Wednesday, June 30, 2010

All Over the Place

And yes, the links today have no theme at all, rather scattered, like everything in life. Hopefully you'll find something useful for your writing.

Mark Newton has an interesting post about show, don't tell on his blog today. There's also a link in his post that takes you to an LA Times article by John Rechy from 2002 that explores the three rules every writing program uses and why and how you should break them. And the rules?

1. Show, don't tell.
2. Write what you know.
3. Always have a sympathetic character for the reader to relate to.

Deborah Ross has an essay up at the Book View Cafe blog with tips for writing warm-ups when you're in procrastination mode.

If the warm ups don't work for you consider dropping over to Duotrope and checking out their theme calender. There's a theme for everyone.

Paul Brazill dropped me note to say that Pulp Metal Magazine has changed it website and url. The new url is I dropped by and found that their new home is both easier to read and navigate.

The June issue of Gemini Magazine has gone live with new stories and the winners of their flash contest. You can check out the new issue here

Evil Cat Press is starting up a new horror magazine called "Death Rattle" The zine will be available free online in pdf format plus they will be making a print copy available as well. They're looking for short stories from 1000 to 10,000 words and poetry up to 100 lines. The pay is $10 per story. You can find all the details at

And if you'd like to try your hand at writing non-fiction about the mystery, crime or thriller field drop on over to Spinetingler, they're looking for new contributors. You can find all the details at

Oh yes, I almost forgot that Out of the Gutter Magazine has extended the issue 7 deadline from July 15 to August 15 for those who are polishing your stories.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Just discovered that ThugLit is no longer taking submissions!!

Odds and Ends

Dropped in on the local Strawberry Festival/Book Sale on Saturday afternoon. I went armed with a list of authors and book titles, of which I found none. But I did find some unexpected treasures.

Larry Brown's "Big Bad Love" I opened expecting a novel but was thrilled to find it was a collection of his short stories. Yahoo! I've been watching out for anything by Ken Bruen since our library has no idea who he is and found "The Magdalen Martyrs". Oh, Happy Day! My first Bruen and it had just been donated to the sale that morning! William G. Tapply was another author whose books I couldn't find and I lucked into one from his Brady Coyne series. I've been doing a bit of research on Steampunk, which was the list I had, and found instead "An Illustrated Short History of the World" by H.G. Wells, who along with Jules Verne, is the foundation for Steampunk writing. Hopefully it will give me some insight into his writing world.

If you ever need to cover one of your characters in blood without actually killing them - give them a scalp wound. My son came running into the house yesterday afternoon covered in blood. Since he had four kids swarming around him, I was trying to find out which one of them was hurt and how bad. It was none of them. He'd slipped in the creek and hit his head on a rock, tiny cut, no stitches needed, but he looked like he was bleeding to death. Scared the crap out of everyone for a few minutes!

It's looking like another zine has bit the dust. The linkage to Pine Tree Mysteries isn't working and it looks like they might have shut down the site.

If you're stuck on a story and think you've got a bad case of writer's block, drop on over to Storytellers Unplugged and read Richard Dansky's latest essay.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Market Notes and a Short Story Link

For those of you who write romance, you might be interested in Desert Breeze Publishing. They publish both print and ebooks but for you short story writers they also publish novellas of 25,000 to 35,000 words with 30,000 being the sweet spot for them. They want classic love stories in a variety of genres but no erotica. Pay is 35% of net royalties. You can find the payment schedule under the FAQ tab. Here's the link to the submission guidelines

With a hat tip to Michael Bracken we have! They're looking for hard genre fiction (mystery, sci-fi, horror) with pay at a penny a word with a $10 cap. There's no pay for super shorts of twitter length up to 200 words. Regular short stories should be no more than 5000 words. You can find all the details at I've also put this link over on the left.

Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine (FMAM) is looking to put together an anthology of mystery fiction for publication in 2011 through Twilight Times Books. The submission dates are August 15 to September 5. You can find all the details at You'll have to scroll down the page.

And Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers will be reopening to submissions on July 1. Be sure to check out their guidelines for changes they've made to their submission requirements.

I haven't posted a link to a short story for a while (shame on me) but for fans of the Woodrell style of writing you might enjoy "Hawkins Boy" by Charles Dodd White over at Pank Magazine.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Short Notes

Michael Bracken sent me a pair of links from the Strange Horizons guideline pages. Even if you don't write horror or sci-fi they're worth a look because the editors have listed over-done story ideas. As I read through the list, I wondered if there was anything left to write about. Then I remembered - always think outside the box, and if you have a prompt, go with idea 365 not your first or second thought. Here's your links and

And if you're in Houston, Texas this weekend drop on by ApolloCon. Michael will be on a panel moderated by another excellent short story writer, Bill Crider. I'm jealous of you guys who can attend that panel. Should be a fun time.

For fans of the Dick Tracy comic strip, there's a new website that's been set up as a tribute to the comic strip called Plainclothes There are several familiar names to mystery and comic book readers including Max Allen Collins.

Dave Zeltserman has set up a new blog for his short story character Julius Katz. He has several posts up and this looks like its going to be a fun blog. And an interesting way to bring attention to his new short story characters. For short story writers with series characters this might be something to keep an eye on. Novelists set up this type of blog and website for their characters, so, why not for shorts?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In the Land of Make-Believe

I was out and about this morning running down some links when I came across this post over at CrimeSpace Reading through the post I wanted to just scream at this woman to wake up. Does no one see animals for what they really are? Yes, they're cute and cuddly, but they're also wild creatures, from that cute little kitten in your lap to the big bad wolf in your backyard, and they will turn on you without warning because it's their nature. Something people tend to forget.

Now, I'm not advocating killing a bunch of animals in your stories just because you can, that's just plain stupid. But why should readers get so upset when it does happen in the course of a story? It is pretty well documented that serial killers start out small by killing dogs and cats and detectives are going to discover this fact in the course of their investigation. If a robber or a cop walks into a room with an attacking pit bull, should we kill the human and just bury him in the backyard so the dog can live? Will that make our story ring true or will we just be pandering to the sensitivities of the readers?

Like serial killers, animals are predatory, though for different reasons. Like victims, they'll fight back when they or their off-spring are threatened. How do I know this? I've been kicked and bunted by cows when I've gotten between them and their calves. I've been bitten by cats, dogs, horses, and yes, even bunny rabbits, just because they felt threatened by my presence or were having a bad day. I even owned a rooster who tried to scratch my eyes out every time I fed him. I've been stalked by coyotes when I've been out picking blackberries and seen a wolf standing over a deer he'd just taken down by the side of the road. In the woods up back there are bears with babies, we steer clear of them. Animals are a big part of my life and I adore them, but I've also faced the reality that they're no more perfect than I am. We co-exist on this land, but if they threaten my family, I won't hesitate to grab the shotgun.

The Game Commission has recently released mountain lions and wolves into our area and if you go back through the old histories of our county you'll find that, yes, all these creatures were native to the region. You'll also find that they were killed to preserve human life because children were tasty and easier to catch than rabbits and mice. When living with nature's creatures we have to find a balance that works for both. And when writing our stories we need to seek that balance of what's true and real.

Now, I'm not saying that you should go about killing animals in your stories but be aware that sometimes, in some stories, you'll find it necessary. And when you stop to think about it, as a reader, would you rather the cat got killed instead of a child as a warning? Or are human beings more disposable than animals, both in life and in the land of Make-Believe?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

From the Idea Cupboard

Sometimes when I'm trolling for links I find that nearly everything to be said about writing has been said. From newbie to pro we've all pretty much figured out the "rules" and when to break them. We know how to search and study the markets to see if our stories are a fit. And we know that the most important part of writing is to get our butts in the chair and work.

So you sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard and....the ideas have left the room. If that happens to you, this post by Penny Warner over The Lady Killers blog might help.

I've found that the local news is a good source. Just this morning a house almost caught fire when someone set fire to a bag of papers on the porch. The local police believe that it was just a prank by some local kids. One of several to be exact, pranks and kids.

Back in the Spring a skeleton was found hanging in a tree and it wasn't a Halloween decoration. It was the body of a man who police were looking to arrest. The charge? Alleged pedophile. My first thought wasn't suicide, especially since he went missing before hunting season and no one found his body in the woods.

And there was another skeleton found near the homes of two girls who went missing last year. Turns out it wasn't either of them, but a body dump of a young woman from another state. What are the odds of that?

There are stories everywhere, all you have to do is open your mind and let your imagination take control.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Genre Boundaries

A gentleman in the SMFS group this morning asked how a horror market could be a mystery market which made me think about how all the pigeon-holing of genre has made things more difficult for both writers and readers.

For many mystery/crime writers there are only three markets for their mystery fiction, Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock and Woman's World. These are the top drawer, highest paying, professional markets for short mystery fiction. That is a very narrow view of what mystery fiction can be.

I've been reading some of the old Hitchcock anthologies and they are filled with stories that blur the lines into both horror and sci-fi and they're considered classic mystery stories. So, why the change? Why have we taken a more narrow view of what constitutes mystery fiction?

Stories with serial killers, stalkers, home invasions, and hostage situations can all find homes within the horror venues. Many of the horror markets are begging for this type of story, they're tired of the hacker/slasher stories filled with blood and gore. They want those pulse-pounding stories that mystery/crime writers are so good at crafting.

If you take a look at any genre, from literary to fantasy, you'll usually find a crime of some type at the heart of the story. And it doesn't have to be murder, it can be any incident that changes the life of your character, something that makes them rethink how they're living their lives, changes the way they do things, and even turns them from prey to predator.

So, here's the question for today. Do you think outside the genre box when you're looking for a market for your shorts or do you keep the market search pinpointed strictly to the genre you're writing? And, if you find a market outside of your genre fence, do you consider tweaking your story just enough to make it fit into the new market?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spinetingler Contest

Sharpen your pencils, boys and girls, Spinetingler has launched a new writing contest. The theme is revenge and you have 1000 to 1450 words to spin your tale. The deadline is July 21 and the contest is open as of today. The top six stories will be published in Spinetingler this fall. First prize is $25, second $15, and third is $10. You can find all the details at this link

Monday Market News

Finally a few markets to post about! Things have been a bit slow on the market front, which I'm sure you've noticed. Summers and Holidays tend to slow things down, especially for zines where the folks in charge aren't backed by a company and the kids are home from school and demanding attention.

SnipLits opened for submissions today. They accept all genres of stories but you have to check the guidelines for which months they accept the genre your story fits. They've opened with fantasy, historical fiction, literary, paranormal/supernatural, and sci-fi/spec. They accept both original and reprints for their podcasts and payment depends on several variables. For our Western writers, October and November are your months and for Mystery/Suspense it's August through November. You can find all the details at

With thanks to Paul Brazill we have an e-book anthology from the publishers of Full of Crow magazine called "Ward Stories" They're looking for shorts of any length related to mental illness. The deadline is September 1 with publication in October. This is a non-paying market and you can find all the details at If you're considering this market you can find an interview with editor, Lynn Alexander, over on Jim Harrington's excellent blog Six Questions For.

And a fledgling market via Duotrope, Flag Ship. A new podcast venture by Flying Island Press is looking for short stories of 3000 to 7000 words in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. They're billing themselves as the modern equivalent of Astounding Stories circa 1950, with uplifting stories with heroes and villains filled with thrills and chills. The pay is $25. You can find all the details at

And if you're tired of submitting and thinking about publishing your own work, you'll find this post, "Why Robin Sloan is the Future of Publishing (and Science Fiction)" over at Wet Asphalt very interesting. The times they are a changing!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Musing

Yesterday the mail-lady dropped "Winter's Bone" by Daniel Woodrell into my mailbox and I've just closed the cover on the last chapter. It's been a long time since I've lost myself so completely in the words of an author. I'll admit that it took me a couple of chapters to get past all the description but as I kept reading the descriptions folded themselves into the story so's you didn't notice them so much.

What a beautiful book and not the story I was expecting from previous novels I've read by Mr. Woodrell. If you haven't had a chance to read this book, find a copy and dive in. The only downside for me, was realizing I was never going to be able to write such beautiful prose, but it will be something I'll strive for in future writing.

I've been struggling with the concept of noir in my own writing but this quote from Mr. Woodrell has put that struggle into perspective for me.

"The use of the term noir is too limiting. When I first used "country noir" to describe my work I didn't realize that, but the word noir is defined so many ways by so many people that it is essentially useless as a descriptive term. And my own definition is very strict, has definite requirements, especially for endings, and I don't always want the music of the ending to be preordained by allegiance to form or structure."

Words to write by, my friends, words to write by. Let the story sing its own song.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Commandments to Write By

Michael Bracken sent me a link today that pretty much sums up how to write the best story that you can. Thank you, Michael!

And a new issue of Plots with Guns has hit the virtual streets today. You can check it out here Lots of stories with familiar crime fiction names such as Dennis Tafoya, Frank Bill and Kieran Shea. Just out of curiosity, Mr. Smith, when can we expect to see an all female issue?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We're Scattered Today

Over at Spinetingler, editor, Jack Getze, let off a little steam and passed along some advice on how to piss off the publication you're submitting to. The upside for the rest of us is that there might be a contest in the works.

By now most of you in the crime fiction world have heard about Little, Brown's new imprint, Mulholland Books. This statement in their press release really had me scratching my head though. "The goal of Little, Brown's Mulholland Books is simple: to publish books you can't stop reading." Well, duh!?! Isn't that the goal of every book that's published?

Brian Lindenmuth passed along a pair of links about writing that I found interesting. While they're mostly about writing non-fiction, the rules can also apply to shorts.

Jim Jackson, who blogs at Writers Who Kill, sent me a link to his latest post about the reasons he writes short stories

Naomi Johnson has announced the winners of The Watery Grave Invitational.

1. Nigel Bird
2. Joe Hartlaub
3 Chad Eagleton

You can find the entire list here The stories will be posted later this week for your reading pleasure.

And Paul Brazill sent me a link to a post by a guest blogger on his blog. Ian Ayis writes about getting started in writing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Market Notes

There's a new issue of Yellow Mama out on the virtual streets. And no, I'm not in this one, but there are a lot of great writers that are!

Over in the flash column there's a link to the sci-fi zine AlienSkin but, sad to say, after eight years of publishing this great zine, they're closing up shop. They've just published their last issue but their archives will remain open. They have published some wonderful articles about writing on this site. My favorite was one about why you shouldn't write a story from a dead man's point of view.

Over at Duotrope I came across a couple of new markets that look interesting.

"The Red Penny Papers" will post its first issue September 1 and will open to subs for their second issue at that time. That gives you lots of time to check them out and get a story ready if you're interested. They're looking for pulp stories with a speculative element and they adore werewolves, vampires and all your various yummy monster sorts. Short stories of 1000 to 5000 words will be paid a penny a word and serials from 10,000 to 25,000 will be paid $50 for 10k, $75 for 15K, and $100 for $20k stories. You can find all the details at

The second market is a new podcast venture call "The Way of the Buffalo". They're looking for short stories under 3000 words in any genre and they'll accept reprints. The pay is a penny a word with a $10 cap. You can find the details at

And on a personal note, I've just been elected president of the SMFS. I'm not sure if I'm thrilled or scared to death of the prospect.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You're Not Done Yet

Most of writing is rewriting. If you're new to putting words on paper, you'll find this a hard "rule" to appreciate. I remember getting the words down and thinking, wow! ain't that perfect? The truth was a far cry from my beliefs and it took me a good long while to realize that when fellow writers and editors offered advice they were trying to help, not ridicule my efforts. Now, I find the joy in rewriting and making the story the best it can be.

Over at BookFox today I found a couple of posts that put the truth to these sentiments. The first is a post by Mr. Fox This one is about letting yourself be wrong and realizing that your first draft is going to be crap.

The second post had a link to an article about JG Ballard, the author of "Empire of the Sun". This article reminded me of something that Michael Bracken mentioned. Today's writers don't keep several drafts of their stories because with computers we just delete what doesn't work. I find that sad in a way because we're not privy to a writer's process anymore.

And lastly, after you realize you really do need to rewrite and take advice, here's an essay by Brit Mandelo over at about taking advice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Reading Notes

I've been on a bit of a reading binge lately, mostly shorts. I devoured Needle magazine, loving that I had a story in with a group of writers whose work I've come to enjoy. Every story was a gem, but I'm going to just single out two.

I especially enjoyed Patti Abbott's story, "I am Madam X's Bodyguard". It wasn't what I've come to expect from Patti. Usually the plots of her stories carry me along, but with this one, it was the voice of the bodyguard. I loved the voice and how he told his story and I wouldn't mind reading another with this character in the lead.

Another story that just blew me away was Kent Gowran's ".44 Blues". I've never read any of Mr. Gowran's work but I'll be looking for more. He has a knack for writing a story that rips at your heart until it breaks in two. Nothing I expected to happen in this story of a man seeking revenge, did. And at the end I just wanted to take this character in my arms and tell him everything would be okay.

I've also been reading "Town Smokes" by Pinckney Benedict. The book is full of country stories that tug at the heartstrings or make you want to shake the characters until they come to their senses. In "Water Witch" Mr. Benedict made me feel the heat and frustration of a drought and the dark places sheer despair can take a person.

"All the Dead" took me on a journey with a young boy who was trying to make his mother happy, all the while knowing things weren't going to end well. And still, he kept going, kept trying to bring about that elusive happiness his mother needed from him.

I've also read several books, but I just want to mention one, "Bad Ground" by W. Dale Cramer. One piece of advice that all writers are given is to read and study how a writer works. To be truthful, I've never been able to actually see how a writer puts a novel together. For me, it's just one long story. And yes, we'll come back around to short stories.

First off, if I had realized this book was from a Christian press, I probably would have passed. Most of the Christian books I've read in the past kept beating you in the head with salvation, but this book managed to side-step that while still getting its message across. That was my first lesson. How to tell a story without preaching to your readers.

I also learned that just because you have a character whose nature is to curse, there are ways to work around it without using words like heck or darn. And truth be told, I didn't miss the foul language and the story didn't lose any of its sharpness or change the characters because of it. They were still tough as nails miners by their actions, not their words.

And last, I'd never seen a book put together quite like this one. It covered a year in the life of a seventeen year old boy who'd lost his mother and his journey to find an uncle he barely remembered. The chapters alternated between the boy's and the man's point of view, but each chapter was a short story complete in itself. I liked that. There were no cliffhanger chapter endings but you still wanted to go forward in the book to see what happened.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone. It fits into the Southern genre with the theme of male bonding, from working and hunting together and just plain surviving life, running through the entire book. The scenes in the mine are raw but with a humanity that shows you the beauty in the hard lives of these men.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

That Branding Thing...Again

Branding. It's been mentioned here before but the last couple of days I've been running across quite a few people talking about it...again. Laura Curtis over at Women of Mystery had a post which linked to this post by Chris Brogan called "An Author's Plan for Social Media" which sets out a plan to follow for getting yourself noticed.

While plans are nice for those with actual writing agendas, I rather like Tansy Rayner Roberts post which linked to a post by Maureen Johnson

I loved Ms. Johnson's view and, like her, I've pretty much stumbled into my "brand". Yes, I'll admit it, I've been branded a short story writer!! And I'm damn proud of it!

Crimefactory #3

Well, just look at me this weekend. Just like horsesh-t (it's a country thing), I'm all over the place. Issue #3 of Crimefactory has hit the virtual streets with short fiction from Dennis Tafoya, Greg Bardsley, Daniel O'Shea, Kieran Shea and me, plus an except from Jedidiah Ayres novel "Peckerwood". Time to grab your reading glasses and head on over to where you can read online or download to one of those handheld thingies.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dark Valentine

The first issue of Dark Valentine has gone live and all I can say is Wow! The pdf zine has 120 pages of stories and artwork that will just blow you away. Some of the authors included in this issue are Elizabeth Zelvin, Cormac Brown, Carol Kilgore and Paul Brazill, just to name a few. Oh yeah, and I've got a story in there too! You can find the link to the pdf here And hey, they're open to submissions for their fall issue.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mysterious Thoughts

Over at Mysterious Matters there are two posts about writing in the Mystery genre that I found both enlightening and helpful. The first is a look at writing cross-genre stories and why they fly or don't in the marketplace.

The second post was a look at the PI novel with some good tips on how to keep it fresh.

Sarah Monette has an interesting piece over at Storytellers Unplugged this week. It's about finding the story in the story. In other words, what the heck is this story really about?

And a couple of markets notes. Anthologies Online has posted their June submission calls. There's lots of calls for shorts, non-fiction, poetry and contests.

For our Vampire writers, here's a bit of a different spin for you, Alien Vampires. Hungur magazine is looking for stories of 2500 to 6000 words. The pay is $12 for original stories and $5 for reprints. Hungur is published twice a year on November 1 and April 30 by Sam's Dot Publishing. You can find all the details here

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And a Second Post

Here are the links I collected this morning before I came across that anthology call and decided it was worth a post of its own.

I stopped by the Book View Cafe blog this morning and found three very interesting posts about writing.

This first one is about characters and Madeleine Robins asks the question, "Why do we make our heroines so beautiful?" I found her thoughts quite interesting.

The second is by Deborah J. Ross, who explains how she found the short story in her unpublished novel. Stories need to be what they are, not what we want them to be.

And last is an essay by Jennifer Stevenson who writes about how she found the idea for her novel. I find it interesting to see how other writer's minds work. It's always a fun journey into someone else's imagination.

Melissa Lenhardt's essay, "I am a Writer" is an interesting look at a beginning writer's journey and some of the fears that we writers carry in our suitcases.

And the last writing link comes via Chuck Wendig (usual cautions in place) who talks about the job of researching before you sit down to write.

Who Do You Trust?

Do you ever wonder when you're submitting a story to an anthology, or even a zine, if you're dealing with editors and publishers who actually know what they're doing? Many of them don't offer you a reference of where they've worked or even if they have a publisher lined up. Always proceed with caution when you're checking out the guidelines.

There are some basic questions you need to ask as you're reading. Do they have a publisher? Does the editor give you his/her credentials, such as, has he ever edited before and how successful was his past work? And as you read the guidelines, check for mistakes. This person is going to be editing your work, if he doesn't care about his own words, will he care about yours?

So what brought this post about? I just found an interesting zombie anthology call that I was going to link to. The deadline for submissions was December 31, 2010 for a publication date of Spring 2010. Could be a simple mistake...but this was a non-paying market with no publisher listed. I passed on the linkage. As Monk's theme song says, "Its a jungle out there". Watch you backs, and arm yourself with caution.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Markets

I believe I've posted a link to Pulp Empire before but I thought I'd let you know that I've put a link to the zine over there on the left. They're trying something interesting with their publication. Stories are posted monthly on the site, then a yearly collection is published in print from Lulu. The writers then receive a royalty percentage from the sales. I don't know how it will work out but it sounds interesting. Pulp Empire publishes, yes, pulp stories in the style of Doc Savage, in the 2500 to 15,000 word range. Any genre and any time period, they're not fixated on the thirties as some pulp site are. You can find the guidelines at

Bookgasm posted a call for submissions on their very cool review site. They're putting together an anthology of "Mondo Sasquatch" stories. They're looking for you bigfoot fans out there. The deadline is August 15 for flash stories in the 250 word range and shorts of at least 1500 words. The payment is one copy. You can find all the details at

And finally, has listed their June call for submissions list. Lots of poetry calls listed for the poets among us.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Musings

I came to Richard Wheeler's blog, The Curmudgeon's Diary, through Ed Gorman's blog. Mr. Wheeler had proclaimed the Western dead and there were a great many upset writers. It seemed like everyone writing or reading Westerns chimed in to tell him how wrong he was. I've seen some interest in the Western genre through the short story market, so I wondered why he thought the genre was dead. Which lead me to his blog.

After reading his Friday post, I finally understood why he considered the genre dead. The Westerns are going through a change that is similar to the Mystery genre. The books Mr. Wheeler read as a young man, he chose "Shane" as an example, were about justice and doing the right thing, something he finds lacking in the new work. (I know, not all of it is changing, but enough to see a shift in the publishing end.)

Mysteries and crime novels are going through this same change. We find more anti-heroes in our books, men and women who will go to any lengths to get what they want and justice and morals be damned.

When I consider how old Mr. Wheeler is, I remember my father, and how he couldn't watch movies where everyone was killed willy-nilly for no good reason. Death was very real to him and this disregard for human life bothered him. I suspect this is the same for Mr. Wheeler as he finds the changes in his beloved genre moving beyond what he considers decent and moral. For him, the Western is dying. It no longer reflects his life or the genre as he remembers it. And I understand where he's coming from because many of the younger writers in the mystery genre write some very gruesome stories that make me wonder if the new generation of writers have lost all sense of decency.

This isn't a slap against the writers. I understand that the world they've grown up in is very different than the one I lived in. Sex and body counts sell and if they want to get published, they have to write to the publishing market. A very sad commentary of our world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Runaway Stories

Every writer's method of getting their story down on paper is different. Sure, there are certain things that have to be in place for a story to be a story, like beginnings, middles and ends. But from that germ of an idea to typing THE END, writers tend to spin their yarns in as many different ways as there are writers. The process of getting there is what makes each writer's story unique.

The story I'm currently working on took a wild side trip on me yesterday but instead of getting out my whip and beating it back into formation, I went with it. What's the it? The story changed genres. What began as a simple story of a modern woman who had been mauled by a bear and was having to deal with the scars, tripped into a Western.

Believability was a big factor as I was mulling over the what's this all about portion of the story. There was a women a year or so ago who got mauled by a bear in her backyard, in a small town near where I live which was the germ idea for me. But how many people are actually going to believe that could happen? We're not talking deep woods, out hiking, we're talking in a town, after dark, letting her dog out to do his business. Would you believe that could happen?

So now my story is a Western. A woman facing off with a bear and somehow a man has walked into the picture and damned if there isn't a little romance starting to trickle in. Romance is my worst genre. I've never sent out a Romance submission that hasn't received a form rejection. But I'm going with the romantic angle, because I can see the scene in my head and know that it's a fit. I know for sure that that particular piece of the story needs to be there.

I know that I could easily change this into a stalker crime story with the bear being a man and the woman fighting back, but I like this new direction. I like the characters I've created and the setting they've chosen to tell their story. So I'll tag along and see what happens.

Will the story find a home when I'm finished? I certainly hope so, but even if it doesn't, this particular story has taught me to go with my instincts - to follow the story wherever it may lead me.

How about you? Ever had a runaway story? Did you follow it through or just beat the story into the shape you wanted?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

For Kyle Minor Fans

There's an interesting interview with short story writer, Kyle Minor, over at Pank Magazine. and a short story in the current issue called "The Reason Why People Will Always Be Enthralled by Plainspoken High-Stakes Domestic Realism"

The title is almost longer than the story! Mr. Minor's flash pieces have a very different feel than his shorts. They always leave me thinking, wondering, or shaking my head. This one, left me wanting more of the story. I could feel something deeper there, just below the surface of the story. I wanted to know more. Yeah, the title says it all.

Market Notes

Crossed Genres has put out a call for their second annual flash fiction contest. Stories from 100 to 500 words with a June 15 deadline. The stories can be anything sci-fi or fantasy and unpublished. There's an online form for submissions and a one story per person limit. Top prize is $25 and a copy of the Crossed Genres Year One anthology. The three honorable mentions will receive a copy of the anthology.

Crossed Genres is also open for regular submissions until June 30 for the theme Invasion. 1000 to 8000 words with payment of $10. You can find the details here There's also a list of upcoming themes on the site.

Fear and Trembling has closed its doors. The notice was posted to the zine's forum board on May 2, not in the zine itself.

Also, Disenthralled has closed to submissions, no word if this is permanent or not.

And while we have two closings, we have two zines that have opened for submissions this month. Big Pulp and Flash Quake, both paying markets. You'll find their urls to the left.

Brian Lindenmuth has let me know that the first issue of Light Speed has gone live. Each week they will post a new short story and a piece of non-fiction. If you prefer to read the magazine all at once or just want to be able to carry it with you, you can download the entire issue for $2.99. Light Speed is closed to submissions at the moment, but will reopen on July 15 for all types of sci-fi stories of 1000 to 7500 words. Payment is 5cents a word and they do accept reprints at a penny a word, but query about the reprints.

And a late addition here: June 1 was the opening date for a call I listed back in March from Twelfth Planet Press. The anthology is Speakeasy and they're looking for fantasy stories set in the 1920's. The deadline is September 30 for shorts of 2500 to 7500 words. You can find the details here Forgot to mention that this is a paying market of $50AUS for accepted stories.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All Kinds of Goodies

Well, we're a bit of all over the place with our links today. One of the pleasures of clicking around the web is that I never know what I'm going to find.

First up is a big Snoopy dance for all the Million Writer Winners!! And how cool is that to see Eric Beetner and ThugLit on the list!

First Place (Overall winner): "Hospitality" by Summer Block (from Wheelhouse Magazine)Runner Up: "Eros, Philia, Agape" by Rachel Swirsky (from
Honorable mention (third place): "Ditch" by Eric Beetner (PDF download, from Thuglit)

Speaking of ThugLit there's a new issue on the virtual streets. Eight new thug stories by writers Kieran Shea, Marianne Halbert, Jen Conley, Alison Seay and others. Nice to see more female writers cracking the noir market.

Booklife Now has an interview with Bill Pronzini and his wife, Marcia Muller, talking about collaboration. This is part of a series of interviews with authors who have collaborated, so if you're interested in the process be sure to check back through the posts to read more.

And Electric Velocipede has opened for submissions. This zine is looking for "weird" sci-fic and fantasy stories. They have a list of authors in the guidelines that will clue you in to what they're looking for. They're accepting stories up to 10,000 words but prefer the 3,000 to 6,000 range. There's an online submission form and they pay a penny a word for accepted stories. You can find all the details at

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Market Day

Might as well start with the bad news. Ezine "Zygote in My Coffee" has closed their doors, it looks to be permanent this time.

And the good news? We've got markets!

First up is a fledgling sci-fi market called "Daily Science Fiction". They're looking for stories of 100 to 10,000 words but shorter is preferred. There's an online submission form and they're paying pro rates of 8cents a word. You can find all the details at

Canadian publisher Northern Frights has listed another anthology call. This one is "Fallen: An Anthology of Demonic Horror" They're looking for stories about demons and demonic possession. They don't want demons falling in love and moping around re The Twilight series. As they say, they're a horror market and they want horror stories. In other words, scare the bejesus out of them. The deadline is August 31 for stories up to 10,000 words. The pay is a penny a word with a $40 cap plus one copy. You can find all the details at

From Paul Brazill we have Cast Macabre, a podcast market. They're looking for horror stories up to 4000 words. This is a non-paying market. You can find all the details at

John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton are sponsoring a short story fanfic contest to benefit the Lupus Foundation of America. There is a June 30 deadline for a 400 to 2000 word short based on the picture at Scalzi's site. Cool picture by the way! The winner receives 10 cents a word and his story will be published in an electronic chapbook alongside Scalzi, Wheaton and several others. The profits from the book will go to the Lupus Foundation. You can find the picture and all the details at

For those of you who write erotica, Duotrope has listed quite a few anthology calls from Circlet Press here There's also a bunch of fledgling markets listed if you're interested. I've stopped listing them here unless they're a paying market or a new start-up from someone I know and expect that they'll follow through. Many people want to publish zines, but they don't always realize the work involved and bail before or just after the first issue. And yes, I've been there and done that - many times. One of the reason I'm leery of new zines these days.