Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Have Linkage

We've got a little bit of everything this morning, folks.

First up for the Fantasy lovers there's a free book contest over at BSC. They're giving away 5 autographed copies of "The Light of Burning Shadows" by Chris Evans. You can find the details here http://www.bscreview.com/2009/06/contest-the-light-of-burning-shadows-by-chris-evans-5-copies-signed/

And I stumbled across the blog of fantasy author Natania Barron. Now I've never read her books and know very little about her but her blog is full of all kinds of wonderful tips about Fantasy writing. You can find her blog here http://nataniabarron.wordpress.com/

Then there's a couple of new markets I ran across.

The Blotter is a print mag with back issues online in PDF format. It's published by a non-profit organization and seems to have been in business as a monthly since 2005. I couldn't find any mention of them being a paying market on the site so they're probably a non-paying market. I mention them because they're looking for underground and outsider literature which is what many of you write and have trouble placing. Here's the link if you'd like to check them out http://www.blotterrag.com/

And here's an unusual flash publication. It's brand spanking new with only one story up so far. The publication is called Matchbook and they're looking for stories of 1000 words or less. If they accept your story, you're asked to provide another piece with your critical thoughts. They're looking for work that uses form to express the times in which we live. There's no pay but I thought the concept was interesting so I decided to pass it on. Here's the url http://www.matchbooklitmag.com/

There's a great article over at Jeremiah Tolbert's blog about rejection from the editor's side of the desk. You can read it here http://jeremiahtolbert.com/2009/an-editors-perspective-on-rejection/

With a hat tip to Clair Dickson, we've got a free Baby Shark book available for download on Robert Fate's website. The book, "Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues", is the second in Fate's wonderful Baby Shark series. Go ahead, treat yourself to a real gem. http://www.robertfate.com/

Oh yeah, we're doing a Snoopy Dance Rave this morning because new issues of Spinetinger and Mysterical-E have hit the virtual streets with loads of great reading material for all you short story lovers out there - and you know you are!

Spinetinger has published their Spring double issue so you've got twelve new stories to drool over from authors Anthony Rainone, Jake Nantz, Stephen D. Rogers, Graham Powell, and Damien Seaman, to name just a few. http://www.spinetinglermag.com

The Summer issue of Mysterical-E is chock full with 19 stories from authors like Albert Tucher, BJ Bourg, Jim Winter, John M. Floyd and JR Lindermuth. http://www.mystericale.com/

So what are you hanging around here for? Go. Read!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Spread the Zine Word

Over on Criminal Brief this morning James Lincoln Warren is bemoaning the loss of markets for short stories and wondering why people are no longer reading shorts. Drop on over and tell him where you read and publish, let him know that there's a whole wide world of short stories just waiting to be read. Support the world of short stories today by spreading the joy of Zines over at Criminal Brief. http://criminalbrief.com/?p=7465

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Work It Takes

Over on Woody Haut's Blog there's a video up called "The Rough South of Larry Brown" where the late Mr. Brown himself tells about the hard work, the studying, and rejections that he faced learning to be a writer. http://woodyhaut.blogspot.com/2009/06/ive-long-regarded-larry-brown-one-of.html

I read his book "Father and Son" nearly two years ago and the book still haunts me. The man was a vast talent.

Friday, June 26, 2009

And A Contest

With a hat tip to Brian Lindenmuth for the linkage, there's a contest to be part of a new anthology called "Weird Enclaves and Black Pits" sponsored by Fight On Magazine. They're looking for pulp fantasy stories up to 10,000 words and the deadline is Halloween. First prize is $100, second $60 and third $30. The winners and honorable mentions will be published in the anthology. You can find more details here http://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2009/06/announcing-weird-enclaves-and-black.html and at the Fight On web site in their forum http://www.fightonmagazine.com/ where they're fielding questions from writers.

Links and Markets

If you're thinking of submitting to the podcast market you might want to take a look at this essay by Jeremiah Tolbert "What is a Podcastable Story?" http://www.jeremiahtolbert.com/2009/what-is-a-podcastable-story/

And for just plain stories, "What's a Story?" by Jim C. Hines is very informative. http://www.sfnovelists.com/2009/06/24/whats-a-story/

If you're interested in submitting to SnipLits, you'd better start getting your story ready. According to their website, they're almost through their backlog and will be opening to new submissions sometime in July. So keep an eye out for their opening and new guidelines.

NPR has a contest going called "Three Minute Fiction". The contest opened on June 20 and runs until July 18. They're looking for stories of 500-600 words. First prize is having your story read on NPR, an interview, and a book. One thing that bothered me about the contest was, once you enter your story, they own it until they send you a written release. So, you need to weight the loss of the story against the "maybe" of having your story on NPR. Here's the url so you can check out all the details to make your decision. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105685925

And some new markets, mostly no pays and they all seem to be new start-ups with no issues or just one that's up.

Sex and Murder bills itself as a "magazine of extreme horror, dark fiction, and splatterpunk". They're look for short stories of 2000-8000 words and flash under 1000. http://sexandmurder.com/ The first issue is coming soon. One thing I noticed was the editor has named his zine after his novel but hopefully this won't be just a marketing ploy.

The first issue of Einstein's Pocket Watch is up so you'll have a bit of guide as to what they're looking for when they say they want uplifting Christian Fiction stories. Shorts from 1000 to 3000 and flash 500 to 1000 words http://peafant.wordpress.com/submission-guidelines

House of Horror is looking for Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, and Fictional Serial Killers but no child violence. Flash 200 - 1000, shorts 1000 - 5000 and poems up to 500 words. http://www.houseofhorror.org.uk/#/guidelines/4534003896

And finally, the paying market, though just a token of $5 is Loose Yarns. No issues up yet. They're going to be a quarterly and all they want are good stories that make them laugh or cry. Word count up to 3000. http://www.looseyarns.com/submissions/

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seeking Originality

I watched the movie Flicka last night, for lack of anything better on the tube. Now, I understand the need in Hollywood to play around with novels to make a movie and to some extent I can understand their desire to switch from male to female, white to black or whatever the PC flavor of the year is. That’s all fine but what really irritated me was how they took an original idea and made it unoriginal.

Stories about girls and horses are the norm, what Mary O’Hara created with My Friend Flicka was unique. Yes, there were stories about boys or men with horses, many of them, but Ken McLaughlin was a special character, he was a dreamer in a world of literature where boys acted like boys, he was soft and caring where others were rumble-tumble, she created a character who defied what was considered a typical western boy.

All of this got me thinking about originality. How do we make our stories original and unique in a world where we’re told that there are no new ideas? Can just switching gender or race turn a story on its ear? As writers we need to think outside the four corners of normal to find that one little thread we can pull until the norm unravels into something new and fresh and unique. Is it easy? Not by a long shot. Can it be done? Yes.

Take a look at “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson. This book was written in 1954 and it is still fresh and unique today. I know, because I just finished reading it. And trust me, the book has a uniqueness that the movies have never captured (I haven’t seen the newest one with Will Smith, only the first two). Mr. Matheson turned the world of vampires upside down. What surprises me is that nobody has built on the world he created, nobody has taken that story one step further. Everyone writing vampire stories and novels are still building on the old Dracula format. And that is a great loss.

So, what do you do when you’ve finished a story and realize that, yeah, this has been done to death? Do you experiment with changing the POV character’s gender, race, or sexual orientation? How do you think beyond the borders of what has already been done to create something unique?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

HumpDay Links

For those of you not familiar with HumpDay, that's what our local morning newscast calls Wednesday. As in over the hump and sliding towards the weekend. That said, there's a lovely collection of essays about writing this week so here's your links.

First up are two essays on rules.

Sandra Parshall has a great post over at Poe's Deadly Daughters called "The Tyranny of Rules" http://poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/2009/06/tyranny-of-rules.html

And Charles Gramlich takes on Fantasy rules over at Razored Zen with his essay "There's Rules, and There's Rules" http://charlesgramlich.blogspot.com/2009/06/theres-rules-and-theres-rules.html

Jim C. Hines is pondering "Series vs Standalones" in Sci-fi, but what interested me was the question he put to his readers asking how series vs the standalone compares with a short story vs a novel. I'll be dropping back during the day to read the responses. http://www.jimchines.com/2009/06/series-vs-standalones/

And the power of words is the topic of the next two essays.

Over at The Kill Zone, Joe Moore discusses picking the right words in "A Boy and a Dog" http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2009/06/boy-and-dog.html

And on the Murderati blog, Louise Ure shows us how much impact just a few words can have on readers in "140 Characters" http://www.murderati.com/blog/2009/6/23/140-characters.html

For you Sci-fi fans Tangent is back. Tanget is a magazine that keeps abreast of all things Sci-fi with reviews, articles and interviews. http://www.tangentonline.com/

THIS JUST IN: Which only goes to show that I should traipse around the net before publishing a post! There's a free e-book full of six short stories for you guys to download. "The Six" is by Stuart Neville and the download is available on his website along with a contest for a print copy of the book. http://www.stuartneville.com/news/latest-news/new-download-a-free-short-story-collection.asp Hat tip to Keith Rawson for the link.

For those of you who don't know, Stuart is one of those lucky guys who picked up an agent and publishing deal for his novel because he was getting his short stories published in zines. Hooray!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pure Silliness

There are those occasional days when I wish I could figure out how to post pictures on this blog. http://oldcharliebrown.livejournal.com/253388.html

And these folks certainly know how to keep readers in suspense! http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/06/story-that-takes-1000-years-to-read-is-antidote-to-media-whirlwind/ A big hat tip to Brian Lindenmuth who knows how much I love anything short story related. Thanks, Brian!

On a side note, I just passed the 200 posts mark. Pretty awesome when you consider I had no idea what to blog about when I first started.

The Evil That Men Do

I was reading an essay this morning where the author made reference to "evil" being present, in a place where there should be no evil. Which, of course, got me thinking about how often writers use evil to describe their antagonists.

It seems, that in the crime genre especially, writers tend to drop every bad thing that happens into the lap of evil, the man was evil, the house was evil, the spouse was evil, the neighbors were evil. If you read the book jackets, many times you'll run across the phase, "classic good vs evil story" or words to that effect.

I remember reading an article once that said a writer shouldn't label every bad thing as evil, by doing that, the writer was taking the easy way out. By tagging your antagonist as evil, you don't have to dig into his mind to see why he does what he does, he's simply evil. This struck me at the time because I've always believed that every human being has the capacity to do bad things, either from want or need and to simply say that "the devil made me do it" tends to be nothing more than a cop-out, a way to avoid putting a human stamp on the dark deeds and thoughts that are totally human.

So, what do you think? Should crime writers, or any writer for that matter, dig deeper than good vs evil when they're writing, or would readers be repulsed reading a story where someone did something utterly unthinkable just because they felt the need to act on an impulse? And I'm not referring to someone who's insane or psychotic or bi-polar here, I'm talking about a normal human being who goes about the everyday chores of living, then one day is forced to make the decision to act on those dark impulses that live in the back of everyone's mind.

The floor is open.

Monday, June 22, 2009


For all you sci-fi twitters, Thaumatrope is open to subs through July 31, the theme is punk tweets. They have an online submission form and they pay a little over a dollar which, as they say, figures out to a nickel a word. You can find the details here http://thaumatrope.greententacles.com/submissions/stories

Flash Fiction Online has reopened to submissions, their url is to the left in the flash column. This is a paying market at pro rates and they're tough to break into.

With a hat tip to Keith Rawson, we have The Collagist, a new zine being produced by Dzanc Books. The first issue is scheduled for August 15, they're open to fiction, poetry, and non-fiction essays. If anyone is interested in reviewing for them there's an email address there to contact them. All the details are here http://www.thecollagist.com/submissions.html

Ran across this new market called Soft Whispers. They're accepting submissions for issue one which is set for an August release date. They're looking for stories up to 2000 words and poetry. They want no offensive language or scenes. They are open to mysteries and here's the direct quote. "If you're submitting a thriller or mystery - please no guts and gore or over the top stuff that makes people look away. That's not for us." You will find the rest of their guidelines here http://www.softwhispersmag.com/submissions.htm No pay mentioned here or at The Collagist.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Joys of Clickity-Click

Dropped by The Dead Mule today and discovered that they've posted another round of short stories. Part of the joy of The Dead Mule is reading the author's Southern Legitimacy Statements, then diving into the stories they've written. Some of the titles, like The One-Armed Man, Shark Teeth, and Ode to the Waffle House just draw you in. http://www.deadmule.com/

Noticing that they also have a blog at The Dead Mule, I clicked on over and discovered a link to a Flash Fiction contest and a new ( to me ) zine. The contest is being sponsored by Gemini Magazine. There's no fee and the deadline is August 31 for stories 1000 words or less. Top prize is $100 and publication in the October issue. Three honorable mentions will also be published and all other entries will be considered for publication.

Gemini seems to be open to whatever story strikes a cord with the editors so they're wide open content wise. The first story I clicked on was a PI story. You can find the details for the contest here http://www.gemini-magazine.com/contest.html The zine is also open to regular submissions so check out their guidelines and stroll through the archives while you're there, they're a non-paying market.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are You Noir?

There are so many blogs out there a person could get finger whiplash clicking through the Internet. One of the blogs I click into now and then is Moments in Crime, a blog set up by St. Martin's Minotaur for their stable of authors. Usually I drop by when it's an author I know and admire or if there's a catchy title that grabs my attention. The title yesterday was "Are You Noir", the author, Dennis Tafoya.

Now a lot of people refer to my work as noir but it's not a tag I've hung on myself because the truth is, I'm still grappling with the old argument of "what is noir?". Which is why Tafoya's title grabbed me and the essay was totally worth the read because it gave me another view of what noir might possibly be. Here's the url http://www.momentsincrime.com/2009/06/are-you-noir.html While you're there, take the time to check out some of the other posts he's done through the past week. He talks about the process of writing, using music as you write, and movies, all with an interesting perspective.

Now, I don't know Mr. Tafoya, so this isn't a plug for his book, especially since I haven't read it, but I did take the time to see if he had any short stories out here on the web and found this gem called "Sleight of Hand" http://www.eclectica.org/v8n2/tafoya.html

Back to noir for a moment. If you're still interested in learning more about the noir/hardboiled side of the mystery genre be sure to check out Richard Helms' excellent essay over at The Back Alley. http://www.backalleywebzine.com/hardboiled%20and%20noir.htm It never hurts to learn all you can about the genre you're writing in.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Links Again

Just two markets today. The first is courtesy of Cynthia Sterling's Newsletter. The market is Bound Off which produces monthly literary Audio Podcasts. 250 to 2500 words, $20 a story. You can find the submission guidelines here http://boundoff.com/submit.html They also have a blog and checking through the posts they've been at this for a little over a year now usually with two stories a month. You can find their blog here http://boundoffpodcast.blogspot.com/

The second is a flash contest, no fee at Shared Space. The deadline is August 10 and you have only 50 words to wow them. http://miniwords2009.sharedspace.org/faqs.php A hat tip to Brooke Smith's Flash Writing group for this one.

For fans of John Connolly's work there's an interview with him at the Fantasy Book Critic blog. http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/2009/06/interview-with-john-connolly.html

And for our Western fans, Bill Crider posted this link to a hard-boiled western by Joe R. Landsdale on Rara-Avis a while back. The story is "Hide and Horns" http://tinyurl.com/qenkdc

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Short Story Editor Lays It Out

And speaking of editors and editing, Michael Bracken sent me this link last night http://theyellowroomeditor.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-am-i-looking-for-in-short-story.html

This essay is by Jo Derrick, the editor of a woman's magazine called The Yellow Room. In the essay she lays out what she's looking for in a story for her magazine but she also talks about what makes not only a good story, but a great one. Here's a few quotes pulled from the piece.

"A reader shouldn't have to work too hard to understand it, this usually means the writing lacks clarity"

"In a short story there is no margin for error."

"There's no place for the writer to hide in a short story, no room for failure, for sloppy writing or muddled thought" --Sarah Dunant

"To be a successful short story writer, you have to be utterly vulnerable on the page and utterly ruthless in revision." --Chris Offutt

So, if you're looking to learn more about the craft of short story writing and what editors are looking for in a story, go have a read.

The Worth of Zines

A lot of writers tend to look down their noses at the ezine markets. Their reasons? Little or no money, little or no editing, and little or no readers. Are their reasons valid? In some cases, yes, but the zines are growing up and more and more of them are actually paying, not a lot, but better than a poke in the eye. They're also being noticed by print editors and publishers and stories are being culled from the online markets for print anthologies and podcasts, which put a little extra money in writers pockets.

But an email from Paul Brazill the other day made me think of another reason that zines are a good thing for writers. Paul forwarded a note from editor, David Cranmer, telling Paul that his short story "The Tut" in Beat to a Pulp had received 215 hits over the weekend, the highest number of hits since the zine opened for business. Needless to say, Paul was excited, and well he should be.

You see, Paul is a newbie writer, still learning the craft and working hard at it. How do I know? Because I've been following some of his work in venues like Powder Burn Flash and A Twist of Noir. With the zines you can follow a new writer and watch him grow and learn, much like the earlier writers who wrote for the pulps before writing novels.

Submitting stories is scary for a new writer, but with the zines, there's usually little or no sitting around chewing your nails, wondering if an editor will accept your stories. Some zines accept everything that's sent their way, no matter the quality, which doesn't help the writer much, but it does give them the courage to keep submitting, going for zines that do have an editorial staff and will help a new writer by showing him how to make his story stronger.

The zines are becoming the new training ground for beginning writers. That place where their writing has a place to grow and stretch. A place where new writers can find their voice, and the genre that suits what they want to say. The zines allow for experimentation. More experienced writers can try new genres and delve into different styles of writing without losing the readers who expect a certain type of writing from them.

So take the time to support a zine. Give out a shout when a new issue of a favorite zine is online, send readers to stories that show what a good online zine can publish. Help spread the word that zines are a viable venue for writers. Oh yeah, and go read "The Tut" http://www.beattoapulp.com/stor/2009/0614_pdb_TheTut.cfm drop Paul a comment, then stroll through the archives and treat yourself to some really great reading material.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The June 30 deadline is looming for those who are working on a story for Kerlak Publishing's WTF mysteries anthology. I linked to this one about a month ago. They're looking for mysteries with no cussing and the best euphemisms for WTF. You can read more about it here http://www.kerlakpublishing.com/storycall.html

The Lineup has put out a call for crime poetry submissions for their third issue. They're open from June 15 to July 31. You can find the guidelines at http://poemsoncrime.blogspot.com/

A new issue of Yellow Mama has hit the virtual streets with an entertaining story by friend of The Corner, Keith Rawson, and poetry by Gerald So. Congratulations, guys! Url to the left in the zine column.

If you're interested in a virtual crime writers conference, that's what this blog is billing itself as. Seven published crime writers have gotten together to answer all the questions you can throw at them. You can find them here http://7criminalminds.blogspot.com/ Oh yeah, they're having a drawing at the end of the month for free books.

And lastly, I found this essay, "What I Learned From Movies and TV" by Joseph Finder quite interesting. http://joefinder.blogspot.com/2009/06/june-writing-tip-what-i-learned-from.html

Monday, June 15, 2009

Personality Disorders

I was 2000 words into a short story yesterday when I closed down for the day. Of course, my mind didn't shut down and I was at a point in the story where I needed to find the focus and figure out where to go next.

I'm a big fan of paper and ink writing, I find that I can jot down pages of notes, ask myself questions about the story, and drop lines of dialogue until the story begins to make sense. All of this is so much easier on a scratch pad than on the computer because once it's embedded in the story I really hate to hit that delete button. As I jotted down my notes the story began to take shape and I knew exactly what I had to write this morning to make the story come together.

Then, while I'm munching my morning toast, it hit me. I completely changed the one character who is central to what the story is all about. Arrrgh. Within one page I'd changed her from a very uptight person to a free-wheeling drunk just for the humor effect. Then as the climax was approaching I slipped her back into her uptight shoes.

Oh yeah, the scenes are good, and funny, but they've got to go. Keeping her uptight will still add that touch of humor I need, but in a different way. Don't you just hate when your characters dress up in a new persona in the middle of a story?

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Pair of Markets

One of the things I love about stopping by Duotrope is their random market spots. Today's random market was Sub-Lit and if you're writing for A Twist of Noir or ThugLit this one will be right up your alley. There's no pay and they only publish three times a year. Right now they're looking for subs for their August issue. The word count is flexible from flash to 5000 words. They'll look at 7000 but as they say, people don't want to sit glued to their computer screen reading that long. You can find the guidelines here http://www.sub-lit.com/guidelines.html
And if you want to know what they're looking for in a story read "Trashcan Special" by Derek Nikitas. http://www.sub-lit.com/nikitas.html If you're offended by foul language you might want to skip this one, but I found myself laughing my ass off by the time I was done reading. They're not looking for your mother's stories here.

Ralan.com has revamped their website and it looks pretty cool. Over there I found a web site called Scribblers & Ink Spillers. They're starting up a new magazine called Emerald Tales and its another themed one. This time the theme is "Follow the Butterflies", word count to 4000 with a July 1 deadline, with a flat rate of $40 per story. And there's no specifics about what kind of story they're looking for. They'll also be looking for Novellas and longer works in the future. You can find their guidelines here www.scribblersandinkspillers.com/submissions.html They also have a blog http://scribblingseasprite.blogspot.com/ that you should check out to see how serious they are about this project.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stroking Egos

Over on Rara-Avis they've been discussing blurbs, especially blurbs that were written for a first time author. One of the authors who blurbed said that while the book wasn't perfect, he blurbed because the writer was talented and he wanted to support that talent.

Okay, swell, that's a big boost for the new writer's ego, but I wondered, did this writer take the time to tell the beginner where he went wrong in his book and how he could improve his writing? Or is this young writer just going to keep writing the same mistakes because, hey, the big guys said he's great?

Encouraging comments, blurbs, critiques, and reviews can help build a writer's confidence, but they can also hurt a writer in the long run if they're not tempered with a little common sense. How you ask? They can hurt, if the beginning writer comes to the conclusion that he is brilliant and doesn't have to get any better.

How do I know this? Because in one critique group I belonged to, all the feedback I'd get was "Hey, this is great!" Yeah, I could have just kept writing the same old, same old, but I wouldn't have learned anything. I knew that the stories weren't perfect but I wasn't learning how to make them better. So rather than hang around getting my ego stroked, I moved on to a group that tells me when a story is crap and offers suggestions on how to make it better.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good ego boost as well as the next writer, but I always try to remember that I'm still learning, still honing my craft and that's something I hope will never end. As writers we walk a fine line between believing that every story we write is brilliant and the oh-my-god feeling that everything we write is crap. The trick is learning to balance the two. And no it's not something that I've mastered yet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Interesting Essay

Ran across this tonight. Michael Bracken has touched on this topic on his blog and for the more experienced writers it makes a lot of sense. For us beginners - maybe not quite so much.

"Revising Short Fiction is for Suckers" by Jeremiah Tolbert. Here's the link http://www.jeremiahtolbert.com/revising-short-fiction-is-for-suckers/

So, where do you stand on short story revisions? Are they worth it or just a waste of time? The floor is open. I'll catch up with you in the morning.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Flash Markets

KC Ball, editor of 10Flash, has asked me to announce that she's open for submissions to the October issue. Each issue has a theme and this one is "Two men, one of them wounded, flee pursuit following a botched bank robbery." This is a flash zine but the top word count is 1000 and pay is a penny a word. You can find the guidelines here http://10flash.wordpress.com/guidelines/ The very first issue will be going live on July 1.

I found another flash market called Six Little Things. Their top word count is 250 and they're seeking submissions for their next issue. Also themed, "the unannounced guest", with an August 30 deadline. This looks like a very literary site, you'll find the guidelines here http://www.sixbrickspress.com/front/sixlittle.html

Flashfire 500 is going on hiatus for the summer so they're closed to submissions until the fall, but the site will remain open for reading.

Shroud magazine is sponsoring a flash contest, the top six stories to appear in issue #7. They want 500 words or less based on a news story you'll find at the link on their blog site http://shroudpublishing.blogspot.com/2009/06/shroud-magazine-news-of-weird-flash.html
They're also open to regular submission until June 30. url to the left in the print column.

And Jason Evans over at the Clarity of Night blog has posted the picture for his 11th contest which will open on July 8 for flash pieces of 250 words or less. You can check out the details and the photograph here http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/2009/06/very-special-clarity-of-night-contest.html and get a head start on writing your piece.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Little Bit of Everything

Miss a couple of days of putting up links and they tend to overrun you in a hundred different directions, so if these links seem a little scattered to you? They are.

First up, a couple of writing essays.

"Persistence Doesn't Matter If You Make This Common Mistake" by Jane Friedman. Short and not sweet essay for those anxious to get their novels out the door and into the hands of a publisher. Excellent advice! http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2009/06/02/PersistenceDoesntMatterIfYouMakeThisCommonMistake.aspx

"Writers Block? What's Needed? A Good Swift Challenging Kick in the Ass" by Robert W. Walker. This is a dead-on take about making excuses for not writing. http://heydeadguy.typepad.com/heydeadguy/2009/06/writers-block-whats-needed-a-good-swift-challenging-kick-in-the-ass.html

In the Short Mystery Group last week there was a discussion about writing series characters, so this essay about series characters by Carolyn Haines is a must read for those tossing the coin between series and stand-alones. http://www.murderati.com/blog/2009/6/8/series-characters.html

Brian Lindermuth has another interview up in his Conversations With the Bookless Series. The featured author this time is John Rector. And not to complain too much, Brian, but you didn't link to any of his stories this time (hint-hint). http://www.bscreview.com/2009/06/conversations-with-the-bookless-john-rector/

James Lincoln Warren is looking for some writers who'd like to contribute guest blog posts over at Criminal Brief. I have to admit that I missed this post back in May, but he linked to it in today's post and I thought I'd just pass it along. Hmmm, I wonder if he'd like "Crime Fiction's Bastard Child"? http://criminalbrief.com/?p=6714 You can find the guidelines for submitting here http://criminalbrief.com/guidelines.htm

I stumbled across the most fabulous short fiction site yesterday called Classic Short Stories. They feature a bibliography, a message board, links to other short fiction sites, and you can search their site by author or title. How cool is that? http://www.classicshorts.com/

For those of you who write western shorts, here's a new anthology market called Six Guns Westerns and they're a paying market. http://old-west.blogspot.com/2009/06/western-small-press-six-guns-westerns.html

And for the guys, you'll love this one! http://www.esquire.com/women/women-we-love/bar-refaeli-naked-0709?click=pp Only Stephen King could rate a cover like this for a short story!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hang On Snoopy, Snoopy Hang On

Yeah, I know it's Sloopy, but hey, I needed a catchy title. Its Snoopy Dance time for friend to all, Patti Abbott. The PulpPusher has done us a solid and published one of Patti's stories and is it great! I'm still chuckling over that last line. Its a killer! Here's the url http://www.pulppusher.com/#/pattiabbott2/4534003741 What are you waiting for? Get on over there and read yourself one helluva story.

And of course you know, that Sloopy song will be going through your head for the rest of the day!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Reading, Writing and Raffles

I love finding essays about writing. Sometimes they just repeat what I already know, or put a new spin on the lessons so I can look at them from a new direction. Storytellers Unplugged is a site that I recently ran across that's full of essays from a variety of authors with all kinds of essay goodness. The link to the main site is in the links column to the left but here's a couple of essays that you might find enjoyable. "And Then One Day You Write Something Different" by David Niall Wilson http://www.storytellersunplugged.com/and-then-one-day-you-write-something-different and "Telling Stories" by Bev Vincent http://www.storytellersunplugged.com/telling-stories

Another essay that might be of interest to those considering a creative writing program is "Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing Be Taught?" by Louis Menand. This one is in The New Yorker and its six pages long but it touches on many of the pros and cons of writing programs with statements like this "Creative writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem" and this "No one seems to agree on what the goal of good writing is." http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2009/06/08/090608crat_atlarge_menand

Here's a couple of new non-paying markets that might interest you guys.

69 Flavors of Paranoia is looking for short stories up to 3500 words but will consider those up to 5000 and flash fiction under 1000 words. They're basically a horror zine but they're looking for stories that cross the line into crime and suspense, mystery, pulp, noir, action/adventure, western and even romance. Here's the url to their guidelines http://www.69flavorsofparanoia.com/submission-guidelines.html

The Big Table is a flash site looking for gritty stories under 1000 words. According to their guidelines they love magical realism and they adore all things Michigan. http://bigtablesg.blogspot.com/

We're doing some Snoopy Dancing here because there's new zine issues out there to read. Apollo's Lyre has its first issue up on their new site with lots of good micro flash pieces from some familiar names. ThugLit's newest issue is up with its usual gritty in your face stories. The Spring issue of Dogzplot is live at their main site and as always their flash site is full of good stuff. And Micro100 has posted their June issue and, sad to say, it's going to be their last. All the urls are to the left.

And finally, you have until noon tomorrow to get your name into the raffle over at Women of Mystery. They're raffling off 5 copies of the MWA anthology "The Prosecution Rests". All you have to do to enter is drop them a comment. Here's the url http://www.womenofmystery.net/2009/06/let-raffle-begin.html

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's Flash Challenge Day!

Here's my entry into Patti's Flash Fiction Challenge. You can find links to the rest of the stories at Patti's blog http://pattinase.blogspot.com/ or at Gerald So's blog http://geraldso.blogspot.com/ There's lots of good reading on them there blogs today. Have fun!!

By Sandra Seamans

“Fucking, goddamn wedding dress,” said Susie. “Why in hell do I have to squeeze myself into this stupid piece of white lace frosting to walk down some church aisle to marry a man I’ve been living with for the past two years?”

Lillian Constantine stared up into her daughter’s face wondering how this young woman could possibly be her daughter. Susan had no grace, no taste, and absolutely no comprehension of her position as the daughter of the town’s premiere wedding dress designer.

“Because, Susan, you’re my only daughter and I fully intend to see you married in a proper wedding gown. You owe me that,” said her mother as she shook out the heavy folds of the pearl encrusted dress.

“I owe you? For what, giving birth? Any fucking whore on the street could do that and probably be a better mother than you ever were. All you ever cared about was this damn dress shop and sewing your “wedding dreams” into everyone else’s dress.”

“I did my family duty. I gave your father the children he required from our marriage. I had better things to do with my life than take care of a pair of whining, squalling brats,” she said. “Now close your filthy mouth and stand still while I finish pinning up this hem. I’ve sewn the wedding dresses of every woman in this town and I won’t allow my daughter to embarrass me by getting married in some shabby Salvation Army hand me down. You are going to do me proud for once in your selfish life.”

Standing, she walked around Susie, studying the dress. “Perfect. All that’s left now, is to design a veil that will showcase the dress.”

Susie tamped down her anger as she glared at her bridal self in the full length mirror. As always, with her mother, the dress was more important than the person standing in it.


Her wedding day dawned warm and sunny, not even the weather dared to rain on Lillian’s carefully orchestrated arrangements. The church was flowered and beribboned with a beauty and grace only Susan’s mother could achieve. The pews were filled with a fine selection of the town’s upper crust, while members of the wedding party waited in the alcove to take center stage in Lillian’s production of the perfect wedding. The only thing missing was the bride and groom.

Whispers and fidgets spread through the church as the minister approached the pulpit. He cleared his throat as he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket.

“I’ve been asked by the bride to read this,” he began. “To all my friends and family. I’ve decided to have my wedding in a setting that is better suited to my mother’s finest creation. Pile into your cars and head on over to Sugar Creek Road. Follow the road until you come to the wedding cake. Park your cars, and partake of the lovely picnic supper that has been provided for your enjoyment. The wedding ceremony will take place at sunset. Sit back, relax and enjoy yourselves on this lovely day.”

Lillian was rigid with anger as she stepped out of the hired limousine. The beautiful wedding cake that she’d designed to match Susan’s dress was posed on a red and white plastic tablecloth covering a card table that had been placed in the middle of the road like a common road sign. Picnic tables were arranged under the shade trees and chicken, burgers, and hot dogs were being cooked over an open pit by the owner of Pete’s BarBie-Q Pit. Bottles of champagne, beer and soda floated in large tubs of melting ice, while the local DJ provided the music. Suit coats and ties were shed, sleeves rolled up and heels kicked off as everyone relaxed into the party atmosphere her daughter had created for them.

As the evening sun stretched its last lazy rays across the sky, all eyes turned towards the strip of knee-high grass that fronted the creek bottom. Susie stepped into the field on the arm of her grinning bridegroom. The coral and peach blush of the setting sun bathed her in a luminous glow. The long veil her mother had designed to frame the perfect wedding dress tickled the waves of grass and wildflowers, shooing sparkling dandelion fairy puffs into the air to dance around Susie’s naked body.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The People We Meet

Tomorrow the stories for Patti Abbott's Flash Fiction Challenge will be going up. I always love these challenges because I get to write a story that it would never cross my mind to write. But even better is reading all the stories that come from that one challenge prompt. There's an amazing pool of talent out here on the Internet and I'm so happy to be a small part of it.

The funny thing about the Internet is that we so rarely think about all the people who are touched by our presence here. I mean, these people are strangers, yet we befriend them in a way that we might not if we were to meet face to face. And we do it all through the words we write on our blogs, in our groups, or on forum boards. We connect in ways that might be impossible in the real world due to distance and time and that knot of human prejudice.

I met my writing mentor in a Yahoo group. He took me under his wing and showed me how to improve my writing, encouraged me to submit my stories, and asked my opinions about starting a flash magazine, going so far as to ask me to be his co-editor. His encouragement kept me going when I was ready to throw in the towel on this writing business.

His name was KR Mullin and he passed away three years ago this month. I miss him and his encouragement so very much. His death left a big hole in my life and the truth is, I never met him, or got to shake his hand, or even thank him for all he did to put my steps firmly on this writing path that I'm journeying down. But in a strange way, I know he'll always be right here beside me, watching over my shoulder as I pound the keys, helping me find the right words.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thoughts, Snoopy Dances, and Markets

Being an old lady in this business frustrates me sometimes. There are days when I feel I started too late, that I still have too much to learn, and if I was ever lucky enough to nab a book deal, I'd probably die before the book was even published. So when I read this essay over at Murderati by Tess Gerritsen, it made me feel better. http://www.murderati.com/blog/2009/6/2/authors-can-die-with-their-boots-on.html

Out of the Gutter has posted its list of writers who's stories made the cut for their 6th issue. A big Snoopy Dance for all the chosen, but especially to friend of the corner, Michael Bracken, who had 2 stories make the cut and some folks who's writing I really enjoy - Christa Miller, Albert Tucher, and Jed Ayres. Congrats to everyone!!

And for our Sci-fi / Fantasy writers I ran across a couple of anthologies that are seeking submissions. Professional level pay for both.

If you're into wizards you might give "The Way of the Wizard" a go. There's a 5000 word limit. Pay is 5 cents a word with a $250 max http://www.johnjosephadams.com/?p=1760

The second is Clockwork Phoenix 3. They're taking submission between Oct 1 and Nov 15 with a word count max of 10,000. They're pay 2 cents a word. http://www.clockworkphoenix.com/#guidelines

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Floor is Open

It always amazes me where I find lessons in writing. They're everywhere if you just pay attention. Today's lesson was about not taking the easy out when you're writing insults into your dialogue. What insults, you ask? You know, when your character calls someone a f**ker or a motherf**ker or even a sumbitch. That's the easy way out, the lazy way, some would say.

It was a conversation between my grandsons that put this thought into my head. Here's the conversation, a bit paraphrased as I can't remember what they were arguing about, only the last line that drove the lesson home.

"You're so stupid."

"Well, you don't know what you're talking about."

"Everyone knows."

"I don't"

"You're in second grade, if you don't know, you should go back to pre-school." This from the one in kindergarten.

And yeah, the coffee flew all over the front of my shirt. It was just the perfect insult, coming from the younger brother, that left the older one totally speechless. Which made me think, why don't writers try for this sort of comeback more often. Why do we think that the shock of a curse word is more effective than a simple, well-aimed insult?

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little cursing in a story, if it fits the character, but some writers tend to over-do the foul-mouthed characters. Yes, foul language is a part of everyday life, but do we need to go that route in our writing? Let's face it, most of the dialogue we write isn't the way real people talk. It would drive readers mad if you wrote the way people really speak with all their little ticks, like adding "ain't it" at the end of every sentence. That's in my region, I expect you've got others like it in your area.

So, the floor is open. What writing lessons have you learned lately? How do you stand on the use of "dirty" language in a story? Or, what tricks do you use to make your dialogue come to life? We're open to any and all writing topics today.