Saturday, February 28, 2009

Writing Realities

I'm so happy that I've been back in the blog world this week as there's been a variety of posts about writing, how we write, why we write and that elusive being published. Here are the links and be sure to read the conversations that follow as they are very enlightening.

As for my take on writing, I write because I love writing, stringing together words and telling a story that somehow touches the people who read it. Do I expect anything to come of my writing? No, but that's the way I look at life. I never expect anything and I'm never disappointed but continually thrilled when the good things come along.

Maybe I expect very little because I'm a self-taught writer. I've read the books on writing that I could afford or coerced my kids into buying me for Christmas or birthdays. I've read fiction in every genre and I've written in all them, settling on the crime genre as the one that fits the voice I'm finding in myself.

This morning I'm listening to Kate Winslet talking on Inside the Actor's Studio and she said something that I like to apply to my writing. "I kept telling myself that I couldn't do it ( a part she was offered ) and realized that's the reason I should." I'm always trying new things, stretching my writing voice, exploring new ways of stringing the words together. Sure, some of it really sucks, but writing is a learning process and making mistakes is part of the process. When you're writing always strive for more. Always make the next story better than the last. And always bring your joy to the work because your readers can feel that joy.

Over at Rara Avis there's been a bit of a discussion about being published and I'd like to leave you with this bit of wisdom from Jack Bludis, who really nails the writing business.

"No matter how well you write, no matter how hard you push, no matter how they advertise, somebody up-there, out-there, or something in the ether has to make that last push to the best seller. In a sense, it's our stars, not from ourselves, that make us (them) best sellers. It's the same luck that gets people talking about the work.You can try to plan it all you want. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. Luck may or may not be a lady ... she may be just a witch who cackles as she slides her finger down the spine of the winner.Read, read, read; write, write, write. If something’s going to happen, it will."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Market News

My son was kind enough to loan me a computer he wasn't using so I'm back online for now. It's been a while since I posted any market tips so I thought I'd do that for my first post back.

Big Pulp (link to the left) opens for submissions on March 1.

Literary Bitch is open to submissions for their second issue. They are looking for short poetry and flash stories under 500 words that are dark in nature. They also print reviews. You can find them at this url

Also Crooked (link to the left) has changed its format. They'll no longer be a quarterly pdf but will publish stories as they come in like Twist of Noir. And speaking of the Twist there's only one month left to enter their contest.

And I ran across a few print magazines that are looking for submissions.

Pear Noir appears to be one of those literary magazines but they want dark and depressing stories and who does that better than you guys. The reading period for their July issue is February 1 to April 30. Guidelines here

Necrography is a horror magazine. No dates, but their blog says they're open. Guidelines here

Shroud is also a horror venue but they do noir crime stories. They are open to subs from February 1 to March 30, then again from May 1 to June 30. Guidelines at this url

Not One of Us is basically a horror market but they accept sci-fi, western, and noir so long as the story considers the problem of "otherness" from every possible fictional angle. They wants stories from 2000 to 5000 words their guidelines are here Http:// John Benson, the editor, is a really good guy. I used to send him stories before I had much experience under my belt and he was very patient and encouraging, telling me what was wrong with my stories and always inviting me to try again.

And later today I'll put this link in the markets resources column. This site, Erotica Readers & Writers Association, is for those who write erotica. They have listings of print and e-markets that include anthologies zines and publishers. Here's the url

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Tweaking Stories and Other Things

I was tweaking my 880 word flash story this weekend when it suddenly morphed into an 1800 word short story. Well, not suddenly. I was thinking about the story when a thought popped into my brain and I found myself back at the keyboard pounding keys until midnight to get it all down. I love when that happens, that sudden burst of imagination is better than an adrenaline rush, or maybe they're the same thing. Either way the story turned out much better than I expected and after another read through this morning I sent it out. To paraphrase Col. Hannibal Smith, "I love it when a story comes together."

On the reading side I was once again delving into the 1976 Hitchcock Anthology and found two more incredible stories. The first was "Warrior's Farewell" by Edward D. Hock. Hock had an incredible short story output, but I must admit that I wasn't a big fan of what I'd found recently. But this story really sang for me. The story revolved around two soldiers and an incident in Korea that changed their lives. Very fine stuff, indeed.

The second story was "Don't Lose Your Cool" by Dan J. Marlowe. Can this man write noir! This was a dark tale set in prison and only two and half shivery pages long. I'd never read Marlowe, and hadn't heard much about him so I did a search. I almost think this guy is more famous for his life than his writing. His most talked about book is "The Name of the Game is Death" which I will be looking for. For those who'd like to read more about this author here are a couple of urls Http:// this link also has a review of "The Name of the Game is Death" written by Bill Crider. The other link is

Friday, February 13, 2009

Paper Words

A few posts back, I mentioned that I was uninspired to write. Since then, the story I was working on has hit the tweaking stage and in a few days I'll be looking for a market.

What amazed me about the comment thread of that post was how every writer who hit a snag in their writing said that they resorted to pen and paper to work through their story. In an age when everyone writes on computers and are reading stories online via their phones or Kindles, I found the falling back to paper and ink comforting.

For me seeing my story printed out on a piece of paper helps me find the errors that aren't apparent or just glossed over on a monitor. Holding a book or newspaper in my hand gives the words more weight. Maybe because when I was younger you found truth in the written word. People could hold a Bible in their hand and know that God's words were written there, making them feel like they could touch God in some way. A dictionary, an encyclopedia, a biography all put knowledge at our fingertips. Words on a page were truths we could see and feel.

As a people, I don't think we'll ever outgrow the idea of seeing words on the page of a book. Those words are forever and a computer crash or a hacker's virus can't erase them. I find comfort in the thought that there will always be books to read and learn from.

And a quote today from Carson McCullers:
"There's nothing that makes you so aware of the improvisation of human existence as a song unfinished. Or an old address book."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Patti's Flash Challenge

Here's my story for Patti's flash challenge. I made two changes to my paragraph. I substituted the name Dorothy for the first she so I could set up my character and I moved the very last sentence of the paragraph to the first sentence of the second paragraph.

You'll find a list of the other participants and their stories at Patti's blog and at Gerald So's blog Many thanks to Patti, Gerald, and Aldo for hosting yet another fun writing experience.

by Sandra Seamans

Dorothy couldn't get the eyeliner to go on straight. Her eyes kept tearing and twitching under the sharp edge of the pencil. She rubbed the lines with her finger, but that smeary, smoky look didn't work on her; her eyes were too intense already. She laid the pencil down beside the sink, grabbed a cigarette out of her pack, lit it, and sat down on the toilet to smoke. She looked into the half-open eyes of the corpse, haphazardly submerged in bloody bathwater and whispered, "God damn you, David."

She glanced up at the Tinkerbell alarm clock on the bathroom shelf, always set fifteen minutes fast, and calculated time of death to be closer to twelve-thirty than twelve-forty-five. Dorothy shivered. What the hell difference did it make what time her stupid husband slit his wrists? He was dead and she was left to deal with another one of his impulses. If he'd given his half-assed idea any thought at all, he'd have checked to see if we had a life insurance policy before he killed himself to pay off Malone.

But that was typical David. He just winged his way through life, leaving her to manage the best she could. At least this would be the last time. Tossing her cigarette butt into the bathtub, Dorothy grabbed a washcloth and started scrubbing away the charcoal colored tear stains from her face.

"You know, I really don't have time to deal with you right now, David. You're going to have to keep your ass soaking in that tub until I get done work, someone's going to have to pay off Malone and it sure as hell isn't going to be you. Besides, you don't keep a thousand dollar an hour client waiting, especially not for a man who isn't going anywhere. Of course, you haven't been going anywhere for years now, have you?"

Dorothy picked up the eyeliner, the lines going on perfectly straight this time. Just a touch of shadow and blush for that innocent look. "There's no point staring at me like that. What the hell did you think I was doing every night while you were in the casino shooting craps? Did you really think that Malone was doing you a favor by letting your debt slide? Hell, he loved when you were losing, the more you lost, the bigger his cut from my clients. But the truth is, you'd need ten whores working full time to pay off the debt you've racked up.”

She opened her lipstick, sliding the slick red gloss back and forth on her lips, giving herself a satisfied smack in the mirror. "I wonder, David, did you really believe you could Peter Pan your way through life without any consequences? Who did you think was paying the rent on this fancy apartment? Maybe Tinkerbell with a little magic fairy dust?"

Dorothy pulled on a blond Alice-in-Wonderland wig, centering the big blue bow on the top of her head, and fluffing the bangs so they framed her eyes. "And then, after years of walking through life with your head up your ass, you suddenly wake up and take exception to the fact that I'm prostituting myself to pay your bills? You certainly didn't think I was making the kind of money you were tossing around singing in some piano bar, did you? And you certainly weren't winning at the craps table."

After slipping into a blue gingham dress and tying on a starched white pinafore she sat back down on the toilet and pulled on white knee socks before slipping her feet into a pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. Standing up, she adjusted her clothing in the full length mirror hanging on the back of the door, smiling as Dorothy and Alice exchanged places in the looking glass. "Alice is a much better fit for Vegas than Dorothy, don't you think? After all, poor, naive Dorothy never wanted to live in Oz, she just wanted to go home, back to Kansas where she belonged."

She wrapped a cloak around her slender body, spinning in front of the mirror to make sure the transformation was complete. "That Cheshire Cat grin isn't going to work on me, David, I know all your tricks. Dorothy tried to tell you that Vegas wasn't Neverland, but did you ever once listen to her? No, you just kept right on believing that sparkling neon world out there was your own private playground until Malone shattered your fairytale dreams along with your jaw."

Alice pulled Tinkerbell off the shelf. The clock was a wedding gift from David, he’d said it would bring them luck, but Vegas had sucked all the luck out of their lives, leaving her with nothing. She tossed the fairy in the tub with David. "Welcome to the real world, sweetie, too bad you didn't have the balls to deal with it. Well, I must be off, Wonderland is waiting and I'm late...for a very important date."

Monday, February 9, 2009


Patti Abbott's flash challenge goes live tomorrow. She has coaxed over twenty writers to participate in this challenge, so there will be a lot of amazing stories spread across the net for your reading pleasure.

Over the years I've heard many writers say that they refuse to write for free, that their words are worth something. In some ways they're right, words are valuable, but not if they're stuck in a drawer where nobody ever reads them. Participating in Patti's challenges are priceless to me, every time I've written one, I've learned something about writing. And this challenge was no exception.

Everyone had to write an opening paragraph and send it to Patti, who then passed them out. Talk about a hair-pulling experience. First, coming up with a paragraph that someone else could build on, then building on a paragraph that is not your own voice or style.

When I write, I tend to skirt around descriptions, leaving the reader to imagine how a character looks, moves and dresses. My paragraph forced me to include description and body movements in my story and helped me realize that you can move a story along in this way. That it doesn't have to slow a story down.

So, my thanks to Patti for coming up with the concept and to the writer who allowed me to build upon her (his) words. I look forward to seeing who wrote the paragraph I was given along with reading the story that was built on my paragraph.

You can't put a price on the lessons and the sharing of words that will come out of this challenge.

A Couple More Markets

For those of you who write mysteries that are more on the cozy side of the genre there's Pine Tree Mysteries. I'd put a link up for this one before but the site hadn't been updated in a while so I sent off a letter to editor Morgan Drake to see if she was still taking submissions.

She informed me that she is putting together a new issue and is hoping to keep the zine going as a quarterly. She's looking for cozy, PI, and police procedural stories with no erotica or profanity. She also doesn't want cats, dogs or horses that solve crimes. If you have something that fills the bill, send it along. Markets can only stay open if we support them with our writing. Here's the url

If you can write mysteries for the sixth to eighth grade set you might want to give 5 Minute Mystery a try. The editor there has cut to publishing only twice a week because he's not getting enough stories, even though he pays $50 per story. Check out the guidelines if you're interested. They supply a mystery template so you know exactly how to set up the mysteries and clues. They use stories up to 1200 words. Here's the url

***Just an added note here, Crime and Suspense Magazine has closed to submissions until sometime in March.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Open for Submissions

Ran across another new market (to me) for short stories called Horror Bound Magazine. They publish short stories up to 7000 words also poetry, artwork and non-fiction. They're also looking for submissions for an anthology. They're looking for horror, fantasy, noir, and thriller submissions for their zine. Just no sexually explicit material as they have readers of all ages. You can find them at this url

Also open for submissions is Crooked (issue 3), Bad Things (issue 2), Beat to a Pulp is looking for subs for their May issues. And don't forget A Twist of Noir's contest is open until March 31 but they're also open to submissions for the zine. The Flash Fiction Offensive is also open for subs as they publish bi-weekly and they've really tricked out their site so its looking really great.

For all you editors and members of SMFS, the Derringer Awards are open for nominations. You can find their submission rules at the SMFS blog and at their website. Url to the left.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Seeking Inspiration

I feel like my computer did this weekend. Frozen and unwilling to start but after much prodding and poking the old girl finally kicked in. She's working for now, but I'm uninspired.

I started a story yesterday, pushing and pulling words out of my brain, maneuvering them on the page finally closing the file after getting the beginning down. But my brain kept churning over the story and now I have several pages of dialogue written on a pad ready to move the story forward. So why am I not writing?

Does a story have to inspire you to make you want to finish it? It's a good story that I've started. All the elements are there but it just doesn't sing for me. It's a tale of revenge but then, revenge has been done to death. It needs a new spin, a choir of notes that will make it more than just a get-even story.

What about you? Do you just write the story, making sure to hit all the beats so your story is note perfect or do you wait until you hear the sax pulling those odd notes out of the air to change your story into something special?

Over the weekend a whole bunch of zines went live with their newest issues. Crooked, ThugLit, BTAP and The Flash Fiction Offensive all have new stories for your reading pleasure.