Sunday, November 29, 2009

Market News

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

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

Blood Bound Books has also added a couple more anthology calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How Purple is Your Prose?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reality Bites

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

On Writing and Zines and Zombies

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

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009


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

A Bit of Everything

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

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

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This and That

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Total Coolness

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

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

Morning Puzzle

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Few Quick Links

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Market News and Inspiration

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

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

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

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

100 Words by Kameron Hurley

Where Does Inspiration Come From by Jeff VanderMeer

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Writing Links

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some Saturday Linkage

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

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

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Links and Market News

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

The second is an interesting interview with Cormac McCarthy

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

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

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

Call for Holiday Submissions

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Odds and Ends

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Short Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Post Musing Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just Musing

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

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

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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blame it on Buffy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Market News

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rules and Things

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

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

The fourth issue of Sex and Murder has gone live.

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

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

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