Monday, April 30, 2012

Shotgun Honey Presents

The online zine Shotgun Honey is getting set to launch their first print anthology.  They're looking for gritty crime and noir stories up to 5000 words, with the sweet spot around 3000.  There's an August 1st deadline.  Payment is $10 and a copy of the anthology.  You can check out all the details here

There's also a contest to name the anthology and the prize is one copy.  And if you're an artist, they're looking for cover art.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Looking at Shorts

Eric Rosenfield has an interesting breakdown of the categories that short stories fall into.  He uses sci-fi for his examples but notes that any genre can be broken down in the same way.

Sunday Quote

“No one except you really believes you can write. Once you quit, you’ve just made it unanimous.” --Manley Wade Wellman

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Anthology Call

Dark Moon Books has a call for submissions for an anthology called "Mistress of the Macabre".  They're looking for horror stories written by women.  The deadline is June 30.  Payment is $20.  You can find all the details here

Hazardous Press

Ran across this new press over at Duotrope.  They're looking for novellas, short novels, and story collections in the spec-fiction genre.  Payment is 50% of net paid quarterly.  There's no mention of who is behind this press so you might want to make some inquiries.  Their submission period ends June 1.  You can find all the details here

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cowboy Poetry Press

This site was just set up.  They're looking for Western poetry and flash up to 400 words.  They're also looking for art work and photography about the Western culture.  There's no mention of who the editor is behind this new zine.  You can check it out here

The Submission Process

You're not alone.

YA Anthology Call

"Futuredaze" is looking for YA science fiction shorts that will instill a love for the genre in its readers.  Submissions open on May 1 and will remain open until filled.  Stories up to 6000 words will be paid $200 and poetry, $25.  You can find all the details here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lovecraft eZine

The Lovecraft eZine is open to submissions.  There are several themed issue and one that is for female writers only.  This is a paying market, for stories over 3000 words the payment is $50 and under 3000 is $25.  You can find all the details here

Anthology Call

This call looks like fun.  There's actually two calls for a pair of anthologies that mix fairy tales with 1/the apocalypse and 2/ Lovecraft.  Called "Once Upon an Apocalypse", they're looking for shorts of 2000 to 4000 words.  Payment is 3cents a word with a July 31 deadline or until filled.  You can find all the details here

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Driving on a Dirt Road

I always find it strange what will kick off a ton of memories in my head.  Yesterday it was Jason Aldean's song, "Dirt Road Anthem"

I spent most of my life on dirt roads so this song just stirs the memories.  Lazy summer days walking down that dusty dirt road to meet my first love whose job was to watch the cows while they pastured in the hay fields where there were no fences.  Of course your memories don't stop there.  That first love turned out to be gay and on down the line he propositioned the wrong red neck.  The results weren't pretty.

On another dirt road sits a house that always gave me the shivers because it was built next to a graveyard.  Years later the woman who lived there got up in the middle of the night and used a shotgun to kill her adult daughter and husband, then killed herself.  To this day nobody knows why.  Oddest thing to me is that her youngest son moved into the house and still lives there.

Across the dirt road and down through the pasture was the creek we used to swim in as kids.  Lots of great memories there yet, there was a section of the creek that was kind of creepy and that creepy wound up in a story that I wrote.

My parents were looking at a house one evening when the road behind us was suddenly filled with State Troopers.  A young man they were after was on foot and running through the woods that led down into the deep cut where another creek ran.  There was lots of shouting and guns drawn, but they finally took him down without shooting.  Funny thing was, the kid was a neighbor of ours.  And my parents wound up buying that house.

I have all kinds of great memories about those dirt roads, but like anything there's always a darker side and that darkness usually finds it way bit by bit into my stories.  How about you?  What sparks your memories and do you use those sparks to create new short stories?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Anthology Call - Steampunk

Kerlak Publishing has an anthology call out for Dreams of Steam III. There's a May 31 deadline, payment is $20.

For Our Western Writers

The "Burnt Bridge" magazine is looking for Western fiction. This is a non-paying market.

Anthology Calls

Wicked East Press has seven open anthology calls listed for this year. Payment varies from 4theluv to a flat rate of $5.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On Writing

I love reading blog posts about writing. Sure, everything that needs to be said has been written in stone somewhere but sometimes I just need a refresher course. If you don't take a fresh look at what you're writing how can you improve?

Writers tend to get stuck in a rut. If they find something that works for them, they stick with it. You know, like that old adage if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well, if the tire on your bike is soft, consider how much better it will run with a few blasts of air. Or maybe a little grease on the axle or a bit of oil on the chain. We're not talking about rebuilding the entire bike, we're talking about a few adjustment that will make it run smoother.

So with that in mind here are a few of the posts I found that made me take a new look at my own writing.

"Don't Fear the Kitten" by Richard Parks is about the reasons for breaking some of the rules

"Embracing Your Inner Butcher" also by Parks, is about learning how to cut your words until you have the story you intended to write.

"Falling into Dark" by Damien Walters Grintalis is about using all your senses to build a better horror story.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The New YA Fiction?

I've noticed lately that a lot of adults are reading YA fiction, much of it of the fantasy variety. But I picked up a book this past Saturday at the Dollar Store that has me looking at YA with fresh eyes. Here's a portion of the text that was used on the cover.

"That was too much. That was the last straw. I simply could not be doing this: driving like a maniac, losing my mind, swerving through traffic with blood on my hands.

But I was. That was the thing. I was."

I read that and thought, wow, this might be a good noir novel. Then I flipped open the back cover to read about the author and discovered that he wrote young adult novels. I bought the book anyway, just out of curiosity. And yeah, it was noir right straight through to the ending. The author didn't cop out with a happily ever after.

This was not the YA of my youth, or even my sons. Things seem to be changing. Or was this just a fluke that I happened to find? Have any of you been surprised with the YA you might be reading?

Oh yeah, the book was "Paranoid Park" by Blake Nelson.

The News Story Cupboard

There are some news stories that just slap a writer upside the head with possibilities. This story is one of them. It's not a pleasant story but then, most crime stories aren't. Add to the mix that this happened in Las Vegas and the directions this story could take are endless. I can't imagine what must be going through the detectives' minds at this point.

New Issues

April has brought us quite a few new issues with some wonderful stories and with the tax forms out the door what better way to spend your spare time?

The spring issue of "White Cat" is up

The April issue of Yellow Mama has a story by Patti Abbott and a scary romp of a revenge story by Thomas Pluck.

And Mr. Pluck also has the second installment of All Due Respect's April issue a wonderful story called, "White People Problems".


There's a new quarterly zine hitting the streets called "Fireside". It's not open to subs but the first issue is available in print or for your electronic readers. And it's going to be a paying market for shorts in all the genres. You can check it out here if you click around the links you'll find excerpts to the stories in the first issue.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Anthology Calls

Angie has her monthly list of anthology calls up!!

Angry Robot Books

Angry Robot Books Open Door submission period has begun and runs until April 30. This year they're looking for high fantasy novels and YA novels. You can check out all the details here

Angry Robot has also announced the creation of a new crime fiction imprint that will launch in Spring of 2013 called Exhibit A. More details here

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Writer's Block

I'm pretty sure I don't want to live with this kind of writer's block!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fires on the Plain

Back when Fires on the Plain first opened I pulled an old Western I'd been playing with out of my files and tried to whip it into something publishable. All it did was frustrate me near to death. Then one night I was watching "The Rifleman" and the setting was a nearly deserted town, which made me think of ghost towns and ghosts and so my new story began to take shape. The story is also a salute to one of Stanley Ellin's short stories that I read recently. I can't tell you which one though as it would give away the story. :) Anyhoo, after putting the final polish on the story I sent it off to the editor and today, with many thanks to Cullen Gallagher, the story is up.

And if you haven't been reading this new zine, you should be. There's some great work there that turns the Western genre on its ear.

Go Read

Well, I'm tossing in the old keyboard. Noir doesn't get any better than this!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

No Kidding!

People carrying guns may appear bigger than they are?!? And they needed a study to prove it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Women as Victims

Author, Kate Elliott has a thoughtful essay about women as victims here

I know in my own writing I try to come at a story from the victim's point of view. Sometimes I succeed, other times I fall into the same old trap of victimizing the victim.

Stephen King Interview

Does it get any better than Neil Gaiman interviewing Stephen King?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pulp Metal Magazine

Just had word from Paul Brazill that Pulp Metal has gone to a quarterly publication schedule and submissions have changed to invite only.

Anthology Call

Eric Guignard is editing another anthology this year. This one is called "After Death" and he's looking for spec-fiction short stories about what may occur to someone after they die. 2000 to 7000 words with a June 30 deadline. Payment is 1cent a word. The publisher is Dark Moon Books. You can find all the details here

And a big thank you to Katherine Tomlinson for the link!!!

Grand Science Fiction

Now this is an interesting new market. "Grand Science Fiction" is looking for spec-fiction stories of EXACTLY 1000 words and 100 words. Each month a 1000 word story will be published with the 100 word stories filling in the rest of month. Pay is 5cents a word and the reading period for the first issue is April 7 to May 7. You can check out all the details here

A Woman's Place

Cat Valente has a great post about "a woman's place" here While I did read this post recently, it wasn't the one that I read this morning that inspired my post. This is the post and I'm not sure how I slipped up on the link.

The truth is, I'm kind of tired of all this virtual bra burning. It shouldn't be necessary in this day and age. But I'm sick to death of being told my words aren't as powerful as Joe Smoe over there because I'm a woman. I actually believed that all this shit couldn't happen in the writing world, that it was the words that mattered, not who wrote them.

Writing should be gender blind, but it isn't. Women shouldn't have to use their initials or a male pen name to be accepted as a writer. We shouldn't be required to turn our female protags into a mirror image of their male counterparts. They shouldn't be required to have a boyfriend to complicate their lives and they shouldn't have to rescued by some big strong man.

Women can take everything a man can and with more grace. Don't think so? They survive childbirth, spousal abuse, and rape and still get up in the morning and cook breakfast and go to work. Life goes on, it doesn't stop for a woman's pain and discomfort. A man get sicks and he drops on the couch like a ton of bricks and spends the day moaning and groaning about how bad he feels. A woman gets sick and she's still expected to cook the meals and get the kids to school.

I don't watch "Mad Men" because it just instills the belief that a woman's place is in the home and if she's working, well, she must be a slut. I laughed when women protested the show "The Playboy Club" last fall but didn't mutter a word about "Pan Am". Same idea, their clothing was just a little less revealing. And yes, I worked as a waitress back then and my ass was considered up for grabs by any male customer who walked through the door. Not to mention my touchy-feely boss. I was barely eighteen but I learned fast how to avoid grabby hands.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, especially for women. Okay, I'm done now.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Men's Adventure Fiction

Over at the Pulpetti blog there's a post about a new anthology being complied of stories from the old men's adventure magazines.

There's also a link there to a blog where you will find cover art from those magazines

Ya Gotta Love Darth Vader

Sometimes you just need a good chuckle and this video for a new children's book hit the spot. (At least for me)

Slit Your Wrists

"Slit Your Wrists" is a new noir zine that's hit the ether. The editor and publisher is writer, Laurance Kitts. He's looking for noir, transgressive, thriller, horror, bizarre, literary, and dark comedy stories up to 7000 words. This is a non-paying market.

UPDATE: August 30, 2013  Slit Your Wrists ezine changed their name to Disenthralled Souls.  Their guidelines are here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Grift has opened submissions for their second print issue. And as always they're open for flash for the online zine. You can check it out here

Market News

John Hartness is looking for submissions for an anthology titled "The Big Bad". Up to 6000 words of your best bad guy story in various genres. Payment is $50 and the deadline is July 31. You can find the details here

Short Fire Press is an epublisher of short stories. They've been in business for a year. Their story preference looks like it leans toward the literary. Stories from 2500 to 15,000 words. Duotrope says that they pay royalties but I couldn't find anything about payment on the site, so you'll need to check that out. You can find them here

And finally, a bit of sad news. After three years 10Flash is closing its doors. Their last issue has been published so drop on by and have a read Sad to see this one go as it's one of the few paying flash markets out there and they've published some great short stories.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Anthology Calls

The Alchemy Press is a British publisher looking for sci-fi/fantasy stories for two anthologies. Payment for both is 10pounds plus royalties. "Pulp Heroes" has a May 30th deadline and "Ancient Wonders" has a June 30 deadline. You can find all the details at

Less Than Three Press has what they call serial anthologies, so they're looking for stories well over 10,000 words. Payment for most are royalties but "Rocking Hard" pays a $200 advance plus a percentage. "The Bestiary" has a June 30 deadline. "Kiss Me at Midnight" has an August 30 deadline and "Rocking Hard" has a September 30 deadline. You can find all the details here

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Thriller Award Nominees

Another list of award nominees, this one from the ITW for the 2012 Thriller Awards. Congrats to all the nominees and a special Snoopy dance for the short stories and their authors listed below. You can read the entire list here

James Scott Bell - “One More Lie” (Compendium Press)
Michael Lewin - “Anything to Win” (Strand Magazine)
Twist Phelan - “Happine$$” (MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA PRESENTS THE RICH AND THE DEAD, Grand Central Publishing)
Tim L. Williams - “Half-Lives” (Dell Magazine)
Dave Zeltserman - “A Hostage Situation” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)


Crimefactory has opened for subs once again. Check out their guidelines here

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Perfect Beginnings

I've been seeing a lot of articles lately telling writers that they have to have a great first sentence, paragraph, page, or chapter in order to catch an editor's attention. And yes, you can hone that "first" of anything into something perfect but what about the rest of the story or novel? I wonder how many editors out there are thrilled with that "first" then turn the page to discover that the rest of the story isn't nearly as good as that "first" blush of promise.

Why all the advice about getting the beginning right without the followup that the whole story has to be as good as that first impression? That the ending has to have the same bang as that perfect beginning. Good first impressions are great, but be careful that you don't trip over your own feet trying to impress an editor. And yes, I've written some great beginnings but then the story just peters out. (sigh)

Any thoughts from you editors out there? Readers, have you read a great beginning than three or four chapters in wondered where the heck the story was going?

Market Notes

Duotrope has declared Withersin and Pine Tree Mysteries both dead markets. The Withersin website has disappeared into the ether but Pine Tree's archives are still available for reading.

And Indiana Horror 2012 has opened for subs through the month of April - publication in June. They're looking for flash up to 1000 words and shorts to 5000 words. The top two stories receive $25 each. You can find all the details here

Monday, April 2, 2012

Writing Female

Adrienne Kress has a wonderful essay about writing female characters here


I guess that Michael Bracken was surfing the Internet this morning because he's the one who sent me these delicious links. Thank you, Michael!!

First is a blog series by Amy Williams on how to build a complex plot

The next is a podcast interview with Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works.

The Peacemaker Awards

And here are the nominees for the 2011 Peacemaker Awards presented by the Western Fictioneers.

Best Western Short Story:
***There were two ties in this category, which is why there are seven nominees instead of the required five.

“Planting Season” by Johnny D Boggs (Cactus Country Anthology, Volume I – High Hill Press)
“The Way of the West” by Larry J. Martin (The Traditional West anthology, WF)
“Blackwell’s Run” (Western Trail Blazer) by Troy D. Smith
“The Sin of Eli” by Troy D. Smith (The Traditional West anthology, WF)
“Panhandle Freight” by LJ Washburn (The Traditional West anthology, WF)
“The Death of Delgado” by Rod Miller (The Traditional West anthology, WF)
“Stay of Execution” by Lucia St. Clair Robson (Cactus Country Anthology, Volume I – High Hill Press)

Best Western Novel:

The Sonora Noose by Jackson Lowry (Berkley)
Redemption, Kansas by James Reasoner (Berkley)
Blood Trails by Lyle Brandt (Berkley)
The Assassination of Governor Boggs by Rod Miller (Bonneville Books)
Between Hell and Texas by Dusty Richards (Kensington Pinnacle imprint)

Best Western First Novel:

Unbridled by Tammy Hinton (Roots and Branches Publishing)
The Black Hills by Rod Thompson (Berkley)
Dismal River by Wayne Dundee (Oak Tree Press)
Bullets And Bad Bad Men by B.A. Kelly (Oak Tree Press)
The Guerrilla Man by Steven Clark (Solstice Publishing)

Western Fictioneers (WF) was formed in 2010 by Western writers Robert J. Randisi, James Reasoner, Frank Roderus, and other professional Western writers with the mission of preserving, honoring, and promoting the Traditional Western in the 21st Century. Western Fictioneers (WF) is the only professional writers organization composed entirely of authors who have written Western fiction, the classic American genre. A writer or publisher does not have to be a member to be nominated, or win, the Peacemaker Award.

Contact: Larry D. Sweazy, WF Awards Chair,

A Day at the Zoo

is Patti Abbott's latest flash challenge. I wrote one story but it really sucked and Saturday I finally came up with another idea. While it doesn't exactly take place in a zoo (haven't been to a zoo in over thirty years) it does have cages and animals. Enter at your own risk :) You'll find links to the rest of the stories over at Patti's blog

by Sandra Seamans

"C'mon, don't be such a girl," whispered Cody. "It's just a cave."

"In case you hadn't noticed, I am a girl. And that cave? It's dark and full of spiders and God know what all," said Jessie. "Besides, if it's so great in there, why the hell are you whispering? You expecting something to jump out and grab you?"

Cody had the grace to look embarrassed. "I just don't want to stir up the bats."

"Bats, yeah. And you want me to go exploring in there?"

"Bok, bok, bok," taunted Cody, scratching his feet in the dirt and flapping his elbows like a pair of wings.

“Okay, wiseass, can the chicken dance and let’s go.”

They ducked low to enter, but once inside the cave they could stand up straight. Their flashlights beamed over the glistening walls and slimy floors of the giant room. Stalactites dripped down from the high ceiling onto their mirror image stalagmites. The air was dank and cold, chilling them to the bone. Their noses wrinkled as the scent of mold and decay assaulted their nasal cavities.

“It’s beautiful in a weird, creepy way,” said Jessie. "Hey, look, there's another opening back there. Maybe there's a second cave."

"I don't know, Jessie, maybe we should leave. If we start exploring, we might get lost and nobody knows where we are."

"Now who's the chicken?"

Jessie walked towards the back of the cave and ducked through the entrance to the second cavern. As she entered, the room filled with a shimmering green light. The walls were covered with drawings of women and animals and creatures she couldn't identify. She shivered, then jumped as Cody touched her shoulder.

"These are the strangest drawings," she whispered. "A woman and a wolf severed in half by a green eye. And here with a bear, and over there is a tiger."

"Looks more like she's giving birth to those animals."

"And why would a woman give birth to an animal? It must be some sort of Native legend or something."

Cody shrugged then pointed towards the far wall where two metal bar cages stood on a large shelf of rock about six feet above the stone floor. ZooZ was scrawled on the wall between the two in red paint.

"Now, that's creepy," said Cody moving closer. "That red paint almost looks like blood."

A loud humming leached through the cracks in the wall as he walked closer to the ledge.

"ZooZ, I wonder if whoever put those cages up there thought they'd caught themselves a god? You know, ZooZ, Zeus," said Cody. He stepped closer, stretching his hands toward the ledge so he could pull himself up.

"Don't," said Jessie, grabbing his arm to stop him. "Something's not quite right here. I think we'd better leave before we disturb something we shouldn't."

Cody laughed. "Disturb something? Like what? Ghosts, or maybe aliens? I promise not to touch anything, I just want a closer look."

Together they stood on tiptoe to peer over the top of the ledge. There was something about the cages that freaked Jessie out and made her feel uneasy in her skin.

"There's something inside. And there, in the other one, too," said Cody. "I'm climbing up to get a better look."

Pulling himself up over the edge, Cody turned and reached down to help Jessie up, but she shook her head.

"No, I don't want to get any closer. There's some writing and drawings here on the front. I want to look at them, maybe find a clue about what this ZooZ is all about."

Jessie knelt down and began brushing the moss off the markings on the stone. As her hand moved across the stone front the strange engravings took the shape of words in her own language. "Wow, that's cool."

"What's cool?" asked Cody from above.

"The symbols on the stone. As soon as I touched them they translated into English. What did you find up there?"

"There's a skeleton in one cage and the skin of what looks like some kind of animal in the other," he said. "They're both reaching through the bars, trying to touch each other, I guess. Maybe they were lovers, like Romeo and Juliet."

Cody jumped down from the ledge to stand next to Jessie. There was a silly grin on his face. "So what does it say?" he asked.

"Listen to this," said Jessie. "ZooZ translates to 'then there were two'. And here it says beware the green eye that splits a woman in half to reveal the beast inside. It sounds like some husband got jealous and used the beast as an excuse to lock his wife away. Maybe like a witch and her familiar."

The green light in the cavern began to flicker and the humming sound in the walls grew louder.

"Maybe he thought his pussy cat was turning into a tiger on the prowl and needed to be locked up," laughed Cody. He dropped a chain over Jessie's head and a sparkling green gem dropped into place between her breasts. "He should have covered her in jewels to sooth her savage beast."

"Where did you find this?"

"Up there between the two cages, just out of reach for both of them."

Jessie's heart began to beat faster, her breath coming in churning gasps as she stared into the green eye of the jewel. A low growl sounded in her throat and the cave went dark. The humming replaced with the nocturnal howl of a moon wolf on the hunt.


As the full moon rose over the mountain ridge Jessie walked out of the cave, beside her was a white wolf. Both were bathed in blood.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012 SMFS Derringer Award Winners

A big round of Snoopy dances for this year's winners of the SMFS's Derringer Award

Best Flash Story: "Lessons Learned" by Allan Leverone

Best Short Story: "Touch of Death" by B.V. Lawson

Best Long Story: Tie "A Drowning at Snow's Cut" by Art Taylor and "Brea's Tale" by Karen Pullen

Best Novelette: "Where Billy Died" by Earl Staggs