when I post. And I'm so grateful to all of you who have dropped by to say hello and share your wisdom and market news. But most of all, it's so wonderful to see how many people love short stories in all the genres. Long live shorts!

I haven't made a list of resolutions this year but I did do a rift on the Serenity Prayer.

The Writer's Serenity Prayer

Muse, grant me the serenity to accept rejection as part of the writing process.

The courage to rewrite and resend those rejected stories.

And the wisdom to know when to file it in a drawer.

And lastly a link

Dream big, my friends, and write well with great success in 2010! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Country of the Blind

Anton Gully was kind enough to supply the title and author to the short story I mentioned in my last post. After doing a search I found the story at a new to me site called Online Literature The story I referenced was "The Country of the Blind" by HG Wells It's not a long story and well worth the read and still very much relevant in today's world.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rose Colored Glasses

The sci-fi community has been bashing about the question of whether or not sci-fi as a genre should die. Yeah, I know, the death of another genre (chuckle). The reason they're considering killing off sci-fi? Because it's not fair to women, doesn't cater to race, and all the stories are about white males. All of which I've heard said about the mystery genre. But today I ran across a statement by one of the "combatants" that truly makes me wonder what goes on in some writer's heads.

The post I was reading is at Jason Sanford's blog and the response comes Jestede Vries

From Jason, "Stories are what matter first and foremost in any writing genre, and no amount of intellectual debate can ever change this."

Jestede in the comments, "...if a story is the be-all and end-all (and I'm not saying it's not important and it's of crucial importance. But it's not the only thing.) then why bother dressing it up as SF, thriller, mystery, literature, horror, steampunk and what-other-genre-have-you. We might as well call it all fantasy and be done with it."

Well, duh! It's fiction, it is fantasy no matter what the genre. This idea that we should pretty up the world with our fiction is one of the most stupid ideas I've ever heard. Take a look around you, prejudice is standing in the room with you in one form or another. Male/female, gay/straight, race, politics, religion, everything we think and believe is based on a prejudice of one kind or another. Do I wish it was otherwise? Of course, I do. But to a write only stories that are politically correct is just creating a new kind of fairy tale.

Some of the best stories I've read that tackle discrimination have come out of the sci-fi genre. I can't remember the name or the author, but I remember a short story about a man who finds himself in a valley of blind people and they kill him because he's different. He can see. From Star Trek, I remember an episode where the inhabitants of one planet, who had black and white faces, hated each other because the white half of their face was on the wrong side.

You don't have to beat your readers over the head with your ideas of right and wrong, shift the line of sight, move it in a different direction, then pull the rug out from under them to make your point. They'll understand because readers aren't as stupid as you might think.

The world is not black and white and we as writers would be doing a great disservice to our readers if we painted it that way. Even in the mystery genre writers try to pretty up the world of crime, but children and pets do get killed, women get raped, and men are killed for the change in their pockets. It's reality, so why do we shy away from it? Why do we try to pretend that these things don't exist by keeping them off the page?

As writers we should be able to write about the truth of the world as we see it. Sure, not everyone sees the world the same way, but that's why we read a variety authors and genres instead of just one. If every writer were to write politically correct stories what a very boring reading experience that would be. I read for pleasure but I also read to learn, to see how other people think, to find out what their experiences are like compared to mine. Be brave when you write.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Couple of Horror Markets

I have a pair of horror markets for you today. From Sideshow Press we have Black Ink Horror #7 open for submissions from December 26 to March 26. They're looking for stories in the 2000 to 5000 word range and are paying $20 for each selected story. Be sure to read the guidelines very carefully. The editor is reading the submissions on his Kindle so they have to be formatted in a special way. You can find all the details at

The Living Dead Press is putting together an anthology entitled "The Book of Cannibals". Yeah, I know, but some people actually write and read this type of story (slowly raising hand on the writing part. But only one and unpublished). They also have calls out for two zombie anthologies. There's no pay but if you're interested you can find the details here

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ten Stories

All across blogland people are composing lists of their top novel picks of the year and the decade. I read some great novels this year, most notably "The Liar's Diary" by Patry Francis. This book made me take a look at my own writing and set me in a different direction with some of my own stories by exploring deeper into family ties and the damages people inflict on those closest to them.

As this is a short story blog, I'm not going to list my top ten novels but I am going to post links to ten online short stories that have stuck with me this past year for various reasons. And no this isn't a crime fiction list, though there are quite a few crime stories. They're just stories that struck a cord in me. In no particular order, here you go.

"If Only It Had Rained Cats and Dogs" by John Sharp

"The Woman on the Sidewalk" by Ben White

"Trashcan Special" by Derek Nikitas

"The Tut" by Paul Brazill

"Whiskey, Guns and Sin" by Charles Gramlich

"The Tortoise and the Tortoise" by Patti Abbott

"Insatiable" by Hilary Davidson

"The Sacred Cake" by r2

"Recalculating" by Cormac Brown

"Scary Monsters by Stephen D. Rogers

The Internet is filled with wonderful stories and talented writers and this list is just a sample of what's out there. These stories suit my tastes as a reader but every reader has different stories that speak to them, so feel free to post a link to one of your favorites of the year in the comments.

Friday, December 25, 2009


I hope everyone is having a lovely day with friends and family. For your Christmas ( insert other holidays for those who don't celebrate ) pleasure I some Christmasy links for you.

No tree? The beautiful women of mystery have a solution for you.

No snow? Zoe Sharp over at Murderati is your answer and be sure to read between the pictures for some wonderful writing advice.

Need a list? Michael Bracken has every writer's wish list.

And how about a Christmas short story to tickle your funny bone?

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE! May your day be merry and bright and filled with love and joy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Pair of Markets

If you're interested in the ebook market you might want to check out Sonar4 Publications. They publish novels, novellas, and short story collections paying a small advance plus royalties for sci-fi and horror. Also they've got four open submission calls for anthologies The topics are Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper, and for our western writers, Wild West Horror. You'll find all the details at the link. I didn't happen to find any mention of pay for the anthologies so that's something you'll have to inquire about. Sonar4 also sponsors a free mentoring group for new writers if you'd like to check that out. Just a late added note here, I found the anthology payment which is one print copy of the anthology you're in.

I also ran across a site called Wily Writers who are looking for speculative fiction short stories. They have a list of what they're looking for and one is paranormal mysteries. They publish two stories a month in both audio and text format with monthly reading periods and themes for 2010. The themes aren't listed yet, except for January which is paranormal romance, so you'll have to check back if you're interested in submitting. They only want work from previously published writers and they do accept reprints. Stories must be 1000 to 4000 words long and they pay a flat rate of $50. You can find the details at

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Short Time

Over at Jason Sanford's blog he poses the question "How Long to Write that Short Story?" There's a lot of interesting discussion in the comments.

For me, it depends on the story. Some flash pieces just fly on the page in a matter of minutes, then it usually takes about an hour for polishing. Of course, there is also the flash piece that blossoms into a full-fledged short story after spending three or four hours thinking of the places that story could go. Which poses another question. Do we count the time the story spends in our head both before and after the words hit the page? Or the time the story spends resting so we can look at with fresh eyes to find its faults?

I believe that each writer has their own method of writing and each story requires different things from us. On his blog, Michael Bracken has written about writing a 5000 word story in an afternoon, but sometimes the first idea or paragraph came months before. Another writer, I can't remember who at the moment, said that he never spent less than a year on a short story. Both of which astonished me in different ways. Michael because he has the confidence to sub that story the next morning and the other writer because I'd be bored to tears plugging away at a story for that length of time.

There seems to be no perfect method for writing. As writers we just have to go with the story as it presents itself to our imaginations. Some stories come in full-blown and there's no hesitation in getting it down. Other stories come in dribs and drabs that drive us crazy. All we writers can do is keep on writing until that story is satisfied and then move on to the next one whispering in our ear.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Few Interesting Tid-bits

I always enjoy interviews with editors, no matter what the genre. The interviews usually give you a good overview of what editors in general are looking for, how they work, and, just maybe, how I might be able to sneak my work into a publication. With that in mind here are links to two editor interviews. The first is with Apex editor, Maggie Jamison, at the Science of Fiction blog and the second is with Hub publisher, Lee Harris, at Charles Tan's blog.


If you're thinking of dipping your toes into the sci-fi field, "A Golden Age For Short Fiction" written by Joe Sherry might be a good place to start. He's got links to markets for both pros and amateurs.

And finally the December issue of Apollo's Lyre has gone live
and the winter issue of Scalped is here which contains a wonderful story by Al Tucher. And no, it's not a Diana story, but you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No Links Tonight

The links will probably be a little slim this week. Many of the markets are closed to submissions until after the first of the year and most of the blog posts are lists of ten or Christmas stories. While all of this is interesting, it's not exactly the type of links you usually find here. If something interesting pops up on the link radar, I'll post it for you.

Another thing I'm finding is a lot of is non-paying new markets, most of which aren't mystery related. If you're looking for this type of market, drop on by Duotrope and click on the What's New link. One of the reason I'm not posting these right now is because so many of them are what I call "wannabe" markets that never get off the ground. I've posted many of them in the past only to find that they never publish a first issue or there's a first issue and then they're gone. That's a waste of a writer's time. And yes, I've been there hoping to get in on the ground floor of a new zine only to have it disappear into the ether.

Of course, all of this sounds a little Bah! Humbug! but it's not meant to be. I hope all of you are enjoying the holiday season and looking forward to a new year of writing. I know I am.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A World of Wisdom

As writers we love finding the odd article about writing by authors who are no longer with us. We want to know how they wrote, where they wrote, even if they were drunk or sober when they wrote. I suspect that we're trying to tap into the formula that made them successful. You know, the one that leads to the secret handshake in the magic land of publishing, maybe then we'll find our own success.

What I've found is that every writer has their own way of writing and copying someone else isn't going to get the job done. And if you really need your fix for the day head on over to James Reasoner's Rough Edges blog. The writers who's wisdom we'll be tracking down in the next twenty or thirty years are holding forth about the editing process.

The number of books, short stories and articles that have slipped from the pens of these gentlemen is staggering. Thanks for sharing guys!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Issue

The second issue of The Feral Pages has arrived. with short stories by Jacob Strunk, Syd Freeman, and Hillary Davidson. If you're considering submitting to this zine be sure to check out the new guidelines.

Writing Links

Do you remember that old commercial for Calgon Bubble Bath? "Calgon, take me away!" Well, that's how I feel about stories. Reading or writing I want that feeling of being taken away from the everyday and living in someone else's world for a few hours. Karen Miller pretty much sums up that wonderful feeling in this essay.

Jim C. Hines posted about "Girly Books" Books are books and they shouldn't have to be divided into boys vs girls. The very first books I bought for myself was a 50cent box of "boys" books at an auction my Dad took me too. For months I lived in the jungle with Bomba, attended Annapolis and West Point with Dave Darrin and Dick Prescott but the absolute best was getting to be a Junior G Man with stories by Gilbert Lathrop, Edward O'Connor and Norton Hughes Jonathan. It never mattered that boys were having all the fun because I got to go along on their adventures.

While I don't stop by every day, I do click over to the Storytellers Unplugged site on a regular basis. There were three essay that I really enjoyed from this week's offerings.

"Alternate Reality" by Bev Vincent is all about walking in a character's shoes. Bev got to do this playing an alternate reality game based on Stephen King's book "Under the Dome".

"Sea Lions in Coffins, Getting Lost and Writing Without Words" by Thomas Sullivan is a look at how to keep your writing fresh and finding new ideas by putting yourself outside of your own comfortable world.

"But You've Never Been There" by John Rosenman. This is an interesting essay about writing places you've never visited and making them real.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yessss! Thank you, Jason Sandford! Thank God for people who can just say things so much more eloquently than me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We Have Linkage

Brian Lindenmuth sent me this link today It's an interesting article that takes a look at F. Scott Fitzgerald's tax returns and earning over the years for his writing. And thanks to The Great Gatsby, he's still earning royalties.

BV Lawson posted this link to the SMFS list This article is about short stories and iPods.

Over at Charles Tan's blog there's a very interesting interview with anthology editor,Danel Olson, about Gothic Fiction and the work involved putting together an anthology and getting it published.

The December issue of Yellow Mama has arrived with short stories by Kieran Shea, Sarah Hilary, Jodi McArthur and many others. Also submissions were supposed to reopen today but the opening has been pushed back to January.

And if you're in the mood for a marathon of flash reading you might try Steve Weddle's Memorial Airport Flash Fiction Challenge. You'll find flash stories by Patti Abbott, Paul Brazill, Keith Rawson and a whole slew of other writers. Ha. The link I had doesn't have the links to the stories but if you take a stroll over at CrimeSpace, Patti Abbott's blog or some of the links to the bottom left on my blog, you're sure to find links to most of the stories. And of course, if someone drops me the link, I'll post it up. Got it!

One final thing. The website for Shakespeare's Monkey Review is down and Duotrope has declared them a dead market so I've removed their link from the sidebar. This was a nice little print magazine and I was lucky enough to have a story included in one of their issues this past year. They'll be missed.

Considering the Quality of Best

Over on the SMFS, there's been a lot of discussion about what makes a short story professional enough to meet the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar list. While the MWA is an organization of professional writers, I wonder if they and all of us are missing the point about the "best" short stories.

Now I have nothing against the Edgars or any of the other awards available to writers. Awards are nice, they draw notice to writers, help them promote themselves by adding a "winner of ..." after their names. That's cool. But in the process of making a list of what is "best" are we losing sight of the story itself?

Many people can remember the writer who wins, but do they remember the story or even the title? And what makes a story "best"? Is it the place where its published? The author who wrote it? How much he got paid for it? And yet, these are all considerations for stories to be nominated for the major awards.

Perhaps that's why I love the Derringers and the Spinetinger Awards. The short-listed stories are chosen by their merits as a story, not where they were published, how much the writer was paid, or even who the writer was. These awards are pure story driven and the word "best" here means exactly that. People voted for the story that was the best read for them, the story that touched them on some level and made them declare that story "best".

Now, I'm not ranting against awards here. They have their place, they make readers take a second look at a story they might have otherwise skipped, they sell books and get a writer's name out there for people to recognize. That's all good, but more importantly they're getting stories read. I'm just musing about what qualifies a story for the title "best".

It was this comment from a SMFS member that set me to musing. "And if you don't think that mentioning you are an active member of MWA or have been nominated for the Edgar at some time wouldn't make an agent or editor sit up and take notice, you are just fooling yourself." The saddest thing about that comment is that it is probably true. It is no longer about the best story but about the writer who can bring the most sales to the cash register. And that's a very sad commentary on today's publishing business.

Monday, December 14, 2009


AND DAMN PROUD OF IT. There I said it. I love writing short stories. I love searching for markets that my stories will fit into. Not all of them pay. So, does that make me any less of a writer than the guy who gets twenty-five dollars for every story he writes?

There's been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about the amount of pay being offered up (or not) by the current crop of zines and magazines. In the mystery genre the pay is either token or non-existent with very few exceptions. And those exceptions are over-run with submissions and being a bottom line company they'll go with the name brands before the newbies. Do I blame them? No, how could I? They're running a company and need to make a profit.

What bothers me is organizations that claims to support writers, but point their fingers at short story writers and say, "We don't want your kind." What kind is that? The kind that makes the $200 limit required to buy into their organization but not in the required $25 increments. Hello! If the mystery genre markets are only paying $10 - $15 per story, what are we supposed to do? Stuff our stories in a drawer?

Then of course you have the flip side of that. Getting paid pro-rates for your mystery stories in other genres, which, while being well-paid, doesn't count because they're not on an approved market list.

It seems to me that short story writers are caught between a rock and hard place. We're damned if we do publish for less than pro-rates and damned if we don't publish in the "approved" genre markets. While I never have been nor will I ever be a member of such an organization, I still believe that that organization has a responsibility to all their members, not just a select few.

If you're going to give awards for short stories, pay attention to the short story markets that are available to your members. Keep your listings updated. Realize that quality stories are appearing in markets that don't fit the genre image, but also in markets that don't meet the pay scale. If the average pay for the genre is lower than the required rate maybe it's time to reconsider your rules instead of shunning writers.

Isn't it about time short story writers got the respect they deserve?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oh, The Stupidity of It All

This is too good not to share. Now, when we're writing, we're told to keep things real. Ever had one of your thieves use a backhoe to break into a museum? Um-huh. Nobody would believe that right? Well, there was a guy a few counties over who "allegedly" used a backhoe to break into his father's art museum and steal twenty million dollars worth of paintings. He claimed his father wanted him to make sure they were in a safe place. That excuse might have worked if he'd used a key instead of a backhoe to open the door.

Markets and Things

I ran across a pair of anthology markets that might be of interest to some of you.

The first is from Absolute XPress. While they accept novels and novellas they also run quarterly flash fiction challenges for short story anthologies. There's no pay listed but Duotrope says they pay semi-pro rates, so that's something you'll have to check out. The deadline for the next theme is January 15, 2010 and the theme is Thieves and Scoundrels. You have up to 1000 words in the horror, sci-fi, or fantasy genres. You can find the details at

The second is from Harrow Press. They're looking for horror stories set in broad daylight with a January 1, 2010 deadline. 2500 to 5000 words $25 for the lead story and $10 for the rest that are selected. You can find all the details at

For the ladies, TR Shaw is in the process of starting up a new horror zine for women writers only. The zine is called A Darker Spirit and is set to premiere in April of 2010. She's looking for artwork, articles, flash shorts, and poetry. There's no mention of pay.

For those of you thinking about putting together an anthology of your shorts, Charles Gramlich has a couple of posts addressing this topic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Love My Shorts

One thing I'm loving about Scalzi's rant against Black Matrix is all the discussion that's pouring out across the web about SHORT STORIES. While most of it is about the sci-fi/fantasy markets there's still a lot out there that mystery writers can glean from these discussions. And hey, if you're writing shorts, you don't need to limit yourself to just one genre. Writing shorts is like dating, you need to play the field before you settle down with your one true love.

And now for your linking pleasure

Nick Mamatas holds forth on "The 'Market' for Short Stories". This is a pretty simple overview of the genre markets. He pretty much nails the mystery markets conundrum.

Cat Rambo's essay "Finding Markets for Stories" covers the process of looking for markets and where to start your submission process. Lots of links and good advice in this one!

Ann Leckie has two wonderful essays that speak more to the writing process than marketing. and

Marshall Payne also talks about writing in his essay "What is Story"

And so as not to slight the gentleman who started all this great discussion, John Scalzi has another, and he claims it's the last, post about markets and rates.

Don't you love it that short stories just keep keeping on?

Gifting the Children

For those of you with the computer skills and/or ipods, tonight from 7 to 8 pm Central time (US) some of the writers from the Toys for Tots anthology"The Gift of Murder" will be on blog talk radio discussing their stories. The show is also archived in case you miss it tonight or your time zones don't co-operate. Some of the author's voices you'll be hearing are Bill Crider, John Floyd, Barb Goffman and publisher, Tony Burton.

Publisher, Tony Burton has a post here that explains how he got started with the Toys for Tots project.

Christmas is just around the corner so if you're stymied for what to buy. Gift your friends with "The Gift of Murder", you'll not only solve your shopping problems, but you'll be gifting a needy child as well.

The Murders in Memory Lane

I received a rather odd request yesterday. A publicist asked me to review Lawrence Block's new column in Mystery Scene Magazine. My first reaction? It must be some kind of spam, after all this is a short story blog, why would they want me to review something a novelist had to say. And reviews, well we all know I'm nobody's first choice when it comes to that particular form of writing.

After contacting Mystery Scene's editor, Kate Stine, and being reassured that this was on the up and up, I said sure, why not. The real pleasure was discovering that Mr. Block's first column was about short story writer extraordinaire, Stanley Ellin.

And the stories Mr. Block shares are superb. He makes you feel like you've been invited to a writer's family reunion and you get to sit by his knee and listen as he spins the tales of his friends and colleges with love and humor.

About Ellin's approach to writing shorts, he says, "His method strikes me as pathological, and not far removed from OCD. It's how TV's Monk might write a short story--but a comforting thing about writing is that it never matters how a story was written, just so it works on the page. And Ellin's stories work superbly."

With this new column, aptly called "The Murders in Memory Lane", Mystery Scene and Mr. Block are taking you into a world that is slowly slipping away. A world of writers we love, but who are no longer here to share their words with us. As Mr. Block phrases it, "And while I'm here, perhaps I ought to share some of the flotsam and jetsam bobbing on the stagnant pond that is my memory."

So grab yourself a copy of the Holiday issue of Mystery Scene and sit down at the knee of "Grandpa Block" and enjoy the memories and the lessons.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Late Day Linkage

Yep, I'm a bit late in getting a post up today. There's a big ice storm heading our way and so we were in the great outdoors splitting and stacking the last bit of firewood so we don't freeze our butts off this winter. Well, my husband and son were, I had the George Jetson job, pushing the lever back and forth on the splitter. A job which leaves my mind to wander so long as I don't pinch any one's fingers between the splitter pusher and the block of wood.

And my mind did a lot of wandering mostly about these links that Michael Bracken sent me this morning. The links are a continuation of the paltry pay for short stories discussion that's being flung across the Internet.

My conclusions? Most of these guys are comparing short story rates to non-fiction rates and the difference between the two types of markets is staggering. Many of these writers are in a much higher tax bracket than I'll ever see in my lifetime. See, when I get twenty-five bucks for a story it's a yippee-skippy day for me. Four of those will buy a week's worth of groceries. I think the best view on this subject comes from Jim Hines, the last link, who doesn't so much talk about the money but about the markets and what you want to achieve when you submit your stories for publication. He lays out some good solid advice in the post and continues through the comment thread.

And if you're on the fence about this writing thing give this link a try. This is from Brian Lindenmuth who asks the question, who else is going to send you foul-mouthed writing advice? Nobody, Brian! But I must admit, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I read this piece.

Oh, yes, the first issue of Pulp Metal Magazine has gone live.

If I'm not around tomorrow it will probably be because the ice took out the electric. It's one of those things we live with around here. At least, I've got a stockpile of books for reading and notepads for writing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More on Pay Rates

Wow! There's a bunch of posts out there in the ether about writers and payment, all spawned from John Scalzi's posts that I linked to the other day. These links, though, take a look at the other end of the pay scale where most of us are living. In the posts and the comments there's a lot of food for thought.

From Catherine M. Valente "Short Fiction and You" This is coming from a short story writer who's making a fairly decent living from her shorts.

From the Clarkes World blog there's a look at pay scales from the zine side of things with the comments having some of the best information.

From Sarah Monette "Where We Are" This one is a good look at the place where many of are in the short story world.

From Clint Harris "What the Rest of Us Get Paid" This is a look at where the newbie's are hanging out and working their way up the ladder.

And with all the talk about pay aside here are a couple of links about actually putting words on the page and learning the craft. Both are excellent essays

Rachael Caine takes a look at some writing advice that was given to her early in her career

And from Damien G. Walter "Show Me the Risk Taking Writers" This one's about letting your writing "fly".

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A New Zine

Yes, I'm back, and if my head wasn't attached, well you know the rest of that cliche! Paul Brazill sent me a note about a new zine that's looking to splash itself across the ether. The zine is called Pulp Metal and they're looking for submissions. Short stories up to 5000 words, reviews, essays, art and comics. Our friend, Paul has also snagged himself a column called "I Didn't Say That, Did I?". This is a non-paying market but if you're interested in what they're up too and would like to submit, check them out.

Here and There

John Scalzi has added a few more posts that sprang from the Black Matrix discussion. There's much interesting discussion in the comments of both posts, I even kicked in a few words.

I was also thinking about this discussion and the thought crossed my mind that perhaps in the sci-fi arena there are a great deal more well-paying markets than in the mystery genre. Could be why we mystery writers are so touchy about the topic of little or no pay for our work.

Issue 6 of Pine Tree Mysteries has hit the virtual streets with short stories from Liza Rush-McLeod, Dorothy Baughman and DJ Barber.

The December issue of New Mystery Reader is up and includes an interview with Tom Piccirilli along with their usual reviews

And finally, I polished up a new story today that wanders into the sci-fi/fantasy realm and in my search for a market discovered that Big Pulp has posted some new content but really had my funny bone tickled when I read "Call for Submissions" by Libby Cudmore and Matthew Quinn Martin in that issue Go have a read, you won't regret the few minutes it takes!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Rant for the Week

I've got to wonder what John Scalzi is thinking when he writes a post like this

Then comes the Black Matrix Publishing response

And finally, Scalzi again

Of course we'd all like more money for our work or in some cases to even be paid no matter how prestigious the damn zine or review is. What I haven't figured out is why Scalzi is pointing his finger at only one publisher when there are hundreds paying at the same level. Black Matrix is putting out four print magazines and that's a whole lot of stories and they're not out there begging everyone to donate like the other sci-fi magazines were doing of late. Do you remember those "pros", Mr. Scalzi? "We need $10,000 or we're going to fold." Hey whatever trips your trigger at least they're (?) paying pro rates. Or how about those college "Reviews" that don't pay their writers. They're subsidized by Federal grants, the workers aren't paid and the college pockets the change. But hey, they're top of line.

But what really bites is the latest bit coming from both zines and anthology markets. They'll pay a penny a word for a story but if you're a "pro", they'll pay you 5cents or negotiate higher. WTF? If I follow the guidelines and submit a clean story that gets accepted, why can't I get paid the same as someone like Mr. Scalzi? If all the pros ( you know, the ones with a track record or a famous name ) took the stand that everyone should be paid equally, that would be something worth screaming about rather than how little one publisher is paying. My god, imagine how many novels could be published if King, Brown and Patterson didn't need millions in advance money.

In the end, it's up to each individual writer as to where they want to submit. When Mr. Scalzi says writers should boycott this market, he's instigating the downfall of a market that might be of interest to writers who can live with such a small amount. There are more writers at the bottom of the food chain than the top and some of them are pretty damn good but still can't crack the top rank. There is a need for these small markets because it's where new writers learn their craft and build their reader base.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Issues Up

Issue 34 of ThugLit has hit the streets with eight short stories celebrating the holidays the Thug Way. Some favorite authors in this issue, guys, Ryan Zimmerman, Rob Loughran, Taylor Brown, Scott Wolven, Justin Porter, Chris Holm, Steve Pantazis and David Keaton.

You'll also find that the December issue of The Gumshoe Review has gone live with new reviews and don't forget that they're open to short fiction submission so check out their guidelines.

Issue 5 of Sex and Murder is up

PulpPusher has added some new content on their site

Short Links and Market News

We all know the value of "best of" lists but I thought this one might interest some of you. They've put together a list of the 10 best short story collections of '00's. While they're mostly sci-fi and fantasy there's a few that might interest readers here and the comments section contains a great many more not included on the list.,35747/

John Fox has an interesting interview with short story writer Tod Goldberg about his new collection of shorts.

And a bit of market news:

The theme for the Scalped spring issue is torture with a February 21 deadline.

Big Pulp has opened for a month's worth of submissions.

The print magazine Ghost Light will be open for subs until January 31, 2010.

And finally two new zines looking to get off the ground.

Bastards and Whores is looking for flash and shorts with a January 31, 2010 deadline for their first online issue. Payment is a token of $1

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Market News

It's been a hectic week around here but I do have a bit of market news for you.

Pill Hill Press has added another contest and several more anthology calls to their submission page.

Blood Bound Books has also added a couple more anthology calls

Black Matrix Publications is still looking for submissions for their various print magazines.

Not One of Us print magazine has just published a new issue and is looking for subs for their next

The First Line print magazine has listed their first sentences for next years issues

The above markets are paying markets but mostly at the low end of the pay scale.

PodCastle is looking for fantasy stories for their podcasts. They prefer reprints from paid markets, the pay here is $100 for shorts from 2000 - 6000 words and $20 for flash stories up to 1000 words. The group that does these podcasts also do EscapePod for sci-fi stories and PseudoPod for horror stories with the same pay. You can find the links to both of these sites along with PodCastle's guidelines here

You can now pre-order issue six of Out of the Gutter here has closed to submissions due to a backlog of stories. This is a podcast site and their url is to the left if you'd like to check out their site and listen to some stories.

Big Ole Face Full of Monster has been declared dead by both Duotrope and Ralan. Also NVF Mag has closed due to lack of submissions. Both markets that I'd just posted a few months ago. I wish there was some way of knowing if a market was going to stick around or not.

And don't forget that tomorrow is Patti's Flash Challenge, so get your reading glasses ready, there'll be lots of good stories for your reading pleasure.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How Purple is Your Prose?

You can blame this post on Patti Abbott Why blame Patti? Because she was asking about dumbest toys ever made and I mentioned Click Clacks, which made me wonder how in the heck do you describe this toy to people who never saw it...them?

Two hard plastic balls on a string (and yes, the "Ding a Ling" song is strolling through my head) There was a ring on the string that you slid on your finger much like a yo-yo then you waved your hand up and down so the balls clicked and clacked above and below your hand. Stupid fad toy popular in the early seventies.

I worked in the toy department at Grants and they were a big seller, not to mention that everyone in the store had a set they played with when things were quiet. All through the store you could hear click - clack, click - clack, ow, ow, ow, damn! Everyone who played with them had bruised arms, sore wrists and even a black eye or two. This toy would never make it on the market today. And yet, we kept playing with them, click-clacking away trying to see how long we could keep them going. Maybe if the string had been elastic and prone to breaking like the paddle balls, we would have given up quicker.

And still the description doesn't do justice to the beautifully colored orbs or capture the obsessed click-clacking that went along with the toy.

And to bring this back to writing, click-clacks could be used as weapons, or a passing thought by a woman who'd like nothing more than to use her husbands balls like a set of click-clacks or turned into that popular seventies song "silver balls hanging on a string, I think it was my ding-a-ling". Sometimes I miss the "good old days".

Oh yes, and don't forget Patti's Wal-Mart flash challenge on Monday. If you'd like to join in on the fun you can check out the details here And if you really want description woes Patti's Wal-Mart link is a humdinger The written word cannot do these people justice, believe me, I've been struggling with it. You need a picture just to prove that you didn't make up some of those outfits.

So, how purpley do you allow your prose to get? Do you like using a lot of description when you're writing or do you just trim it down to the bone and let the reader's imagination do the work?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I wonder do writers ever stop weaving stories? Sitting down with a table full of people always fills my mind with stories, their stories, my story, the story of families past and present and with the grandchildren, the future.

Traditions from my grandparents and parents were present at the table. Though we've dumped the sweet potatoes in favor of baked beans. I bake cottage cheese rolls every holiday and I wonder who'll keep that tradition alive after I'm gone or will they only be a memory like the marshmallow encrusted sweet potatoes. What new traditions will be brought to the table as the family grows?

As I looked around the table full of smiling faces and satisfied bellies, I saw love stories, stories of brothers and step-brothers, a toddler taking his first steps and soon, coming of age stories. And one shy little girl who might one day grow up to be the prom queen.

For all of this, I am thankful. Thankful for the love and caring that flows around my table, for the stories that will grow from this collection of people who share a gene pool, who love each other, but can still call each other names and pick fights. And in the end, that's what families are, an odd assortment of people who gather together in love.

I wish all of you peace and happiness on this Thanksgiving Day and all the beautiful stories and memories your mind and heart can hold.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reality Bites

Do you struggle with making things real in your fiction? I've been working on a story about a woman moving into a house that's been deserted for over twenty years. There's no electricity which means no running water so I gave her an artisan well in the back yard. Cool side fact - in the winter in PA, an artisan well can turn a back yard into a skating rink with a beautiful ice fountain in the center. She needs to heat the water to bathe so I gave her a cook stove in the kitchen. Now, some of this moves the story along but most of it is just keeping things "real".

I struggle with this practical side of myself when writing. I hate how people walk into deserted houses and the water magically works and the electric just flows with the flip of a switch. Hello....if no one is paying the electric bill, there's no lights and if you don't drain water pipes in an empty house in the winter, yeah, broken pipes.

What about you? Do you try to embrace the practical when you're writing, or do you just skim over the practicalities of a situation so your story will flow smoothly, or have you found a way to include them without sabotaging your story?

I think I may have mentioned Blood Bound Books before but they've added a few more anthology calls with 2010 deadlines. One, called Night Terrors is a contest with the winner receiving 5cents a word and runners up receiving a flat rate of $5 for their stories which is the going rate for all stories included in their assorted anthologies. You can find all the details here

And Jeff VanderMeer has written an essay about writer's despair that very neatly looks at what we all feel at one time or another when we're writing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On Writing and Zines and Zombies

I have a real mish-mash of links for you today. There's some interesting reading out there. This post looks at several small publishing houses, one of them Chizine which I mentioned in a previous post as being open to subs. There's no links to the houses themselves but some of them do publish short story collections and a google search would probably hook you up to their sites. Jason Sanford has some interesting facts and figures in this post about online zines. Most interesting is that hits and downloads on audio stories is on the rise. Not just another argument about genre vs literary, but a well thought out look at how the Internet is changing the face of this marketing device of tagging writing in order to sell it. Her last two lines give us all hope for the future. "The emphasis won't be on what genre. The emphasis will be on great storytelling." From thrillers to westerns each genre has a "formula" of sorts. John Ramsey Miller takes a look at these formulas and offers up some suggestions on how to write great stories within the confines of the genre formula.

For those of you who write Zombie stories there's a forum board that might interest you called Library of the Living Dead There's all kinds of great stuff here but of special interest is the calls for submissions section. The library is a publisher of anthologies featuring zombies. Of interest to both horror and western writers is this new one The Zombist: Tales from the Undead West.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I almost forgot this one. Lightspeed Magazine has posted their guidelines. This is a new venue that opens to subs on January 1, 2010. This is a sci-fi market looking for stories 1000 to 7500 words in length but prefer less than 5000. The pay will be 5cents a word for original stories and 1cent a word for reprints. And there will be an online submission form. You can find all the details here

A Bit of Everything

There's been a great many blog posts about the new Harlequin Horizons self-publishing venture. With a hat tip to Stephen Torres we have this link that pretty much sums it all up and makes all the details perfectly clear.

Chizine Publications has opened for submissions of novels and short story collections up to 100,000 words in the dark fiction genre. There's no mention of payment so you'll have to check that out if you're interested in submitting.

With another hat tip, this one to Charles Tan, I found this very cool site called "Letters of Note". They scan in original letters from famous people then the transcription below. You can find the site here but one I think will interest readers of this blog is the letter by Kurt Vonnegut I also saw a letter from Al Capone and one from Harry Houdini. Good stuff! And yes, you might even find the inspiration for a short story among the archives. Happy hunting.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This and That

Thanks to Brian Lindenmuth we have a link to a 100 word contest over at BoingBoing. The winner gets a $700 HP MediaSmart Ex 495. Just drop your hundred words with the theme "Found in Space" in the comments and cross your fingers. There's no closing date but they've already gathered over 900 stories when I checked.

From Michael Bracken comes this link to an essay by short story writer, Jeanine McAdam.

Over at Poe's Deadly Daughters they're holding a contest for copies of the Toys for Tots anthology "The Gift of Murder" drop on over and leave a comment for a chance to win.

The second issue of Disenthralled has hit the virtual streets for your reading pleasure.

And Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine has closed for submission until 2010.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Total Coolness

Okay, this is just purely blatant self promotion but it's so cool! I have an audio story up at SnipLits! I read my stories to myself after I've written them, but to hear someone else read your story is, yeah, I'm going to say it again, it's so cool! Anyhoo, if you're of a mind and have ten minutes and 88cents to spare you can download my short story "Country Fried" which is narrated by Malcolm Rothman. He sounds just like the story did in my head while I was writing it. How cool is that! And yeah, I'm Snoopy Dancing! Oh, and if you do drop by to listen, this isn't one of my noir stories. It's a humorous story with a character I created a few years back called Seamy Brown.

The link! I was so excited I almost forgot to post the link.

Morning Puzzle

Did anyone else catch the ad for James Patterson's new Alex Cross book? Is that overkill or what? I could hear a whole choir of writers screaming "Kill him! Kill him!". Which brings up this question. Are book sales so bad that a best selling author feels the need to threaten killing off his series character in order to increase sales?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Few Quick Links

I've mentioned that Northern Frights publishing was looking for submissions for an anthology and they've recently announced a second one. They're looking for stories inspired by HG Wells "The Time Machine" The deadline for this and the previous anthology is December 31 for stories up to 8000 words. Payment is a penny a word with a $50 cap, paid through PayPal. You can find the details for both anthologies here

Charles Tan has a wonderful interview up on his blog with short story author, Adam Golaski. I must say, though, that I don't think any of us would get published if we submitted a collection in quite the way he did!

This last link is to an essay by Bev Vincent about book packagers. There's also a link at the beginning of this essay to another essay that explains all about book packagers. This was something I'd never heard about before so I found it quite interesting. Well, actually, I'd heard of book packagers but thought they boxed books in a warehouse. You learn something new every day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Market News and Inspiration

With a hat tip to Bill Crider, we have a new Western venue for short stories called "Frontier Tales". They're looking for stories up to 5000 words. This is a non-paying market.

The deadline for the "Scalped" winter issue is fast approaching. You need to have your stories submitted by November 21. The issue is themed so be sure to check out the guidelines.

There's a new Sci-fi magazine coming in June of 2010 called Light Speed. You can find the details about this new zine here The new guidelines will be posted by December 1 at And if you'd like a bead on what the editors are looking for, there's a podcast interview here

If you think you're blocked or you just can't seem to get your butt in the chair and your fingers dancing across the keyboard, here's a couple of essays that might get you back on track.

100 Words by Kameron Hurley

Where Does Inspiration Come From by Jeff VanderMeer

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Writing Links

Cullen Gallagher has an excellent post up about author, Howard Browne. Mr. Browne is a writer that most of us can relate to on many levels.

From Brian Lindenmuth we have this link This is a very interesting take on writing for your readers.

Since A&E started running Criminal Minds, I've become a fan. I know, its been on for years and I just found it. What can I say, I'm always late to the series parties. One of the things I like about the show is how it begins and ends with a relevant quote. This one by Cyril Connolly really struck me as good advice for writers to follow. "Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self."

While looking for the author of that quote I ran across these two sites full of writerly quotes to fit every mood a writer can drown themselves in.
Not sure why this goes to a broken link page, but just click on that and it will take you to the site.
Same link as I have, so go figure.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some Saturday Linkage

I found this essay about genre and tie-in writing quite interesting. Truth is, I often wonder why writers "look down" on other writers to begin with. It's all creative and that should be the only bottom line.

There's been a lot of discussion (bitching) about the Publishers Weekly top ten list. For me, this post over at the Kill Zone blog pretty well sums up the truth about any kind of lists. Lets face it, no two readers are going to pick the same top ten books for the year, and if we start picking bests based on what's between a writer's legs or what color their skin is, we've all lost.

This post over at the Cozy Chicks blog pretty much says it all about writing and opportunities. Grab every opportunity that comes your way, you never know where it might lead.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Links and Market News

With a hat tip to the lovely Women of Mystery we have two links to articles in the Wall Street Journal. The first is a lovely article about short stories and the fact that people are starting to notice that we're still out here writing them.

The second is an interesting interview with Cormac McCarthy

I found this next article, "What Editors Want", courtesy of Charles Tan's blog Lots of good advice in this piece.

And in market news, Yellow Mama has closed to submissions until December 15 and SnipLits is open to only romance submissions to the end of this month then they'll be closed until February.

Over at Duotrope, I ran across Black Coffee Press. They're looking for literary shorts and novels. I can't find where they pay an advance or how much the royalties would be if your collection is accepted so that's something you'll have to ask the editors if you decide to submit. Here's the link

Call for Holiday Submissions

From Eirik Gumeny, the editor of Jersey Devil Press we have the following call for submissions:

"We're trying to release a holiday themed issue in the middle of December. Of course, to successfully do that, we're going to need holiday-themed stories.

General info: We don't care if it's about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, or any other winter holiday. hell, it can even be about a general disdain for the entire season. It should just relate to the holidays in some way.

Holiday submissions should adhere to our regular submissions policy The only difference is that we're requesting submitters add the world "Holiday" to the subject line. submissions for the issue will only be open until December 11, 2009, with the issue being released the following Friday."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Odds and Ends

You know a blog post is hitting a nerve when a great many other writers are linking to it. Over at Declan Burke's blog, Crime Always Pays, he writes about his decision to set aside fiction writing for the time being. A crossroad that every writer finds themselves in many times during their writing life. This probably sounds trite, but I've found if you just let go, the pieces tend to fall together in ways you least expect. Something I call living without expectations - it allows me to be continually surprised and rarely disappointed.

Over at Lee Lofland's "The Graveyard Shift" there's an interesting discussion of the portrayal of women police officers. I've never understood why women are considered the weaker sex anyhoo. I mean think about it, those pioneer women walked across the country right alongside the men, not to mention that they were probably pregnant at the time too. Strong women are the norm not the exception, even today.

Patti Abbott has an interesting discussion about flash fiction going over at her blog today. In the comments she also asks an interesting question. Do most writers have a stronger length? For me I tend to write pieces under 2000 words. 1000 to 1500 being my sweet spot. I think writers develop a length strength from the way they learn how to write. I've always wrote in bits and pieces of time, so short worked for me, and my first writing group was for flash fiction which helped me strengthen those stories.

And this being Veterans Day, you won't find a better salute to the Veterans then the one Kate Thornton has on her blog today. Kate, herself is a Veteran and her short story "Veterans" is a great story to celebrate the sacrifice of our fighting forces. Thank you to all who served and continue to serve so gallantly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Short Links

Well, I've written a first sentence for this blog post four times and still can't figure out what to say. So, we'll go straight for the links and maybe my brain will kick in.

From Paul Brazill we have a link to Caffeine Nights Publishing. This is a small publishing house that only publishes two to five books a year. There's no advance, only royalties from sales. While they're not able to break into the brick and mortar book stores they are set up for online sales through several markets. They opened on November 1 for submissions of crime fiction novels and state that they're only accepting 5 new authors this year. If you're interested you can find more information at

Twitter fiction seems to be all the rage of late and now there's a forum board dedicated this new form of shorts. You'll find discussions about writing, markets and assorted other topics dealing with TwitterFic here

I spend a great deal of time over at Charles Tan's Bibliophile blog, mostly because he's a great source for links to all things writing and sci-fi. He also reviews both online and print zines and books, and posts interviews with authors and editors. He also writes a column for BSC that's always interesting. He's one very busy man! Anyhoo, this morning he has a great interview with Jeremiah Tolbert, a short story writer and editor of the online zine "Escape Pod". Lots of good stuff in this post.

Over at Murderati, Allison Brennan posted about short stories and the difficulties she has writing them. There's also a lovely discussion in the comments of this post. I think for most novelists it's hard to switch from a big panoramic view of a story to that narrow focus of one single event.

And for our Western writers I stumbled across "Western Writers" over at Live Journal. There's lots of history related posts and links to other sites that are of interest to both readers and writers of Western fiction.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Post Musing Links

Thanks to everyone who listened to my musings about being a writer yesterday. Sometimes writing down your fears helps you work through them, at least for me, and your comments were an added bonus in the working through process. And just to say thank you, here's a bunch of links that might help you work through whatever's nagging at your writing keyboard.

From Frank Loose we have a link to Pulp Serenade where Cullen Gallagher has posted some writing wisdom from Charles Willeford.

From Paul Brazill there's a link to a list of submission calls from "Full of Crow" the flag ship for a group of zines that are working towards print publication.

At Storytellers Unplugged there's an essay by Alan Russell entitled "When I Wish I Wasn't a Writer" Good for your daily chuckle requirements.

Over on Michael Bracken's blog I asked him how to query a short story. His response, with examples, is more than generous and well worth a read for those who aren't sure how to query short stories to editors. You'll find his response in the comments of the post entitled 27.

Brian Lindenmuth has a fun post entitled "Mat Johnson's Writing Advice by Way of Gordon Ramsay"

Fried Chicken and Coffee is a zine I visit periodically. Today's visit found a post about Larry Brown The gold in that post is the links most especially to Darnell Arnoult's Dancing with the Gorilla blog where's he's in the process of posting an eight part series entitled "A Writer's Apprenticeship: Larry Brown". The first two parts are already up.

And for a final look at rejection you might try this humorous flash piece by Angela Barton over at Apollo's Lyre entitled "The Five Stages of Facebook Rejection"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just Musing

Do you ever feel like a fraud? Like you've tumbled into a life you never imagined for yourself? Sometimes when I sit down to write I wonder if this will be the best story I ever wrote or just a piece of crap. I read other writers and think, I'll never be that good so why do I bother. Some days writing churns my stomach with frustrations but...I keep going. And the truth is, I have no idea where this compulsion comes from. Why I keep tapping away at the keys and prowling through my character's lives like a Peeping Tom.

I mean, what made me believe that I could ever be a writer in the first place? I'm not a well educated person. I struggle every step of the way with punctuation and grammar, the whole tense thing ties me up in knots and POV? But I keep going, I keep reading and studying but I have this sinking feeling that no matter how long you write, no matter how hard you study, this writing gig doesn't get any easier. If possible, it's probably going to get harder and harder. So why do we do it? Why do we keep writing?

Is it merely ego? Thinking we have something to say that the world should sit up and listen to. Or is it a mental illness? Voices screaming in our heads to be let out into the world. Or is it frustration? Seeing a world that scares the bejesus out of us and trying to make sense of it. What is it about writing that keeps us going against all the odds?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blame it on Buffy

Did you ever have an idea pop into your head that you thought was just really and truly brilliant? I had one of those yesterday after watching part of the movie, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

I wondered why nobody ever set a vampire story in Alaska or any country in the far north for that matter. Think about it. Six months of night. Your vampire could vacation in Alaska rampaging across the frozen north chewing on necks twenty four hours a day. Really cool idea, right?

Wrong. How's he going to get at all those necks hidden in hooded coats and wrapped in woolen scarves. Not to mention trying to talk a woman out of her clothes in forty below temperatures. That's never going to happen. And what if he gets caught in a snow storm? Maybe trapped in a glacier slowly moving south? He'd be there for all eternity. Alive in a block of ice. That would truly suck. He might even melt into the next apocalypse and there'd be no people. Thawed and no blood.

While this idea might make for a fun flash fiction piece, I doubt it could be worked into anything longer that would appeal to readers. Part of writing is putting together ideas in your head before you write them down on a piece of paper. So many of us dash every idea down before we even give it a thought and then get frustrated because it doesn't work.

The next time you get a really hot idea, take a couple of hours and work through the story in your head or jot some thoughts and ideas down on a piece of paper. Ask yourself if the idea has wings to make it fly or is it just a clever thought that isn't going to go anywhere? By taking the time to plot through in your head first, you could save yourself the frustration of a story that doesn't go anywhere and probably shouldn't have been started in the first place.

And from Pam Castro's Flash Fiction Flash Newsletter we have the zine, "Ruthless People" This is a cross genre monthly done in PDF format. They're looking for horror, sci-fi, and crime stories and they pay. $10 for flash of 500 - 1000 words. $35 for shorts and serials up to 3500 words. A penny a word for mini-flash up to 500 words and a flat fee of $5 for poetry.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Market News

I ran across this new market yesterday called "Short-Story Me Genre Fiction" They're looking for stories of 200 to 5000 words of hard genre fiction in all the genres from crime to sci-fi. The pay is a penny a word with a max of $10 paid by PayPal. You'll find both classic and new fiction at this site for your reading pleasure.

From Paul Brazill comes the news that Shoots and Vines has a call for submissions for their fifth issue. There's no pay for this print/online zine. You can find all the details here

From Bill Crider via the SMFS board we have iPulpFiction The stories on this site can be downloaded for fees similar to the SnipLits site. From what I could see though, the site seems more geared toward YA fiction than adult at this point, so if you've got kids you could download them a story or two for their listening pleasure. They do accept short stories from writers but please be advised that there is no pay only a percentage of the royalties and they also charge a $10 reading fee that is paid to their editors/readers with no guarantee that your story will be chosen for the site.

Just a quick addition here. It's not just YA. On iPulp you'll also find some classic stories from Ed Gorman and Bill Crider. If you've never read them - here's your chance!

And the fifth issue of Pine Tree Mysteries has hit the virtual streets with short stories from Virgina Winters, Sylvia Nickels and Jack Bates. This zine is a quarterly, so my apologies if I've already mentioned this issue. I tend to lose track with the quarterlies that aren't dated.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rules and Things

Rules. Know them. Love them. Hate them. But they're still there staring you in the face every time you sit down to write. So in the spirit of knowing the rules here are a few links to some rules, old and new, just to remind you of what you should know before you set out to be a writer of short stories. A big tip of the hat to Michael Bracken for the first two.

Now that we've gotten the rules out of the way, here are a few things that might tickle your fancy today.

The fourth issue of Sex and Murder has gone live.

Crimespree Magazine has opened for submission through the end of this month.

Fried Fiction is now a paying market. They publish serial stories and pay $25 for the first installment.

And Rafe McGregor has an interview up with Sean Chercover. Chercover is one hell of a short story writer, which made this interview a must read for me. His short "One Serving of Bad Luck" won the CWA Short Story Dagger award this year and "A Sleep Not Unlike Death" won an Anthony Award. And yeah, his novel, "Trigger City" just blew me away when I read it this year. If I could write like that, I'd die one happy old lady.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I was a little shocked the other day when I asked my nine year old grandson what he was going to be for Halloween and he said he didn't want to dress up this year. The reason? The school had told the kids they couldn't dress up as anything scary.

Hello?!? Halloween is all about getting the crap scared out of you. If you make it through All Hallows Eve without poisoned candy and razor blades in your apples you can survive anything. Even that Vampire lurking in the corner to bite your neck.

Halloween is about fear, about the monsters that hide under your bed and stalk your dreams. Its about walking those evil streets and surviving. Facing your fears gets your heart pumping. It makes you feel alive. It also gives you the knowledge that you can fight evil and win, even if you're wearing a silly costume.

Now, you're probably wondering what this has to do with writing. Well, think about it. As writers we dress up in the guise of our characters and with pen in hand, stalk evil and kill it. Of course, we don't always win but one battle is not the war and so we write on, killing the demons in every guise. From pedophiles to the happy homemaker who kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb. We're the slayers of evil who make everything right in our little corners of the world.

And for your Halloween treat we have "52 Stitches" They open for submissions today. And what are they looking for? Horror flash in the 750 word range. But hurry, once they have their 52 picks for the year, they close until next Halloween. The pay here is $3 per story and at the end of the year the stories are collected in an anthology. You can find their guidelines here

May your day be full of treats but please, watch out for the tricks, and that evil zombie lurking in the corner ready to pounce on your pen. Write on, gentle storyteller, and slay the evil dragon today.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Submission Calls

Courtesy of the lovely Michael Bracken we have two anthology calls for submissions.

First up is Press 53. The anthology is "What Doesn't Kill You". They're looking for fiction or non-fiction stories in the 100 to 10,000 word range. There's no pay except for a complimentary copy of the anthology and your writing bio in the book.

The second is "Music For Another World". This is a sci-fi/fantasy anthology with music being an integral part of the stories. They're looking for stories in the 2000 - 6000 word range with payment of 80pounds and one copy of the anthology. You can find the submission details here

While they don't specify Canadian authors, print magazine, Descant, only accepts snail mail submissions for those who don't like dealing with postage across the boarder. (I know there's a word for that, but it escapes me for the moment) Anyway, this magazine has a theme that might be of interest to some of you, which is "Ghosts and the Uncanny" with a March 1, 2010 deadline. The pay here is $100 on publication but their response time is up to one year and possibly a year before publication. Not a market for those with no patience. Here's your link

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Issues and a Contest

If you love flash, the October issue of Apollo's Lyre has gone live. You'll find stories by Terri Schultz, Wayne Scheer and Mark Chorna and many others. The editors are also looking for Valentine stories for their February issue. There's a January 15 deadline. You can find the details here

The Music Obsession issue of Storyglossia is up with sixteen new stories from writers like Tom Burkett, GL Griffith, James Warner and Christopher Bundy.

Fear and Trembling Magazine updates twice weekly And if you think a story can't be scary without spilling a lot of blood and curse words, check out "Shades of Stone" by Adam Colston for some shivery proof that it can be done.

The October issue of Tales From the MoonLit Path is open for your reading pleasure with seven short stories from such writers as Kyle Baker, Teresa Houle and Thomas McAuley. Besides these seven the winners of the Thirsty Vampire Contest have been published with six honorable mention stories and Michael Kechula's winning entry "Red Dust".

And courtesy of Cynthia Sterling's new marketing blog we have an ebook Valentine Contest from Breathless Press. There's no cash prizes but the winners get a contract and a month long blog tour to advertise their new ebook. There are five categories accepting flash, shorts, novelettes, novellas and novels. You can find all the details at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Linkage

If you're wondering about the future of short stories here are a couple of links that came in via the SMFS board. A hat tip to Bill Crider and Patti Abbott for supplying the links. and

Speaking of Patti, she's posted a new flash challenge on her blog with November 30 being the day of great flash reading. You can find all the details here Drop on over and let her know if you're going to participate.

Over at Market Scoops you'll find an interview with "Through the Eyes of the Undead" anthology editor, Robert Essig. You can find out what he's looking for in a story and link to the anthology guidelines in the post.

Thanks to Stephen Rogers, who stopped by yesterday, we've discovered that Suspense Thriller Zine has bit the dust after only two issues.

And googling your name can have unexpected side benefits. I found a new market source yesterday called While this is a site for literary zines, there are a lot of markets listed that take crime fiction also. They have reviews, listings of submission calls, just all sorts of goodies for writers looking for markets.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paranormal Anyone?

We all love reading and writing ghost stories, don't we? Well, if you're looking to head up a team of paranormal investigators here's a post by Pamela K. Kinney that gives you all the ins and outs of going about this sort of work right down to the equipment you'll need to get started.

Here's an essay by Megan Crewe that ponders the question of why ghosts are so appealing to us

Since you now have all that tasty information you might give it a whirl at these new publications. There's a new quarterly getting set to launch in January call Inwood Indiana They pay a token payment via PayPal for poetry and fiction about small towns and subjects of a strange and unusual nature.

Story Fudge is also new and looking to launch in January. They're looking for shorts and poetry for the theme "Contact". There's a December 31 deadline for the first issue. This is a non-paying market.

For something a little different we have NVF Magazine They're looking for anything horror but their focus is indie film makers in the horror genre. Submissions include reviews, films and short stories but no pay. It's a pretty cool site and there's a story posted there by Joe R. Lansdale called "The Mule Rustlers" you might want to read

And over at The Drowning Machine, Corey Wilde has posted a review of "The Gift of Murder" Many thanks to Corey for the splendid review and helping to spread the word about the Toys for Tots anthology.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Esquire Winners

The winners of the Esquire Fiction Contest were announced on October 9. I missed it, but better late than never. Congrats to winners, JR Walsh, Christian Moody, and Nick Ripatrazone. You can find the announcement, their bios, and links to their stories here

This and That

On November 1 NanoWriMo begins. The idea here is to write a complete novel in 30 days. It works for many writers and some have come out of their month of writing with a rough draft that gets polished and sold. If you're interested in this process here's the link And over at Alexandra Sokoloff's Dark Salon blog you find "The Plan" to help you get started with your Nano project.

And if you don't have a novel in you, maybe try for 30 shorts in 30 days. That might be a fun challenge. There are a lot of markets for 1000 - 2000 word stories, not to mention those flash markets for 500 and under. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

There's been several nice reviews and write-ups for "The Gift of Murder", this year's Toys for Tots Christmas Anthology. Here's the links:

Lesa Holstine has written a very nice review on her wonderful Lesa's Book Critiques blog.

And Kevin Tipple posted one on his review blog, Kevin Tipple's Corner.

Earlier this week we were discussing the mixing of genres to create a short story. Well, this week, Charles Gramlich has just such a story published at Beat To A Pulp. His story, "Hunter's Moon" is a mix of sci-fi, horror, mystery, and romance. And what a mix it is. You can go read this great story here

Friday, October 23, 2009

And a Few More

The second issue of 69 Flavors of Paranoia has gone live and they're open to subs for issue three until November 15. This is a non-paying market but the zine has a well-designed website to showcase your work.

Over on SMFS someone asked a question about poisons which put me in mind of a Yahoo group that I belong to called Crime Scene Writers. This is a marvelous group that includes police officers, private investigators, coroners, medical examiners, crime scene investigators, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and the list goes on and on. The point being, if you need some detail to flesh out your story the answer can be found on this list. You can ask your question or do a search of the message archive. There's a wealth of information available through this group. The most recent discussion was about killing a person with a knitting needle. You'd be surprised how many ways this can be accomplished! Here's the group addy if you're interested in joining