Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another Linky Day

About a month ago I listed as a paying market, and sad to say, they've already bit the dust before their first issue has gone live. And so goes the ezine market.

Over at Book Spot Central, Keith Rawson has revived the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction Reviews. They're posted every Tuesday and this week there's been a great discussion in the comments about single author anthologies. Stop by every Tuesday and see what's going on in the short story world.

Very interesting essay by Larry Brooks at the site about being obsessed with getting published.

Paul Brazill sent me a link to a blog post by a writer who just discovered his words had been stolen. Last time I checked there were 98 comments from editors and writers both. Worth checking out. There was an article in Writer's Digest back years ago where a writer explained that she looked for work of hers that had been stolen by doing a search for key phrases in her stories.

And the lovely Michael Bracken has sent along two links for us. The first is aimed at writers who would like to write for the erotica romance market but the advice is on point no matter what genre you're writing in.

The second is for those who submit or would like to submit to the anthology markets.

And if you've read this far, please be sure to stop back tomorrow. I'll be putting together a contest for a couple of free books.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This and That

I loved this essay, "When Writers Speak", by Arthur Krystal because it speaks to me on so many levels. I love writing but the thoughts of having to step out and actually talk to people scares the hell out of me. If you find me in a crowd, I'll be the one sitting with my head down pretending I don't exist and I expect that for many writers, this is the norm, not because we're anti-social but because we tend to live in our heads instead of in public. Or maybe I'm just the shy type. Anyway, here's the link

I'm forever killing dogs in my stories and its a bad habit, I suppose. But the truth is, I'm a country person and the death of an animal, be it for protection, food, or humane euthanasia, is just part of the cycle of life. Death happens and you have to deal with it. Joe Schreiber writes an interesting essay which asks the question, "Does the Dog Die" here

I've mentioned writer's platforms on the blog before but this essay by Monica Valentinelli has some of the best advice about creating your online platform that I've read yet.

I also mentioned Fantasy Magazine's Halloween flash contest and they've now updated their contest rules guidelines. First prize is $50 here's the link

The third issue of Sex and Murder is now up. This monthly seems to be making a go of it with new content every month. You'll find the url in the zine column to the left.

Harper Perennial has a short story website if you're looking for something new to read. They publish one new story each week from both new and familiar writers. You can find the stories and guidelines here

And if your desk is a chaotic jumble of paper, pens and books and you keep missing all those deadlines that you so carefully wrote down then lost in the paper avalanche take some advice from Michael Bracken on how to clean up that mess

Monday, September 28, 2009

Some Overdue Linkage

Sorry for the disappearing act the last few days, folks. A few things popped up that took my time away from the search for links and markets to pass along. But I'm back and with a few links that were passed along to me over the past few days.

First up are some links from Brian Lindenmuth. These are a series of articles that appeared in the Baltimore City Paper during the book festival that was held there recently. The theme for the series of articles was short stories.

Introductory article:

Short stories and Science fiction and Fantasy:

"Has a single James Joyce short story unduly influenced contemporary American short fiction?" -

"27 Writers on 27 Short Stories from 27 Authors" - [everything from Cortazar to Iceberg Slim]

Brain also sent along a link to a great interview with Jeffrey Ford who writes sci-fi but passes along great insights into writing stories.

And this interview with RV Cassill, from Jack Bludis via the SMFS board, about the value of fiction writing.

And Paul Brazill passed along this market link to Pulp Press. They publish 23,000 word novellas. I can't find where they pay anything upfront, perhaps royalties on sales? That's something you'll have to check if you decide to submit. Here's the url Click on About for their guidelines.

The winners of the Watery Grave Invitational have been announced. A big congratulations to first place winner Hilary Davidson, Sophie Littlefield, who nabbed second place and to Keith Rawson landed in the third place spot. Head on over to The Drowning Machine and enjoy the stories. A big round of Snoopy Dances for all the winners!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Somebody Must Have

declared this Short Story Day. Yippee! There are all kinds of essays and leads in the short story field today, so here we go.

With a hat tip to Corey Wilde we have Oprah's Book Club selection - a volume of short stories by Uwem Akpan entitled "Say You're One of Them". Now, I'm not a big Oprah fan and most her book club selections tend toward the overly literary crowd but anything that points readers in the direction of short stories is a good thing.

Over at the SF Signal they've posted part one of an interview with several anthology editors about putting together "The Hottest Short Fiction Anthologies". Very good stuff here

Adrienne Martin is the author of the essay, "Neverending Stories". It's about short stories being the core of, in this case, the sci-fi genre, but I think it applies to the mystery genre as well. Short stories are where the best ideas in any genre are written and explored.

With a hat tip to Deborah Elliott-Upton over at Criminal Brief, we have "East of the Web" where short stories, old and new are published for folks to read and enjoy. They also take submissions from writers, so take time not just to read, but to check out their guidelines. They're not a paying market but with a half million hits a month, it could be great exposure for writers.

And finally another new zine, this one called "Rotten Leaves". They're looking to launch their first issue on October 31 and while they're not looking for Halloween themed stories, they will be publishing one story with a Halloween bend to it. The deadline for the first issue is October 20, but they will be accepting submissions on a continuing basis. According to their guidelines they're looking for dark fiction in any genre. Sadly, they're a non-paying market. Here's the link to their guidelines Be sure to click on some of the other links because they have information scattered all through the site, especially at the News link. This is a nice looking website that shows a lot of thought has gone into setting it up.

***A late addition here. From Michael Bracken's blog comes the news that he'll be guest-blogging today at Sleuth's Ink He's promising tips on becoming a short story writer and advice on how to maintain a long-term career in the short story field. The man's an expert in this field, folks, so pay attention.

We're Snoopy Dancing for the short story here at The Corner today!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This and That

Very interesting essay about "Playing Gotcha With Fiction" by Amy Sterling Casil over at the Book View Cafe. It's a great look at putting twists into your stories.

PulpPusher has closed to submissions, both fiction and non-fiction. Hopefully this won't be a permanent closing.

There's a new issue of Horror Bound out on the virtual streets.

And for those of you who write erotica there's a long list of anthologies that are open for submissions at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association link in the markets column to the left. They all seem to be paying markets and there's even one about erotica vampires.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Learning Links

Writing is a learning process, the catch is knowing who you're learning from. While I discuss writing here, be assured that I'm not an expert. Yes, I'm published but not in a big way or in any way that would be considered a success story for newbies to copy. I'm stumbling along with the rest of you.

With that said, I found this link to an interesting essay about "The Myth of Finding Your Voice". There are a lot of good points in this essay but it failed for me on one point. When you start writing in another author's voice, you're not being true to your own voice. Yes, you're learning how to turn phrases and develop a voice, but is it your own or just a pale imitation of the one or two writers you're trying to imitate? Here's the link

You should know that I did a search of the author of this piece and could only find one short story that he'd written and had published, in a well-respected zine, I should add, which was the story mentioned in the essay. Anyone can blog about writing, just like I do. Newbie writers need to check out who they're learning from, otherwise it might be a case of the blind leading the blind. That said, Mr. Taylor makes some very good points about the process of developing a voice, which makes the essay worth the read and the reason I passed the link along.

And if you're having trouble with setting, head on over to Jonathan Maberry's website and learn from some well-respected regional writers. Very good stuff here and something that hit home for me as I'm finding that setting my stories in the country and in the small towns that I know works so much better for me than trying to fake my way through a big city setting. Here's the link And if you go to the main page here and scroll down, you'll find a great interview with John Connolly.

When you're writing, use the lessons that work for you, the ones that make your stories unique to the writer in you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Advice

Just read this great essay about fiction writing by Justine Musk over at Storytellers Unplugged.

Monday Linkage

I haven't run across any new markets in the last few days that were worth passing along, but I did find this interesting essay about anthology invites. We all love getting invited to submit to a zine, magazine or an anthology and in this essay Jim Hines gives us some great pointers.

Patti Abbott has an interesting discussion in progress on her blog about stealing stories. Should we or shouldn't we takes bits and pieces of other people's lives for our stories? Go join the discussion.

And a bit of sad news to pass along. Geoff Eighinger has decided to shut down his review and short story site Eastern Standard Crime. The short story community will miss this site as Geoff was great about reviewing shorts, supporting zines and publishing some great new voices in the mystery community. You'll be missed ESC.

As most of you know, I've been playing around in other genres as a way to stretch my writing skills. So it was pretty cool to drop by Scalped this morning to check out their new issue and find that my trip into the horror genre was one of their featured selections. You can find "Living on the Backside of Nowhere" here The artwork that accompanies the stories in this zine is incredible and the painting "Labor Pains" by Ken Vallario is awesome. Be sure to check out the stories and the artwork in this zine and remember that they're open to subs for issue three and the theme is sex.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Market and Links

I found a new zine market - and it pays!! "Untied Shoelaces of the Mind" pays 3cents a word up to $30 for stories from 100 - 2000 words. Best of all? It's a genre market looking for Romance/ Action-Adventure / Thriller / Mystery/ Sci-fi and Fantasy/ Humor / Literary / Horror. To quote the site "...we're looking for fiction so dark, twisted or just plain tasty that I lose sleep after reading them." They're now open to submissions for their first quarterly issue due out in 2010. You do need to sign into the site as they have an online submission form. There are also stories by the editor posted on site so you can see what they're looking for.

And a few links:

Over at Criminal Brief, Deborah Elliot-Upton gives us a little history of The Gift of Murder's publisher, Wolfmont Publishing.

Bev Vincent gives us an excellent essay about the hazards of being a vacationing writer over at Storytellers Unplugged.

For your morning chuckles, Jason Sanford riffs off the recent essay "I will not read your F**king Script" that I linked to earlier this week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Pair of Markets

A couple of new Press markets popped up on the radar today. Well, actually, I found one at Duotrope and Paul Brazill gave me the lead on the other. Both are looking for short stories for new anthologies.

Jersey Devil Press is based in, yep, New Jersey. Besides the book side of their business they're starting an online journal for short stories, the first issue due out in October. All stories submitted to the journal are also considered for the anthology. And the maximum word count will be 4000. I can't find any mention of $$$'s so I'm assuming there's no pay. You can find their guidelines here You'll find a description of what they're looking for in a story on the right of that page in the About Us section.

Blade Red Press is based in Australia and they're looking for dark speculative fiction up to 7500 words. The submission period is September 17 to November 30. They're paying AUD$25 through PayPal. And, I'm reading through the old posts here and discover that there's no url. So here you go

Call for Submissions

Beat to a Pulp editor, David Cranmer, asked me to spread the word about his upcoming BTAP anthology. I checked with David on a closing date for subs and he says January 31 is the deadline. You can find the details for formatting submissions here Below is the call David posted on his blog. Please note that he's looking for specific types of stories in this call.

Spread the word, please! There will be only a few openings, but the first print anthology for BEAT to a PULP is in the works. To round out our usual, diverse array of pulp genres, we are actively seeking war stories, sea yarns and cozy mysteries. 4,000 words or less. The BEAT to a PULP print collection will be released in 2010.Send submissions to:

*Stories not selected for the print publication still have a chance to appear on our Weekly Punch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Little Bit of Everything

Kris Neri, one of the authors in The Gift of Murder anthology, posted a lovely essay about the Toys for Tots project on her blog.

For those of you non-SMFS members, Michael Bracken has answered the Where to Submit? question over at his blog as well as posting the answer on SMFS

Cormac Brown has announced the latest issue of Astonishing Adventures Magazine is now out. You can find all the details at Cormac has also started another blog called Friday Flash Fiction. The idea here is to post a prompt every Friday then writers have until Tuesday to come up with a flash story and post it on their blogs. This sounds like a good idea to get the creative juices flowing if you're having a bit of a block, plus a great way to drive traffic to your blog. Not to mention the great fun you'll be having. Check it out at

The Big Adios is having an author chat with Ray Banks on September 26. You can find all the details at

Fantasy Magazine is getting ready for a Halloween flash contest. The submission period will be October 1 to 16 with a word count of less than 1000. You can find the details at There will be more details published later at the Zine site.

And finally, Issue 5 of Pine Tree Mysteries has hit the virtual streets with short stories from Virginia Winters, Sylvia Nickels and Jack Bates. Some of you might be familiar with Jack's work from A Twist of Noir.

One Lovely Blog Award

First off, many thanks to Patti Abbott who has given The Corner the One Lovely Blog Award! It's due to her flash challenges that this blog even exists as I never intended to be a blogger, but here I am almost a year into it and enjoying the heck out of blogging. Here are the rules for the award:

1) Accept the award and don't forget to post a link back to the awarding person.

2) Pass the award on.

3) Notify the award winners.

I'll be passing the award on to David Cranmer, Cormac Brown, Conda V. Douglas and Cullen Gallagher. I read these and all the blogs in the link section just about every day, so if anyone else would like to join in on passing the award along, feel free.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Morning Markets

I haven't posted very many YA markets but this weekend has sent two markets my way.

The first came via Paul Brazill. Rebel Books out of the UK has a call for submissions for two anthologies. The first is looking for stories with a supernatural theme. This one has a November 30 deadline. The second is looking for Faerie stories with a February 28, 2010 deadline. There's a third call for a children's anthology, age 7 and up, with a magical theme and a May 31, 2010 deadline. Their guidelines say there's a 3500 word max and they pay royalties.

The second I found at called YA Literature Review. They have an online zine but are looking to launch a print version in January. The pay is $5 to $10 for flash, shorts, and poetry. They're also looking for reviews and non-fiction.

I might have posted a link to this one before but with the December 15 deadline approaching, it's worth another link. Science Fiction Trails is a once a year print magazine looking for short stories of 1000 to 7000 words with pay of $10 plus a copy. They're looking for western stories that use sci-fi elements. Think the Wild Wild West and the Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr. here.

The lovely ladies at Women of Mystery have posted news of a new flash market called 50 -1. This one is looking for 50 word stories or first lines. You can find the details at This is a non-paying market.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Crowd at the Book Sale

Maybe it was the nasty head cold I've been nursing for the last couple of days but I had this very strange experience at the used book sale yesterday. As I poked through boxes and scanned shelves for titles and authors, I felt like there was a whole group of people looking over my shoulder.

Several Long Arm Westerns had David Cranmer whispering in my ear, "Are they written by James Reasoner?"

"Shhh, David, I'm looking for Luke Short today. And no, I don't think they're James' books."

There were six or seven thin hardback volumes of John Gardner's version of James, James Bond that had Gerald So looking over my shoulder, but I resisted, remembering that I wasn't a James Bond fan. Bill Crider poked me in the ribs when I picked up a 1978 issue of Galaxy magazine. That one I brought home along with a 1990 issue of Analog.

The Rare Birds from Rara-Avis were shouting, "This one. No, this one." Going to a book sale with them? You could go broke. But I did pick up some Michael Connelly's. "Black Light" by Stephen Hunter. "Shutter's Island" by Lehane. And a book by William X Kienzle, "Masquerade" which I'm pretty sure was mentioned there. Of course, they all groaned when I grabbed a Mrs. Polifax novel by Dorothy Gilman. Hey, a girl can't read all that dark stuff without coming up for a breath of fresh air.

Sadly, I left behind a stack of Earle Stanley Gardner's and an entire collection of Dortmunder's by Westlake.

I did find one anthology of horror shorts that I couldn't resist called "Cutting Edge" which looks superb. One book that I tossed in my bag, because Ed Gorman said Charlotte Armstrong was an excellent writer, was "The Balloon Man". He's right! I'm only on page 50 and wishing the whole world would disappear so I could just sit and read this book without interruption.

Driving home, I found myself grinning stupidly about the crowd I toured the sale with, realizing that I know these people more by what they read and write than by who they actually are. The joys of the Internet - bringing us closer, one book at a time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thoughts and Links

I found myself biting my tongue yesterday, or to be more precise, not tapping off an angry reply to some advice that I thought was, well, not quite right. A writer noted that she kept her short stories in a drawer, pulling them out for a quick polish every now and then, and waiting for someone to ask if she had anymore stories that could be published in a book.

I have stories in my files, but they're crap stories. Yes, I pull them out and work on them occasionally but sometimes the stories are just crap and not worth bothering with. Most of the stories I think are good, I send out. For me, the purpose of writing is to be read. If your stories are stuck in a drawer, they're just gathering dust. And no one is going to ask if you have a drawer full of stories if they've only read one or two of them. Hell, you could have a million stories out there, but it's the rare author who's asked if there's a drawer full waiting to be discovered.

Enough with the rambling thoughts, on with the links.

Blue Cubicle Press is looking for stories written from a government worker's point of view for their magazine, Workers Write Journal. They're looking for stories of 500 to 5000 words with a pay of $5 to $50 depending on the word count. You can find all the details at

Dark and Dreary editor, Mclean Swanson, is now looking for poetry for his zine and he's posted a wonderful piece of artwork that you might enjoy called "All the Quiet Murders" by Christopher Wood.

With a hat tip to Brian Lindenmuth we have this eye-opening piece by Josh Olson

And finally, Dean Wesley Smith has a wonderful essay about rewriting. While you're there, check out some of the other posts in this series, they're quite informative.

Oh yes, you may have noticed that I've added the Toys for Tots anthology link to the left. If you're interested in supporting the Toys for Tots charity, just click on the link for all the details. The publisher has a discounted price available for anyone who orders before September 30. The official launch is October 1.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Virgin Markets

Finding markets is always a chore but it's part of the business of being a writer. New markets are especially tricky. You don't know if it's just one person's whim to start a zine and they'll get bored with the process, or if they'll work their butts off and make a go of the zine. Without content they'll surely fail. Publishing is a two way street - writers need to trust the publisher and publishers need to get the best stories a writer can write. With that in mind, here are three new venues that are trying to get their zines launched.

Dark and Dreary Magazine is in blog format. They're looking for dark flash and short stories. They have stories up, so you can get an idea of what they're looking for. This is a non-paying market.

Black Matrix Publishing is getting ready to launch four new print magazines. They're looking for sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal and horror stories. The pay is token at 1/5cent per word. You can find the details of these magazines and their guidelines at

The last is a western venue, The Western Online. This is a beautiful looking website that shows the publisher has given a lot of thought to how he wants to showcase your work. They're looking for short stories up to 3000 words and non-fiction pieces up to 1000 words. And yes, there was crime in the Old West if you'd like to give it a try and still remain in your comfort zone of crime fiction. This is also a non-paying market.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Odds and Ends

Maybe it's just me, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot going on around the usual places. But fear not, I've found a few links that might amuse you.

Chizine magazine is open for submissions. They're looking for dark stories of 4000 words or less and they pay 7cents a word.

The September issue of Gemini is now online, their url is to the left. If you entered their flash contest, the winners will be announced at the beginning of October.

And finally, I love reading the sci-fi blogs. Sci-fi fans and writers have so much fun and such a support system for their genre. I hear about the support for the mystery genre and it is there between writers, but I don't see the support for the zines and print publications that exists in the Sci-fi genre. I wonder why that is?

But back to the point, Jeff Vandermeer has a great post up asking the question - if you're an emerging writer, how do you see yourself? I shudder to think what mystery writers would come up with after reading the responses to this post

Monday, September 7, 2009

Editing Job Anyone?

If you've got some spare time, you might consider this editing job offered up by Flash Me magazine. There's no pay, just experience if you're interested in this kind of work. The following notice has the details:

If you enjoy reading flash fiction and have time to volunteer, Flash Me Magazine is still looking for a few new editors. We receive an average of 300 submissions per quarter, and have been short-handed for the last six months. We are also looking for another publishing assistant. If interested, visit our website for the job descriptions and how to apply:

Now is the perfect time to join our staff - we're wrapping up the end of one quarter and are about to begin a new one;)

Flash Me Magazine

Labor Day Links

Since you were all kind enough to listen to my rant yesterday, today I'm posting some fun links that you might enjoy.

Over at BTAP there's this great story by Hilary Davidson called "Insatiable" where nothing is what it seems.

For your morning chuckles give Donna's blog post a try.

And if your confidence needs a boost, head on over to Murderati and read Toni McGee Causey's post

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Zine News

Just found out that Crime and Suspense is relaunching with their first issue due out in November. They're looking for flash and short stories in the 2000 - 6000 word range. The new managing editor is Fred Snyder. The pay is $5 to $10

I ran across this new zine at the Big Adios site. It's called Hard Feelings No fiction but if you're into the very dark crime fiction they have articles and book reviews that might interest you.

Also I stopped by the New Mystery Reader site today and their September issue has gone live with reviews and a flash fiction piece. They're also advertising for someone to write reviews and summaries for the site if anyone is interested in this sort of work. No pay, but good experience if you're looking to get into reviewing.

A Sunday Rant

Over on SMFS this weekend there's been a discussion about author's platforms. And yeah, I kind of started the ball rolling after reading this blog post by Gayle Bartos-Pool

What really pissed me off about this post was that in her steps to building a platform she lists "creating a web presence, getting your face out there (sort of on the 10 Most Wanted list) and discovering who you really are in the first place." And you should do all of this before you've even finished your book. Do you see anything there about being the best writer that you can be? No? I didn't either. And assuming that you're going to sell a novel before it's even written? Please. There are published authors out there who aren't that confident.

When I write, I want the reader to get to know the characters, to see their faces, to hear their stories. I don't want them picturing some grey-haired old grandmother who forgets to comb her hair in the morning. I know who I am, I'm the writer who put those characters on the page and tried to stay invisible while I was doing it. Is knowing me going to sell this story? I don't think so, and I've got a collection of rejection letters from editors, who do know me, that prove that fact.

The story should always come first. It's my understanding that it usually takes one to two years from submission to the point where your book is published. That should give you plenty of time to drum up publicity and get people talking about your STORY. After all, Dan Brown wasn't DAN BROWN before "The DaVinci Code" even though he was already a multi-published author. And nobody in the world knew who JK Rawlings was before "Harry Potter" hit the bookshelves. It was the story that took their names to a new level, not web sites, not twitter, not FaceBook, My Space, or CrimeSpace.

I remember reading a piece one time about "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. The story was written as a newspaper serial and when the boats from England were docking in New York there were crowds gathered yelling up to the crew asking what happened to Tiny Tim. Dickens was a "rock star", not because everyone knew him personally but because he wrote a story that spoke to the readers. Mark Twain is another example. Want someone newer? How about Robert B. Parker and Stephen King and Anne Rice?

Yes, a writer has to help publicize their work, but make it about the work, not the writer. All of the early interviews I saw with JK Rawlings, she talked about Harry and his world, not the world of JK Rawlings, that came later when she proved she could tell a story.

Am I wrong about this? I very well could be. I'm just a short story writer not a novelist, but even here, in the world of short stories, it's not my name or personality that sells a story but the story itself.

Oh, if you're looking for a dose of reality about the publishing business - give this a try.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Of Soup and Stories

Cormac Brown has a lovely piece over at his blog called "Jook and the Moth". It's about trying to capture the flavor of a favorite dish cooked by someone else, in this case, his grandmother. I mentioned in the comments that I gave my sons recipes and he asked if I included all the ingredients or if I held back that one secret item that made it special. Which, of course, got me thinking about writing. Don't worry, my mind always takes side-trips that aren't always logical.

When I pass along recipes, I always copy the recipe from the original source, cookbook, newspaper clipping or magazine recipe. But the truth is, over the years of using these recipes, I do tweak them, adding extra sugar, using butter instead of margarine or shortening, little things I don't even think about when passing along a recipe. So what does this have to do with writing short stories?

There is a basic recipe for writing short stories. They all have a beginning, middle and end. Each genre also has its own little quirks that need to be followed for their basic recipe. It's how we tweak these ingredients both in the basic outline and within the genre that makes the difference, that gives our own "flavor" to a story. And if we're lucky, our story will be flavored with the ingredients of our lives that will make it different from other writer's stories. We want, and need, our stories to be like homemade soup not the Campbell's variety.

And there's a great essay over at Storytellers Unplugged today by Gerard Houarner about writing short stories.

And a couple of quotes from the essay:

"But the short form is also an outlet for the restless imagination."

"If you're writing the same thing over and over again in short form, you're wasting your time."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Odds and Ends

First up, there's a new issue of Storyglossia up for your reading pleasure, url to the left.

Over at the Women of Mystery blog they're giving away a copy of "Uncage Me". A collection of crime stories edited by Jen Jordan. All you have to do is drop them a comment to get your name tossed in the hat.

The Rap Sheet is giving away a complete set of William Kent Krueger's "Cork" O' Connor novels. You will find all the details here This one is open only to residents of the US and Canada.

With a hat tip to Paul Brazill, we find that Eric Beetner is sponsoring a flash fiction contest with the release of his new book. The contest is open until September 30 for stories under 1000 words. Prizes are signed copies of books by Eric and other authors from his publisher.

Yesterday was the start of the Watery Grave Invitational. Be sure to send your story links before the 8th. Corey is posting all the links on his blog, so even if you're not selected for the next phase of the contest, your story and the zine its published in will get some free advertisement and readers heading your way.

Over at the Kill Zone blog, I found this wonderful essay about persistence in writing by James Scott Bell

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kids 'n Crime

Just musing here about the use of children in crime fiction. Nine times out of ten they're the victims or the ones committing the crime. Ideas that are meant to make the reader shudder or lose their lunch. And yes, I've been guilty of using these devices in my short stories.

I think crime writers are afraid if they use children as the protag, their stories or books would be considered YA instead of adult reading. The truth is, children have a whole different view of the world than adults. Where we see disaster, they're seeing adventure and maybe it's that adventurous spirit that could be lassoed into a story.

Okay, what am I talking about? Take this incident for example. The whole month of July had been nothing but one rainy day after another around here. The creeks were running high and threatening to spill out across the fields and drown the crops. I hear voices outside and look up to see the neighbor kids walking home carrying their inner tubes. Yeah, they'd taken a ride down the creek for about a half mile. Something that in a normal year would be impossible. While all the adults were standing around wringing their hands, the kids found the fun in the high water.

How do you use something like that in a crime story? Best scenario, they witness a murder, maybe a person being tossed off a bridge. Maybe they rescue the victim, maybe they tell what they saw and no one believes them, maybe the murderer chases them cross-lots toward home trying get rid of the witnesses. Of course, it doesn't have to be a murder, it could be a beating, a robbery, any kind of crime that they go floating past. The point here is, who better to witness any kind of crime than one or more kids out enjoying the chaos.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one book that uses this sort of scenario and that's John Grisham's "The Client". And for short stories, I'm drawing a blank except for the possibility of "Stand by Me" based on a Stephen King short, who's title I can't recall at the moment, and that's not really a crime story.

Thinking about it, there's probably more horror stories written with kids as the protag than crime stories. With horror stories, kids are the most likely candidates to explore the unexplained, or go ghost hunting, or spend the night in a cemetery. Horror as a whole tends to embrace a child's couriosity factor.

So, what do you think? Can a good adult crime short or novel be written using a child as the protag, or will it automatically be tagged as YA and tossed off the editor's desk? If the horror genre can use a child to explore the unexplained, why not the crime genre? The floor is open.