Friday, July 31, 2009

Too Old for This Shit

Zines that find humor in driving writers crazy. Ran across a zine called Low Rent. Click on the enter picture and there's a notice. "Sorry, we're out" then up comes a flock of blackbirds. Start clicking on the birds looking for guidelines - "Notice the writing on the wall. Find the appropriate word. It's magic.". And this was under Faqs where the guidelines are usually hidden. Yeah! Out of there.

Finding markets is hard enough without the publications amusing themselves by being cutesy. And they wonder why they get inappropriate submissions?

Lovely Sunny Things

It's raining and has rained the whole month of July here in the North East. But there are some lovely, sunny things that came my way today.

Brian Lindenmuth sent me a link to a place called Buck Fifty. The piece is about a woman's scrapbook full of rejections for short stories that she'd written. But still she wrote. The rejections were from magazines published during the Depression and what a surprise to find that rejections slips still look the same today. And while you're there take a stroll around the site, it's filled with all kinds of interesting things about historical Denver. Spots like this can be a great resource for doing research or finding an idea for a short story. Thank you, Brian, for brightening my rainy day!

I drop by Charlie Williams' blog on occasion. He's smart and sassy and his post on genre writing was dead on. Just blooming write!

And I found this very lovely zine called "Dew on the Kudzu". What a pretty sunshiny place to visit. And yes, they publish shorts, not just from southern writers, but from those who can write about southern things. No pay, but what the hell, the sun was shining on the page.

Some days you just have to find your own sunshine.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anthology Markets

Found a few anthology markets this morning that might be of interest.

First up is an anthology called "Fast Forward", the third volume in their flash fiction series. From Fast Forward Press, they're looking for flash stories up to 1000 words but their soft spot is for stories in the 400 to 700 range. There's no pay only two copies if your stories are accepted. The deadline is December 31.

They're also having a flash novel contest for stories from 20,000 to 30,000 words with the winner receiving $200 and publication but be aware that they're charging a $20 reading fee. You can find the details here

Pill Hill Press has listed two more anthologies. They're a paying market for your shorts.

The first one is "The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror" and they're looking for horror stories that take place on the high seas. The deadline October 31.

The second is "A Whodunit Halloween" with an April 15, 2010 deadline, so you have lots of time to get this one in.

You can find the details for these two at

The last is also a paying market at a penny a word for stories up to 4000 words. This is to be published by the Library of Horror Press. They are accepting subs from August 1 through October 15. And there's a premise. One protag who wakes up on January 1, 2010 to find everyone dead, only plant life and animals have survived and all the bodies have mummified. But NO zombies. You can find all the details at

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

William G. Tapply RIP

Sarah Weinman has posted the news that William G. Tapply has passed away. While I've never read any of his mystery novels he's had a great deal of influence on my writing through his book "The Elements of Mystery Fiction". My copy has so many passages underlined, you'd think the book came that way. He was a great teacher for a beginning writer like me. Here are links to two of his writing essays that are posted on his website.

"Invisible Writing" Be sure to scroll down the page :-)

"Write Tight"

I'll leave you with a quote from his book. "Writing is a non-stop learning process. Write regularly and write often. Practice your craft. The more you write, the better you'll become. And when you hold that first copy of your own book in your hand, you'll know that it's been worth every agonizing moment."

Rest in Peace, Good Teacher.

Lazy Day Links

Things are pretty quiet all over the blog world, with fewer posts and only a stray comment here and there. While I've been finding many posts about editing, and writing in general, they pretty much cover the same ground. There's also been a number of posts by author's who hate the question - "where do you get your ideas?". New zine markets are pretty scarce and paying ones almost non-existent. But then, its summer and things are slow because that's the way summer is. And writing, well, there's only so much you can say about writing, the rest requires that you sit in your chair and just write until your heart breaks, then write some more.

I did find a pair of newer markets, both literary.

The Shady Side Review is a poetry and flash market for stories under 1000 words. You can find them here

And then there's "off beat pulp" which publishes poetry and short stories under 5000 words. One problem here is they don't really tell you what they're looking for, but there are three issue up. And I mention them because they have the coolest set-up for a zine. When the zine comes up you click on the turn page button on the bottom and the page turns to the next story. Be forewarned that it's a tad slow in uploading. And yes, it doesn't take much to amuse me some days.

And Eastern Standard Crime has a call out for submissions for their first issue which will replace the Crooked site. Their minimum word count is 500, and I believe the top is 1000.

And I ran across the Writers Relief Blog through a link on Charles Tan's wonderful Bibliophile Stalker blog (link is in the links section to the left) Now, they're selling their services on this blog, but they have a free newsletter that they send out every month that's full of market information. I'm not suggesting you use their services here, but if you choose to, be sure to check them out and proceed with care as always.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Call for Fantasy Submissions

Received the following call today. Flash Me is an excellent flash market. The pay is $5 for up to 1000 words.

FLASH ME MAGAZINE will be doing another ALL FANTASY ISSUE October 31, 2009. All stories submitted for the fantasy issue must contain some element of fantasy and be 1,000 words or less. The submission deadline is August 31, 2009.Special guidelines apply, so please visit our website prior to submission. You can view the fantasy issue submission guidelines at:

Please spread the word!Flash Me Magazine

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Links

Ran across a zine that might be of interest to some. It's called "Up the Staircase". They're open for submissions to their next issue until September 15. Flash under 400 words and shorts up to 5000, also poetry. While they prefer little or no foul language they do say this - "we are not prudish in regards to content: we enjoy shock, vulgarity and decadence". I could find nothing about pay, so I'm assuming they're a non-paying market. Their sixth issue is up so you can read what they've already accepted to find if your stories are a match for them. The guidelines are here

A while back I mentioned the zine "Sex and Murder" and just found out that their first issue is up

And there's an interesting discussion about honesty in writing over at Murderati today

Emotions in Writing

Over the weekend I read "Nights in Rodanthe" by Nicholas Sparks. What I like about Sparks' novels is the way he tugs at the heartstrings. I've never read one of his books without tears and the blowing of my nose. This is my third outing with Sparks. I've read "Message in a Bottle" and "A Walk to Remember". With "Nights" that makes three books where there's a love affair that ends in death and perhaps that's what pulled at my heartstrings. He builds up this beautiful fairytale love affair, then kills one of them off. The ultimate tragedy of romance.

What I was trying to figure out was how his words made me cry. Sound stupid? Well, I once had an editor say she rejected my story because I didn't make her cry. Huh? Then there was the story I wrote that made me weep as the words poured out of the keyboard, but the editor changed the ending because he wanted the story to end with action not emotion.

People don't cry over the same things. Some readers cry and gnash their teeth over pets getting killed in a story. That doesn't bother me at all because living in the country I've learned that the loss of an animal is part of the cycle of life. So, considering the different viewpoints from which people read, how can I make someone cry who doesn't share my view of life?

All of which makes me wonder, is it the writer's job to get an emotional response from our readers or should we just write to entertain?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Odds and Ends

There's all kinds of interesting things to be found around the 'net today.

John M. Floyd has an interesting post about his experience in putting together a short story collection called "Thirty Pair of Shorts". And that would be the essay title, not the collection.

Then drop on by Patti Abbott's and join the discussion about short story collections.

There's some changes coming over at Eastern Standard Crime and the ezine Crooked. You can read all about it here

Flashes in the Dark has put out a call for submissions. Check out their guidelines and send them some horror flash. They're open to new or reprint stories.

NoirCon has a blog that I discovered today. Along with details about NoirCon they're also posting some great essays about noir.

And the lovely Women of Mystery are having another contest. Just drop them a comment to be entered to win a copy of Faces by Martina Cole. You can find the details at

And for all you editors and writers of flash zines and print publications there's the Micro Flash Award. You can submit stories from October 1 through December 31 and the winner receives a hundred dollars. You can find all the details at

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Issue

The newest issue of Pine Tree Mysteries has hit the virtual streets with short stories by Mary Ann Artrip, Bruce Harris, and a name familiar to readers of A Twist of Noir, Andy Henion. Shoo, now! Go Read!

The Forgotten

Nope, this isn't part of Patti Abbott's forgotten books, but do be sure to drop on over there and check out the list of forgotten books . It's a link to a forgotten short story writer, Allan Seagar, and the tale of his most famous short story, "The Street". Short stories stick with you whether you realize it or not. I believe they have more impact than a novel because they hit you so fast in such a short space of time. And with their brevity your mind can replay the story over and over, making it hold fast to your subconscious.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Winners and Markets

The winners of the Clarity of Night Contest are now up
Congratulations to all the winners!!

1. James R. Tomlinson
2. William Wood
3. Beth Harar
4. Janey V
5. Steve Slatter

Drop on by Clarity of Night for the complete listing of honorable mentions and reader's choice selections and while you're there read some of the best flash stories you'll find anywhere.

Pill Hill Press has just announced the closing date for their Middle of Nowhere anthology. It will close on July 26. They have a list of the authors already selected and a big congrats to Stephen D. Rogers for making the cut.

They've also announced a new anthology called The Four Horsemen. They're looking for stories of conquest, war, famine and death in all genres with a December 31 deadline. Stories for this one will be selected after the deadline. You'll have to scroll down the page to find the details.

And SnipLits has announced that they will be open for submissions on August 1st. Be sure to check the guidelines as they're only taking certain genres each month. for details and payment per story.

And yes, with the third post for the day, I'm procrastinating. I've found myself between stories and coming up dry at the moment.

Raymond Carver

Over at Criminal Brief, Deborah Elliot-Upton has an excellent post about Raymond Carver, complete with a video featuring Carver and those who knew him.

"Flowers for Algernon"

Yesterday, Brian Lindenmuth sent me a link to SFSignal's mind meld post. This post was about short stories, more specifically, most admired short stories by some writers, reviewers, and publishers. What amazed me about the list was how many of those stories I'd read and didn't consider sci-fi stories. You can find the list here There's two pages, so be sure to click on the second page. There's also links to some of the stories that are available online.

One of the stories on the list that stuck out for me was "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes. I remember reading this story in, if memory serves me, my high school senior English class, oh, so many years ago. Our teacher mimeographed the story from a magazine and passed out copies to us. Bless her for stepping outside the school books because she gave us the gift of a most magnificent story. A story that was written for us and the world we were living in, and a future we were looking forward to stepping into.

I was curious about the history of the story, so this morning I clicked on over to Wikipedia to read up on it and found that Mr. Keyes almost lost the very heart of "Flowers for Algernon". He'd submitted to an anthology, and the editor wanted him to give the story a "happy" ending. He stuck to his guns and refused, sending the story elsewhere. To change that ending would have made the story just one of many instead of the classic it is. And it is the sorrow of that ending that leaves the imprint of "Algernon" in my brain.

So, what about you? What short story has stuck with you over the years and why?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't Let Anybody Kid You

Writing ain't easy and here's a few essays to prove the point.

Over at Storytellers Unplugged is Bev Vincent's essay "Apparently I Write Like a Girl". And no, Bev isn't a girl.

Cullen Gallagher at Pulp Serenade has started a wonderful series of posts called On Words and Writing. The newest one, featuring Harry Whittington, puts the writing life into perspective.

And lastly an excellent rant about writers being vessels for the muses.

Who Do You Write For?

Show of hands. How many of you write for yourself? Yep, nearly everyone. Now. How many of you shape the stories you've written to match a market? Yep, nearly everyone. And a last question. How many of you write for the readers?

Silly question? Not so much. I was a little taken aback the other day when I submitted a flash piece to my writing group. One of the gentlemen asked me if I'd sold my soul to the devil because the last two stories I'd submitted were plainly ugly in nature. Not quite how he phrased it, but you get the drift. And this sort of thing has happened to me before.

Is it the fact that I'm a woman that makes these stories so unpalatable for readers? Or do readers just prefer lighter fare? Yes, I can write light, humorous stories. But the market for this type of story is barely there. Romance? Always gets rejected. The stories that sing for me are always of a much darker nature. I love Stephen King's short stories, they scare the bejesus out of me, more so than his novels, but people don't seem to be offended when he writes gruesome stories.

When I write this type of story, I'm trying to strip away the politeness that exists on the surface to really take a look at what happens within society or, most especially in my stories, in families. And I wonder why this scares the readers so much.

Oh, and the story in question is up at Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers if you'd like to take a read.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Spent a little time over at Duotrope and found a couple of markets that might be of interest.

Freedom Fiction is a non-paying pdf quarterly that's looking for pulp genre short stories. You can find the website here Click on about us for the guidelines. They've already published three issues so you can check out the types of stories they're partial too.

The Horror Zine is brand new with no issues up yet. They're seeking submissions of short stories up to 5000 words, poetry and art work. The site has a nice look to it. You can find them here

And if you're into zombies stop by this link There are three anthologies listed that are looking for zombie stories.

Market Notes

Fictionville has closed up shop, so I've removed their link from the left. I couldn't find a reason for the closing and I know they've been updating the site regularly, now everything is gone except for a note to say they're closed.

And Flashes in the Dark has a new managing editor/site owner. Tony Smith, who started the zine, has stepped down and Lori Titus will be taking over. Bob Eccles will remain their submission editor and things should go on as usual.

It's changes like these that remind a writer that submission guidelines should be checked every time before submitting, especially in the zine world. You need to check for changes in editorial staff, content, word count, and submission deadlines and whether the publication, print or zine, is still in operation. A writer's world is a fickle beast.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

To Find A Dream

I spent a pleasant few hours yesterday afternoon at the used book sale. Among my finds were two books about writing. One was part of a series called "Form and Content in Literature" and this particular book was "The Theme of the Hero". Flipping through the pages I found that the book contained the short story "The Blue Hotel" by Stephen Crane which Ed Gorman had spoken so highly of on his blog the other day, so I tossed the book into my bag. The second book was "Story-crafting" by Paul Darcy Boles which is about the craft of writing short stories.

As always when I come home from these sales, I flip through the books savoring my finds and deciding where to start. Flipping through the hero book brought me a pleasant surprise. Besides Crane's short story there were eight other shorts, some poetry, and some writing essays that had been mentioned in several places recently. I also noted that the previous owner had underlined a great deal of the book's content. And I wondered if I'd stumbled across another like-minded soul.

Within the pages of "Story-crafting" I've found a man who loves the short story as much as I do. I'm enjoying the reading and the lessons he's shared and as I read through this book, I keep thinking, "Oh, I should share this on my blog". But even more than the lessons, I found something else within the pages of this book. The dreams of the previous owner.

I found carefully underlined passages and as I skipped through the pages reading them I could see the questions forming in this woman's mind as they do in mine. And then I found the page of notes. A quickly sketched outline of a short story, character names, goals, wants. The writing is cramped and barely readable but this struck me. "Articulate beautiful writerly lies. What more interesting life could you want? What more could you want?"

I had stumbled onto someone's dream and at the same time, my dream. And I'm left wondering if this woman ever wrote her story or if it still remains a dream known only to her and now, by accident, me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Anthology/Call for Submissions

I just love when people send me links to markets and essays. Thank you, Brian!

Comet Press has put out a call for submissions to their new anthology to be published in the fall. There's no title yet but they're looking for dark crime horror stories. To quote them, "very violent, gruesome and disturbing hard boiled tales". Opening date is July 15 and they'll be accepting submissions until September 1. There's a two story limit per author, 3000 to 10,000 words. Pay is 1/4 cent per word plus one copy. The price is negotiable for established writers. You'll find the guidelines here

Authors and Writers

Just thought I'd toss this question out into the ether to see what gets tossed back.

Why are short story writers not considered authors?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing Links

I ran across a couple of great essays yesterday about novel writing. While this blog is mostly about short story writing the words of wisdom in these posts are too good not to share.

Anne Fraiser's "The Clock is Ticking" is about the amount of time it takes to write a novel and some of the consequences.

Linda L. Richard's "Write Your Novel With The Door Closed" is about how to shut out all the distractions and just write.

And while Ursula K. Guin's "On Rules of Writing, or Riffing on Rechy" is applied to novels, there's a lot there for short story writers as well.

For those of you who don't think the zines have an important place in the writing community, you should drop on by Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers and read this piece And it might interest you to know that since they started up in April they've had over 10,000 hits. Pretty impressive for a new zine.

Friday Fun

Okay, I saw this brand spanking new market this morning and just had to wonder what the gentleman was thinking. But, of course, the more I thought about it, the more the idea appealed to my sense of humor. For flash writers this should be a breeze and even if you don't submit, it will certainly stir the creative juices. The new zine is called "First and Last Sentence" and according to the guidelines they want a title, then the first and last sentence of a novel you might write. You can make up an author and a bio to go along with the story and you also have to include the genre of your "novel".

And if you've a mind to, drop your first and last sentence into the comments. I think I'll give it a whirl and write one myself to post later. And a hat tip to The Women of Mystery, because I just realized I stole their regular Friday post title.

Back again with my bit of silliness. I call this Flower Noir

By Betty Green-Thumb

The sun rose bloody pink across the blooming bed of flowers that lifted their seductive, perfumed heads to worship the dawning day.

As the sun hid its guilt-ridden conscience behind the jagged mountain peaks, the flower stems wept for the loss of their beautiful sun-drenched heads to the blades of the gardener’s shears.

Bio: Ms. Green-Thumb is an avid gardener, potpourri maker, and personal guillotine to a vast array of flowering plants.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Links, A Contest and a Market

No, I haven't forgotten about you, there just hasn't been too much going on in the places I visit around the web. Plus, I've been polishing up stories, writing some new ones and getting them out the door before I change my mind. Something, I've been neglecting to do much of lately, mostly because everything I write these days just doesn't feel like a fit anywhere. So far, two have been accepted ( one in a literary market! ) and I'm waiting to hear back on the other three.

All that aside, I do have a couple of links, a contest, and an anthology market that might be of interest.

Michael Bracken sent me this one. And as he said, there's a lot of good advice for adult writers as well as the children the article is about.

Over at Pulp Serenade, Cullen Gallagher has posted some of William Campbell Gault's thoughts on writing that were published in Writer's Digest back many years ago, but are still pertinent to a working writer today.

Patti Abbott gave us a head's up on the Good Housekeeping Short Story Contest. The deadline is Sept 15. First prize is $3000 and possible publication in the May 2010 issue. Second and third prizes are $750 and possible publication on their website. You can find all the details at

And the anthology is from a new press. Pill Hill Press is seeking submissions for their first anthology entitled "The Middle of Nowhere: Horror in Rural America" while they'd like to see stories set in Nebraska, anywhere in rural America is good. 500 to 7500 words and the pay is a penny a word and a copy of the anthology. Details here,

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Pair of Links - A Pair of Markets

I ran across these rules about the process of writing. They're called Heinlein's Rules and the author of the essay is Robert J. Sawyer. I loved rule number three which pretty much says, "stop tinkering with the damn thing and send it out". You'll find the rules here

And there's a lovely essay here about writing and allowing the characters to move your stories.

With a hat tip to Keith Rawson there's Fried Chicken and Coffee. A site that's looking for rural stories. There's no pay, but the owner is a professional editor, so expect to be edited.

And this one was posted on the SMFS list. It's called QuarterFlash and they're looking for flash stories up to 1000 words but no poetry, sci-fi or fantasy. I'm guessing that mystery/crime stories might be a fit. Here's the url This will be a quarterly pdf zine. No pay for this one either.

Monday Morning Musings

I've been thinking about my grandmother and imagination the last few days. Sounds like a weird combination doesn't it? But my grandmother had this knack for creating the most lovely doilies with thread and a crochet hook. Believe me, there is a definite knack to being able to spin those threads into an actual thing of beauty. I learned how to make hats and scarves with my crochet hook and yarn, but that's pretty much my limit and believe me there's no artistry involved in making squares that become warm winter hats.

My grandmother, on the other hand, could sit for hours creating these beautiful designs, tossing in color after color until with a final snip of her scissors, the design was complete and breathtakingly beautiful. Words are that way.

One writer can sit down and weave a very capable and publishable story with his words. The story, like my hat and scarf is serviceable but there's no actual art involved, no real beauty in the words, just an ordinary story that pleases the audience its aimed for. And this is a good thing, being able to satisfy your readers is what a writers strives for.

And yet, another writer can take those very same words and weave a story that will take your breath away. And perhaps that's the difference between the profession of writing and the art of writing. You need the same basic writing skills to do both, but the art comes from deep inside a writer, from a place that frees inhibitions and allows the writer to go one step beyond his skills into something more.

One is not better than the other, they both require the same skills. The level where they change is how much of the writer is poured into the story, how much he allows his imagination the freedom to explore the possibilities, to take that one step beyond a serviceable story. To use a cliche, perhaps the true art comes from how much the writer allows himself to bleed onto the page.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

And Just Because

I missed this one before I posted. This is truly a great and funny and humbling post. Thou Shout by Toni McGee Causey. Go. Enjoy!

Sunday Morning Reading Material

I guess summer has finally arrived, though you couldn't tell by the weather we've been having in the North East. We're sleeping with the windows closed and the heater on, in the middle of July! Anyway, traffic and posts in the blog world seem to be slowing down a tad, so I thought I'd post some reading material for you to partake of while you sip your Sunday morning coffee.

Over at Clarity of Night, Jason Evans' contest is in full swing. You still have until Wednesday to get your 250 word story entered. I've entered and while I never expect to win, its always fun trying to come up with something different for the contest. As of this morning there's 79 entries with 60 some of them posted so far. Here's the link to mine and a couple of others you might enjoy.

Eric Beetner's name is familiar to many of you, you can find his entry here

Wayne Scheer is in my writing group and his stories always surprise me.

And mine

And don't just read these, take the time to read some of the others that are posted, the range of stories from that one picture is incredible. And hey, they're only 250 words long.

If you're looking for a good laugh, drop on by Criminal Brief this morning and read Leigh Lundin's column. I always love the dumb factor when writing about criminals, though I think most readers would never believe the stupidity that abounds in the world of crime or perhaps they just prefer their fictional criminals to be brilliantly evil.

And after you read that, drop on by the Flash Fiction Offensive and read Jake Hinkson's story, "Keep it Stupid, Simple" to see how the dumb factor can work perfectly in a short story.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Power of Words

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me!"

Just an old child's rhyme with a minimum of truth in it. Sticks and stones can do us bodily harm, but words can hurt us in ways that can't be seen. Words have the power to inflict harm with a careless curse or a snide remark. Perhaps a parent telling their child they're stupid or lazy or should never have been born.

There is power in words whether written or spoken. They can make us love or hate, help or hinder, whatever path the speaker or writer chooses. This was driven home for me this morning while listening to an old movie on TCM. It was a children's movie from a series called Rusty that was made in 1948. The line? "Our good neighbor policy can't penetrate the iron curtain."

While the line was meant to be about a man who didn't want anything to do with his new neighbors, there was also a deeper political meaning in that sentence. In truth, I suspect that it was a warning for children about Russia and the "Communist threat" that was starting to dominate the political scene at that time. And just two years before Joseph McCarthy started his witch hunt.

Many writers tend to put their political beliefs in their stories, some in a bash-your-head sort of way and others very subtly like the sentence in that movie. Of course, our stories come from the world each of us lives in, the beliefs we've learned from parents, the books we read, our friends.

Words have the power to sway people. They have the power to point out truth and lies. They can draw a picture of the lives of people we've never met. Those words can bring us together or tear us apart. As writers we seek the truth with our words, it may only be our truth, but a truth, none the less. A view of life we want to share with readers. As readers we seek the truth in the words of others, measure them against our own beliefs and either find them wanting or embrace them.

Words are powerful, tender them with care.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Pair of Markets

With a hat tip to The Rap Sheet, there's a new crime zine going up called Suspense Thriller Short Fiction Zine. The 1st issue is dedicated to spy stories, the theme is espionage with stories from WWII onward, and can also include the cold war. Industial espionage is also welcome. There's no pay, but the best stories will be collected in a print zine twice a year. You can find all the details here

The second is a call for stories to a Fairy Tale Issue of Expanded Horizons, a sci-fi market. You can read the details here and you'll find the zines guidelines at The pay is $30 and they take stories up to 6000 words.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Link, A Market and A Couple of Fun Contests

Brian Lindenmuth sent me a couple of links that might be of interest to folks reading this blog. The first is a link to the blog of John Fox and his essay Ten Guidelines for Structuring a Short Story Collection. There's lots of good stuff in this essay with links to other sources about putting together a collection. Mr. Fox has an interesting site, if you click on main and scroll down there's another essay about Short Story Censorship. He also has a link to a large number of literary print magazines on his site.

The second link Brian passed along was to a website called The Human Genre Project. They're looking for short stories that revolve around the genes that make us human (I think). This project seems more geared for the sci-fi folks who understand the science of genetics. There's no pay and the rights all seem to be in order. Here's the link to what the project is all about and here's the link for contributing Thanks muchly, Brian!

Yesterday was the kick-off of the Clarity of Night flash contest and there's already stories posted on Jason's site for your reading pleasure. Whether you enter or not, it's a fun place to spend some time and read some great stories.

And over at Storytellers Unplugged, Mort Castle is running a short story contest in honor of his birthday. He's cleaned out his drawers and found the starting sentences for three stories that he's giving away. Pick any one you choose and write a story up to 1500 words and send it to Mr. Castle. The top three winners receive a autographed copy of one of his books. And people, the sentences are great! Even if you don't enter, they're sure to spark an idea. The details are here

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

And a Few Links

Lots of great writing links around the 'net today. First off, is a great essay about those evil conspiracy theories that abound in the writing world. A tip of the hat to Michael Bracken for this one.

This one is another look at the genre rules and cliches by JD Rhodes

Rob Lopresti over at Criminal Brief has an interesting essay on getting your story started.

And this one just because I found the topic interesting. While it is about gay characters in horror, it also made me think about how we tend to slip characters into easily recognizable slots.

And the Alzheimer Society of Canada has incorporated a Creative Space at their web site for short stories and poetry about Alzheimers.

The Telling of Stories

I just finished polishing up a story that has been blocking my brain for the last month or so. I started the story on that borrowed computer that took a nose-dive. I'd only written about three paragraphs, had a pretty good idea of how it would end, then it was lost. Or so I thought.

The exact words I'd written were gone, but the story kept lifting her skirts, flirting with my brain until I finally grabbed that seductive whore and started writing. Now I have a completed story and absolutely no idea where to send it. The story is noir, but not crime. It should fit in a literary zine, but my words don't have that MFA sneer needed to fill one of their slots. It edges on horror but isn't horrific. And while it's about a woman's life and sacrifice it doesn't have the happy ending necessary to fit in a woman's magazine and to change it would crush the heart of the story. In the end, I love the story and I'm glad I finally wrote it, even if it never finds a home.

So, why do I bring this up? Because yesterday both Clair Dickson and Michael Bracken mentioned much the same problem/question on their blogs. Which brings us around to the question we all ask ourselves. Do we write for the market or do we write the stories that need telling, even if they're only to satisfy our own need to write them?

If you're earning your living as a writer, following the guidelines and markets is a must. You need to sell to put food on the table and pay the electric bill. But, do you have to sacrifice the urge to write what pleases you in order to do this?

Ray Bradbury in the book "How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction" tells the story of how "Weird Tales" published his story "The Lake" saying it didn't fit their magazine and he must promise to write a good old fashioned ghost story next time. He notes that he did go back to writing what they wanted but he was never really happy as a writer until he allowed himself the freedom to write what he wanted to write, the stories that were a part of him. If you ever get a chance to read his essay "The Thing at the Top of the Stairs", do so. He charts the course of his writing life and how he finally managed to find his own "voice" and stories.

Now here we all sit, fingers poised over the keyboard, wondering which path to take.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Short Post Market News

We've been having a few drift-by thunderstorms the last couple of days, so the computer has been off and on the last two days which means I don't have too much for you today.

I ran across a fairly new market called Scalped which is non-paying. Their first issue is up so you can get an idea of what they're looking for. As seems to be the case with many of the new zines this one is themed. And the theme for the fall issue is horror and the deadline is 8/21. Word count maxes out at 6000 and you can submit via their online form. Here's the url

Storyglossia is open to submissions for their 35th issue but they're also open for their October (#36) issue which has a theme. They want stories that reveal musical obsession in any form, this issue has a Sept 15 deadline. The url is in the zines column to the left.

Speaking of the urls, I've dropped a couple that were supposed to start up in June and didn't, plus I've added a few of the new markets that I've found.

And if you'd like to attend a writers conference but don't have the money or the time to travel, you might want to check out this online mystery conference being sponsored by The Poisoned Pen bookstore and publisher. The cost is $25 and according to the web site they've attracted some pretty big names to participate so far. Here's the url And a hat tip to Janet Rudolph at the Mystery Fanfare blog.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flash and Other Things

We've got flash links today in the form of contests, submission calls, and just an interesting micro-flash site. And here we go.

This Wednesday, July 8, is the kick-off date for Jason Evan's newest Clarity of Night Contest. He'll be accepting entries based on the picture at his site for one week. There are prizes but the fun is in the many stories that evolve from that one picture. You'll find the details here

Whispering Spirits Magazine is open to flash submissions to their contest from July 1 to the 31. They're looking for stories up to 1000 words. 1st prize is $50, 2nd and 3rd is a $10 Amazon gift certificate and 4th and 5th place is publication. You can find all the details at I couldn't make the direct link to the contest work, so I've posted the site url. You'll find the link there.

With a hat tip to the Women of Mystery Blog, On August 1 through the 31 Hint Fiction will be seeking submissions of 25 words or less for an anthology. This is a paying market, you can find the details here

And Paul Brazill sent me to this micro-flash site called Blink Ink. They're looking for submissions of 50 words. No pay, you can find the details on the site

All flashing aside here's the rest of the news and links I've found this week.

Necrotic Tissue has opened for submissions as of July 1 through July 31. This is a paying market and you'll find the link in the zine column to the left.

For those of you thinking about sticking your toes in the Sci-fi market you might want to check out this new zine that's been set up to help newcomers to the Sci-fi world. There's articles, stories, science news, and even story prompts. I clicked around the site for a while but couldn't find the guidelines for those who might be interested in submitting here, but the information on the site is well worth visiting many times. Here's the url

Back a few posts there was a discussion about writing genre and crossing genre lines so I was pleased to find two essays on this topic at Murderati today. One by Alexandra Sokoloff, the other by Allison Brennan. You can find them here,

Fan Fiction and Copyrights

Shyam Nathan posted a new zine link to the SMFS yesterday and I offered to post a link to his site here at The Corner. I also asked him about the copyrights at his site but I haven't heard back from him. While this site looks like a good opportunity for writers who'd like to try their hand at comic book style writing there are copyright matters they'll need to hammer out with Mr. Nathan before they charge ahead.

Mystery in Scarlet City is seeking stories based in the made-up world of Scarlet City. There is a short story synopsis, a list of characters and various other things you'll need to write for this market posted on the site. Since Scarlet City is copyrighted to Mr. Nathan, you won't be able to resell your story elsewhere even though the rights listed in the guidelines state that all ( me here - you automatically loose first electronic rights when published on line, as you should know, and you story can only be considered a reprint afterwards ) copyrights belong to the author. You'll find the guidelines under the faqs link, but you should also read the forum's terms and conditions under the Resources heading. The forum has a spot for uploading your Scarlet City stories. Here is a direct quote from that section.

"By uploading materials to any Forum or submitting any materials to us, you automatically grant (or warrant that the owner of such materials expressly grant) us a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform or display, create derivative works from and distribute such materials or incorporate such materials in any form medium or technology now known or later developed anywhere. In addition, you warrant that so-called "moral rights" in those materials have been waived."

Now, I will admit that I know very little about fan-fiction but signing away all rights to your story in a forum doesn't sound quite right to me. If you decide to go ahead and explore this market be sure of your rights beforehand. And if anyone knows how fan-fiction works, please feel free to drop a comment to help us understand the principles involved in writing this type of story.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Appealing Characters

I've heard a lot of readers raving about Lee Child's Jack Reacher books, so a few years back I tried to read "The Hard Way". I made it through about a third of that book but gave up on it because it didn't really capture my imagination. Then a couple of weeks ago I ran across the first Reacher book, "Killing Floor". I thought maybe this was one of those series where you needed to start with the first book to appreciate the whole series.

I made it all the way through this one. It's a fast read and action-packed. My biggest quibble with the book was how much I had to suspend belief to accept the plot. Come on, if the head guy in a Treasury Department investigation turns up dead, those guys are going to investigate, not sit on their butts waiting for Reacher to solve the case for them.

After reading "Killing Floor", I read "Black Money" by Ross MacDonald and it suddenly struck me why I didn't care for the Reacher books. Reacher is totally self-centered. Everything he does revolves around how it's going to effect him and his life, while Archer does worry about keeping his paying job, he's more worried about his clients and solving the case. He's actually likable, with a moral center, where Reacher isn't. It's hard to love a character who loves himself more than I ever could.

For me, I have to like the character I'm spending time with. He or she doesn't have to be a "good" guy but I like to see a smidgen of humanity leaking off the page. So, how do you take your characters? Do you prefer them likable or just there to move the action across the page?

Oh yes, I highly recommend "Black Money". It was my first Ross MacDonald novel but it won't be the last. From the characters to the writing this book was superb.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Markets and Links

Mythica Publishing is starting up a new zine called Tears for the Void. They're looking for sci-fi stories of 500-9000 words with a token payment of $1. You can find the details here Hat tip to Paul Brazill for the link.

From Cynthia Sterling's marketing letter we have two paying markets for romance and erotica writers.

Grassroots Publishing is launching New Love Stories They're looking for short stories 3000 to 5000 words in length with a flat rate of $300 a story. They're also accepting poetry and paying $50 to $75 per poem.

Speak Only to Me is doing erotic audio stories for women. They're paying 10 cents a word for shorts of 1500 to 4000 words. They're also seeking novels of 10 to 15 chapters of 2000 to 3000 words to serialize with payment negotiable.

And CrimeSpree is open to submissions during the month of July, you'll find their url in the print section to the left.

And a couple of links over to Book Spot Central

If you're looking for summer reading material check out BSC summer 6-pack

And for a history of the mystery/crime genre, check out Brian Lindenmuth's article "A Mystery/Crime Fiction Primer"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Links Again

I was a little taken aback the other day when a writer said he didn't consider zines a professional market. Yes, I know that some of them are only set up to showcase a writer and his friend's work, and yes, I know that many of them don't pay. But there are many zines out there that do edit the stories they publish and they do pay the writers for their work. And they pay the standard required by the MWA to qualify the writer as "professional".

Then I read a post over on Michael Bracken's blog where he disagreed with another writer as to what professional rates for a story were and I asked him if he could give us his take on what makes a writer professional. He very kindly did so. Thank you so much, Michael, you have a gift for making things much clearer to those of us on the beginning of this trek. You can find both of Michael's posts on his blog at

If you're looking for editing tips you won't do better than Alexandra Sokoloff's tips over at her Dark Salon blog. Ms. Sokoloff touches are editing items you might not think need editing. You can find her post here

And lastly, the premiere issue of 10Flash has gone live with a nice selection of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, and Suspense stories from some familiar names in the world of flash writing. You'll find stories by Oonah V. Joslin, Jordan Lapp, and well, me. The theme for this issue was a librarian vacationing in a foreign land. Go check it out at And while you're there check out the guidelines for the next issue's theme because they're open for submissions.

I nearly forgot this one. With a hat tip to Paul Brazill, Brian L. Porter has put out a call for poetry submissions. Mythica Publishing is putting together an anthology of Survival Poetry. You can find all the details here