Monday, February 28, 2011

Flash Challenge Day!

Today is Patti Abbott's flash challenge day. Each writer had to use the phrase, "I really don't mind the scars." somewhere in their story. You can find links to all the stories over at Patti's blog. Below is my story, actually more of a slice of life micro-flash piece.


I kept telling myself that I really didn't mind the scars, but deep down inside, yeah, I did mind. They were a brutal reminder of my cowardice. A billowing white flag of surrender proclaiming that I laid down my soul for a comfortable life.

So how did I get scars from living a comfortable life? I married a man with a good job, a man loved and admired by his friends and family. I accepted the flowers and thoughtful gifts that came after. After the promotion he expected went to that bitch the company hired to meet their minority quotas. After that drunk bastard, Lloyd, missed the 7 - 10 split that cost my husband's bowling team the league championship. After any one of a dozen every day moments when his temper flared and my body was the closest available release valve.

And the scars? They cradle my tears, my hopes, my dreams, and my failure to stand up for myself. Until today.

Today, the stitches laced down the length of my cheek are my personal badge of courage. Proof that the man I married wasn't that saintly person he put on display for the general public. They're my escape into an uncomfortable life where I can finally draw a free breath. Today I fly my flag of scars proudly, undeniable proof that I survived the domestic war that raged in the privacy of our marriage.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Musing

Over at the Murder is Everywhere blog, Tim Hallihan has an essay about readers who take offense.

I've been on the receiving end of that kind of rant for some of my short stories and it always puzzles me. A story I wrote this past year, "A Soiled Afternoon", came under fire for the awful way I murdered the mother in the story. I told the man he should read the story again because nowhere in that story was the woman killed. Was it implied? Yes, but not a shot was fired, nor a bloody corpse seen, except for a pair of skinned rabbits.

I think one thing we tend to forget as writers is the reader's imagination. Sometimes it's bigger than our own and a few well-chosen words can take them to places even we couldn't imagine going. And if we're good enough writers, the reader isn't able to separate the words they're reading from the story unfolding in their heads. For better or worse, the reader is our partner.

Oh, and if you're interested in the story that spawned the musings in this post you can read it here

Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers

TKnC has closed for submissions in order to catch up. They've also lowered the maximum word count from 2500 to 2000. A very cool new feature is a traffic light up on the right side of the site to let you know if they're open or closed for subs. You'll find the details at

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Anthology Calls

I found a few anthology calls today that might be of interest.

Panic Press has a call for horror stories with a moral for "Soup of Souls". Up to 5000 words with a March 31 deadline. Pay is 1/2 cent a word.

If you're a writer from Prince Edward Island or have any connection to the place this anthology might be of interest. Prince Edward Island Writers Guild is looking for stories up to 5000 words. There's no theme or genre restrictions and PEI doesn't need to be the setting. This anthology is for writers who have published no more than 2 adult novels also. The deadline is June 30 and pay is $75 plus 1 copy.

Hic Dragones Publishing has two calls listed for stories of 3000 to 5000 words. This is a non-paying market. The titles are: "Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny" and "Cottonopolis: Steampunk Manchester. Details here

Silver Boomer Books has a call for a patriotic/military anthology. The deadline is March 30 and the pay is $10 plus a copy.

The erotica market seems to be thriving. Storm Moon Press has an M/M anthology, "Shades of Grey" posted. They're looking for stories of 10,000 to 15,000 words with a September 30 deadline. The pay is $0.013 per word. That's a penny and a bit not 13cents. Details at

And Rachel Kramer Bussel has three erotica calls listed on her site, all paying markets.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Week of Shorts

Author Janice Hardy has been hosting a short story week on her blog. So far this week there are posts about the novel vs short, world building in short fiction, revising, and marketing. You can read all the posts here Just scroll down through. Ms. Hardy has many posts about writing on her blog, so take a few minutes to look around.

Are You a Writer?

Fun discussion about what makes a writer an actual writer. Is it the act of putting words on the page, or recieving professional payment for your work? Or is the bottom line holding that novel in your hands? Being is a real writer means different things to different people.

Market Notes

If you have a previously published werewolf story Books of the Dead Press is putting together a reprint anthology of werewolf stories. The pay is 1cent a word with March 31 deadline for stories of 1500 to 15000 words. Details here I found this market over at Hellnotes where there's an interview with the anthology's editor.

Over at Cindi Myers Market Report blog there's quite a few short story markets listed, some erotica, and various other genres.

And at DL Snell's Market Scoops comes the word that Necrotic Tissue is closing down.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Voice Lessons

I know a great many writers use music when they write, some even including lyrics or mentions of the songs in their work. For me, I enjoy the quiet of house silence. The muffled sounds of the TV, the washer and dryer running, the dishwasher churning, the cat's toenails clicking across the floor. Just plain old everyday sounds. So when I came across this essay by John Remy, I was intrigued.

Mr. Remy actually shows you how the music works, especially with the song, "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails. By showing three singers doing the same song, you can see how each voice brings something different to the story. Choosing your narrator is tricky business and finding the perfect character to tell the story makes all the difference.

Spinetinger News

Spinetingler magazine has opened for new submissions today. This is a paying market. You can find their submission guidelines at

The first fiction short story of the new year, "The Columbian" by Fred Snyder, has also been posted. You can read it here

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Market Links

I haven't been keeping up with the markets very well this month, but scouting around today I found a few places that have some new markets listed.

Angie's Desk has 9 anthologies listed. There's both erotica and horror themes with a dash of fantasy tossed in. has two new markets, 1 zine and 1 anthology along with some news about Dorchester publishing.

And over at Duotrope I came across Twit Publishing based in Dallas, Texas. They're publishing an anthology called Pulp! and they have a call out for the summer/fall issue. They want pulp stories of 4000 to 9000 words with a March 31 deadline. On their front page they mention that artists should be paid, but I can find no mention anywhere on the site if they're actually paying for the stories. You can check them out at

I also stumbled across a site called Essential Writers that might interest some of you. Besides posting markets, they have articles and such about writing.

Hopefully March will be a better month for me and things will get back to normal around the blog.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Agatha Nominees

The 2010 Agatha Award nominees have been announced. You can find the entire list here Here at the Corner we're Snoopy Dancing for the short story nominees!

"Swing Shift" by Dana Cameron
"Size Matters" by Sheila Connolly
"Volunteer of the Year" by Barb Goffman
"So Much in Common" by Mary Jane Maffini
"The Green Cross" by Liz Zelvin

Congratulations to all the Agatha nominees!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Value Yourself

This is something every writer should take a few minutes to read

2011 Million Writers Award

The 2011 StorySouth Million Writers Award has opened for nominations. Eligible stories must be 1000 words or longer and published in an online zine or journal that has an editorial process in place. Readers/writers can nominate one story each and editors can nominate 3. The deadline is March 15 so get your nominations in. You can find all the details here

While this award does have cash prizes for the winning writers the side bonus for these nominations is discovering new zines and writers out there on the 'net.

On Writing

Writing description is always a struggle for me. I love dialogue and often get caught up in my character's conversation and forget to move them about the page as they're talking. In my head I can picture rooms but they tend to not show up on the page as my characters walk through them. If you have a similar problem you might want to check out these links.

Two links at Cat Rambo's blog, yes she's a sci-fi writer, but I can't think of a better place to learn about description than from a fantasy or sci-fi writer.

And over at Storytellers Unplugged Thomas Sullivan has a beautiful essay that both shows and tells you how to do it. And you've got to love a title like this, "Writing With Coyote Pee, The Walter Mitty Shuffle and Metaphor Multi-Tasking"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Musing

Years ago my cousin, Cindy, sent me a cake recipe. It's a simple cake, a combination of cake mix and instant pudding mix baked in a Bundt pan. Her recipe calls for a double shot of chocolate. Now I like chocolate, but not that much, so I started to experiment with different flavors of cake mixes and pudding. The varieties are endless.

Here's a few I've tried with success (success is when they actually eat the cake and don't complain). Cherry cake mix and chocolate pudding tastes like a chocolate covered cherry. A yellow cake mix with butterscotch pudding, chocolate mix with cheesecake pudding, sometimes with a ribbon of actual cheesecake in the center, and yesterday I tried a marble cake mix with pistachio pudding, using the chocolate mix to make a ribbon of chocolate through the center. Of course, the glaze I choose top the cake with can enhance the flavor. A fudge glaze on the butterscotch, a white glaze on the chocolate, and yesterday's cake was topped with an almond flavored glaze.

So why am I talking recipes on a short story blog? Because all stories and genres have a basic recipe, it's what the writer adds to the mix that takes a story beyond the basics and into something special. True, sticking to that basic formula will, if you're a decent writer, get you published. But if you want to step beyond that safe, plain vanilla story, add a little spice or kick in a new flavor to enhance the story, don't be afraid to experiment. You never know what you can create if you don't at least try.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bros before Hoes

I've been reading quite a few articles of late about how women writers are pretty much ignored for publication in magazines, reviews, etc. etc. etc. I don't know where I stand on all of this. I come from a place where women are separate from and considered beneath (get your mind out of the gutter!) men on so many levels....Anyhoo, I found this article by Percival Everett has pretty much nailed the situation.

As for me, I'll just keep writing and damn the gatekeepers who decide what gets published, reviewed, etc. etc. etc.

And the title? Brian said I missed the only opportunity to use that for a title - I just proved him wrong! :))

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine News

Via Bill Crider's blog:

EQMM is changing its method of accepting submissions. Other bloggers reading this, please feel free to cut and paste this info to help get out the word.

Writers' Guidelines

As of February 14, 2011 EQMM will be using an online submission system ( that has been designed to streamline our process and improve communication with authors. We ask that all submissions be made electronically, using this system, rather than on paper. Our online submissions form for fiction asks for your name, e-mail address, cover letter, story title, and story. Your cover letter should state the length of your story, your publishing history (briefly!), and any other relevant information. If you have not been previously published, let us know that your story should be considered for our Department of First Stories. We ask for the same information for poetry. Please fill out a separate form for each poem submitted for consideration. All stories and poems should be in standard manuscript format and submitted in .DOC format. At this time, our system does not support .DOCX, .RTF, or .TXT files. For information about standard formatting, see William Shunn's guide to Proper Manuscript Format. After you have submitted your work, a tracking number will be displayed and an automated e-mail confirmation containing this information will be sent to you. If you have not received this e-mail within twenty-four hours, please notify us by e-mail. Your tracking number will allow you to monitor the status of your submission through our website, so please don't lose it.

NOTE: occasionally treats our e-mails as spam, so please keep an eye on your spam folder.

We will continue to accept paper submissions only from established authors who do not have the technical capability to submit electronically.

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine welcomes submissions from both new and established writers. We publish every kind of mystery short story: the psychological suspense tale, the deductive puzzle, the private eye case—the gamut of crime and detection from the realistic (including the policeman's lot and stories of police procedure) to the more imaginative (including "locked rooms" and "impossible crimes"). We need hard-boiled stories as well as "cozies," but we are not interested in explicit sex or violence. We do not want true detective or crime stories. With the exception of a regular book review column and a mystery crossword, EQMM publishes only fiction. We are especially happy to review first stories by authors who have never before published fiction professionally. First-story submissions should be addressed to EQMM's Department of First Stories.

EQMM has been in continuous publication since 1941. From the beginning three general criteria have been employed in evaluating submissions: We look for strong writing, an original and exciting plot, and professional craftsmanship. We encourage writers whose work meets these general criteria to read an issue of EQMM before making a submission. EQMM's range in the mystery genre is extensive: Almost any story that involves crime or the threat of crime comes within our purview. However, like all magazines, EQMM has a distinctive tone and style and you can only get a sense of whether your work will suit us by reading an issue.

How Do You Write?

Lev Grossman has an interesting look at how we writers combine writing and reading with much more food for thought in the comments of this post.

Hat tip to Brian for the link!

Food for Thought

On the epubbing front comes this post by Terrill Lee Lankford

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Story Cupboard

Okay, so this morning on the news they were talking about people snorting "bath salts". As near as I can figure, it's not your normal everyday bath salts but something new that's laced with mephedrone and gives you the same kind of high as cocaine or methamphetamine. Of course, it does give a whole new meaning to Calgon's old slogan, 'Calgon, take me away!'.

Anyhoo, this lethal bath salt drops the sniffer into a psychotic state. Reading some of the articles, I found that one man committed murder while under the influence and another both slit his throat and shot himself.

The most interesting thing I found while surfing around was a site called and this article, "7 Common Foods That Can Actually Get You High".

They are:

1. rye bread
2. nutmeg
3. sarpa salpa
4. Stilton cheese
5. mulberries
6. poppy seed bagels
7. coffee

So, if you're looking to drive your characters nuts, make them paranoid or sick, this article will give you some interesting new ideas. And while you're at, click around the site, the idea pool is enormous and filled with lots of interesting articles.

****A late addition to this post. Lee Lofland has a post up on his excellent blog about bath salts from a police officer's point of view.

For the Boys

Brian Lindenmuth sent me this link for a new-to-me online zine called BULL. Looking around the site I found that they've been around since 2009 and are still going strong. What are they looking for? Fiction for thinking men. Of course, being a woman, I could ask the age old question of what are they thinking with, but I'll refrain :) They do have archives so you can check out what they're publishing. This is a non-paying market and there are no length requirements listed. As they say they're just looking for work that will appeal to men. They also accept reprints and non-fiction articles. You can find out more at

The home page mentions an anthology call but when I clicked on the link it didn't take me anywhere, but that could be my computer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Pine Tree Mysteries and Southern Grit seem to have bit the dust. Neither link is up and running.

Market Notes

I have a little bit of everything for you today, folks.

Nefarious Muse is back in business and looking for subs. this is a non-paying market.

I've mentioned the sci-fi magazine Electric Velocipede before on the blog. They've made the announcement that they'll no longer be a print zine but are taking the online route. They are closed to subs now as the next several issues are filled but will be reopening towards the end of the year.

On the SMFS board Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads announced a call for submissions for two anthologies - one for Mother's Day and the other for Father's day. They're looking for crime, thriller, suspense and mystery of 1500 to 5000 words. Deadlines are April 8 and May 1. You can find all the details at This is a royalty paying market.

Also from SMFS is Voices from the Garage. This is both an online zine and bi-monthly print. They're seeking shorts of 1000 to 10,000 words in the genres of noir, sci-fi, and literary. The pay is $15 to $25 BUT they only pay for stories published in the print version. There is no payment for online stories.

Over at the Creative Writing Contests blog I ran across a no fee contest for YA short stories involving aspects of the paranormal or urban fantasy ala Jim Butcher. The deadline is May 31 for shorts of 3000 to 8000 words. You can find all the details at

There is an interview up at D L Snells' Market Scoops blog with the editor of the AUS magazine Cosmos. This is a sci-fi magazine looking for sci-fi shorts of 2000 to 4000 words. Pay is $300 for the print magazine, $175 for the online version. The interview is here And Cosmos is here

And in case you've missed it, Patti Abbott has issued a new flash challenge. Around 800 words using the sentence "I really don't mind the scars." with a February 28 deadline.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dark Valentine

We're doing a big Snoopy dance here today for Dark Valentine magazine. Why you ask? Because the preliminary ballot for the Stoker Awards is out and G. O. Clark's story "Surprise" from issue two of Dark Valentine is on there. A big congrats to Mr. Clark and Katherine Tomlinson's Dark Valentine magazine. For the complete Stoker list go here

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Musing

This past week I've been following the interviews about epublishing over at Spinetingler dropped on top of that was this essay by Joelle Charbonneau and I wonder if the whole publishing world is going crazy.

We've got established writers telling us we should jump on the bandwagon but only if we're good. So who in hell decides who's good and who's not? Every writer who puts a pen to paper believes they've written the greatest novel ever.

Then we've got Joe Konrath, who ten years ago was telling us all we should not self-publish. and now, after he's got all these stupid writers out here jumping up and down on bandwagons and slapping brands on their asses he says, he was wrong. Self-publishing is where the money is and he's bragging up his $$$$ like we're all going to hit the freaking lottery if we follow his example. And I wonder what he'll think is the right way to go in another ten years. The Pied Piper route isn't always the road to travel. And if all you're in it for is the money, get a job, that's a guaranteed paycheck every week.

Do I know what the best options are for writers? Hell, no. I've thought of putting together a collection of my shorts but how do I know if they're any good? Sure they've been published but are they worth the time and money it will take to put them together, hire an editor and cover designer? I, for sure know that I'm not going to be pulling down the big bucks. For one, I'm not famous and two, I'm not that good and I'm willing to admit that.

And I think that's one of the problems with all this self-publishing. Writers believing they're the best there is, instead on acknowledging that no matter how good they are, there's always someone better. And the truth is, no one can predict who the public will choose to embrace.

As far as I can see, this new self-publishing is pretty much like the gold rush. There's a few people who are going to make a lot of money and a lot more who are going to walk away with nothing to show for their hard work. Sure there's no upfront money like the vanity presses but a writer still has their time into the work. Kindle and all the others will collect their share by doing nothing but provide a platform. Add to that the editors who will be setting up shop (and we already know the scams that have been running rampant over the years in that pool of sharks) and then, there are the folks who will want their cut for covers and formatting and the writer's share gets smaller and smaller.

There is no easy answer, no sure fire way of getting your work noticed. If you want to write, go ahead and write. Learn your craft, be the best you can be, but watch your back and your pocketbook as you wade into that publishing pool. There be sharks and pirates waiting for you, no matter if you self-publish or go the traditional route.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stacked Decks?

Michael Bracken sent me the link to this article by Meghan O'Rouke about the ratio of men to women getting published in the magazine market. Very interesting figures.

I remember back several months ago I asked when Plots with Guns was going to publish an all female issue as they tended toward the male voiced stories. At the time, the editor and I had a bit of back and forth and he told me that of the 40 or so stories he had on hand only about five were female submission. I did notice that none of those five were selected for the next issue, but as he said, it all boils down to what appeals to him.

This post over at "Fried Chicken and Coffee" also makes me wonder if it's a matter of not submitting or just the editor's tastes that makes the balance so uneven.

Whatever the case, we ladies seem to have a steeper hill to climb.

Beat the Dust

With a hat tip to Brian Lindenmuth we have a new zine called "Beat the Dust". Currently they have a new crime/noir issue up for your reading pleasure. You'll also find pod-casts of the stories and music if you prefer listening to your stories.

This is a non-paying invitation only market except for their July issue, which is still non-paying but has an open submission call. The deadline for this issue is the first Sunday of July for shorts up to 1500 words and flash up to 500. They also accept poetry.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Writer and the White Cat

The guidelines have gone up for "The Writer and the White Cat" zine. and they're open for subs for the June issue. The theme is steampunk with an emphasis on mystery/suspense. This is a paying market. They're also looking for three sci-fi movie reviews for the first issue, pay is $50 for reviews. You'll find all the details at the link.

Thinking Out Loud

"No matter how much pretty packaging you put around something, if it isn't for you, it isn't for you. Stop wasting time going with the trends. Give yourself permission to like what you like, and don't worry about what other people think. If you love your pair of rainbow suspenders, wear them! If disco music is the only thing that gets you grooving, crank up the volume! Be proud of who you are and be proud of all the things that set you apart from the rest of the world."

That's my horoscope today. Do I believe in them? No, but sometimes they hit me with a bit of truth about myself and where I'm going in life. I've been feeling a bit down about my writing lately. I feel like I don't quite fit in anywhere. The genre I most enjoy writing in is populated with an astounding number of talented young men and women who will grow the genre into something I might not recognize and where I'll be the square peg in a round hole. And yet, I keep writing, striving to be the best I can be.

Like wearing those rainbow suspenders, I write what fits me, the stories that come from my heart, that reflect my life and times. And I enjoy what I do because it breathes life into my soul and makes me happy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Are You Confused Yet?

Contradicting view points? Not entirely!

"Writing What You Don't Know" by Jon Sprunk

"Gray Matter: Write What You Know" by Robert Gray

The Thrilling Detective

For those of you who may not have noticed, The Thrilling Detective has been posting monthly observations of all things PI. This month there's a great interview with Reed Farrell Coleman conducted by Jack Bludis.

While you're there drop into the fiction section where you'll find a short story called "Munchies" by Jack Bludis and if you enjoyed that one, Jack also has a great flash story called "The Primrose Path" over at The Texas Gardener. just scroll down a bit to read his story. Jack is one of those writers who's been writing forever and making a living at it, yet few people know his name.

Anthology Call

I ran across this anthology call over at Bete Noire. Please note that it doesn't open for subs until July 1 and anything submitted before then will be deleted. This also gives you time to get your story written and polished. Be sure to mark your calender so you don't forget.

The anthology is "In Poe's Shadow" and they're looking for shorts of 2000 to 4000 words inspired by one of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. The payment is 1cent plus one copy. Subs accepted from July 1 to the 31st.

Market Day!!

Ah...can you smell it? Spring is in the air! Yeah, we're getting smacked with a HUGE snow storm but hey it's the first of February and there's warmer weather on the horizon. And since it's the first of the month, there's markets opening for your finely crafted shorts.

The Red Penny Papers is open until the 28th for your dark pulpy stories This is a paying market at a penny a word up to $25.

Pulp Empire has a themed anthology opening for subs today. "Pirates and Swashbucklers" is the name and the theme. Deadline is April 15 for shorts of 5000 to 20,000 words, the pay is royalties on sales. They're also open for regular submissions.

Lost Woods Books is a part of Sword and Saga Press and they have a new anthology call opening today for environmental stories with a genre twist called "Clamoring Spring". They're looking for stories up to 7500 words along with non-fiction essays. Payment is one copy and they're open until filled which they expect to be about three months.

A few print magazines have opened, paying and non-paying:

Shock Totem
Pear Noir
Vestal Review
The First Line is always open but the new theme opens tomorrow and accepts subs until May 1. The opening line is, "We need to talk."

And last but not least the Crimefactory opens for subs today. This is both an online and print zine and available on all those hand held do-hickeys. Way to make a zine available to the reading public, guys!!