Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time for a Rant

Been a while since I've had a rant on the blog, but something the Criminal Element site did today really irked me. I clicked over there to read an article about the "Heroines of Summer TV" and was redirected to their Romance site to read the article. Why? I have no idea, because the article was about CRIME fiction characters.

Women keep pissing and moaning that they get no respect in their writing genres, crime and sci-fi in particular. Well, if you're going to allow all of your heroines to be dropped into the romance genre what do you expect? I tune in to watch Brenda Lee Johnson, Mary Shannon, and Fiona Glenanne solve crimes and kick ass. What they do in the bedroom is of little interest to me. So why do I have to go read about these ladies on a Romance site? Because, they're women? How many male crime fighters get slotted into the Romance category?

I find it very annoying that because a female character has a love interest, it's automatically categorized on some level as romance. Male characters have love interests and not just the wham, bam, thank you ma'am type. When's the last time you saw Matthew Scudder, Harry Bosch, or Lucas Davenport in the Romance section of your local book store or review site?

Female writers plus female characters does not automatically equal romance.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Anthology Call / Border Noir

I've been finding all kinds of calls for non-paying anthologies but not many paying. This one does pay though, $25 plus 2% royalties on the first 600 copies sold.

"Border Noir: Hard-Boiled Fiction from the Southwest" has a February 1,2012 deadline. There was no word count listed but they're especially interested in authors from South Texas. The editor is Alvaro Rodriguez. You can find all the details at

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Flash Challenge

Dan O'Shea has issued another flash challenge for all you flash writers out there. You've got a July 23 deadline (almost a month) and 1000 words to tell a story revolving around a death in the family the squabble that ensues. Dan will be donating $5 for every entry to Heartsprings, a home for Autistic children. You can find all the details at

Will the Real

Anonymous-9 please stand up


Here's a new quarterly zine with a slight twist on the Pulp scene. "Hyperpulp" is looking for shorts in all the genres, but with a literary twist. The first issue is live as a pdf download and will soon be available for all those electronic devices. They're also open for submissions of stories up to 10,000 words. And they accept reprints. This is a non-paying market.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

RIP Martin H. Greenberg

This is a sad loss, not only for his friends and family, but for the short story community as well. I didn't know Mr. Greenberg but last year when I received a request, on April Fools Day, to reprint one of my stories in an anthology I thought it was some kind of joke - until I saw Martin Greenberg's name in the email. Then I knew it was for real. Mr. Greenberg's name was on the cover of many of the anthologies on my shelf. Without his hard work and devotion I expect many short stories would have been lost forever. Rest in peace, Mr. Greenberg.

Ed Gorman, who worked with, and was good friends with, Mr. Greenberg has some thoughts here

And from Bill Crider here

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Anthology Reviews

Well, I just couldn't resist posting this one :)

Thanks, Cullen!!

Hat tip to Patti Abbott for the link.

Shorts Again

Sometimes it really bugs me that people who write articles about short stories always use the title "The Long and Short of It". And yes, I've been guilty of doing it, too! While the author of this article pretty much states the obvious (to short story writers :) ) it's worth a read to remind yourself how important short stories really are.

A great article that encompasses the history of short stories and where they might be going in this new world of epubbing is written by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on her wonderful blog An optimistic look at the short story!

Finally, editor, Alan Rinzler, has some advice on trusting your reader. He talks about how much or how little you should include in your story to get the point across to the reader. As a flash writer, I always looked for ways to trim to the bone, as I write longer stories I'm having to include all the stuff I used to cut. So if like me, you're learning how to add more to a story without putting in too much fat this article is a must-read.

A Pair of Anthologies

Wicked East Press publishes anthologies, but there is usually no payment, not even copies. But this anthology call from Wicked East is a bit different. It's being run as a contest. "Here There Be Dragons" is looking for shorts of 3000 to 7000 words about dragons. Stories with this word count will be entered into the contest with 1st prize being $75 plus one copy, second prize is $50 plus a copy and third place is two copies. Stories of 500 to 1500 are submitted as 4 the luv. Accepted stories of 3000 to 7000 words that don't place in the contest but are accepted for the anthology will receive a flat fee of $5. You can find all the details at Scroll down for the contest details as there are several anthos listed on this page.

This next anthology, "Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations", is being put together by author, Eric Guignard. He's looking for shorts of 2000 to 7000 words for stories in the genres of horror or spec-fic that are about lost civilizations. Pay is 1cent a word plus a copy. Payment will be made upon publication, but (you knew there'd be a but, didn't you?) there is no publisher attached to this project as yet. You can find all the details at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Comets and Criminals

There's a new zine looking to launch on January 1. 2012 called Comets and Criminals. This will be a quarterly zine. They're looking for flash up to 1000 words and shorts up to 5000 in all the genres (sci-fi, adventure, historical, western) For the crime/mystery genre stories you have up to 10,000 words to spin your yarn. Pay here is 1cent a word.

6/8 by Trey R. Barker

Sometimes you read a story and want to throw everything you've ever written in the trash, knowing that you can't make the words dance like the writer you've just read.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

That Rejection Thing Again

There's a great post by Deborah J. Ross over at the Book View Cafe about rejection and all those old stories that writers keep tucked away in a trunk. Since I've been going through my old stories and attempting to rewrite a few of them, this was very informative. The post also takes a look at whether or not a writer should self-publish those old rejects and failed projects.

Anthology Call

Timid Pirate Press has an interesting call for submissions. They're looking for shorts of 1000 to 6000 words for "The Benevolent Apocalypse". They want stories in all genres that take place during the rebuilding after an Apocalypse. The deadline is August 31, payment is $20. You can find all the details here

A Contest for the UK Lady Pulp Writers

This one is for the ladies living in the UK who write pulp fiction. For Bookssake and Pulp Press are sponsoring a ladies only contest. And that's ladies who write pulp fiction. Entry fee is 5pounds for pulp stories up to 5000 words. The deadline is August 15. The winning stories will be published in an anthology. You can find all the details here

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jack Bludis

One of the best teachers in the SMFS group is Jack Bludis. He's been a working writer his entire life and he's always been willing to share what he knows with us newbies. He's being interviewed today by Allan Guthrie over at the excellent Criminal E blog.

For Your Reading Pleasure

Steve Weedle's Beach House Noir challenge has gone live today. You can find links to all the stories over at the Do Some Damage blog.

Shoo!! Go read!!

Kick Starting a New Zine

There's an interesting look at starting up an ezine over at the Clarion Foundation blog. Michael Ray, editor of "Redstone Science Fiction", explains how and why he took the plunge.

Needle Love

Robert Lopresti is giving the new issue of "Needle" and Todd Robinson some loving this morning over at his short story review blog Little Big Crimes. Check it out here

Sunday, June 19, 2011

All Due Respect

On Saturday, Alec Cizak, editor of All Due Respect, announced that he'd be closing down his site to concentrate on his new print zine, Pulp Modern - unless he could find an editor he trusted to take his place. Enter Chris Rhatigan, the new editor of All Due Respect!!

You can read Alec's announcements here

And Chris is here

Good to see we're not losing a good zine!!

WaterLogged Snoopy Dancing

Naomi Johnson has announced the winners of this year's Watery Grave Invitational, with the top three stories being posted during the day today. Congrats to all the winners!!

1st Prize: RUN FOR THE ROSES by Chris La Tray
2nd Prize: FINGERPRINTS by Eric Beetner
3rd Prize: A POCKET FULL OF HORSES by Chad Eagleton
4th Place: HARD TIMES by Ian Ayris
5th Place: A tie: A GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK by Patricia Abbott

You can find Naomi's announcement here

I'd like to thank Naomi for sponsoring this contest every year. While my story didn't place, her challenge gave me an opportunity to find my way into a story that I'd started over a year ago and boxed myself into a corner with. I was pleased with the results. Now, I'll have to find a Western market to place it in :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weathering Heights

The other day I posted an opening from Ross Macdonald that used the weather to set the atmosphere of his novel. At the book sale today I picked up Loren D. Estleman's, "The Witchfinder". In his opening he used the weather to help portray his character, Amos Walker.

"There are mornings, just after dawn on unseasonably hot June days when every breath you draw is filtered through forty pounds of wet laundry, that you welcome the clear cold icicle of the telephone bell ringing.

You sit on the edge of your bed for a while waiting for the overcast to clear, uncertain whether you were preparing to rise or retire, then the ringing comes again, an hour behind the first, and you get up and squish out into the living room where the air from the open window chills you in your damp underwear, and the second ring is just ending. Everything you hear and see and do is at quarter-speed. It's a kind of brownout of the brain."

Yeah, I love seeing how writers can use the weather in a story and not turn it into a weather report. :) This is the second Estleman I've managed to find and I'm looking forward to diving in.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feeling Stuck?

Great essay by Jim Hines about what to do when you think your writing is stuck, not blocked, just not improving the way you feel it should.

The Theme Story Cupboard

Over at Duotrope they have a theme calender that has a list of themes for anthologies and zines with deadlines that stretch into 2013. It's the perfect way to write for a specific market but you don't have to stop there.

Perhaps you don't like the market because it doesn't pay or its not high profile enough for you, yet you've come up with the perfect idea for a story. Write the story, then find your own market. Does that feel like cheating? Well, if the theme is for an anthology and they're only going to publish twelve stories, what do you think those other two hundred and eleven writers are going to do with the stories that weren't accepted? Yep, they'll find a new market. You're not tied to a market, only to your story.

Here's a sample of some of the themes:

Gardens and Gardening
Wake the Witch
Mother Goose

And you don't have to stick with just one theme, try combining them. I mean, what would happen if Mother Goose ate some of those magic mushrooms? Or perhaps the witch woke up with a new tattoo and no memory of where it came from. Or how about a mythpunk story set in the secret garden. Ideas are limited only by your imagination and how far you'd like to stretch it.

And a question. I have a twelve year old girl wearing a T-shirt with Winnie the Pooh on it in my story. Are there other characters or figures that a girl that age would prefer. I know boys (four grandsons) they like motorcycles, dragons, construction equipment and punk rockers - but girls? What do they favor these days?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Darkness in the Light

Back a week or so ago, someone had a blog post about first sentences with some great examples. I lucked into finding a copy of "Meet Me at the Morgue" by John Ross Macdonald at the last book sale and I have to say that his first sentence sucks you right into the book.

"I met the boy on the morning of the kidnapping" Your heart skips a beat, and you feel the darkness creeping in. What Mr. Macdonald does next just makes the world bleaker. "It was a bright and blowing day. The wind was fresh from the sea, and the piled white cubes of the city sparkled under a swept of blue sky. I had to force myself to go to work."

And there you are, wondering how anything so frightening can happen on such a beautiful day. I love how he did that. The story proceeds with a meeting with the kidnapper and the child and you're off and running, chasing clues and turning over dead bodies. What a great storyteller!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Angie's Desk

Angie has her monthly list of anthology calls up here

Editor Interviews

Over at DL Snell's blog there are interviews up with the editors of a pair of an anthologies. You'll also find links to the guidelines in the interviews.

The first is "Machine of Death II" which has a July 15 deadline and pays $200.

The second is "Mirror Shards" editor, Thomas K. Carpenter. Deadline for this one is July 8 pay is 2cents a word with professional writers given more. Black Moon Books is the publisher for this one.

Serial Stories

Over at Black Gate, Matthew David Surridge takes a look at serial stories.

I grew up with serial stories in several different mediums and having written one, I found myself nodding at much of what Mr. Surridge had to say. One conclusion that crossed my mind was that serials are perfect for the online writers. If you capture your reader with the first installment, they'll be back for more, always wondering what's going to happen next.

Patti Abbott

One of my favorite online writers is Patti Abbott. Her stories have this haunting quality about them that stick with you long after you've finished reading. Don't believe me? Drop on over to Spinetingler and read her latest, "Father's Day"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yellow Mama

The June issue of Yellow Mama has hit the virtual streets with stories from Chad Rohrbacher, Dana Kabal, JE Seymour, Christopher Grant and many more. Check it out here


For those of you looking for more information, here's the formal Snubnose announcement.

Looks like they're going to be a very cool place for short story lovers!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Joe Hill Interview

Interesting interview with Joe Hill Interesting that he sold a collection of his shorts first!

Shaken: Stories for Japan

Over at Nigel Bird's great Sea Minor blog there's a very special "dancing with myself" post. His guest is Timothy Hallinan and he's talking about the charity anthology he edited called "Shaken: Stories for Japan". Drop on over and check it out.

Snubnose Press

In case you've missed the whispers that are spreading across the Twitter world, there's a new crime e-publisher launching. Snubnose Press is brought to you by the great folks behind Spinetingler Magazine. And they're open to queries, but mind you, if you don't write dark, they're probably not your market :) Check them out here

White Cat Publications

Back in February I told you about a new zine called "The Writer and the White Cat" It's first issue was supposed to up on June 1st but has been pushed back to July 1st. And they're still open for submissions in any genre except erotica, and they love suspense stories.

They need shorts up to 2500 words with payment at 5cents a word. Flash up to 1000 words with a flat rate of $25. They're also looking for interviews and reviews which pay a flat rate of $25 also but you need to query first for these. You can find all the details at You'll find the link to the submissions at the top of the page.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Under the Sun

Whenever I get an email from David Cranmer I wonder what kind of Pandora’s box he’s tossing into my lap this time. The thing is, you never know what kind of idea has popped into David's head and got him dashing off emails with “would you”, “could you” and “what do you think” splattered all through them. He is always so excited, that you can never say no to him. For heaven’s sake, the man got me to write a 12,000 word steampunk/fantasy tale by asking for a first installment (maybe 2000 words, says he) for a serial story! But that's David and his enthusiasm is contagious. :)

Anyhoo…when I opened one of his emails back in November, I had no idea what to expect. Well, he was writing a Cash Laramie Western and wondered if I would like to collaborate, he was having trouble finding the woman’s voice in the story. I’d never collaborated on a story before but I told him I’d give it a shot. So he sends me 1500 words titled “Under the Sun” and says by the way, I’ve got this Bible verse from Ecclesiastes that I’d like you to work into the story. Uh-huh.

So I began working with the story he’d written so far, slowly finding Delilah Murphy’s voice as I moved her about the page and put words in her mouth. I studied that Bible verse, taking in the ones before and after to see what was actually being said. But it was the Indian who showed up on her doorstep that finally gave me the ah-ha moment and a way to go with the story.

You see, ages ago in attempting to write a romance novel, I had a Western woman who was left alone by her husband and a wounded Indian showed up. She took him into her home and began caring for him and hid him from the soldiers who were hunting him. Once she had nursed him back to health, he took care of her by providing meat to get her through the winter. Of course I tried to slip in one of those hobby story lines that were just beginning to catch on back then and had her making quilts out of hides for his tribe. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, David did when I told him, too. Of course it was the quilting that killed the story and I’d forgotten all about that futile attempt at novel writing until I started working on “Under the Sun”.

When the Indian that Cash and Gideon were chasing showed up, I knew exactly where to go with the story. Being sure to leave out the quilted hides this time! I fleshed it out with a bit of back story about Delilah’s husband, then stuck that Bible verse in a spot that turned the story a bit upside down and sent it back to David to fill in more scenes with Cash and Gideon.
The story went back forth a half a dozen more times and when David finally had it polished up, I couldn’t tell where his writing stopped and mine began. It was a great experience and I’m very proud to say that you can now read “Under the Sun” in David’s new collection of short stories.

To learn more about "The Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles" stop on by David's blog where you'll find several posts about these Western heroes, a link to a review, and a link to purchase your Kindle copy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pulp Modern

From editor, Alec Cizak, we have word that submissions are rolling in at Pulp Modern but mostly in the crime genre. He's in need of some sci-fi, horror, adventure, and Western stories. You can read about here

Kicking Your Shorts Out the Door

Found this great post (via Charles Tan) by Jay Lake about selling short fiction

Between him and Michael Bracken we're all wimps! :)

Femme Fatales

The deadline has been extended to July 30 for the anthology, "Femme Fatales". This is an anthology of lesbian mysteries. According to the editor they're not getting enough stories with a mystery element to them.

You can find the guidelines here This is a query first call for stories of 3000 to 10,000 words. Pay is $25 to $75.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anthology Call

"Trust & Treachery: Tales of Power, Intrigue & Violence" will open to submissions on June 15, and close December 15. Stories should be 1000 to 5000 words in any genre except romance, YA or erotica. They want stories that "capture the drama and danger that exists in power struggles". Be sure to check out their about page for more details. The pay is $20. You can find more information and the submission guidelines here

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Issue of Needle!!

The Spring issue of Needle magazine is now available here

You'll find an impressive lineup of authors including Patti Abbott, David Cranmer, Tom Piccirilli and Todd Robinson, just to name a few.

Twit Publishing

Twit Publishing has a call out for their third anthology of "Pulp!" Winter/Spring 2012 edition. The deadline is August 31, 2011 for short stories of 4000 to 9000 words in all the pulp genres. There is no mention of pay except for the home page where it states that artists should be paid for their work so you might want to check with the editor as to payment before submitting. You can find all the details at

**Forgot to mention that each edition of Pulp! is published in both print and electronic copies.

New Flash Challenge

Steve Weedle has issued the newest flash challenge over at the Do Some Damage blog.

He's looking for stories about summer vacations with a criminal twist, you know, noir at the beach house, beatings on the beach, or anywhere your vacationing characters take you. Word count is 500 - 5,000 but it would probably be best to keep it around the 1000 word range. The prize is a copy of Duane Swiercznski's "Fun & Games". Date for posting the stories to your blog is June 20, two weeks from today.

If you want to participate just drop a note in the comments, then send a link when your story is up.

For those of you as confused about the new world of epublishing as I am, here's a site I stumbled across this morning with all kinds of info about this new world and its gadgets

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Seeking Truth

On Monday, Sandra Ruttan had a post at Do Some Damage that touched on the issue of race and being politically correct. Something a child of the fifties (me) has a bit of difficulty with. I always find myself having to stop and consider if I'm offending someone instead of just blurting out what's on my mind. And yes, I step in it quite often without intending too.

Of course this had me thinking about a writer's responsibility. The thing is we're all raised differently, in different regions, and with different prejudices (and yes, we're all prejudiced in one way or another). The books we read, the movies and TV shows we watch all shape our thought processes. All of these influences shaped the person we grew up to be and that's what informs our writing. We bring all of our baggage to the story, both good and bad.

What brought this home for me was remembering an incident when I was nine years old. There was a boy in our fifth grade class who was about fifty pounds heavier and two foot taller than the rest of us. His name was Bubba (really!). One day this boy pinned me up against the wall in the hall when no one else was around and started to threaten me with all of the things that he could do to me. I was pretty much scared shitless, but a swift kick to his nether regions doubled him over and gave me a chance to escape to the girl's bathroom where I hid until it was safe to come out. Happy to say that he never bothered me again after that.

Now that incident could have prejudiced me against boys but we had other boys in our class who were kind and friendly so it was just a matter of seeing that it was the individual and not the whole that was scary.

Still that incident shows up in my stories because it's a part of me. What keeps coming back is not the boy but that suffocating feeling I had being pressed against the wall with only half an inch of space separating us. That terror has shown up in many of my stories and I expect in one way or another it always will.

Everything we've experienced, from the smell of apple pie baking in the oven to being terrified half to death in some manner, shapes our stories and spills out on the page whether we realize it or not. We can't help it and to change those stories to please every possible reader would not only weaken the story, but rewrite our own personal history. Besides, isn't that what our work is supposed to do? Aren't we supposed to make people stop and think, laugh or cry, nod their head in agreement or yell their displeasure? We're storytellers - we seek the truth of who and what we are as human beings, warts and all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Collecting Your Shorts

Russel D. McLean has an interesting look at putting together a collection of short stories over at Do Some Damage today.

The Red Penny Papers

Issue 4 of The Red Penny Papers marks one year of publication for this fine online zine.

You can find an interview with editor, KV Taylor, here

Dark Valentine

I was looking forward to posting about Dark Valentine today but now, it's become a bittersweet post because DV is closing its doors. DV was one of the most beautiful zines to hit the virtual streets and contained great stories by many of the talented online writers out there. I was fortunate to have a story in the very first issue and now, one in the very last.

You can read publisher, Katherine Tomlinson's note about closing here

And you can find the archives plus the final issue #5/Summer 2011 here

You will be missed Dark Valentine. Best wishes to Katherine and her staff. You made me proud to be a part of Dark Valentine.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thanks, Chuck!

Over at Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig gives us 25 things we should know about storytelling. Here's number one:

"Outside the air we breathe and the blood in our bodies, the one thing that connects us modern humans today with the shamans and emperors and serfs and alien astronauts of our past is a heritage — a lineage — of stories. Stories move the world at the same time they explain our place in it. They help us understand ourselves and those near to us. Never treat a story as a shallow, wan little thing. A good story is as powerful as the bullet fired from an assassin’s gun."

For the other 24 go here

Dirty Noir

I'd say the title of this new zine, "Dirty Noir", pretty much says it all. They're looking for "a sleazy, sexy blend of noir and dirty realism". They want all types of noir, classic, neo, sci-fi, western and urban fantasy just make it dark and under 1000 words.

They're also looking for guest edited collections and novellas and novelettes of 10,000 to 30,000 words for serialization. This is a non-paying market. You can check them out here

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Peacemaker Awards

Just received this press release from Larry Sweazy. A big round of Snoopy Dances for the winners and all the nominees.

For Immediate Release:

Western Fictioneers (WF) is pleased to announce the WINNERs for the first annual (2010) Peacemaker Awards.
Wayne Dundee, “This Old Star” from the anthology Bad Cop…No Donut (Padwolf Publishing)

Carol Crigger, “Left Behind” from the anthology Roundup! Great Stories of the West (La Frontera Publishing
C. Courtney Joyner , “Two-Bit Kill” from the anthology Law of the Gun (Kensington)
Matthew P. Mayo, “Scourge of Spoils” from the anthology Steampunk’d (DAW Books, Inc.)
Pete Peterson, “Catch a Killer by the Toe” published by Untreed Read

Lyle Brandt (winner), Manhunt (Berkley)

Lyle Brandt, Avenging Angels (Berkley)
D.H. Eraldi, Settler’s Chase (Berkley)
Dusty Richards, Wulf’s Tracks (Berkley)
Kit Prate, Long Ride to Limbo -- Western Trail Blazer
(an imprint of Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery)
S. Craig Zahler, Congregation of Jackals (Dorchester Publishing)

Western Fictioneers (WF) was formed in 2010 by Robert J. Randisi, James Reasoner, Frank Roderus, and other professional Western writers, to preserve, honor, and promote traditional Western writing in the 21st century.

Entries were accepted in both print and electronic forms. The Peacemaker Awards will be given out annually. Submissions for the 2011 awards will be open in July, 2011. Submission guidelines will be posted on the WF web site. For more information about Western Fictioneers (WF) please visit: or

Larry D. Sweazy, WF Awards Chair

Market News

And, of course, since it's the first of the month it's time to drop over to Duotrope for the list of zines and publishers who've opened to submissions.

There are forty of them including Bete Noire, Flash Quake, and Jersey Devil Press along with several of the anthologies I've mentioned during the past month.

Shock Totem has closed to subs for the summer. They'll open back up on August 1

Thrillers, Killers 'n Chillers has closed to subs until July 1. Be sure to stop by though as they're still posting stories and they've just revamped the site. Which looks very cool, guys!!

You have until August 1 to submit to the fall issue of The First Line with this first line "Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train." Pay is $20.

Christopher Grant

Christopher Grant has begun posting stories over at A Twist of Noir once again. Posted is "Home Sweet Home" by Cindy Rosmus. with more promised.

You'll also find one of Christopher's stories posted over at Shotgun Honey today. I'll refrain from publishing the title because some folks will find it offensive.

Good to have you back, Christopher!

All Due Respect

The June issue of All Due Respect is up with "Severance" by Jim Wilskey.