Friday, December 30, 2011

Odds and Ends

Xavier Lechard over At The Villa Rose blog has a pair of posts that takes a look at PIs and amateur sleuths.

Spinetingler is looking for your input for the Spinetingler Awards. There's a poll set up for your convenience in nominating novels and short stories. And while you're there check out the newest flash offerings from Court Merrigan and Mike Miner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another 10 or So

My short story reading has been pretty scattered this year from Western to Fantasy and a huge dip into what's called Country or Rural Noir. All of which was to study how other writers work in those genres and because I was attempting to write that kind of fiction myself. If you're going to learn, you might as well learn from those published in the genres you choose to write in.

That said, I found that narrowing down my list to ten was nearly impossible this year as there was so much great writing to found both in print and online. Chris Rhatigan asked me for five must reads that were published on his blog, Death by Killing and which I've re-posted here. Below that you'll find ten more that I enjoyed for a variety of reasons, stories that I hope you'll enjoy also.

1. "Melanie" by Edward A Grainger
This was one of those stories that just pulled at the heartstrings and had you cheering for the hero at the end.

2. "6/8" by Trey R. Barker
With this story, it was the writing that stuck with me, the pure beauty and poetry of Mr. Barker's words.

3. "Veronica" by Doree Weller
From beginning to end this story did nothing that I expected it to.

4. "Why are Mommy and Daddy Fighting?" by Eric Beetner
With this story, Eric puts you into the mind of a young boy and you feel yourself sitting beside him in the dark, holding your breath.

5. "The Uncleared" by Thomas Pluck
You don't expect a happy ending when you start reading this story, but the ending still slaps you in the face and leaves you reeling.

And in no particular order the other 10 or so:

For the same reason that I loved Trey Barker's "6/8". I knew some men were poets at heart but Trey's story and the next two really tap into lovely poetry that make a story sing.

1. "My Beautiful, Brash, Beastly Belfast" by Seamus Scanlon

2. "Anger Burns" by Gary Carter

3. Patti Abbott is a writer who can rip the heart out of your chest with her storytelling and "Father's Day" was the one that did it for me this year.

4. This next story was one of the Derringer winners for 2011. It was originally published in 2010 in the anthology "Thuglit Presents: Blood, Guts and Whiskey". It's a story that blends one of a man's proudest moments with a gut wrenching act of revenge. The story is "Care of the Circumcised Penis" by Sean Doolittle. There's no link for the story but you can check out Sean's website here

5. Another favorite this year was Chris Rhatigan's story "In the Hard Nowhere" published in Beat to a Pulp. Unfortunately BTaP's archives are down but if you drop over to Grift magazine you'll find another excellent example of Chris' work, "What is Your Emergency?"

6. Jodi MacArthur is probably best known for her darker stories but "The Girl Who Was Chased by an Abominable Snowman with a Machete" makes me laugh just thinking about it. What a great joyous ride of a story!

7. Another fun story I read this year was "Romo Samson and the Grandmother Spider" by Chris La Tray and published in Pulp Modern (Autumn 2011 issue) This story wasn't fun in the laugh out loud way of Jodi's story but more in the nature of an Indiana Jones romp. You can find a link to the issue here

And then there was the country/rural noir stories.

8. In 2010 I picked up a copy of "Town Smokes" by Pinckney Benedict and pretty much inhaled this anthology, so I was pleased to discover another of Mr. Benedict's stories online. "Pig Helmet and the Wall of Life" just takes hold and doesn't let go until the blistering end.

9. The entire collection of "The Outlaw Album" by Daniel Woodrell is a lesson in how to put your reader into a setting without sacrificing the storytelling. All of the stories are gems but my favorite was "Returning the River". If you haven't read this collection yet, please do, you won't be sorry.

10. Joe R. Lansdale was my discovered author this year. Like Woodrell he gives you place without forsaking the story. Last week I mentioned "Torn Away" But there was one other story of his that I read this year that's really stuck. If you want to learn how to put a twist ending on a story, this is the lesson plan. "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road".

Well, that's just a small sampling of the great stories you can find out there, both in print and online. Happy reading, everyone!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Science Fiction Trails

Science Fiction Trails is an annual print magazine that's opened for their 8th edition. They're looking for sci-fi stories set on earth in the Wild West era (1850 - 1900). Payment is a flat $20 for 1000 to 7000 words. You can find all the details here

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Market

I stumbled across "Every Night Erotica" while clicking on links today. They're looking for erotica stories up to 2000 words, pay is $3. You can check it out here

And the New

While we did lose quite a few zines, the good news is that we have an equal number of new markets.

PulpPusher and Over My Dead Body came back from the dead with a vengeance publishing some great new stories.

Filling out the crime scene we have Shotgun Honey, Grift, Pulp Modern, Noir Nation, and Dirty Noir. All new zines with a great deal of promise.

The Laughter Shack is a new humorous flash site manned by David Barber of the Flash Fiction Offensive.

Then you have the markets that blend the genres. Comets and Criminals, Al Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History, The Writer and the White Cat, and Trembles.

You can find links for all these markets over there on the right.

All in all, 2011 was a good year for new zines, with many of the older zines, like Plots with Guns and All Due Respect getting new editors and others like Spinetingler making changes that will improve readership.

And that's your crime market rundown for the year - Happy writing, everyone!!

RIP 2011

So, I spent the day going back through the blog archives for 2011. It's always interesting to review the past year, read old stories and discover markets I'd forgotten about. But then there's the sad news also, the death of so many zines this year.

Epubbing is changing the face of not only print but the online world as well. Stories that might have been published in zines are now being collected into anthologies or single author collections but the upside is that the zines are also using the new format to get the work out to a wider audience. We're all learning as we go with this new publishing world and it's an exciting time to be a writer.


DF Underground
Dark Valentine
Southern Grit
Thieves Jargon
Crossed Genres
Basement Stories
Pulp Carnivale
Macabre Cadaver

On the "Iffy" list we have

The Back Alley
Dirty Noir
Pine Tree Mysteries

Hopefully these four will turn things around and begin publishing again in 2012.

And then, of course, we had zines like Demolition, La Criminophile, and Ice Media who announced they were open then closed up shop without a word.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Short Story Christmas Gift

O Henry is probably best know for his wonderful Christmas story, "The Gift of the Magi" but he also wrote several others that I'm rather fond of and thought I'd share.

"A Chaparral Christmas Gift" A lovely Western offering.

And a crime story, "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking"

I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful holiday season!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dirty Noir Update

I'm happy to report that Dirty Noir isn't dead, but they are closed to submissions while they get caught up and reorganized. They won't be publishing stories online, just the quarterly. The first issue due in January 2012. You can read all the details here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And You Thought

you were the only one. The long road to short story success as told by Charlie Jane Anders.

Flip Sides

To brand or not to brand - that is the question every author has to wrestle with. Do we want to be placed in a nice comfortable pigeon hole or do we want to explore every possibility open to us as writers. The links today look at the flip sides of that question.

One of the reasons I love the short story form is that I get to experiment in any genre that suits the story I'm working on. And yes, I've probably disappointed some of the readers who have come to expect crime stories from me, but those story voices that speak to me in other genres just won't be silenced.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joe R. Lansdale - Again

One of the "new" writers I discovered this year was Joe R. Lansdale. I first heard his name over at Bill Crider's excellent blog but really came to his work through his wonderful essays over at the Mulholland Books website. Today, Mr. Lansdale has another essay up over at Mulholland called "The Battery Powered Christmas".

If you haven't read any of his shorts, you're missing out on a real treat. Don't believe me? Try this one called "Torn Away" One of my favorite stories this year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Epubbing Thoughts

With a hat tip to Charles Tan I have three links to some interesting articles about epubbing.

First up is Nancy Fulda's post about putting together a collection of shorts. She has some interesting ideas.

Over at Grasping for the Wind there's an article about how self-publishing can go wrong.

And Richard Parks takes a look at how ebooks are (or should be) changing the way new books are reviewed.

Market Links from Friends

From Paul Brazill we have a link to a new zine that's looking for "gritty, interesting short fiction" called "Near to the Knuckle" There's already stories up from some familiar names from the crime zine world but they're also looking at stories in other genres. This is a non-paying market. I do have one nit, there's no editorial staff listed. Please folks, let us know who we're dealing with when we submit. I really hate writing "Hey You, Here's a story I'd like to submit" in my cover letter. :)

And from the lovely, Katherine Tomlinson, we have a zombie anthology call from horror author, Matt Nord. This anthology is looking for zombie stories of 1000 to 8000 words with March 15, 2012 deadline. Payment is 1 digital copy. You can find all the details here

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spinetingler Flash

Spinetingler has posted their first flash fiction piece today, and tah-dah, it's one of mine.

The Use of Words

"The following story is, in my opinion, both gruesome and beautiful and is ultimately a brilliant piece of writing.

It’s gruesome because of the subject matter, the incest and all the gory details. But this happens in our world and it should not be flinched away from simply because it puts our nerves on edge or makes us want to turn away and sweep it under the carpet.

That is, in my opinion, the biggest no-no in writing. You write about things that hurt, that make people want to turn away. You expose the light to these dark things. You don’t write about the simple stuff, or at least not all of the time."

That is part of editor, Christopher Grant's introduction to "Purgatory Sex Twins" by Cullan that he published on the site yesterday. The story is disturbing, yet it makes you ache for the characters and the choices they made. And the ending stops you cold.

After reading the story yesterday my thoughts went to the novel "Paris Trout" by Pete Dexter. There is a scene in that book where Trout rapes his wife with a full coke bottle. I remember thinking when I saw the movie that the scene in the book was more powerful because of the words Mr. Dexter used to pull you into that scene. You could feel the soda running down her legs and feel the pain of what he'd just done. But mostly you admired the dignity she displayed by not showing her husband how much he'd hurt her. She never lowered herself to his level.

And that's just it, isn't it? How we use our words to show the devastation of life on a person. We can do it with a beauty that haunts the reader or we can slam them with in your face violence that sends them reeling.

John Harvey touches on this very subject in his blog post today about Country Noir where he looks at the differences between Daniel Woodrell and Frank Bill's collections of short stories.

As writers we have to make a conscious decision of how we want to tell a story. Yes, we can put in all the graphic details for the shock value or we can find a way to show the same situation with a dignity that goes beyond the reveal of the violence.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Issues

It's certainly looking like a dark and deadly Christmas over at Yellow Mama with the publication of their December issue. You'll find stories by AJ Hayes, Jan Christensen, and Richard Godwin to name just a very few.

And issue #2 of Pulp Modern is now available with stories by Chris LaTray, Patti Abbott, and Matthew C. Funk to name a few.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


From friend of the blog, Paul Brazill, I received this link for a new crime imprint called BANG!. Details are sketchy on the site, but they're looking for crime novels that can be developed into series. On their twitter feed they also stated that they'll look at short story collections as long as the collection centers around one detective/crime solver. This doesn't seem to be a new e-publisher, though I expect they'll also make use of the new technology. Please query with caution and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes Yes Yes

Thank you, Mr. Parks, for saying it so much better than I ever could!

Joe R. Lansdale

There's a great author interview with Joe R. Lansdale over at Fantasy Magazine and he's talking shorts

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dirty Noir

There's been rumors floating across the net that Dirty Noir is closing up shop, some from reliable sources. Their online site and Facebook page hasn't been updated since September, and Twitter has been quiet since October. They use a Submishmash submission page so before you submit, it would be best to contact the editors through their online site If you have stories with them, you might want to query as to their status.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Short Story Roundup

I found two essay written in praise of the short story. The first popped up yesterday over at Murderati and written by Angela Savage And Terri Farley Moran writes about why we should read short stories

Brian Lindenmuth passed along a link to a new zine called Conjectural Figments They're looking for short stories up to 5000 words in all the genres. The theme for the first issue is Transhumanism, deadline is December 23 with publication on January 3, 2012. This is a non-paying market.

Schlock Magazine has published its Apocalypse issue Congrats to friends of the blog Manuel Royal, Ron Scheer, and Thomas Pluck who all have stories in this issue!!

And if you're having a bit of trouble tapping into that Christmas Spirit ( that's spirit, not liquid spirits, guys!) drop on over to the Drowning Machine for a real Christmas treat. Naomi Johnson's newest short story, and it's loads of fun!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Writer or Author?

I really love this post by Theodora Goss about the difference between writer and author.

Strange Beginnings

Back in June of 2010, David Cranmer, editor of BTaP, asked me if I'd be interested in working on a long term project with him. His idea was for a steampunk serial story about "Calliope Andrews: Steampunk Princess". I was to write the first installment. He outlined his idea for freezing this princess and bringing her back to life in the future. He wanted to open the story with a steam powered motorcycle and have a steam powered flying machine of some sort waiting in the wings. He also supplied me with a cast of characters. The rest of the story was mine. And of course, the first thing I did was dump the freezing bit. Why? Because I'd watched a piece on cryogenics on the History channel that pretty much freaked me out, but also made me realize that making the story line realistic was pretty iffy. Besides, didn't Mel Gibson do this movie? :)

After turning in my installment, David asked me who I thought should take over the story and suggested Charles Gramlich because, hey, he writes this kind of story. David agreed that Charles would be great, but he had a different idea. Why didn't I write the entire story? Do you ever have moments in your life when you wish the person you were emailing was standing next to you so you could physically kick them in the nether regions? Yeah, that was my moment, then I said I'd give it a shot.

And so I began writing until even the very first installment had changed into something very different from what David or I had imagined for the story. But, it did still start with a steam motorcycle with a steam airplane in the wings. Why am I telling you all this? Because the final installment of Calliope's adventures, "Into the Green Beyond" is now up at BTaP. You can read it here Unfortunately for those of you who haven't read the prior installments, something called Cold Fusion isn't working with BTaP's server so the rest of the story is not available at the moment.

And if you're not tired of me yet, my five picks for Chris Rhatigan's "Five You Can't Miss" series is up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interesting Reading

I enjoy reading about authors and how they work and finding all sorts of new things (at least to me) on the 'net. Here's a few I ran across today. Enjoy!

Over at Spinetingler today I read an essay by Reed Farrel Coleman about how he decided to age his series character, Moe Prager.

Mulholland Books had an essay by Joe Lansdale about Jim Thompson.

Timothy Mayer reviewed an anthology called "Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon" that I enjoyed very much because he took the time to give us a history of the Domino Lady, a character I'd never heard of before.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anthology Call

Over at Innsmouth Free Press I found a new anthology call for "Fungl" stories. Yep, they're looking for dark speculative fiction focused solely on the fungal. Mushrooms, anyone? Payment is 1cent a word for original stories and $35 (Canadian) for reprints of stories up to 5000 words. You'll have plenty of time to work on this one - submissions open on January 15, 2012 and close February 15. You can find all the details here

Anthology Call

Dagan Books has issued a call for submissions for a new anthology to be published in 2012 called "Bibliotheca Fantastica". The submission period begins December 15 and runs through March 15, 2012.

They are looking for "stories having to do with lost, rare, weird, or imaginary books, or any aspect of book history or book culture, past, present, future, or uchronic. Any genre. Although the fantastical is not essential per se, stories should evoke a sense of the fantastic, the unknown, the weird, wonder, terror, mystery, pulp, and/or adventure, etc."

Up to 10,000 words. Payment is 2cents a word. You can find all the details here

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pulp Modern Review

Pulp Modern snagged a nice review from Bookgasm today

The Black Orchid Novella Award

The Wolfe Pack held their annual awards banquet this past weekend and I've seen it noted in various places that Louise Penny was the recipient of the Nero Award for her novel, "Bury Your Dead".

What I didn't see posted in the usual places was the fact that James Lincoln Warren won the annual Black Orchid Novella Award. This is one of the most prestigious short story contests available to mystery writers and the winner is published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I'd like to congratulate Mr. Warren on his accomplishment and offer up a Snoopy Dance in his honor.

You can read how Mr. Warren came to write his winning novella here

And you can check out the contest here

Monday Morning Morsels

Brian Lindenmuth takes a look at short stories over at the Do Some Damage blog this morning. Stop on by

Jim Harringon has six questions for Josh Goller, the editor of The Molotov Cocktail over at his excellent Six Questions

If you're stuck and need an interesting prompt to get you motivated stop on over to Peter Rozovsky's blog and take a look at this picture.

I looked at that picture and saw my fictional Mulberry Street where several of my stories have taken place.

Market News

Spinetingler has opened for flash fiction submissions with new editor, R. Thomas Brown. You can find all the details here

For those of you who write spec-fiction we have two markets from the lovely Katherine Tomlinson.

Dragon Moon Press is looking for fantasy novels of 90,000 to 110,000 words. Deadline is December 31. Details here

This call was posted on the spec-fic market blog. Eggplant Literary Productions is reopening for submissions on January 1, 2012 They're looking for novellas of 20,000 to 40,000 words. Payment is a $250 advance plus royalties. They're also looking for flash pieces up to 300 words with a flat fee of $10. You can read the call here and you can check out Eggplant here For more spec-fic markets you can go here

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about expectations lately. In my life, expectations have always been for someone else. I expect little and therefore I'm rarely disappointed, which is a comfortable place to live, but doesn't make for a very satisfying life.

So how do you raise your expectations? How do you become that writer who expects to have every story published and become a best selling author? My family laughs at my writing. I hear, "Oh yeah, Mom's little hobby." constantly. And at first it was a hobby, I wrote to escape my everyday. Writing was a way to deal with those things in life that are difficult to understand. Writing allows you to control the outcome, for better or worse.

But something amazing happened, I was actually published and people noticed. And I wondered, can I expect this to continue or will I just fall flat on my face? Is this small gift something I can believe in, that I actually might be good at? I tamped down the expectations. After all, expectations can only hurt you, strip you of any dignity you might have, right?

I kept writing, submitting. Oh, I got slowed down by rejection, the scoff of family members about not making money. A husband's demand that I stop writing that weekly column because he was tired of people talking about it, stopped me dead in my tracks. I quit submitting and went back to the privacy of my writing closet.

With my first computer though, I discovered an online community of writers. People who encouraged, who taught, who took the time to lend a helping hand and I allowed myself to begin submitting again. Building my writing sentence by sentence and story by story. Even here, I've had people make snide comments about my belief in short stories, telling me that I'm just a coward because I don't write novels. But I'm learning to ignore those voices, to keep writing what I believe in, to tell the stories that exist inside of me. And I'm learning to believe in expectations. And in myself as a writer.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

ShortStory 365

Brain Lindenmuth has issued a short story challenge! Can you read a short story a day for a year? If you can, join in the fun of posting what you've read to Brian's new blog ShortStory 365. And he's promising prizes. You can read his challenge here

And you can sign up for all the fun here

The challenge begins on January 1. 2012.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Top Picks

If you're looking for short stories to read drop on over to Chris Rhatigan's, Death by Killing blog. Chris has a new series starting called "Five You Can't Miss" where readers and editors pass along 5 stories that, well, you shouldn't miss reading. There's loads of great reading out there in the ether and this is a fun way to find some of those stories. The series will run straight through January. Already up are picks from Christopher Grant, Katherine Tomlinson, and Richard Godwin.

A Pair of Markets

With a hat tip to Katherine Tomlinson we have an anthology call. "Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke" is looking for sci-fi/fantasy shorts of 3000 to 5000 words in the tradition of Charles Dickens. The deadline is December 31 payment is a share of the net profits. You can find all the details at

Now, Katherine sent me to this link via another site that's well worth your time to check out called Pornokitsch. And no, there's no porn, but it's a great review site that covers all the genres and seems to have a lot of fun doing it.

And there's a new zine poking its head into the ether called "Crossed Out". They're looking for fast-paced, character driven, socially aware short stories in any genre for their Winter issue. Payment is $20. You can find all the details at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Market Day

New markets will probably be pretty slim pickings through December, it usually is with the holiday season beating on everyone's door. I did find a few open markets though.

Pulp Empire has revamped their site and switched from regular issues to themed anthologies. Payment is royalties and the word count varies for each one. Here's your themes and deadlines:
"Heroes of Mars" deadline 12/31/11
"Modern Pulp Heroes" deadline 3/15/12
"Aliens Among Us" deadline 4/30/12

The World SF Blog is looking for spec-fiction short stories up to 8,000. They'd like to see more stories from other countries. This is a non-paying market.

Bete Noire is open for subs until the 31st of December. Payment is $10. Details at

And Withersin is open for subs until April. They pay $5 to $10 for online content which is flash up to 750 words and shorts to 3500 words. They're also looking for non-fiction and reviews. They've also opened for novella submissions of 15,000 to 35,000 words. These will be published in both print and ereader format and authors will be paid royalties. You can check them out here

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sigh of Relief

Do computers drive you crazy? I love writing on the computer except when I think it's getting ready to explode or die. Of course if it exploded it would be dead, wouldn't it? Anyhoo, mine was doing all sorts of weird stuff the past few days, highlighting when I just wanted to erase a letter or backspace, double clicking every link so I didn't always get where I wanted to go and closing files before they opened. Looking for a possible solution, I dug out an old mouse and plugged that in. Now everything is working perfectly and faster. Just have to slow my hand down a bit. :)

Big sigh of relief as a new computer isn't in my budget right at the moment.

Keeping it Simple but Smart

I found this post by Theodora Goss about simplicity in writing quite interesting.

The truth is, most people sitting down to read want to be entertained. Teach me, but don't beat me over the head with your philosophy. And I love beautiful language when I read but I hate having to read with a dictionary in my lap to understand what I'm reading :)

Keeping your story simple doesn't mean dumbing it down to "See Spot run." when you can just as easily say, "Spot cleared the dead fall log with a smooth motion, catching the rabbit in mid-hop."

Angie's Desk

I missed this earlier this month, but over at Angie's Desk you'll find her monthly posting of anthology calls. This month's calls are mostly erotica and fantasy but there's also a YA call. You'll find the listings at this link

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Spinetingler has opened for submissions and they're also changing their fiction format in 2012. You can check out the details here Spinetingler is a paying market and MWA approved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Unreliable Narrators

I've been playing around with a story. I know pretty much how the story is going to unfold, but... You knew there was a but, didn't you? But one of the character's voices keeps talking to me, pulling at me. I love the sing-song sound of her voice but she's what you might call an unreliable narrator and not the PI I had envisioned telling this story. And the truth is, I can't remember ever using an unreliable narrator to tell a story and wondered if there are any preset expectations from readers of this type of story. Do you as readers like this type of story, or do you feel cheated in some way when you've finished?

Recently I read Megan Abbott's "The End of Everything" whose narrator tells you everything, but in reality tells you nothing. Her memories as the story unfolds turn out not to be what she thought they were. But then everyone's memories are different so each teller of the same story has a different view of what happened. Having finished the story, I still can't shake the feeling that I've missed something important.

"Soft Monkey" by Harlan Ellison tells the story from a homeless woman's point of view but she's living in a past that doesn't exist anymore. This one worked for me because you don't know until the twisted end that she's trying to do in the present what she failed to do in the past.

Fredric Brown's "Don't Look Behind You" unfolds the story from the POV of a man who tells you that you're going die when you finish reading the story he's written down. I loved how this story unfolded and the madness of the narrator, but telling me I'm going to die when I know that's not true didn't really work for me.

And "The Payoff" by Stanley Ellin has a narrator who makes you believe he's been forced into killing someone, but the ending? Sends chills up your back when you realize that he's not to be trusted. The totally twisted ending of this story worked on so many levels it was scary.

These were just a few stories I could think of off the top of my head with unreliable narrators. Can you think of others? And did you love how the author told the story or did you feel tricked?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Reviews

I love when new readers stop by the Corner and leave comments because I get to find some great new blogs. Last night Tim Mayer dropped by. Checking out his blog I discovered that he reviews pulp fiction and had great reviews of two anthologies, Pulp Ink and Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled. Check him out Many thanks for the kind words, Tim!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Black Friday Story Cupboard

Have you ever gone shopping on Black Friday? I did. Once. Never again, but there's something about Black Friday that gets the creative juices flowing and the story cupboard filling up.

Well, think about it. You've got massive traffic jams and spend more time on the highway than in the stores. And if you're not in your car, you're in the checkout line. Waiting. Tempers get shorter and shorter, then some guy starts singing, "tis the season..." Oh, yeah, you can go anywhere with that one.

And of course, you've got crowds of people. Body dump in the parking lot, anyone? Trust me, no one will notice, especially if you tuck a few shopping bags around it and leave it in a shopping cart. A good serial killer would have a field day walking through with his little .22 or hunting knife. Heck, try dropping a guy with a machete into that crowd. "fa, la, la, la..."

Then you have the dressing room. Great for shoplifters or a cat fight. Naked bodies or a naked witness running through the store. "now we don our gay apparel..."

Did you see how I worked that Christmas carol in? Well, how about a group of people stuck in an elevator with "Jingle Bells" playing over and over?

And if you're staying home and away from all the madness, check out the new 4-G commercial. Say 4-G four times really fast and you've got "Walking in an orgy wonderland". And yes, my husband and I both thought that's what they were singing. Great jumping off place for a holiday erotica story, don't you think? Then toss in the new wresting match I saw advertised last night called "Thong Thunder" and you're all set for another mad romp.

The best thing about the Black Friday story cupboard? It doesn't cost a thing!

Looking at Female Characters

Maybe it's because I've been thinking about female characters and writers lately that a few lines I've heard this past week stood out like a bunch of sore thumbs for me.

From "As Good As it Gets" When the Jack Nicholson character is asked how he writes women so well he says, "I think of a man and take away reason and accountability."

From the Bio channel's biography of Jodi Foster. "She's too intelligent. Hollywood doesn't know what to do with her."

And from another movie, "State of Play". A newspaper editor to a reporter, both intelligent women, "Find out who she knows, who she blows, and the color of her underwear."

I know that there are intelligent female protags, both in movies and books, but why do writers go out of their way to make every other female character appear to be either stupid or a sex machine? Does making that female lead appear more masculine than the other female characters make her character more palatable?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Sorry I haven't been around this week, life decided to pounce in unexpected ways which kept me pretty busy with other things. Hopefully next week will be better. Anyhoo, I just wanted to wish everyone in the States a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with friends and family, good food and happy memories. For those of you not celebrating - I wish the same. Life is best when each day is blessed with happy times filled with friends and family. Those memories make getting through the shit life throws at you so much easier.

I'd liked to thank each and every one of you who stops by for the good times you've given me over the years and may it be returned a hundredfold. Thank You!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Originality Again

I found this link to a great essay about originality from author, Robert Bennett.

Anthology Call

A new anthology call with Woodlawn Press attached as the publisher scroll down the page for the guidelines.

Hills of Fire: Bare-Knuckle Yarns of Appalachia is looking for shorts up to 2500 words written in the pulp style and using any time period so long as the story is set in the Appalachia region. Deadline is June 30, 2012 and payment is 5cents a word.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Spinetingler has revamped their site - very nice, guys!! Drop on over and have a look

The Online Story Cupboard

I don't know if these story cupboard posts are of much help to anyone but I find there are way too many story ideas out there for just one person, so sharing seems the logical thing to do.

Last week Brian Lindenmuth emailed me a link to a post about pox parties. It seems that there's a group of parents on Facebook seeking other parents whose children have the Chicken Pox and they wish to get together so their children can gain a natural immunity to the disease. The bad thing is, they're starting to mail infected items which is considered bio terrorism. Now that opens you up to a whole world of story ideas. (I wrote a story called "Poxed" that appeared in Crimefactory issue #3 before I even saw this article, so the possiblities are wide open.)

An actual terrorist sending these items, a distraught mother who has lost her child and wants to inflict the same pain on other mothers. Many of these people are also holding group meetings in real life which could lead to a whole other set of ideas.

And this morning I discovered this link about hackers who have taken over US satellites on several occasions. The article blames the Chinese, but you can take that one step further. What if a group of teenage hackers decided to take over the world? And of course, you could have undercover aliens doing the nasty deed or again, go with terrorists looking to spread more terror. But what if, in taking over the satellite, you open a gateway into the past or future? And of course, there's always a PI who might need to track down that female client's husband before he kills her. And if you're going crime, a group of bank robbers controlling a satellite could control police communications. Or, oh no, the Godfather?

You're only limited by how many what-ifs you leave your mind open to.


For those of you who write dark YA thrillers Jordan Dane talks about starting a new blog with a group of authors who write in this particular genre. the new blog will officially launch in January but you can check it out here

And Patti Abbott has started a discussion on her blog about writing shorts and what can stall that story when you're writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The First Line

The First Line has posted their 2012 first lines and deadlines. This is a print market looking for shorts of 300 to 3000 words in all genres - you just have to use their first line to start the story. Payment for stories has increased from $20 to $30. They are also looking for non-fiction critical essays about favorite first lines from literary works. 500 to 800 words. Payment is $20

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Advice

It's been a while since I linked to Chuck Wendig's blog, but today's post contains some of the best advice a writer can get. Be yourself and do what works for you, no matter what's working for Joe Smoe over there. And yes, Chuck says it much better

Monday, November 14, 2011


New Hampshire Pulp Fiction is open for submissions for volume 3. The theme for this issue is dedicated to sci-fi and spec-fic stories, with New Hampshire as a tangible presence, of up to 8000 words. The last issue paid $50 per story but there's no mention of pay for this one so you'll have to make an inquiry. You can find the details here

And from Paul Brazill there's word of a new ezine hitting the streets called Gritfiction helmed by Craig Douglas. They're looking for fiction that makes you cringe, weep, and think. You can check them out here This is a non-paying market looking to display new talent.

And there was some chatter on Twitter today about the status of "The Back Alley". According to their submission guidelines, they're still closed to subs and the issue that is posted now was published a year ago.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Learning From Shorts

One of my regular stops on the 'net each day is Charles Tan's Bibliophile Stalker blog. Like me, Mr. Tan is a short story writer and his blog is an invaluable resource for finding links to articles about short stories. This morning the link is his own blog where he's compiled a list of short story collections for the aspiring speculative fiction writer.

"One common problem among writers who attempt to write short fiction is that they don't read enough short stories. Novels, yes. Short stories, no." That quote is from his post and contains so much truth. Yes, we're all readers, but if you're going to write short, you need to read and study shorts. And I'd add this piece of advice. Don't stick to just one genre when you're reading shorts.

When I'm writing Western shorts, I read in that genre. It gives you a feel and flavor of what your readers are going to expect because each genre has its own particular tics. I also read literary shorts because here you learn the beauty of language and how to choose the perfect word to say what you mean. Sci-fi, fantasy, and spec-fic teach you how to build worlds, how to turn a story on its axis to make it more than you thought it was. And horror teaches you how to create fear and suspense. And if you're like me, and write crime stories, you can incorporate what you've learned from other genres to create a story that will touch your reader in a way that just having your characters walk around killing each other doesn't.

Reading shorts teaches you how to think short, how to center your mind on that one bit of story you're writing instead of adding threads here and there that are better suited to a novel than the story you're trying to tell. Reading shorts helps you find the heart of your own story.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Elizabeth A. White

For those of you looking for new anthologies stop on by Elizabeth A. White's great review site where you'll find current reviews of:

Pulp Modern
Noir at the Bar
The Chaos We Know
Crime Factory: The First Shift
West Coast Crime Wave

If you check out the archives you'll find other collections and anthologies that Elizabeth has reviewed along with her many book reviews. Elizabeth is a great friend to the short story world. Thanks Elizabeth!!

Hear Us Roar

Some weeks tend to open themselves up for a theme and this week's is closing out with another round of links relating to women in fiction.

Katherine Tomlinson posted a grand essay on her blog last night initiating Feminist Fiction Friday, where she celebrates women writing women.

Also from Katherine, I received a link to a feminist flash fiction contest that was being promoted on Nick Daw's blog

And here's a direct link to the Mooky site's contest rules This is a no fee contest for under 200 words for a haiku, poem, or flash fiction. Deadline is November 30. There are cash prizes and yes, men are allowed to enter.

Stopping by SleuthSayers this morning I found an excellent essay by writer, Janice Law, titled "All Beautiful Girls are Murdered".

Friday, November 11, 2011

Odds and Ends

If you're putting out your own ebooks you might want to take a look at this post over at Alan Rinzler's blog about choosing book covers.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been writing and sharing her experiences for many years. Today's blog post takes a hard look at how things are changing and explains why no one knows how to deal with all the new situations coming out of epubbing.

And Chris Rhatigan has a lovely review of Pulp Modern here Thanks, Chris!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

From Brian

Brian Lindenmuth emailed me a link to Sarah Hans' blog where she's posted a list of deadlines for submissions. There's contests, anthologies, and magazines listed - all paying.

More Noir Nation

Mulholland Books has posted an interview with Noir Nation editor, Cort McMeel, being interviewed by author Dennis Tafoya.

The Sanctity of Football

Did you ever try to wrap your head around a news story but found that all the pieces didn't add up? Here in PA the big and ONLY news story is the firing of Joe Paterno, head football coach at Penn State for the last 46 years.

Now, I'm not a football fan, so I could care less about him being fired and how this will affect the season. What I'm finding hard to believe is that students actually rioted in the streets last night because he was fired. I would think they would be more outraged that he failed to report the crime of child molestation that was taking place in his own locker room. Sure, he told the school administration, but hell, you can't have that sort of scandal screwing up your football program, can you? It took fifteen years for someone to finally call the cops. Fifteen years and at least eight young men whose lives will never be the same.

I say shame on Joe "let's just say a prayer for the victims" Paterno, Penn State, and a sports-crazed world that believes football is more important than actual human beings.

Invisible Me

Kat Howard has a most interesting post over at The Rejectionist about the invisibility of women.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anthology Calls

The Writing Contests site is posting once again after a summer break. On this site you'll find writing contests, calls for anthology and magazine submissions, fiction and non-fiction. Some contests have fees and the markets are both paying and non-paying for those interested in having a look.

Searching for anthology calls, I came across three publishers I hadn't seen before. Each one has anthology calls listed and pay royalties. They're also open for other submissions. Be sure to look them over before making a decision to submit and don't be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear.

First up is Entangled in Romance This press is looking for romance short stories for two anthologies. One a Steampunk and the other a Superhero anthology.

Pink Petal Books is an erotica press with calls listed for four anthologies.

And last is a new press called Midnight Magic Press that is looking to launch in February of 2012. They're looking for Romance, Urban Fantasy, and Mysteries for their book line. The anthology call is for a Valentine's Day stories. The deadline for this one is December 5.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Last year I started watching "Harry's Law" and couldn't wait for each new episode. This year, I watched the second episode and could less if I ever watch it again. Why? Because they took away the totally original idea of the first season and turned it into "Boston Legal".

I loved the character of Harry because she was a woman who wanted something more out of life than the same old boring legal practice. She stepped out of her safe life and into something entirely new to her. I loved the shoes, the neighbors walking in off the streets, and I especially loved when she pulled the gun on the street's protection guy. She embraced this new life.

The whole concept of the show was a cast of characters who were totally outside of their safety zone, there was room for them to grow, to experience a life that was totally unexpected. So why the change? Why throw away the complete originality of the first season to replay a tired, dead show with a different cast of characters?

What is wrong with originality? I know there is "nothing new under the sun" but when you can put an original spin on that old theme why shrug it off? Why do we feel the need to make our stories conform to the mold created by those who wrote the stories before us?

I'm working on a short story now with a fifty-something bag lady playing a superhero of sorts. And I keep asking myself is this going to fly? Will readers accept an old lady playing superhero or are they going to say that's impossible? I can hear the whispers in my ear, superheroes have muscles and form fitting costumes and the women are beautiful with big boobs. How is my character going to fit into this genre?

So, I wonder, does stepping away from an original idea have more to do with the writer's fear of actually writing that original piece or the fear that editors and readers won't accept the story because it doesn't fit into their perception of what the story should be?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Men and Women

My rant earlier this week brought about this thoughtful post by Chris LaTray. Http://

And this post by Robin Agnew really made me stop and think about some of the stories I've written over the years. She also made me wonder if it's really that easy to recognize the sex of the writer.

A Pair of Markets

Dark Discoveries is open to submissions. They pay 5cents a word for stories of 500 to 6500 words in the Horror/Dark Fantasy/Dark Sci-fi and Dark Mystery genres. You can find the guidelines here

And CrimeSpree Magazine is open for the month of November.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Post: Patti Abbott

This is a first for the Corner, today we have a guest blogger. Patti Abbott is the author of a new collection of short stories released from Snubnose Press called, "Monkey Justice". Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know Patti's blog and all the wonderful things she does for writing community from her "How I Came to Write this Story" posts to Friday's Forgotten Books. She's also one of the best writers I know. Don't believe me? Check out her story "A Saving Grace" over at The Thrilling Detective web site And here's Patti:

First, my thanks to Sandra for the invitation to talk about my collection of stories Monkey Justice. It’s nice to get out of my house once in a while and this constitutes a new way of doing that.

I think the biggest issue for me in putting together this collection was choosing which stories to include and deciding the order in which to place them. Many of my early stories were too literary to fit in well with the thrust of the collection. Easy to eliminate them. And some had not yet appeared in print or online, so I couldn’t use them. From the number that was left, I tried to pick ones that showed some range in plot, character, etc. I also tried to balance lighter stories with darker ones. Good luck with that.

Most interesting to me were the things I discovered about myself working with the stories. Of the 23 stories in this collection, 14 are from the male point of view. I’m not sure what this says about me as a writer. Do I write from that viewpoint because I see men at bigger players in life than women; do I see them as the primary perpetrator of violence; is my inner voice more often male? I’m not sure. Seven of the stories are about old people, not surprisingly since I am nearly there myself. But there also about the same number of stories where people under twenty-five are major characters.

In MONKEY JUSTICE, I kill a lot of people, but that’s the kind of story I write. Even before I stumbled into this community, my stories were always dark. As hard as I might try to write a lighter tale, things always turned out badly. In my very first published story, a man dies and his friend steals his collection of pornographic pictures of the town’s female sheriff. You could see the road I was on already—although when I say already, I was in my mid-forties. Definitely a later bloomer. In my second published story, a woman electrocutes her husband because he’s so untidy. Both of these stories were in so-called literary magazines, but it was an uneasy fit. There they would sit amongst the poetry and stories of angst-filled college students, drowning their sorrows in the nearest bar.

In this collection people are torn apart by dogs, smothered (2), shot (2), killed with a knife (2), killed by a dropped bus (1), killed by a dropped mirror (1), strangled (2)—once by legs. And if you count the mice that die in the last story-killed by mousetraps. Sometimes no one dies, but no one is very happy either.

Recently a friend remarked she didn’t know how my husband could sleep soundly knowing the likelihood of my smothering him with a pillow. What I don’t know is how he reads all these stories without wanting to smother me.

Thanks again to Sandra for this opportunity to talk about MONKEY JUSTICE.

You can find Monkey Justice here


Had a couple of notes from editor, David Cranmer. Beat to a Pulp has opened for submissions. and Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled is now available for your ereaders. Check out the details here

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Head Banging Rant

Do you ever feel like you're beating your head up against a brick wall that's never going to give no matter how hard you beat on it? It's been one of those weeks and it's only Tuesday.

Why is it that most writers only want to discuss ( bsp - promote ) their own work? Are we that jealous of other writers that we refuse to say in a public forum, "Hey, here's a great short story, you should go read it, like right now!" Or do they not read short stories and only use their own short story work to promote their novels?

I love short stories and I know that there are thousands of writers and readers out there who feel the same way I do. And yes, they review and share and promote other writers, but some days it feels like such a minority for a form of writing that has been around since words first hit paper.

And why is that when a new crime imprint opens shop there are no women writers included in that long list of writers they've signed on?

Point being. Why should women even bother writing dark crime fiction if they're going to be totally ignored unless publishers can roll them into that romance/cozy hole they love women to fill? I can count on my fingers and toes the number of women who are considered noir writers, whose work is treated with the same respect as their male counterparts.

Okay, done with my rant, think I'll go hide under my blanket for the rest of the week.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Lost Children

The next time you're loading up your e-readers you might give this new anthology a try. "The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology". Proceeds from the sales go to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children and Children 1st Scotland. You can find all the details here

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Pair of Markets

From friend of the blog, Paul Brazill, we have a crime anthology for Indiana writers. They're looking for crime fiction that takes place in Indiana with a preference for Indiana writers. Stories should be 1500 to 5000 words. Only the top picked story will receive a payment of $10. You can find the details here This site also mentions two other annual anthologies, one horror and one sci-fi, both closed for this year.

And LuridLit has returned! Due to legal problems this site closed down two years ago, but has now reopened for subs. They're looking for stories in various genres that are the literary equivalent of a good B-movie. Payment for flash of 500 to 1000 words is $10, shorts of 1000 to 3000 words is $25, and articles or reviews of 500 to 1000 words is $10. You can find all the details here

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flash Writing

One of the things I love best about writing flash fiction is the ability to play around with characters you probably couldn't build a short story or novel around. And while most flashers will tell you that description is one of the things you shove to the curb when writing flash, I use flash to learn how to incorporate good visual description into a story. With flash I've learned how to keep it short and sharp without turning it all purpley, something I tend to do. If you go overboard with flash, you learn very fast where to cut out the excess to stay within your word count.

For "The Painter" all I had was the picture of a small man sitting in the woods painting. I wrote a short piece and everyone in my critique group said, yeah, they liked the painter but why was the girl there? Back to the drawing board. After playing around with the piece for a couple of weeks, I found I had a nice little piece of horror. With thanks to Dave Barber you can find "The Painter" as part of The Flash Fiction Offensive's Halloween special.

The Red Dirt Review

The Red Dirt Review is looking for the best in Redneck Fiction, both shorts and poetry. Any genre except erotica. I do love his definition of the difference between erotica and porn though. "Erotica uses a feather. Porn uses the whole chicken." All stories need to contain an element of the American South. This is a non-paying market.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Over My Dead Body

Holy Crap! Over My Dead Body has new content!! Three month's worth! And they're open for submissions. I'm having a Redd Foxx moment here. Check it out here

It's Back!

R. Thomas Brown is now writing the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction column for Spinetingler magazine. You can check it out here

A Woman's Story

Have you ever had two thoughts collide in your mind? For me it was this piece over at Mulholland Books and the unrelenting horror movies that the month of October brings.

This collision brought to mind a real life horror story that I was privvy to and that has haunted me over the years. Moving to our farm back in the seventies dropped us smack dab in the middle of a Polish/Russian Catholic neighborhood. Many of the older neighbors were first and second generation immigrants. They'd come to work in the coal mines in Scranton until they scraped together enough money to purchase a bit of land to farm. And they brought their old country beliefs and way of life with them.

We met one of the older gentlemen, he was in his eighties, when his heifer came in heat and decided to visit our bull. About a week later we were talking about this "strange" neighbor with another neighbor who dropped by for a visit and he told us about an incident he witnessed years ago.

As a young man he'd gone to visit with the man and his wife only to find the wife tied to the silo, her blouse ripped off, and the man beating her with a leather strap. When I asked him why he didn't stop the man or report the beating. He informed me that you didn't interfere between a husband and wife. Now this had happened back in the fifties and I could well believe the attitude.

I can only imagine the hell that woman lived through during her lifetime and found it oddly satisfying when I'd heard that she'd passed away. Why satisfying? Because her husband was bedridden and she was his sole caretaker. He laid in bed beside her dead body for two days before the visiting nurse came to check on them. I like to think that her ghost remained in that room, taunting him, getting her revenge for all the years of abuse.

Women are the strongest human beings I know. That woman nearly drowned in old country religious beliefs, being unable to divorce the man she had married or even speak up for herself. Even suicide wasn't an option. She had no children, no friends, and no means of escape. And who, in this country, would ever believe the life she was forced to live. Her final revenge only coming with her death.

And coming back around to the Mulholland piece, I really do have to wonder why publishers don't want to read about older women. Women who have over the years developed a strength and courage that most younger women today can't even begin to imagine. They are bold and brave and interesting. We should be able to tell their stories, not some exaggerated fifties sitcom version of their lives.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Around the Web

Back from strolling about the 'net and I have some links!

Over at Spinetingler, author, Jeff Shelby talks about breaking the rules of writing a series.

Chris Rhatigan talks about Grift magazine and his conversation with editor, John Kenyon.

Louise Ure has a beautiful post over at Murderati today that really makes you stop and think about life.

And the lovely Brian Lindenmuth always finds the best links! Here's three that he sent me recently. Many thanks, kind sir!

This first one is a four part formula for turning a story into fiction. A short, concise guide for writing those lovely short stories.

Blake Butler lists twenty-two things he learned from submitting his writing.

What I found interesting about this last post is not that the author had a story accepted, but that he actually had the balls to submit to a closed market. Which got me thinking, how damn famous do you have to be to just send a publisher a story? I know I couldn't get away with doing something like that. And this guy's name isn't Stephen King.

Monday, October 24, 2011

No Plots With Guns

For anyone looking, I've removed the link to the new issue of Plots with Guns because I was informed that the issue wasn't ready for publication yet, and they're not sure how the link became available. So, stay tuned, one of these days it will be ready :) My apologies for jumping the gun, so to speak.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Odd Sentence Story Cupboard

If you're like me you've got files full of odd-ball sentences and paragraphs, ideas that popped into your head for a story but never made it very far. But...they were too intriguing to throw away. I thought I'd throw out a few of them here today. Maybe you'll get a bit of inspiration from one of them.

1. "This ain't yesterday." I heard this sentence on the TV yesterday and it started to tickle a bit, so I jotted it down.

2. "Give the dwarf his due." Yes, it was devil, but I read it wrong and hey, anyone can use devil, but dwarf?

3. "Old lady smell drifted off her body filling the car with noxious fumes. When did my wife become this vile, smelly piece of flesh?"

4. "We didn't plan on being notorious, it just sort of happened."

5. "There comes a time in every woman's life when she has to jump."

6. "Grams shot him one of those ice-pick-to-the-brain looks."

7. "I might be tempted to rob the cradle, but I won't rob the womb." And no, I have no idea where that came from - can't even begin to imagine where a story might lie in that sentence.

8. "A man is only as good as the control he has over the weapon in his pants."

9. "First kiss. First f**k. First murder. Life is full of firsts."

10. "Weren't none of my business, the going's on in that house. But it sure didn't stop them from dragging me into their feuding mess."

11. "I wasn't too sorry to see him go when he decided to take his lady friend up on her double wide life."

12. "She played June Cleaver on the weekends."

So what about you? Do you look through that file of odds and ends and wonder where your brain was going when you wrote it down?


Issue #8 of Crimefactory has gone live this morning with new work from Julia Madeleine, Seth Harwood, Heath Lowrence, Matthew C. Funk, and many more.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Broken City

I thought this Canadian online zine's theme might tickle the fancy of some of our writers. The Broken City is looking for shorts up to 3000 words, poetry, essay, photography, comics, and flash up to 1000 words for the theme - "This is why I drink.". The deadline is November 1, which is right around the corner. This is a non-paying market.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anthology Calls

Publisher, Candlemark and Gleam has placed an anthology call for submissions. They're looking for Alternate History stories for "Substitution Cipher" of 6000 to 20,000 words in any genre. The deadline is January 15, 2012. Payment is $75 plus two copies.

Angie's Desk has published her monthly list of anthology calls The Damnation and Dames call looks good. They want stories with the paranormal and noir worlds colliding.

If you're looking for some free Halloween reading material Ty Johnston is giving away a collection of five horror stories for your reading devices over at Smashwords. The title is "Sever", details here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Market Notes

Crossed Genres has announced that they're shutting down their magazine after this final issue to concentrate on the publishing side of their business. You can read all the details here The theme for the final issue is "Different" and the deadline is October 31.

And don't forget that the new crime magazine, Grift, is open to submissions for both their online website and their print version. They're also looking for reviews and interviews for both. You can check them out here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flash Challenge Day

Here's my entry for Patti Abbott's Reginald Marsh flash challenge. For the rest of the links go here The link to the picture I used is in the last post. Loads of great reading on the web today!!

By Sandra Seamans

Gilli's eyes never ceased scanning the landscape as she chiggered her way through the unfamiliar territory of the East Tenth Street Jungle. Her small, lithe body sliding easily into the shadows and crevices of the old buildings that rested in sagging heaps on the streets. Rusted steel frames pushing against the black sky were the only proof that skyscrapers had once towered over the city.

She tried to remember the person she'd been before the world crumbled around them. Beautiful. Proud. Intelligent. At the top of her game. She'd had it all, and still did. She was a survivor. But without Christine? The wind carried the sound of voices to her and Gilli slipped into an open seam in the rubble, waiting for the mob to pass. Her mind drifted back to that last conversation with Christine.

"I hate this place, hate living in this...this rabbit warren," said Christine, dramatically sweeping her arm in a large arc around their underground home. "I can't stand being buried alive, not being able to breathe fresh air or walk on green grass."

Always the actress, thought Gilli as she watched Christine pace around the room. Gilli loved that their home was hidden deep in the rubble of an old apartment building. She’d been a creeper, an urban explorer, in her before life, a skill that kept the shelves stocked and their bellies full. She’d found the large open space complete with storage lockers while creeping underground scavenging for supplies. Gilli used the contents of the lockers to create a comfortable living area for them. Christine had been thrilled with their new home back then. But the last two years had worn down her spirits. She wanted her dreams back.

"Shall we rearrange the furniture?” asked Gilli, trying to lighten the mood.

Christine threw herself on the couch beside Gilli. She smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes.

"What I want to know is where are the damn zombies and vampires? Now, those are monsters I could deal with."

"God, Christine, get your head out of the movies. We're living in the real world, with real monsters. The government, the cops, the Army, they’re all gone. We live or die on our own. Which reminds me, I need to go scavenging tonight, we're getting low on supplies."

"You're going to leave me alone?"

"You want to eat don't you?"

"Yes, but I'm also afraid that you'll get trapped inside one of those buildings and never come back. Then what would I do?"

Gilli tried to pull Christine into her arms, but she pushed Gilli away and rose from the couch to start pacing again.

"I'll always come back to you, sweetheart," said Gilli. She laughed, then added, "I'm your Princess Charming, here to fulfill your every desire."

"Very funny. I heard the train whistle again last night. They say the engineer is a preacher, someone you can trust. I want out of the city, Gilli.”

“Ah, the infamous "they" said. How do you know the preacher isn’t a monster and his train whistle just a trap? And what if what's beyond the city is worse?”

“And what if it isn't?”

"We know how to survive here, I won‘t risk our lives on a what if proposition."

"And if I want to risk mine?"

“Do what you want," said Gilli as she gathered up her gear. "I'll be back in a few hours. Anything special you'd like? A lipstick, some perfume, a new dress?"

"You think you can change my mind with a few trinkets? If you loved me, you'd find that train."

Gilli shrugged. "I would if I could, Christine, but that train isn't real. And all the wishes in the world won't make it so."

A splash of white paint on the crumbling wall across the street caught Gilli's eye. A white cross on a black locomotive. Faint hope. The promise of a preacher and a train ride out of the city. A fucking fairytale trip away from the horror that haunted the streets.

Tears spilled down Gilli's cheeks. "I never should have left you alone."

The voices faded off into the distance and Gilli slipped out of her hiding space to move deeper into the Jungle. The dregs of humanity lived in this area, preying on anyone who wandered into their domain. The wildest of the wild prowled here. She shivered as she thought of Christine making her way alone through the Jungle. Gilli knew there was little hope of finding her, but she had to make the attempt. Christine was the lifeline that anchored her sanity, kept Gilli from turning into one of the monsters they hid from.

As she cleared the Jungle, a sad wailing whistle filled the air. The fabled locomotive. Gilli wanted to hurry towards the sound, but held herself in check. There were hidden traps everywhere and empty bellies that needed filling.

Sliding in and out of the shadows, Gilli worked her way closer to the source of the whistle. A crippled locomotive rested on a side rail. Going nowhere. The preacher stood in the cab pulling the whistle and leading his congregation in song. The smell of roasting meat filled the air, making Gilli's stomach churn.

When the hymn ended the preacher’s voice rose above the murmuring crowd. "Let us pray. Dear God, we give thanks for this food you so thoughtfully provided. Bless the souls of those who provided the meat for our table. Amen."

Gilli's eyes drifted over the crowd, searching for Christine. She found her, hanging by her feet, the rope tossed over a tree branch, blood draining from the cavity where they'd gutted her. Christine's glazed eyes stared at her, void of dreams. Her empty body nothing more than meat for the masses.

Gilli's gaze riveted on the preacher, taking in every inch of the man, memorizing the face of the man who stole her life. “Soon, Mr. Preacher,” she whispered slipping back into the shadows. “Soon you’ll be tasting a fear your God can’t even begin to imagine.”

Monday, October 17, 2011


Don't forget that tomorrow is the deadline for Patti Abbott's flash fiction challenge. I've got mine finished except for a bit of spit and polish. I usually know a story is done when I can read through it without changing anything :)

I love prompts when I'm writing because they make me think longer and harder before I put down that first word. When you know that a large group of fantastic writers are going to be using the same prompt you're forced to find an idea that you don't think anyone else will think of, too. Most prompts leave you with two or three great ideas that everyone else will think of, so you have to reach for the fifth or sixth or maybe the eleven-hundredth idea so your story will be original.

My piece for tomorrow is a bit out there. Scrolling through all of Reginald Marsh's paintings on the 'net was a bit overwhelming. Trying to find something that sparked an idea was easy, but when I stumbled across some of his black and white pencil drawings, the muse really kicked in.

First was this sketch called "The Locomotive" Something about the picture just drew me in. But I couldn't find a story in this wonderful sketch. So, I started scrolling again and found this amazing sketch called "East Tenth Street Jungle" and everything fell into place.

The Jungle sketch is a look at the depression era and is so full of life and hurt and human beings at their worst that the words spilled, even pulling in the locomotive for the final scene. And the odd thing is, I don't feel like the story is finished with me. While the flash is complete in itself, I loved this world I created and hope to someday revisit this story and add in all the back story that filled my head as I was writing.

What about you, do you love or hate prompts? Do they help or just stall out your brain by making you over think an idea?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Mothman Anthology Call

Well, last year we had "The Mothman Files", now from the same editor, we have a call for submissions for a new anthology, "The Mothman Chronicles". Up to 4000 words and payment is 5cents a word. Deadline is July 1, 2012 so you have plenty of time to come up with something original. Details here

Beat to a Pulp

If you'd like a sneak peek at the new cover for Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, you'll find it here This will be available as an ebook in November with Beat to a Pulp: Round Two out in December.

And over at BTaP you'll find the second installment of my serial story about Calliope Andrews called "Through the Rainbow Wind" Editor, David Cranmer, has a link at the top of the story for the first installment if you missed it back in July.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yellow Mama

The October issue of Yellow Mama has hit the virtual streets with loads of stories from a great lineup of writers that includes Richard Godwin and AJ Hayes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Have you ever looked at a sentence or word and read something that wasn't there? I do it all the time and have to go back and reread. But this one tickled my funny bone "paranoid romance". Yeah, it was paranormal but how much more fun to write paranoid. :)

Midwestern Gothic

For our Midwestern writers, print magazine, Midwestern Gothic, has opened submissions for their fourth issue. Up to 10,000 words, payment is an electronic copy of the magazine. You can find the details here

Snubnose Press

Snubnose Press has closed to new submissions until 2012.

New Pulp Fiction

New Pulp Fiction is looking for a review editor. There's no mention of pay, but I know there's quite a few of you out there who review pulp fiction and might be interested in the opportunity.

Market News

Thrillers, Killers, and Chillers has put out a call for Halloween stories of 1000 words or less with a October 25 deadline.

A new humor zine called The Laughter Shack is set to launch soon. This is a non-paying market looking for humorous shorts of 500 words or less. Friend of the blog Dave Barber is the wizard behind the curtain here.

There's a new epublisher getting set to launch on November 1 called Blasted Heath. They've already got books set to go. You can find the press release and more details here Al Guthrie and Kyle MacRae are the publishers.

Trestle Press has been making a splash with their ebooks since they launched earlier this year. While I can't find their pay rates on the site, they do have a call out for a new anthology series of International Noir/Hardboiled crime stories. Author names connected with this press are ones familiar in the crime community like Nigel Bird, BR Stateham, Paul Brazill, and Richard Godwin. You can find much of the work published by this press reviewed here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Patti Abbott

Short story writer, Patti Abbott, and I have been sharing the pages of online zines for several years now, and I'm a big fan of her work. So it's with great pleasure that I get to tell you that Snubnose Press has just released her first collection of short stories, "Monkey Justice: Stories". We're Snoopy dancing here at the corner for our friend, Patti!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Love the Smell of Fresh Print

I'm enjoying the fact that some of the new editors/publishers are putting their zines out in print. There's just something about holding those pages in your hands that you can't quite capture with electronic publishing. That said, the fall issue of Needle mag has hit the streets, you can find it here And if you still want your electronic fix, the very first issue is now available for your ereader at that link.

Another first time print magazine is Pulp Modern and you can find a review by Thomas Pluck here

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We've Got Shorts!

Here a collection, there an anthology. Short stories are out there folks and finding them isn't all that hard anymore. Don't believe me? Well, David Cranmer posted a list of seven books worth your time and all but two are collected short stories.

Back a year or so ago, Brian Lindenmuth thought the online zines should put together anthologies of their stories so they wouldn't be lost forever. Well, guess what, it's happening! You've got Beat to a Pulp: Round One out there with number two coming out later this year. Crime Factory has issued Crime Factory: The First Shift and Pulp Metal just published Laughing at the Death Grin. All available at in both print and e-reader format.

And reviews! There are more and more sites posting reviews of these anthologies.

Darren Sant reviews Pulp Ink here

Nigel Bird reviews Keith Rawson's The Chaos We Know

Chris Rhatigan reviews Toxic Reality by Katherine Tomlinson

And that, folks, is just the tip of the iceberg. Word of mouth about all these great stories is avalanching across the Internet faster than they're being published. Oh yeah, it's a great and wonderful time to be a short story writer!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Learning from Reviews

Being a writer, means learning to keep your mind open so you can learn how to do your job better. And reviews are a part of that learning process. I love reading reviews that take a story apart to show you both the good and the bad. Good reviews are similar to writing critiques but at least with a crit, the writer is expecting you to find fault. Once a story is published, well, what's to criticize? Sometimes a great deal.

Over at Spinetingler, Nick Mamatas did a review of "Three Theories of the Murder of John Wiley" by J. David Osborne. He picked the story apart, told what didn't work for him and what did. A commenter told him to "go fuck himself". But the part of the story he picked apart is something that writers need to watch out for in their stories. Making sure the story is believable and that the story flows properly from scene to scene. I got what Nick was saying because it's a problem I have in my own work and something that I have to check for in the editing and rewriting.

You know what I'm talking about, those moments in a story when a reader scratches his head and wonders how they got there. A good example? You have two men sitting at the dinner table arguing. Next scene they're standing toe to toe and throwing punches. Okay, when exactly did they stand up? It's those little things that trip up a story. And Nick made a valid point of calling the writer on it. And it's something a good editor should have caught.

Writing for online publications, I discovered that not all editors are created equal, some will go the distance to make your story great and others will just publish whatever you send them. So, I learned early on that I needed to be both writer and editor if I wanted my stories to be good. A good writer doesn't depend on an editor to find the flaws, but a good editor should catch what the writer doesn't.

So you writers out there. Don't just write great scenes, make sure they flow one into the next with a believable continuity. It's in your own best interest. And editors will love you for it.

Oh, and Nick's review is here if you'd like to read it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

KHP Books

KHP Books is an e-book publisher that's been in operation since 2002. They have opened up three of their imprints for submissions through the end of October. They're looking for dark/horror across the genres of 30,000 to 100,000 words. This is a royalty paying publisher with a 50% of net payment to the authors. The imprints that are open are:

Black Death Books
Skullvines Press
Blasphemous Books

You can find the details here