Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top Ten of 2010

End of year lists are hard to do. You always feel like you're forgetting a story or you're snubbing someone whose work you really admire. My list is just stories that have stuck with me for one reason or another. Sometimes it's the subject matter, others the writing, and other times it's what the story taught me either as a person or a writer. That's what makes them best for me.

I have to admit that I haven't read as many online crime stories as I usually do and my favorites were listed over at Chris Rhatigan's blog back a few weeks ago and I'll repost them here in case you missed them.

1. “Portraits of Detroit: Wylie Edwards” by Patricia Abbott

2. “Dead Things” by Michael Bracken

3. “Free” by Ian Ayris

4. “Why I Should Avoid Married Women” by Jim Harrington

5. “Dog Fight” by Aaron M. Wilson

In print, I enjoyed the hell out of all the stories in the first issue of Needle magazine but I've got to say that Kent Gowran's ".44 Blues" has really stuck with me. And in the second issue of Needle, I have to say that David Cranmer's "The Sins of Maynard Shipley" is the one that keeps drifting through my mind.

And now, my list of ten online stories that "tripped my trigger" this year.

1. "The Truth and all Its Ugly" by Kyle Minor

2. "Shootout" by William Hart

3. "Whiskey Meets Rock & Roll" by Mike Dennis

4. "The Quick...And The Dead" by Bill Crider

5. "Hawkins Boy" by Charles Dodd White

6. "Gunpoint" by Fred Blosser

7. "Missed Calls" by Glenn Grey

8. "Crack Whore" by David Hardin

9. "Clockwork Fairies" by Cat Rambo

10. "The List" by Kieran Shea

Linger Fiction

Linger Fiction has just posted their very first issue - Welcome to the online zine scene!!

This market publishes shorts to 5000 words, flash 500 to 1000, and poetry. They're looking for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror stories. The pay is $10 per story and $5 for flash. You can find them at

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lord Love a Duck

Lord, God, how I hate tags for short stories. If it looks like a story, sounds like story, and walks like a story. By God, it must be a story. Aside from the publisher, who cares what tiny little slot it fits into? A good story is a good story, no matter how you label it.

And have I ever mentioned that I really dislike those markets who claim to be "Literary" and look down their noses at genre stories when they're actually publishing what everyone else considers genre?

Literary Experimentalism, indeed! - Rant's over.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 - Long Live the Short Story!

While we've laid to rest some great zines in 2010, we've also seen the start up of some new ones. There were a few disappointments like Asta Publications with their 7 new zines paying pro rates who within the space of one month totally disappeared and Last Rites Publishing who listed six paying anthologies and had to fold due to legal difficulties.

One thing I've noticed this year is a return to print zines that's pretty exciting. The zines are also starting to publish anthologies and making their zines available for the new readers like Kindle, which is all giving short stories a larger audience.

So, without further ado, here's a look at our new markets from this past year. You'll find the links over there to the right.

All Due Respect publishes one story a month but there's been some great stories so far. Maybe we can convince them to do two per month or one a week? Yes, we're greedy little readers!

Pulp Metal just celebrated it's first anniversary. They've morphed from a quarterly to a weekly which keeps readers coming back for more. And they're featuring stories from the new up and comers like Richard Godwin, Ian Ayris and Paul Brazill.

The DF Underground has changed urls and redesigned their website a few times, but they're hanging in there with some great work.

Dark Valentine is one of the most beautiful new zines to hit the web in a long time! They have a pdf quarterly, but the main website also features daily flash, reviews, and news updates with artwork that is stunning. The list of authors they publish is a who's who's of the horror and crime genres.

Southern Grit is new with one quarterly under their belt, they switched to publishing stories as they are accepted. There's some beautiful work presented here and reviews of anthologies from our Southern writers. Here's hoping they continue to fly into the new year!

Crimefactory is blazing away with both barrels as their 5th issue has hit the streets with an online pdf zine, Kindle version, and now in print! However you like to read, they've got you covered. The writers they've published are, as Keith Rawson, the editor would say, just fucking awesome! Along with the zine, they have an anthology that will be available in the near future.

Needle Magazine started as the dream of one man to be able to sit comfortably in his chair and read some of the noir stories he was finding on line. He took that dream and ran with it. Needle has just published its third quarterly issue and doesn't look to be slowing down at all. The authors that you'll find between the pages are not only well-known in the crime community but, yeah, awesome!

Pulp Empire is an online zine that also publishes a print version with their authors receiving royalties from the print sales. In 2011, they're going to feature two themed issues, one of which is pirates, the other is not listed yet. Is it just me, or are pirates taking over the short story world?!?

Shock Totem is a new print magazine with two issues under their belts so far and the third is about ready for press.

Jersey Devil Press has a year under their belts with a monthly online zine and a best of anthology out in print.

Bete Noire is fairly new with their first print issue out.

While Spinetingler isn't new, they've changed their format from quarterly to daily reviews and news items with stories showing up on a monthly basis.

Beat to a Pulp just closed out their second year but have published a best of anthology called Beat to a Pulp Round 1 with has people talking all over the web. And they don't look to be slowing down.

And it seems that Big Pulp, which has been around for two years also has gone to a print format instead of online with their newest issue.

The Sci-fi scene saw a burst of new zines hit the virtual streets also, with zines like Daily Science Fiction, Aurora Wolf, Moon Milk Review and many others. So if anyone believes that the short story is dead and dying - foo on you!

YA Markets Today

For those of you who write for the YA market I stumbled across a couple of links. Over at the Women of Mystery blog, Laura K. Curtis writes about a new press that is looking for short mysteries that will appeal to YA readers.

Cindi Myers also has the YA market covered today on her blog with two anthologies from Bridge House Publishing, one crime and the other is YA sci-fi. I've mentioned these before but the deadline is coming up in the new year so a reminder is always good. She also has listed a YA press that is looking for novel submissions. You can find the information at

And over at Creative Writing Contests there's a post about, a site that provides exposure opportunity for children's authors. Just scroll down to the December 17 post.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 RIP

Looking back through the blog yesterday, I discovered that we lost nine markets that were crime/noir related. Plus several other good markets for flash and shorts

Ligature Marks was a two issue then gone market. We were to find out later that this was a market run by plagiarist who went on to change his name and start another zine and a publishing house. It's too bad because Ligature Marks had some dandy interviews and published a few great stories in its short run.

PulpPusher closed its doors without explanation and the archives have vanished into the ether.

Feral Pages looked very promising but after two issues, the editor became ill and had to close up shop. These archives are gone also.

ThugLit the one we all aspired to be published in closed it doors after 38 issues and three anthologies. That's a long run for an online zine and the folks behind it were tired and ready to move on to new things, like the new addition to their family. The archives are still up for your reading pleasure.

Scalped was a beautiful looking zine and had a one year run with some great stories and artwork between its virtual covers. Their archives are gone also

Crime & Suspense was supposed to come back this year, but that too, folded with no explanations.

SubLit just disappeared without a word taking with it some amazing stories.

Bloody Bridge Review managed a four month run before closing its doors, the archives are still available.

And Nefarious Muse gave up the ghost but left the archives for their readers.

Also gone is Dogzplot main website. They opted to keep the flash site going but did away with the poetry and short stories.

Burst and Flash Quake were flash sites that closed their doors this year after several successful years of publication each.

And last is Alien Skin who closed up shop after five successful years of publishing sci-fi shorts and flash.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Bit of BSP

"Best Left Buried" will probably be my last published story for this year

It's part of A Twist of Noir's 600 to 700 challenge. This flash piece has an interesting history as the original version was an attempt at writing a literary piece. Ah, c'mon, quit laughing. It was also the piece where I discovered how much I loved writing purple prose. I lost half the story when I cut out all the purple stuff! After the original was rejected by another market, and properly so, I started rewriting and editor, Christopher Grant, happily included it in this challenge. Thank you, Christopher!

Mysterical E

The Winter issue of Mysterical E has gone live with seventeen new short stories for your reading pleasure. Among the stories is a new Diana short from Albert Tucher and stories from John Wegley, John M. Floyd and Libby Cudmore to name just a few of the talented authors published here.


The December 31 deadline for the Ninth Annual fiction contest is closing in. This is a no fee contest for spec-fiction stories of 1000 to 5000 words. Prizes in descending order are $300 - $150 - $75. You can find all the details at

Samhain Publishing is an erotica publisher and they have two anthology calls up. Both are for novella length stories and according to the site each selected story will be published as an individual e-book. Authors are paid royalties on the sales. The first antho is 2012: End of Days and the other is Cyberpunk Romance. You can find all the details and deadlines for each at

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I love writing a new Christmas story every year and this year's story brings to life the characters I created for my story in Discount Noir. I hope you enjoy this little offering. Merry Christmas, everyone!

By Sandra Seamans

“You’d best quit staring at me, boy, or I’ll mop the floor with your fat ass, pop you on a spit and eat you for dinner.”

Those were the first words Enigma Carpenter threw at me. Iggy, that’s what I call him, now that we’re friends and all, is a legend in these parts. Folks whisper his name with respect. Weren’t for him, we’d all be sucking blood through our dentures.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how an overweight, four-eyed, weakling of a kid hooked up with a legendary vampire hunter like Iggy. Well, I’ll tell you. I was wandering through the aisles of the local Wally-Mart doing some last minute Christmas shopping, when I stumbled into aisle 13, tripped over my own feet and landed on the toes of his cowboy boots. Hell, all I could do was stare, anybody would’ve.

The man was all of seven feet tall, bib overalls hanging loose on his scrawny frame. Saints battled with demons up the length of his tattooed arms, silver bullets and crosses dangled from one pierced ear while skulls and daggers dangled from the other. A set of silver-dipped Vampire fangs hung from a chain around his neck and a “Get ’er Done” hat rode high on his electric blue mullet. The man was awe-inspiring.

I decided right then and there that I was gonna write a book about Enigma Carpenter, even told him so. Said I could make him just as famous as Jesse James. Course I had to clarify that I meant the outlaw, not that dirtbag who dumped Sandra Bullock for a stripper. I didn’t want him thinking I was making fun of him, you know.

“Well, Bubba,” he says to me, “We’d best get you set for a hunt so’s you can get a feel for the danger that a vampire hunter has to face when ridding the countryside of them ugly blood suckers.”

We filled a shopping cart with camping gear, camouflage hunting clothes, and a shitload of garlic. After the basics we added a sack of fried pork rinds and a dozen Hershey bars to keep up our strength. Iggy tossed a couple of silver crosses onto the pile. “A hunter ain’t never got too many crosses when tracking them vampires,” he said. My credit card near had a heart attack when the cashier hit the total button but I remembered my Mama’s employee discount and that old card breathed a big sigh of relief.

We dumped our supplies in the bed of Iggy’s pick-up and headed out to the woods. When I asked him why we were hunting vampires in the woods, Iggy slapped my forehead and said, “It’s Christmas, boy, ain’t no self-respecting vampire gonna hang out in a town filled with crosses, mangers overrun with a fresh crop of baby Jesus dolls, and choirs singing Christmas Carols. Don’t you know nothin’ bout hunting vampires?”

Truth is I didn’t, but I wasn’t about to let Iggy know that, he might’ve dumped me along the side of the road for bait. Wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend Christmas Eve, but huntin’ vampires hadn’t been high on my list either.

Iggy drove us deep into the Kindadensa Forest, the truck bouncing high over every rut in that old logging road. His headlights were wobblin’ up and down so bad, it was a good thing there was a full moon to light the way.

Once Iggy found a clearing to his liking, we set up camp. I unloaded all our gear from the truck, jumping out of my skin every time I heard a twig snap, while Iggy built us a fire and settled in with a bag of pork rinds. His crunching kinda dimmed the creepy sounds coming from the woods so I was able to crawl back into my skin.

After ramming myself into a hunting jacket, I settled in by the fire. “So when does the hunting start?” I asked.

Iggy gave me one of those I’m-gonna-roast-you-on-a-spit looks and said, “Boy, you’re just plain ignorant about vampire hunting aren’t you? Just sit back and relax, them vampires will be joining us presently.”

“They’re coming here?” I wasn’t sure if I cared much for being set out like a goat on a rope for any passing vampire to snack on.

“Sure,” he said. “They’ll be hungry and we’ll smell like ambrosia to them. Then when they jump us, we drive the stakes into their blood-sucking hearts. Piece a cake.”

After passing along his battle plan, Iggy rolled into his sleeping bag with a wooden stake held tightly in each hand. Wasn’t long before he was snoring and I was sitting there shakin’ like a bowlful of Jell-0, hoping like hell that Iggy wouldn’t roll over and accidentally stab himself.

With the full moon striking a midnight pose I could hear something moving in amongst the trees. A chorus of howls set my shakin’ into overdrive Them vampires sounded more like a pack of wolves then the gentlemen I’d always figured them to be. I clutched my stake tighter and kept hopin’ Iggy was gonna wake up in time to save my neck.

But it wasn’t vampires that came slinking round our camp that night. No sir, it was a mouth-frothing werewolf circling in closer and closer. Yeah, that stake I was holding wasn’t gonna do me a bit of good. I screamed, or at least I thought I did, but Iggy, he just kept snoring away.

Very slowly, so as not to spook that hairy beast into pouncing a minute before he was ready, I edged my way over to Iggy’s sleeping bag. I was wondering how to wake him up without getting staked in the heart when I remembered the silver bullets dangling from his ear. I sat as far back as I could and poked at him, but nothing short of a vampire sipping from his neck was gonna wake Iggy. I considered ripping those silver bullets off his ear, but thought better of it and just eased them out of his lobe real careful like.

Now you’d think a man who carried silver bullets would have a revolver somewhere on his person, but not Iggy. Being Iggy he probably went hand to paw when dealing with werewolves. Maybe had a silver knife tucked in his boot. Thing is, I knew I didn’t have it in me to fight Iggy’s way so I just I closed my eyes and rattled off a quick prayer.

That old werewolf was breathing mighty close to my left ear when I heard a voice coming down from heaven. “Damn, Bubba, open your eyes.”

I knew I must be dead already, cause there was Santy Claus riding up there in his sleigh just a yelling, trying to get my attention. “Here, boy, catch, you’ve been a pretty good Bubba this year and I got just what you been a wishin’ for.”

Now I’ve got a deep appreciation for Santa and an even deeper appreciation for unexpected presents, but unwrapping a package with a werewolf about to start slobbering down your chest…well.

Damn, if I was gonna die, I wanted to know what Santa had dropped in my lap, so I ripped open the package to find exactly what I wanted for Christmas. A nice .38. I slammed Iggy’s silver bullets into the cylinder and started firing. Okay, there were only two bullets, but I managed to shoot that damn werewolf in the foot with one of them.

The shooting must’ve woke old Iggy up ‘cause he was sitting there rubbin’ his eyes and lookin’ kinda perplexed after I emptied that gun.

He turned his head to have a gander at the werewolf limping off towards the woods. He stood up and pulled a silver-bladed knife out of his boot. See, I had reckoned right about that knife. Iggy walked over and stabbed that near dead werewolf right smack-dab in the heart. “Damn, werewolves,” he said. “They’re always spoiling a good vampire hunt.”

I just nodded with a big ole stupid grin plastered on my face. The legend had done it again. Enigma Carpenter was the greatest monster hunter walking the face of Cadaver County, and he let me tag along. That was the best Christmas this Bubba ever had!

Plots With Guns

Issue #11 of Plots with Guns has hit the virtual streets with stories from the usual suspects like Kieran Shea, Matthew C. Funk, and Garnett Elliott. This is their special "Slasher" issue.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Story Cupboard

This will probably be the last story cupboard post of the year unless I run across something truly delicious to tickle the imagination. Brian Lindenmuth sent me this "weird" link and suggested that there might be some story ideas in the article.

The article is about a document written in Saddam's blood. But can you imagine being the man commissioned to do the actual calligraphy? Two years of watching the blood flow from the man to the page. And knowing that the writing of such a document in blood is forbidden? What must have been going through his mind? Did he wonder if he'd be cursed or even killed?

Or being the one who has to hide the document, scattering pages across the country so it can be preserved from both sides of the war and now the document is housed in a vault with three keys that are in the safe-keeping of three different people. Of course, I wonder if the person telling the story knows that in telling who two of those people are that they've probably put the third person in danger. All the basic ingredients for a great fantasy quest story!

Then again the blood from the pages could be used to bring the dead back to life! Mummies and Zombies, oh my!

Of course, if you're writing a crime story, the DNA on the pages could be used to identify a family member or the actual person who may have disappeared after the document was written. Or was it a note from the killer, written in the victim's blood?

The possibilities are endless if you let your mind wander.

Anthology Reviews

"Murder to Mil-Spec" a multi-author anthology edited by Tony Burton reviewed by Ed Gorman

"Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime" a single author collection by Steve Hockensmith reviewed by Clair Toohey and by Elizabeth A. White

"Beat to a Pulp Round 1" a multi-author anthology edited by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash reviewed by Ron Scheer

"The Very Best of Charles De Lint" a single author collection and reviewed by Mark Rose


That excellent zine Thrillers, Killers and Chillers has closed to submissions until after the New Year in order to enjoy the holiday with their families. Happy Holidays, TKnC!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anthology Calls

For those of you looking for anthology markets, you might want to click on over to Angies Desk where you'll find a dozen anthology calls listed. A few of the calls have been posted here, but the deadlines are nearing so a reminder is always helpful. Angie publishes a list of calls at the beginning of every month.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reading Material

Over at Do Some Damage they've started posting the noir Christmas stories that were sent in by their readers. You'll find work by Bryon Quartermous, Chris Deal, and Stephen D. Rogers up and new stories everyday through the New Year.

There's a new issue of Pulp Metal up where you'll find an excellent story by friend of the blog, Chris Rhatigan.

A Twist of Noir has promised to post a few more stories in their 600 - 700 series today, but why wait? They're half way through those hundred stories and there's some great reading to be had by fans of crime flash.

The last story of 2010 has been posted over at Beat to a Pulp and it's one you don't want to miss. "The Quick---And The Dead" by Bill Crider is, well, you just need to read this perfect gem of a story for yourself.

John Patrick Nelson's "Impulse Kill" is another perfect short story. And there's not a reader out there who can't relate to one of those Murphy's Law days.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Musings

Scott Parker's post over at Do Some Damage yesterday worked like a time machine and sent me back to my childhood for a while.

My mother was a strict believer in a 7:00 bedtime. Summer or Winter, tired or not, bed at seven. In the summertime it's pretty much like going to bed in broad daylight, winter's not quite so bad. There were no TV's or computers in our bedrooms back then so I did a lot of reading, with a flashlight under the blanket in the wintertime.

When there was nothing to read, my imagination took center stage. Unlike Scott's son, I didn't write any of those stories down, but I still remember them. With the lights out and curled up under my blankets I became Shirley Temple. Ah, c'mon, don't laugh.

In her movies, Shirley lived a fairytale life. She was always orphaned, but found love with the rich couple down the street. Happiness was just a song and a dance away for her. She lived with strangers, barracks full of soldiers or firemen, pretty much anyone who happened to pick her up off the street. And at night, I slipped into her shoes. I found loving parents, you know, the kind who didn't send you to bed at seven or yell if you spilled your milk. I would sing and dance and then my "real" parents would find me and whisk me away to their mansion where I lived on bonbons and ice cream.

Now, Shirley's movies were all feel-good movies, filmed during the depression for people who needed a lift out of the darkness the nation had plunged into. Great fantasy, but as far removed from reality as you could get, even back then. And let's face it, our noir writers today would have a field day rewriting those old movie scrips.

Today, I can see how utterly ridiculous the premise for those movies were, but back in the fifties when I first watched them, they represented life as we all wanted to live it, as we wanted to believe it could be. The sad thing is, somewhere along the years, life kicked into some kind of "Happy Days" on speed. People are afraid to leave their houses. Children are told about "stranger danger" at age three, orphans are stuck into a child welfare system that barely puts a roof over their heads, and the singers and dancers on MTV all look like hookers getting ready for a gang bang. And I wonder what kind of fantasy life fills the imagination of kids today.

I miss Shirley's way of life. Anyone got a spare ticket for the "good ship Lollipop" in their back pocket?

Shorts, Westerns and Advice

Nigel Bird has a great post on his blog Sea Minor. He takes a look at the reviewers and the art page of his newspaper, The Guardian, but he also has links to podcasts of short stories that the paper is running. Stop on over and have a read, then clickity-click for some listening pleasure.

The results of the Rope and Wire short story contest are in, and the stories are up for your reading pleasure.

Congratulations to the winners:

Bill Henderson
Charlie Steel
Tom Roberts
TT Thurman
Elizabeth Foley

I often stop over to The Storytellers Unplugged blog. There's always good advice to be found and this week the topic seemed to be finding ideas.

While you're there be sure to read Bev Vincent's most excellent essay "Write for the Audience; Write for Yourself" You won't find any better advice about writing for the market vs writing for yourself.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Market News

Flash Fire 500 seems to be back up and running, maybe. The site has published some new stories but according to the submission guidelines they're not accepting new subs. What they are doing is having a contest. Between now and February 13, 2011 you can submit a flash story up to 500 words. The winner receives $100 and will be published on the site. You will find all the details at

And Grand Mal Press has reopened submissions to their Detective Horror anthology. They want stories of 3000 to 5000 words. The pay is $25 plus one copy. You can find the details at

Short Story Love

The final flash chapter of "The Chase" was posted over at Top Suspense yesterday. You can catch up with the entire story here And don't forget to drop your guesses for who wrote each section in the comments. There are books to be won!

***A quick update on the Top Suspense contest - Your answers go into an email and you send them to the email address listed. Have fun!

Steve Steinbock of Criminal Brief has a lovely post this week which gives us a peek into the inner sanctum of legendary short story writer, Ed Hoch.

And Keith Rawson gives the short form some love over at Crimefactory's Day Labor blog.

And with a hat tip to Bill Crider we have nine writers who are carrying the torch for men's fiction. The coolest part of this post? There are three short story collections included! Wahoo! I knew men loved short-shorts, and now short stories. and here's the anthologies:
"Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned" by Wells Tower
"Freshwater Boys" by Adam Schuitema
"Aliens of Affection" by Padgett Power with a link at the site for one of his shorts!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hooray for Spinetingler!!

I was so thrilled to see that the Spinetingler Awards are including single author collections and multiple author anthologies in their award categories this year. Spinetingler has always been a big supporter of the short form and this is just another step forward in the recognition of the short form.

So, all you publishers, editors, authors, whoever, that have been involved in getting crime/mystery/noir short stories collected and published in 2010, SUBMIT THEM FOR CONSIDERATION! You can find all the details at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Trash Talk

There are days when I'd just love to take some members of the crime fiction community out back to the woodshed and give them a good thrashing. This quote is from a man who has reprinted online stories in his own print magazines. He is speaking of an author who's managed to get a pair of novels published and says, " an example of how one can rise from the on-line ghetto of crime fiction."

Well, color me happy to be in this "ghetto" and having my short stories published in respected ezines that have published novelists like James Reasoner, Dave Zelterman, Hilary Davidson, Sophie Littlefield and a thousand other respected authors.

The Ghetto rules!!

Odds and Ends

In one of my Yahoo groups this blog link came up as a good place for aspiring mystery writers. Of course, I had a look-see. If you have grammar issues in your writing, they've got you covered. While the basic posts seem to be grammar lessons, at the top of the page you'll find links to all kinds of research sites and a list of reading that covers the entire mystery genre. Lots of good stuff here.

You'll find an interview with short story writer, Kate Thornton, over at the Writers Who Kill blog. It's always interesting to see how other writers work.

Jason Sanford has started a discussion on his blog about the difference between a writer and an author. Could it be as simple as having readers? Check it out here

If you're undecided about purchasing the new issue of Needle Magazine or even wondering what type of stories the magazine publishes, Mulholland Books has a sample for you. They've posted the short story "True Good" by Sophie Littlefield.

For fans of Ken Bruen, there's an appreciation post of his work over at Mysterious Matters.

And there's a new issue of Yellow Mama out on the virtual streets. url to the right.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grimms Fairy Tales

For those of you thinking of writing a Fairy Tale crime story for John Kenyon's contest, I found a site that has links to all the Brothers Grimm's stories. How cool is that?

Fredric Brown

Over at Bare Bones ezine there's a great essay by Jack Seabrook, "Fredric Brown: The Deadly Weekend", which looks at some of Fredric Brown's short stories and how he turned them into novels.

Anthology Calls

Dark Moon Books is a strange sort of press, submissions are all listed as contests. There's no fees and winners are published in their print magazine Dark Moon Digest and paid $10 plus a copy. Right now they're running a contest for a flash anthology called "Frightmares". The top word count is 500 words and the theme is "scare us". The top four stories receive in descending order $200 - $100 -$50 - $25 plus a random drawing for $50. You can find all the details at the above link.

The Harrow Press has a call out for a new anthology called "Mortis Operandi" The submission period begins on January 1, 2011 and closes when filled. They want shorts of 3000 to 6000 words that deal with an investigation of a crime and includes the supernatural in some significant role. Pay is $50 plus a copy You can find the details at

Pill Hill Press has a new online submission form and several new anthology calls with pay at 1/4 cent a word. You can find the listings at

And has a post filled with anthology calls and zines that have opened for submissions.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Right to Write

Sometimes you read something that feels like the author reached out and gave you a hug just when you needed it.

La Ronde - The Final Chapter

The final chapter of Patti Abbott's round robin challenge is "Problems in the Final Act" by Dan Fleming.

I have to say that I found this a fun challenge and was amazed by the stories that were written, all in a week's time and with characters we didn't know. Thanks for letting me join in the fun, Patti! And kudos to all the writers who contributed. It was a great experience.

A New Contest

Just received a note from writer, John Kenyon, who's decided to dip his toes in the contest arena. He's got a very cool idea - Crime and Fairy tales. You can check out the details below and you'll find John at this url: No entry fees and the prizes are short story collections from Tyrus Books!

Short story contest: Update a fairy tale as crime fiction
Perhaps it is a symptom of reading a lot from a book of fairy tales to my two-year-old of late, but I have been thinking of ways to update Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, et al as modern day crime fiction stories. It’s not a stretch: these stories are filled with sinister people committing fiendish acts against innocents.

Seeing how similar challenges across the web have yielded some top-notch fiction, I thought I would issue a challenge of my own:

Write a crime fiction story of between 1,000 and 3,000 words (with some flexibility on either end) that is based on the premise of an actual children’s fairy tale. For example, a story about a predatory thief based on “Little Red Riding Hood.” Post it to your blog or web site, or find someone who will do that for you. Put the link in the comments here. Do so by midnight on Jan. 14, Cinderella, or your coach to (the relative) fame and fortune (of modest web-based attention) will turn back into a pumpkin.

You don’t need to reveal which fairy tale you used as source material. While some will probably be obvious, others may not. Guessing can be part of the fun.

UPDATE: I will judge the stories, selecting first, second and third place stories. In addition, I’ll have a special “most inventive recasting of a fairy tale” award to present. Prizes come for the great and very generous folks at Tyrus Books. The winner will select two of their top-notch short story collections, and the second and third place finishers will each receive one. The special award will receive the mystery PDF book promised by Spinetingler’s Brian Lindenmuth in the comments below.

So, for those without young kids, refresh your memory of some favorite fairy tales, recast the entire thing as a crime fiction story, and get writing!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Wahoo!

The Winter issue of Needle Magazine is now available at You can read all about the new issue and ordering details (free shipping) here


It looks like Spinetingler is back up with a spiffy new look and 4 trailers from the new, "True Grit" movie!

Just My 2Cents

Everywhere I looked today the writing world is talking about that old saw, literary vs genre. This morning it finally struck me. A Literary novel is the book I have to read with a dictionary and an encyclopedia in my lap so I can understand what the writer is trying to tell me. Genre is a story I can get lost in without having to worry about whether I understand it or not. A skilled writer has learned how to fold the beauty of his words into a wonderful story that engages the reader. Does it really matter how the writing world views his work?

The purpose of any story, literary or genre, is to engage your readers, not impress your peers.

Sweet Linkage

Today we have links from all over the web with a little something for everyone!

If you haven't been keeping up, The Top Suspense group will be posting part 8 of their round robin story, "The Chase". You can catch up at and don't forget the one who guesses the authors of each piece wins the contest.

Pulp Metal Magazine is have a birthday celebration in honor of their first birthday. There's loads of new stories and all sorts of fun things.

Paul Brazill sent me a note about a new small press called Spectal Press. While submissions are invitation only, it's looks like they'll be publishing some pretty impressive authors.

Over at BookLife Now there's another Western post. This one questions several Western writers about "The Law of the Gun" and writing real people vs writing the myths.

Pulp Carnivale has announced that they'll be launching on January 31, 2011 and they're still open for submissions.

The lists of best short stories continues over at Death by Killing with lists from Nigel Bird, Michael Solender, John Kenyon, Chad Eagleton and me! Check them out - you'll find yourself drowning in great stories!

And if you missed Nano in November you might want to give Jano a try. The Sleuths Ink writers group is hosting this new novel writing month. And it might be a good way to kick start your writing in the new year. You can check them out at

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Musing

Last night I finished writing an 8600 word, three part steam punk serial that I've been working on. Is it done? Well, no. This morning I printed off the pages and will read through (yet again!) to find any mistakes, make sure of continuity from section to section and add a little bit more spit and polish.

Over the past few months as I've worked on this story I've discovered something about myself as a writer. I like to rush into a story. But that's good, right? Well, no it isn't, especially with a story this long. I had five thousand words down in one week when I discovered that I didn't have a clue what I was writing about and where this entire thing was going to end up. Boy, did that put the brakes on.

So what did I do? I started doing research about steampunk, reading steampunk short stories, and generally trying to figure out what in the hell steampunk was. After all that research, I still didn't know. I don't think anyone who's writing in this genre knows for sure. And the writing stalled, the story sitting in my computer files screaming to be finished and me too scared to pick the story up again.

Then two things happened that kicked me in the butt and got me writing again. I read an article by a sci-fi writer who explained everything she hated about steampunk and I read this fabulous story "Clockwork Fairies" by Cat Rambo and realized all the wonderful things that steampunk could be. And I started thinking, working out the story in my mind and scratching out details and ideas on a notepad.

Once I figured out what the story was about and who the characters were, I started pounding the keys again, tossing most of those first 5000 words to the curb. And boy, did that hurt. Now, my story isn't nearly as beautiful as Ms. Rambo's but I'm pretty proud of what I've written and how the story has unfolded. Hopefully the editor will feel the same way. But even if the story is rejected, it wasn't a waste of time because it was a great learning experience for me.

Moral of the story: Don't be afraid to try something new. Push yourself to try new things and new ways of writing. And for heaven's sake, don't stop learning about the craft, about new genres and read everything you can. Every genre can teach a writer something new and exciting to use in their own work.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Micro Award

For those of you who write flash, the 4th Annual Micro Award is open for submissions until December 31 for flash pieces of 1000 words or less that were published in 2010.

"Qualifying venues are any form of print or electronic publication designed for public display. Self-published stories are eligible." Authors may submit one story and zine and anthology editors may submit two.

There is a cash prize of $100 for the winning story selected by a panel of judges. You can find all the details at

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Market Notes

I ran across this anthology call at Charles Tan's most excellent blog. The anthology is Damnation & Dames to be published in 2012 by Australian publisher, Ticonderoga Publications. They're looking for short stories of 1000 to 7500 words where the paranormal and noir crime worlds collide. You have a lot of time to work on this one as the deadline is November 1, 2011. Pay is 2 copies plus Aus 2cents a word with a $150 cap. You can find all the details at Just scroll down the page a bit.

And looking at my stats today I found this referring url which is filled with all types of paying markets from non-fiction to contests and everything in between.

The Story Cupboard

It's either feast or famine around here isn't it? There's no links today, at least not this morning, but I thought I'd toss out a few story ideas that whizzed through my brain this morning while I was watching one of those morning "news" shows.

Now, I haven't been following the WikiLeak story at all. Yes, I've seen mention of it on the Yahoo home page but until this morning I didn't know how exciting it all was. Did you know that there were Hacktivists out there? And a cyber war being waged? Well, I didn't, but I love how new words spring up from the Internet and now a virtual war that affects real life is being waged out here in the ether. Hello?!? For sci-fi writers that must be an amazing idea churn.

But what about mystery writers, you ask? How about a virtual PI? A solitary man who walks those mean virtual streets seeking wisdom and lost children? Well, if Tron can skid around the 'net why not a PI?

Thriller writers? The vast reaches of Mega-Company is taking over the broadband and squeezing out the little guys. I'm sure all your spy types would have a ball combing the vast reaches of the 'net to pull the plug on Mega-Company. Women? Ah...all those porn sites are full of virtual sex for a spy to partake of.

For you literary types? I'm sure if you dig deep enough into a chat room or two, you'll find a passionate coming of age story full of tweet nothings. Yes, I'm being a wee bit snarky. But if you look hard enough, you'll find romance and danger just a mouse click and an imagination's leap away.

And yes, I have a brain that slides sideways in the face of reality. Don't you?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I received a note from Brian Lindenmuth about Spinetingler Magazine this morning. He asked me to pass the word along.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Spinetingler will be down for a few days. Spinetingler will be going through some behind the scenes stuff and making some behind the scenes changes. For the next few days, maybe up to a week, there will be no further content added to the site. There may be periods of time where the site is down. Don't panic, we're not going anywhere. Any questions reach out to us through the usual channels (email, Twitter, Facebook).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More Discount Noir Interviews

And the fabulous authors of "Discount Noir" are out and about answering questions today.

You'll find Cormac Brown "dancing with himself" in Nigel Bird's series of interviews at the Sea Minor blog

And Cullen Gallagher has a roundup of six over at his blog, Pulp Serenade And those six are:

Chad Eagleton
Loren Easton
Evan Lewis
Gerald So
Al Tucher
John Wegley

While you're over at Pulp Serenade, don't forget to check out the Gold Medal Western series that Cullen is running. And the Sea Minor "dancing with myself" series is just excellent, so be sure to check them out also.

The Chase - Part 2

Yes, I'm back again and there's one more post after this one. Some days there's just too much good stuff out there!

The Top Suspense group has part two of their round robin story, "The Chase". Go have a read and try and figure out which one of their authors has put their hand to this story.

Need a Story Idea?

I'm always surprised at what shows up in my email. This morning I opened it to find a link to "the 10 most infamous female criminals

There are story ideas everywhere!

UPDATE:  JULY 17, 2013  I was asked to remove this link as it was driving too much traffic to their site.  Go figure!

A Pair of Markets

I ran across a couple of new markets that tickled my fancy this morning.

This first one is for Scottish-born storytellers and they're looking for shorts up to 5000 words. The site is called McStorytellers and is hosted by author Brendan Gisby. This is a non-paying market. They already have quite a few stories up which you can find at the McBlog link on the home page or just click on the read button.

This second is a flash site called Spook City. Also a non-paying market, they are looking for poetry and flash up to 1000 words with supernatural themes in all the genres. This site also has stories up for your reading pleasure.

La Ronde - 10

The 10th installment of Patti Abbott's round robin challenge is now up. The story is "It's Raining Down in Texas" by Graham Powell.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Odds and Ends

A big congratulations to Brad Crowther, whose novella, "Politics Make Dead Bedfellows" won the 4th annual Black Orchid Novella Award Contest from the Nero Wolfe Society. And submissions are now open for the 5th contest. The deadline for this will be May 31, 2011. You can find out more about the contest and the submission details at Just scroll down the page for the links.

Brian Lindenmuth dropped me a note to say that Spinetingler has closed to submissions until 2011. There will be an announcement when they reopen.

And Schlock Magazine has listed their themes for 2011. The first is Prehistory with a February 1 deadline. The other themes in order are Exploration, Gothic, and Apocalypse. You can find all the details at

Via Bryon Quartermous' blog post at Do Some Damage on Sunday we were advised by Popcorn Fiction's editor, Derek Haas, that Popcorn Fiction is a paying market, currently paying $20 and hopefully $25.

Dark Scribe magazine has announced the finalists for the 4th annual Black Quill Awards. There's some very familiar names on the list, but what's great about these awards is short stories, single author collections, and anthologies are all included. Voting is open to the public, so stop on over and vote.

And the Top Suspense Group's round robin contest began today. You can find the details and read the first part of the story, "The Chase", here

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Sunday Morning Quote

Okay, I admit it, I stole this quote from Fred Zackel's post on Rara-Avis this morning, but hey it's a great way of looking at what we read and write. But I've got to say that I'm still not tossing my Georgette Heyer's. A girl has to have a little laughter and romance in her reading once in a while!

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? ... But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief." (Franz Kafka to Oskar Pollak, January 27, 1904)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More New Issues

I know I'm little late with this but there are some new zine issues out there on the virtual streets. Readers usually check out zines like Beat to a Pulp, Spinetingler, and A Twist of Noir that update daily or weekly but we tend to forget those monthly and quarterly zines. Thus the reminder, so you don't miss any of the good stuff.

The Winter issue of Dark Valentine went live yesterday and contains the western short story "Justice Served" by Edward A Grainger, pen name of friend of the Corner, David Cranmer. We've got a lot of Snoopy Dancing going on today!

The December issue of All Due Respect went live with "Times Past" by author Matthew C. Funk.

The Gum Shoe Review is up with lots of mystery novel reviews and the short story, "Joined at the Heart" by Walter Giersbach.

The November issue of New Mystery Reader is up with loads of reviews and an interview with author, Tom Franklin.

And we have more Westerns!! The December issue of Frontier Tales is up also. Don't forget to vote for your favorites!

Schlock's Western Issue

I just love it when editors drop by. Schlock Magazine editor, Michael Vella, left a comment on a post from back in February where I mentioned that Schlock was looking for subs for a Western themed issue. What did he have to say? Well, that issue has gone live.

And a big Snoopy Dance for friend of the corner and Jersey Devil Press editor, Eirik Gumeny, who has a story in that issue!! Wahoo!

Anthology Reviews

"Night Forms" by Francis M. Nevins is a single author collection reviewed by David Cranmer.

"Wings of Fire" edited by Jonathan Straham and Marianne S. Jablon is a multi-author fantasy collection of dragon stories and reviewed by Mark Rose.

From Patti Abbott's forgotten books series we have an oldie called "Techno-Noir". This is a multi-author collection edited by Eva Batonne and Jeffrey Marks and reviewed by Kevin Tipple.

A new reviewer has hung out his shingle at a place called Road House Reviews. Jack Hardway is reviewing crime ebooks for those who are looking for reviews of your collections/anthologies. He has two reviews up now one for a multi-author collection called "The Killer Wore Cranberry" edited by Jay Hartman and a single author anthology, "Inhuman Condition" by Kate Thornton.
You can check them out here

And while this isn't a review, Loren Eaton discusses his story in the ebook anthology, "Discount Noir", over at Gerald So's Chatterrific

Friday, December 3, 2010

Well, Lookee There

It's me! For more than you ever wanted to know about this Sandra Seamans person.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Sometimes you read a story and just have to share. "Venti Latte" by Brett Battles

Around the Blogs

I spotted all sorts of short story goodness while blog-hopping this morning.

The Do Some Damage folks are sponsoring a flash contest - Christmas Noir! They want 600 to 1000 words of your best degenerate Christmas stories. The deadline is December 19th but they'll be posting the stories on their blog as they come in. You can find all the details at And there's prizes. Check it out and get writing your best HO-HO-story.

Over at Death by Killing, Chris Rhatigan has started a great new series. He's invited crime writers from around the 'net to give him their top five crime stories from 2010. Up first is AJ Hayes with his picks. Check it out! Lots of great stories that you might not have discovered yet.

Those wonderful writers from the Top Suspense Group are having a contest. Starting December 6 they will be posting their round robin story. The person who can match all the writers to their stories wins. Check out the details at and don't forget to drop back on the sixth for the first installment of what's looking to be a great story!

Our fearless editor of "Discount Noir", Steve Weddle, is being interviewed over at Dana King's blog so be sure to check it out.

With a hat tip to David Cranmer we have a "Holiday Book Blog Catalog". Erin Cole has put together a catalog of books for your Christmas shopping pleasure. And there's quite a few anthologies included there.

And if you're as unorganized as I am and looking for a way to straighten out your writing life, here's a link from Brian Lindenmuth.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Market Notes

Southern Grit ezine has changed its submission process. They will be accepting submissions on a rolling basis and publishing them as they are accepted instead of in issues. You can check out the details here

And Popcorn Fiction has opened for subs. I was hoping for a paying market considering that Mulholland Books was involved, but no such luck. They're looking for shorts of 2000 to 8000 words but be advised that there's a very detailed three page contract that you have to sign to be published here.

First of the Month Market Calls

You've got to love the first of every month. Why, you ask? Because there's markets open for your short stories!

My first stop on the first of every month is Duotrope's Recent Updates link where you'll find a list of 28 markets that have opened for new subs. Among them is Beat to a Pulp and Ghost Light Magazine

Also on that page is a listing of new markets and a few anthology calls, the best being a new one from Innsmouth Free Press. "Candle in the Attic Window" is looking for Gothic Horror of 2000 to 10,000 words. The pay is 1cent a word CAD with a minimum of $30 and a max of $70. They open for subs on January 1st and close February 28 of 2011 so you have plenty of time to get a story written and polished. You can find the details here

Over at I found a contest for short story collections. The contest is sponsored by Dzanc Books with a December 31 deadline and a $20 reading fee. The winner receives a $1000 advance. You can find all the details at You have to scroll down the page a bit.

And Dark Valentine is open to subs for their Spring 2011 issue until February 4, 2011. The pay here is $10. While you're there be sure to read through the first page of the site as there are several horror market calls mentioned for those of you who write in that genre.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Get Along Little Doggies

Don't forget to slap on your holsters and that ten gallon hat you've got hidden in the closet and head on over to Pulp Serenade for a look at the Gold Medal Westerns. Cullen Gallaher will be your guide through the wonderful world of old time Westerns.

Anthology Review

"Dead Core 4: 4 Hardcore Zombie Novellas" is a multi-authored horror anthology from Comet Press and reviewed by Walt Hicks.


Print magazine, "Bete Noire", opens for submissions tomorrow and will remain open until December 31. The pay here is $10. Their first issue is now available for sale. You can find their guidelines at

For our flash fiction writers Fast Forward Press is open for submissions of stories up to 1000 words until December 31 for their next anthology. The pay here is one copy. You can find the details at

And one for our reviewers, which I found over at You can win $500 for a 500 word review of Derek Murphy's soon to be released, "Jesus Potter, Harry Christ". The first chapter is already available on the site and you will be able to download the entire book on December 21. You then post your review on Amazon and the review with the most "yes this was helpful votes" wins. You can find all the details at

La Ronde Tuesday

Yep, it's Tuesday and part nine of Patti Abbott's La Ronde series is up. "Knocked Out Loaded" by Kassandra Kelly can be found here

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some Reading Links

It's been a while since I put together an anthology of online stories that I've enjoyed reading but this morning I read three flash pieces that just seemed to beg linkage.

All For Love

"Fool Me Twice" by Richard Prousch

"Why I Should Avoid Married Women" by Jim Harrington

"The Arrangement" by Ed Laird

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Anthology Reviews

If you're almost done with your Black Friday/Weekend shopping and need a few stocking stuffers, check out these reviews.

"Thin Ice: Crime Stories by New England Writers" edited by Mark Ammons, Kat Fast, Barbara Ross and Leslie Wheeler and reviewed by Christine Zibas.

"Dead Even" is a single author collection of crime stories written by Frank Zafiro and reviewed by Asa Maria Bradley

And while he probably doesn't need my little bit of linkage to make a sale, Stephen King has a new book of novellas out. I'm not a big fan of King's novels, but I love his short stories. "Full Dark, No Stars" is reviewed by Bev Vincent

Rules to Submit By?

I've started a post several times today but couldn't seem to find anything much to say. There's not a whole lot happening on the market front which had me thinking about something I read on a blog recently.

A writer said she was still writing but didn't see any sense in sending anything out during the holiday season. Now, this seemed a bit silly to me because the magazine offices are still open, aren't they? It's not like everything totally closes down from Thanksgiving to New Years. I'll grant that you might get a slower response but still, it's there, in front of an editor.

I remember an article in Writer's Digest once that passed along the advice that you should never submit stories in September and January because everyone else would be submitting and you'd just get lost in the slush pile. I can see the reasoning behind those two months but if you're already sending out work every month why stop just because a whole lot of rookies are tossing their stories into the pile?

How about you, do you have any hard and fast rules about when to submit your stories? For me, if a story feels ready, I send it out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

For those of you in the states celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you've had a wonderful day filled with family and friends. And while it's not a holiday for the rest of the world, I wish for those not celebrating, the same gift of friends and family. There's nothing better in life than to share good times with family and friends.

I'd also like to say thank you to all of you who drop by the Corner and share your thoughts and wisdom about short stories and writing. You've been a blessing, and I'd like to share with you a Thanksgiving short story by one of the masters. O. Henry is probably best know for his Christmas short story, "The Gift of the Magi" but his Thanksgiving story, "Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen" is just as heartbreakingly beautiful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interviews Galore

Over the past few days I've read some very interesting interviews and thought you might enjoy them also.

David Cranmer has a two part interview on his blog with "Hard Boiled" magazine's creator, Wayne Dundee.

If you haven't heard about the Top Suspense group yet, I'll assume you've been living in a cave somewhere without Internet service. What you might not have heard is that they've started a blog and there's an interview up with Bill Crider. You can find the blog here Their website has links to some ebook short story collections and novels by the amazing authors in this group. Okay, I've got to name drop here - Bill Crider, Ed Gorman, Vicki Hendricks, Max Allan Collins, Harry Shannon and Dave Zeltserman. How can you go wrong with a group like that?

Speaking of Vicki Hendricks, there's a wonderful "Dancing with Myself" interview with Vicki over at Nigel Bird's excellent Sea Minor blog.

And we have an interview with short story writer, Patti Abbott, here

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Market Notes

With the holidays about to grab us by the throat, there's not much in the way of market news but I did manage to scape up a few tid-bits that might be helpful.

D.L. Snell has an interview up with anthology editor, Christopher Allan Death. I mentioned his anthology call for "Clones and Crucifixes", back a week or so ago if anyone is working on a story for this market. You'll find the interview here has posted their November list of submission calls here

And while this isn't a short story call, I thought I'd mention that Comet Press is open to novel submissions of horror, dark crime, and suspense/thriller manuscripts. You can find the details at Comet Press has been publishing anthologies that have attracted some well-known authors.

La Ronde 8

The eighth installment of Patti Abbott's round robin challenge is called "La Ronde" by Nigel Bird. You can check it out here

Monday, November 22, 2010

Discount Noir Around the Web

Authors from that cool ebook anthology, "Discount Noir" have been spotted around the web this past weekend.

Patti Abbott, editor of the anthology, tells how the anthology was pulled together in a guest blog post over at Paul Brazill's blog.

And over at Chatterrific, Gerald So is hosting several authors who reveal the origins of their stories and what they love about flash fiction. Who will you find over there?

Jay Stringer
Albert Tucher
Jack Bates
Eric Beetner
Kathleen A. Ryan

A stellar lineup, so what are you still doing here? Go...find out what "Discount Noir" is all about.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Musings

I've had a few odd thoughts rolling around my head of late and it's been a while since I had a Sunday musing post, so I thought, why not?

Last night the cats knocked my computer tower on the floor. It dented the metal floor lamp stand, shattered the plastic face of the tower, and scared the crap out the cats - I haven't seen them run that fast in years! Thankfully it was unplugged for the night, so there were no fireworks, tripped breakers or explosions (do computers explode?) and I went to bed wondering if I was cut off from my writing world. As you can see, when I plugged it in this morning, it worked, and I even laughed at myself for worrying about what I was going to miss. But damn...we're so connected, aren't we? I laugh at all those people with cell phones surgically attached to their ears but I'm almost as bad with my computer. Which makes me wonder if we would have survived the isolation that our ancestors lived with as they pioneered their way across this country? No communication with family for years, your husband heads out on a hunting trip and comes back months later. Every stranger who shows up on your doorstep is a link to civilization with news of the world, or someone who might kill you in your bed. Pretty scary when you think about it!

Zombies!?! Yes, I watched "The Walking Dead" but I still don't get zombies. They stagger around eating brains, you can easily outrun them unless they're a mob, but heck, human mobs are nearly as dangerous, and a shot to the head kills them. But why are some people affected and not others? Did they have a secret vaccine in their back pocket? Are Zombies a reflection of Purgatory? I get the romance of Vampires with their eternal sexy and all, but there ain't nothing sexy about zombies, so what is their appeal? The nerd version of eternal life as compared to the vampire jocks?

Steampunk. For the last few months I've been reading steampunk stories and essays and trying to figure out what exactly steampunk is. And the truth is, I don't think anyone really knows. You toss a little steam, goggles, brass machines and characters dressed in Victorian haberdashery into your story and viola - Steampunk. But there are more definitions, it's adventure, it's alternate universe, it's fantasy and magic and science and even literary. The hardest thing to understand is the culture that's sprung up outside of the written word. People seem more interested in creating steam machines and jewelry and clothing than they are in actually reading or writing the stories. So is steampunk just a fashion statement or is it a real and lasting genre?

So, what's on your mind this lovely Sunday morning?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Anthology Reviews

"Other Likely Stories" is a single author collection by Debra Leigh Scott and reviewed by Elizabeth White.

"Trio of Sorcery" is a collection of three novellas by Mercedes Lackey and reviewed by Lesa Holstine.

And Patti Abbott's Forgotten Books series has brought us two older anthologies to be on the look-out for.

"Fedora III" edited by Michael Bracken and reviewed by Kevin Tipple.

"Supernatural Sleuths" edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh is reviewed by Bill Crider

Don't forget to drop on over to Spinetingler today and read the last of the short story reviews from "The Best American Noir of the Century"

Market News

The zombies seem to be taking over the world lately. Books of the Dead issued a call for novels and novellas yesterday with a January 31, 2011 deadline. 40,000 to 120,000 words. They're paying an advance and royalties. Now, the deadline on this page says 2010 but the call was posted to their blog yesterday, so I'm assuming they meant 2011 for their deadline. Here's the call A hat tip to Paul Brazill who sent me the link.

Linger Fiction is a brand new zine looking to launch their first issue on January 1. They're looking for poetry and short stories in the fantasy, sci-fi, and horror genres. The pay is $10 for shorts to 5000 words, $5 for poetry and flash stories of 500 to 1000 words. The featured story will receive an extra $20. You can find all the details here

I may have mentioned Romance Flash before. They're looking for flash stories up to 1000 words and they're now paying $3 per story. They have an online submission form.

And Yellow Mama has closed to submissions until January 1.

Getting Unstuck

I'm working on a story that doesn't want to come together quite yet. The ideas keep piling up, intruding on what's written, moving the story in directions I hadn't seen when I first started. In other words, I've got a massive mess on my hands.

When I feel like a story is beginning to overwhelm me I turn to some of my writing books for advice. In this case it was "How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction" which was published by Writer's Digest Books. The book is one of the first I bought. Whole sections are underlined, there's notes in the margins and paper clips hold together the sections that are falling apart and threatening to disappear. But every time I open the book I discover something new, something that helps me move my story along.

Last night I found this passage which I find both comforting and powerful:

"Thus, it is not only the call to self that motivates the storytellers; it is also the spirit that took David out to meet Goliath - the urge to issue a challenge to something beyond themselves, which may be more horrifying than they can bear, and then to return intact." --Katherine Ramsland

How about you? Do you have a favorite writing book, or quote? What gets you through the tough patches when you're writing?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Around the Web

Over at Suvudu, Paul Tremblay shares five facts about his new collection of shorts, "In the Mean Time". If you enjoy podcasts, you can listen to some of the stories from this collection via the publisher. You will find all the details here

This link is for our Western writers primarily, but if you're having trouble with setting this is a great post full of helpful tips on getting the setting right in your story.

And don't forget that Spinetingler is continuing the short story reviews of "Best American Noir of the Century" today.

If you're looking for more noir novels, Keith Rawson has added his list of twenty to the ether. You can read it here to find out what you might have missed in your noir reading. Oh yes, a hat tip to Ian Ayris for the link, and if you haven't stopped by his blog, The Voices in My Head, you're missing a great source for finding all sorts of surprises around the web.

For those of you looking to learn more about Steampunk, stop on over to At the top of the page you'll find links to some great Steampunk stories, heck, they've got a wonderful collection of sci-fi stories on the site along with essays about steampunk and everything else. My find today at the site was a link to some essays about the work of Richard Matheson.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Story Cupboard

When you live in the country your local newspaper can be a great source of story inspiration. Our local paper prints up the local and state police reports. Some of the reports would make great hard-boiled or noir stories, but so far this November, there's been a few humorous items that would make for great stories.

One gentleman reported that $4000 worth of fishing equipment was stolen from his boat, a boat that was parked in his yard. Since the robbery time was estimated between the 1 and 25 of October, I'm guessing he had a cover on the boat and didn't discover the theft until he was launched on the lake and all set to cast out that first lure. I can see the expression on his face. If you toss in a feuding neighbor and a fishing contest, you could have a lot of fun with this one.

This next one really had me chuckling as to the possibilities. A call of shots fired from a vehicle at 9:30 pm set our local officers out on patrol. Now shots fired at night around here are pretty common and they usually warrant a call to the game wardens, not the cops. The chuckles came from the 9:50 pm report of public indecency when officers were flashed by a group of juveniles who then fled into their mobile home park trailers evading capture. You guessed it, the same area where the shots fired report came from. If you've ever seen the movie "Porkys" you can guess the line that popped into my head! "Make them drop their pants, I can identify them."

Noir Anthologies

This seems to be the day for reviews of "Best American Noir of the Century" edited by Otto Penzler and James Ellroy.

Over at Bookgasm the review is an over-all look at this collection by Alan Cranis

At Spinetingler Magazine, from now until Friday, there will be reviews of each story in the anthology done by such readers as Gary Phillips, Chris Holm, Patti Abbott, and Steve Mosby, to name only a few of the folks who are writing the reviews. The first look at the book is already up and reviews will be posted every hour. You'll find them all under this url

And on the e-book anthology front we have "Discount Noir" doing an interesting bit of advertising. Some of the authors are doing guest blog posts detailing how they came up with the inspiration for their stories. It's always fun to see how a writer's mind works. From "Discount Noir":

Kieren Shea's "One in the Big Box"

Bill Crider's "Their Fancies Lightly Turned"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Market Links

If you're looking for a few new markets you might give these links a try. has a long list of both novel and short stories markets that have opened in the horror genre. has a bunch of new listings including a YA contest. Both paying and non-paying. also has some new market links up that include one YA, some contests and non-fiction markets.

Lots of good stuff if you're in the market. :)

Popcorn Fiction

Over at Mulholland Books they've made an announcement that they're going into partnership with the short story site "Popcorn Fiction". There's an interview with editor, Derek Haas, on the site

And at the Popcorn Fiction site, you find some great shorts to read and under the letter to the editor tab you'll find the news that the site will be opening to general submissions sometime in the future. Now that, is very cool news.

La Ronde 7

And once again it's Tuesday and time for part seven of Patti Abbott's round robin story. This week's chapter is brought to you by Eric Beetner in a story titled, "Mirror Image" You can find it here

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anthology Reviews

"Glitter Rose" is a single author collection by Marianne dePierres and reviewed by Charles Tan. I was looking for an online short story that I could link to for this author but found that most of her stories are in print venues. You can find out more about her at

I've been a fan of Kate Thornton's short fiction for a long time. She's one of those writers who unfolds such gentle stories that the readers are always surprised to find themselves crushed under the noirish endings that they rarely see coming. Her single author collection is called "Inhuman Condition: Tales of Mystery and Imagination" and reviewed by Jackie Houchin If you'd like a taste of Kate's writing drop on over to A Twist of Noir and read her story, "Part-Time Job"

And last is for an older anthology called "Tequila Sunrise" by Michael Bracken and reviewed by Kevin Tipple as part of Patti Abbott's Forgotten Books series.
Though this story isn't about the same PI featured in the collection, you can get a taste for Michael's PI stories with his short, "My Client's Wife"

If you haven't looked through The Thrilling Detective's fiction archives, you really ought to. The collection of authors on this site is simply amazing. Fans of Ray Banks', Cal Innes, will find several short stories featuring Cal. You will also find stories from Dave White, Laura Lippman, and Duane Swierczynski, just to name a few of the great authors. So go, take a read through the archives. There's no better way to acquaint yourself with an author's work than through their short stories.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some Friday Linkage

Just a bit of linkage today.

This one is about Westerns, McCarthy vs McMurtry in particular, but there are many others as well. This link came through the Rara Avis group.

Brian Lindenmuth sent me a pair a links about writing. The first is how to make your writing memorable, the second is about cardboard villains. Thanks, Brian!

Over at Booklife Now, Jeff Vandermeer has an excellent essay on rejuvenating you imagination.

If you enjoy listening, Steve Steinbock has just the thing for you. This week he's hosting a forum on hard-boiled heroes over at the Audio Book Community. You can find the various links and all the details here And hey, there's free downloads of 2 minute noir!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Back in August I posted a link to Last Rites Publishing. They were launching a new zine and had 4 anthology calls listed. Now, according to Duotrope, they've closed up shop due to legal problems. Here's the original listing The anthology calls were:

Section 8: Tales from the Psychiatric Ward
Disciples of Poe
Experiment in Homicide
Terror, Horror, Gore

It's not a good day for the anthology market. And I'm thinking that I'll steer clear of posting calls from new and non-paying press, as this one was.

I wonder sometimes if people just suddenly decide to start up a press without looking into all the legal ramifications that come with starting a business or if they think writing is just a game that you can jump into and out of on a whim. Sure is discouraging.


This past weekend NoirCon was in full swing down in Philly. Cullen Gallagher has an impressive rundown of the event over at his blog, Pulp Serenade And, of course, the NoirCon blog is also host to an amazing assortment of information about the con

Over at Do Some Damage, John McFetridge takes a look at noir and wonders if it couldn't be just a tad more upbeat.

Back again. Some days I just have these duh! moments. I still want what you consider the essential noir shorts but I should have added that Otto Penzler and James Ellroy have put together a collection of "Best American Noir of the Century". A very impressive collection, by the way.

While this isn't precisely noir, there are quite a few noir stories included in Patti Abbott's post asking for your favorite single author collection of shorts. There's quite a list.

And just a silly noir note: blogger's spellchecker considers noir misspelled, their options are nor, Nair, coir.

Sad Anthology News

Since I posted these anthology calls, I felt that I should also post the news that they've been delayed by the publisher, Norilana Books. The anthologies are:

Lace and Blade 3
Warrior Wisewoman 4
The Ladies of Trade Town
Scheherazade's Facade
Clothesline World

You can find all the details and a few updates at

Also affected by this decision is Clockwork Phoenix 4. You can find the editor's take on this decision here

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Friend of the Corner, Albert Tucher, emailed me this explanation of the ISBN number and gave me permission to pass the information along:

"Now you've done it, Sandra. You've awakened my librarian's didactic soul :-)

The International Standard Book Number is a unique identifying number. Anyone who issues a book can acquire ISBNs from the Brodart Company. They're essential, because distributors like Amazon, Ingram and Baker & Taylor can't or won't handle a book without an ISBN. It's a little strange that a publisher would try to do without the ISBN.

ISBNs were originally ten digits long, but they were recently converted to 13-digit barcode format."

Thanks, Al!