Friday, July 3, 2015

Horror List Book Review: The Tomb

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them. 

This week I'm reviewing The Tomb, by F. Paul Wilson.

This book is actually classified as supernatural thriller, not horror, and I'd agree with that. There was nothing frightening about this story. However, the pacing was pretty good, the stakes high, especially at the end. I didn't always feel that tension, though, maybe because we knew who the villain was. Also, the main character wasn't too intent on finding the villain at first, so why would the reader feel that urgency? It wasn't until it became personal for him that things picked up.

The main character is Repairman Jack. He "takes care" of problems. He's charged with two jobs at the beginning of the book: 1. Find a missing elderly woman, and 2. Find the missing necklace of a different elderly woman who is dying in the hospital after being attacked and robbed.

His job ultimately leads him to a nightmare creature called a rakosh, an Indian (India) demon. The rakoshi are being used to take revenge, and he must race against time to stop them from killing someone he cares about.

I liked the character of Repairman Jack. He was down to earth, despite being a tough guy who discreetly takes care of problems he's paid to deal with. There was a certain aloofness, but he wasn't an uncaring man. Certainly, he has an interesting life. This is a series, so his adventures go on.

His good friend is Abe, a sports shop owner who also runs guns from the basement. Abe was a Jewish conspiracy theorist, and quite fun. 

His villain was a mixed bag for me. While he did have good and bad aspects, an important element of a good villain, he was a little too crazy-pants for me. At least there was a reason he was seeking his revenge. Even so, his rationale was thin. No matter what misgivings he had, he had to fix his karma by doing this awful thing, which makes no sense to me, but obviously I'm not a karma expert. He acknowledged to himself that these people were innocents, yet he had to take them out to satisfy his thirst for revenge that didn't even start until recently.

The characters that really irked me were the women. See, Repairman Jack has two love interests in this book. One is a woman he had a relationship with, but who broke up with him when she discovered he wasn't actually a repairman. She was a shrew. I hated everything about her. I couldn't stand any scene with her in it. She didn't give this man she was in love with a chance to explain anything to her, she judged him and harped on her feelings about his life every single bloody time we saw her, she blamed him for all kinds of things, and she sent mixed signals (because comfort--blah.) I feel like he was trying to write her as a "strong" woman, but what she was instead was a nasty, angry person. Blech.

The other love interest wasn't much better. She was a guardian of the rakoshi, and incredibly old, despite her appearances. At first, I liked her. She was strong, she was sultry, and she knew what she wanted. But she dissolved entirely, and turned out to be yet another damsel in distress for Jack to take care of, even against the creatures she had been put in charge of. What? She's 200 years old, but she goes into shock when he needs her most, whimpers and spaces out, lets the villain walk over her. Blech again. I wanted to slap her. She was useless. Why?

Every female in this book was a damsel in distress. Every single one. Trying to write them as strong doesn't cover that up. And my version of strong is obviously different than his, which is fine. To each their own. But I was so distracted by these women's weaknesses that I couldn't get fully engaged in any scene involving them. I found their weakness tiresome. I rolled my eyes every time they got in trouble or made a stupid mistake. I felt letdown whenever a chapter was about one of them.

On top of that, his relation to Gia, the woman he loves, but who broke up with him, irritated me to no end. They'd been apart for months, and she never tried to hide how disgusted she was by him. Yet he kept pushing, kept bugging her, kept calling, kept talking to her like nothing was wrong. And he was repeatedly hurt by her rebuffs. In short, I wanted to slap him. Stop being hurt by it. Leave her alone. I'm sorry you're hurt, but you're making it worse by constantly pursuing someone who doesn't want to be with you. Grow a pair and walk away, dude.


In other words, the story is interesting, and the rakoshi mythology was well enough created that I actually looked them up to see if they were a real legend in India (nope.) The relationships and female characterizations were the weak points of this book. The story line was the strong point. I was rooting for him in everything but love (seriously, ugh). I think the tension could have been better.

This is an early book in the series, I believe, so it probably got better. One of the things about this list is that often the first book is put up as the author's best of, and that's rarely the case. Despite my not at all concealed rage at the female characters and "romance," I would read another Repairman Jack novel. I'd just skim to make sure Gia wasn't in it first. If the women in that book were as weak and useless, I'd stop there.

I'm having a harder time ranking books as I go now that the numbers are growing, but here's my best shot at it.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
5. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
6. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
7. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
8. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
9. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
10. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury)
11. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
12. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
13. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
14. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
15. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell
16. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

Now that I've officially depleted my closest library's reserves of books from the list, I'm unsure what book will be next. I need to switch back to the ebooks and see what I can come up with.

Have you read F. Paul Wilson? How about his Repairman Jack books? Do they get better? What did you think of the character of Jack? How do you define a strong woman character?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG - This Noveling Thing & Links

First Wednesday of the month! What do you say? Time for some insecurities?

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. All are welcome to join. Just sign up and jump in! Tell us about your insecurities or offer uplifting support.

I've mostly posted about short story writing and submitting for IWSG lately, because that's where my focus has been, but now that I'm making progress with editing on my novel, all those old insecurities are popping back up. I've noticed that I'm excited to jump back in now that I've figured out what to do with the plot, yet I keep hesitating. So what's holding me back? Am I scared to do the changes? No, because I've saved a copy as it currently exists, and will edit separate from that. Until I can figure out why I'm feeling this way, I'm not sure how much progress I'm going to make. Time to sit down and do some self-analysis.

As part of IWSG, I always go over my short story submissions process for the previous month in order to keep myself accountable.

I have 12 short pieces on submission.
I submitted 5 pieces in June.
I received 4 rejections this month (and 1 magazine I'd submitted to sent out a notice that it was shutting down).
I completed 1 new short story and sent it to my critique group.
I finished the post-outline and notes for my first revision of WIP #2.

Not too shabby. I still have several short stories I need to finish editing and get submitted.

Now for some links. Please note that I am not endorsing any of these publications, just passing them along.

Accepting Submissions:

Crossed Genres July theme is Anticipation. Sci-fi, fantasy, or a combination of both. 1000-6000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline for this theme is July 30.

Collidor is a science fiction app-zine (they publish for tablets and smartphones.) 2000-18,000 words. Pay begins at $.25/word for the first 5000 words and tapers down per 5000 words.

Earth Island Journal is looking for articles on environmental concerns. Short dispatches are 1200-1500 words. Investigative features are 2500-3000 words. Pays $.25/word. Online reports pay $50-100.

Onyx Neon is looking for shorts. They send out one per month. Many different genres, so check the web page. 5000-20,000 words. Pays 50% of the royalties brought in on your story.

Saddlebag Dispatches wants short stories, serial novels, poetry, and non-fiction articles about the west. They don't specify pay, but it is likely royalties.

Odd Tree Press is seeking speculative fiction flash fiction, short stories, artwork, and essays. Flash up to 500. Short stories 500-5000 words. Essays up to 5000 words. Pays between $10-25, depending upon submission type.

Terraform is looking for future fiction, but make it the near future. 2000 words or fewer. Pays $.20/word.

The Sockdolager is looking for adventure stories. 1000-5000 words. Pays $.02/word.

Tales From the Miskatonic Library is looking for, well, tales from the Miskatonic Library, that's what. I imagine it either means something to you or it doesn't. Pays $.03/word with a maximum of $100. Deadline August 8.

Black Mirror Press seeks stories about endless winter, whatever the cause. 3000-7000 words. Pays $25. Deadline August 8.

Do you ever find you're hesitant to write or edit, even though you're simultaneously excited about it? What are your insecurities? Have you done any submitting this month? Any rejections or acceptances? Any of these links of interest to you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Critique Group Panel Discussion

I sat on a critique group panel a few weeks ago for Pikes Peak Writers. There was a lot of information exchanged, with several different types of critique groups, so I thought I'd pass along a little of the information discussed in case you're thinking of starting one or looking to join one. I couldn't take notes, really, since I was up there and wanted to stay engaged in the conversation, so this is what I remember.

Damon Smithwick, me, Donnell Ann Bell, Chris Mandeville, & Ron Cree

Type of Critique Group

First, we discussed the types of groups we had. They fell into the following categories:

Hybrid (some online via Facebook, some in person)
Online Only
Classic (in person)
Critique Partner instead of a group

For the hybrid group, they post a certain amount in a closed Facebook group, but do not give feedback there. They then print it up, critique it at home, then meet in person to go over their critiques. Note: If you are interested in something like this, be aware that Facebook claims ownership of anything posted (the reason I don't post my photos there if it's something I think I might want to try to sell someday.) If you'd like to know the specifics of this hybrid group, Damon posted about it on his blog. (And he said nice things about me there, so hey, go check that out. ;) )

I was in an online only group, where there was a free forum created specifically for that purpose. We had an area to chat, plus an area to post our pieces for critique. We were expected to critique all work posted once per week by replying under that post with our critique. Another way to do an online one is to simply exchange pieces and critiques via email or another online format. 

The critique partnership is just what it sounds like. Two people exchange work back and forth. This gives them the freedom to set the pace, so if there's a deadline looming they can agree to submit more of their work, and to submit it more often if needed. This is probably the fasted way to work through a novel other than just sending it to beta readers. (For a definition of beta readers vs. critique groups, you can view this post I did previously.)

I saved classic for last, because it was the most common. It can work in several different ways, but the general idea is to exchange your pieces then meet to go over the critique. You can exchange them on paper at the previous meeting, over email at some designated point in advance, and an audience member said they exchange them via Drop Box, where they have a folder for that purpose. 

How do you do the critique?

There are also a couple different ways to do the critiques (and I'm sure more than this, but these were ways discussed). One group reads them aloud, then gets comments from those around them. You have to be able to quickly give feedback with a format like this. The typical format is to send them out in advance, as mentioned above, and to critique them on your own time. Then you can discuss what you wrote down and what your thoughts were after having had time to give it more thought.

What do you critique?

It was addressed what is actually critiqued. By this I mean, do you critique the grammar/spelling/punctuation, plot, character, details, etc. Overall, it sounded like everything is usually covered. Whatever catches your eye. My group will specifically ask if there's something they want you to look at when they send it out. Otherwise, each of us brings our own personality and style to the critique, addressing those things that we tend to look out for. 

Are you all at the same writing level?

In general, the groups were at the same level. One of the panelists said he hand chose his group to have only already published authors in it. My group has a range of experience, from beginner to a member who worked as a journalist before switching to fiction. One panelist said it can be valuable to have someone who is more advanced than you in the group (of course, there is a point at which someone has to be the most qualified.) 

In my experience, someone at a higher level is going to address the specifics, the rules, the technicalities. Whereas someone at a lower level tends to view the story from the point of character and story. Both of these are valuable (and my experience is by no means the be all and end all.) One group will catch the things others will miss.

What do you do if there's a member who isn't participating/following the rules?

This one was split along gender lines, which was interesting. The ladies wanted to try to be polite and/or nice about it and find a discreet way to encourage that member to either step up or step out. The men both said, "Tell them to leave." 

Do you set rules? What are they?

Overall, having rules was thought to be a good idea. For my group, we didn't set them in the beginning which has complicated things at times and led to frustration. Rules to consider would be: a required participation level (how long can you go without submitting/critiquing before being removed), frequency of meetings, how much to submit (words/chapters), how often you'll meet (weekly, monthly), when/how to submit, and anything else you feel should be established in advance.

Where do you meet?

Meeting places vary from homes to libraries to restaurants/coffee shops. If you meet in a restaurant or coffee shop, you have to take into account background noise, interruptions, and if you write something like horror, mystery, erotica, or anything else that might be tricky to discuss in public. Given, sometimes it's a kick to discuss where the body's hidden or how you killed victim in public, but will there be kids there? In that case, not a great idea. Homes seem to allow for better concentration and less interruption.

Do you socialize or just critique?

This varied, as well, but it seemed like most of the panelists did a little socializing at the beginning then jumped into work. One panelist said she was in it to work, not to socialize. My group chats for about half an hour before getting down to business.

How do you form a group? Where do you find other members?

As I said above, one panelist hand picked the members of his critique group from published authors he already knew. My group was made up of friends, and started when two of the ladies discussed the need for a group and put it together from there. In general, they were started with friends with mutual interests.

If you don't have a bunch of writers living around you or in your social circle, try checking out local writer's groups. Look at for writer's groups. Attend local writer's conferences and talk to people. Join online groups of writers and see if you can put your own online group together. After you've found likely candidates, you just get together and talk. Put together the group you'd like to have.

How do you choose who to let into the group?

Overall, it was preferred to have a closed group. By closed group, I mean you choose who you let in and keep the number relatively small. Choose people you get along with, whose opinions you will respect, and who won't be too nice or too nasty. You don't want someone who will berate you, but you also don't want someone to just pat you on the back and not say anything helpful. 

I had to submit a writing sample and answer a questionnaire to get into the online critique group I was part of. These were posted on the forum and voted on by the other members. They agreed to let me in. This isn't a bad idea. I'd definitely recommend it if you're putting together a group of people you aren't friends with, so you have a means of screening the group and seeing who is a good fit.

Do you all write in the same genre or does it matter?

For the most part, each group had a variety of genres. However, it was important that you had an interest/general knowledge of the other genres. My group has a horror/fantasy/young adult writer, an urban fantasy/mystery writer, two fantasy writers, a memoir/fantasy writer, and a middle grade fantasy writer. As you can see, there's a variety in some ways, but a lot of fantasy is represented, as well. It's also worth pointing out that, while most people in the group are submitting novels for critique, out of all the panelists and my own group, I'm the only one currently using it for short stories. 

How do you know a critique group isn't right for you/that it's time to leave?

If there is someone in your critique group that makes you feel bad about your writing, that discourages you, leave. If you aren't getting a helpful critique, leave. If all they do is pat you on the back and tell you how great your writing is without contributing any helpful criticism or feedback, leave. 

If it's not working for you in any way and it's not something you feel you can work on changing, leave. Only you can know if your group is helping you or holding you back.

How do I know I'm ready for a critique group?

If you are just starting, it may not be a good time for a critique group. Getting criticism that hurts you and kills your desire to write, or that makes you think you're writing crap and should just give up is not what a critique group is for. You need to not only be at a point in your writing where feedback is going to be valuable, but you need to be confident enough in your writing to wade through the feedback you're going to get. Some things they suggest will be right for you, and some won't. I comb through the feedback and keep those things that make me nod. Chances are, they've said something I was already thinking. If more than one person says the same thing, it probably at least deserves a second look, even if you ultimately decide not to accept that change. But you need to be at a point in your writing that you won't just blindly accept every suggestion of a change you get. You need to know what works for your piece and what doesn't. And you need to have the conviction to ignore feedback that doesn't benefit you.

In closing

I can't remember what else we discussed, but if you have questions feel free to leave them in the comments. I'm sure I forgot to mention a bunch of things that were discussed. The panel was a success, with lots of audience questions and interaction, which was wonderful. We panelists agreed on some things, but not on others, which was perfect and allowed for some discussion. 

Basically, what I'd like to leave you with is that you should look at your personal needs before deciding whether to join a group, and which group to join. What do you want out of it? What are your expectations of the group? Can the people in this group help you? Can you help them? Are you prepared to give critiques, as well as receive them? What is your end goal? What do you feel you bring to the table?

Finally, I figured I'd share my fellow panelists' books.

Damon Smithwick (writing as Damon Alan) - Amazon Author Page

Donnell Ann Bell - Amazon Author Page

Chris Mandeville - Amazon Author Page

Do you have a critique group? How does it work? Online or in person? Did you set rules? What are they? How often do you get together? What has been your worst critique group experience? Do you agree or disagree with anything above? Any questions I didn't address?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What do You See? & Links

Since I'm missing my hikes right now, I figured I'd post more pictures from my previous hike in Ute Valley Park.

It's impossible to get lost when you can always find Pikes Peak from the high points.

Now, what do you see in these rocks? Prairie dogs?

How about in this one? Do you see the smiley face?

Accepting Submissions:

Ideomancer seeks speculative fiction and poetry that are unique and non-traditional. Up to 7000 words. Pays $.03/word for fiction, $6 per poem. Submissions close July 31.

New Myths is looking for speculative fiction (but no graphic horror). Up to 10,000 words. Also take non-fiction dealing with fantasy/sci-fi and writing, and poetry. Pays between $20 to $50, depending upon story type. Deadline July 31.

Red Moon Romance is seeking submissions of short cowboy romance (American west or Australian outback) for an anthology. 3000-20,000 words. Can be mixed with other genres, such as paranormal, steampunk, sci-fi, etc. Pays in profit share and paperback copy. Deadline July 31.

WolfSinger Publications is seeking speculative fiction stories about trolls, gargoyles and other bit part fantasy creatures for an anthology entitled "Misunderstood." 1000-6000 words. Pays $5, plus royalties. Deadline August 1.

Dreamspinner Press is seeking short romance stories concerning end of year holidays (Christmas, boxing day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, etc.) Must have a happy ending. 5000-18,000 words. Pay isn't specified, but it's for an anthology, so likely royalties. Deadline August 1.

Helen Literary is open for submissions of short fiction with the theme "Animal." 500-5000 words for fiction. Lengths vary for poetry, non-fiction. Also take artwork. Pay is between $2 and $10, plus a subscription to the journal. Deadline August 1.


The First Line is holding their quarterly contest. Use the first line provided (currently "The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable.") to write a story of between 300-5000 words. No entry fee. Winners are not ranked--they are published. Pays $25-50 for fiction. Pay varies for poetry and non-fiction. Deadline August 1.

Blog Stuff:

The Cover Girls started a new blog hop in May. Fast Five Friday is all about lists. Each Friday there is a new topic; you write down a list of five things in response to it. You do not have to participate every week--just pick and choose the topics that interest you.

Of Interest:

The Clarion 2015 Write-A-Thon is going on now through August 1. You can support other writers or be a participant. Participants ask folks to sponsor them in a write-a-thon.

Plasma Frequency Magazine is closing its doors after bank fraud wiped them out. There is little hope of them getting their money back. Hopefully they can do a Kickstarter or something, but I haven't seen that mentioned.

What do you see in the rocks? Do you play this game when you go for a walk or hike? Any of these links of interest to you? Experience with any of these publications? Anything to share? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Horror List Book Review: Blood Meridian

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them. 

This week I'm reviewing Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy.

I already posted about punctuation issues in this book in another post, so I'll only touch on them quickly. In that post I talked about the fact that Cormac McCarthy writes in a very specific way, which can be hard to get past enough to read the book. He didn't use quote marks at all for dialogue, commas were rare, apostrophes were rare, he wrote stream of conscious, there were major run-on sentences (some around a page long), and uses of the commas and apostrophes were inconsistent, so I could never find rhyme nor reason for why he chose to use the ones he did.

However, once I posted my little rant about this, I was able to let it go enough to get through the rest of the book.

One of the things I saw repeatedly complained about in other reviews of this book (I looked at the reviews before I realized this book was on my list) was the violence. I fear this is telling, but I didn't find the violence overwhelming. Possibly it was because I read those five billion reviews complaining about it before I hit much of it. But, really, it's a western. I grew up on spaghetti westerns. The Old West is always depicted as violent.

Another reason it probably didn't bother me so much is because the way he wrote made me feel separate from the action. I felt removed. I never engaged with the characters too much. There was one I felt for, because he seemed to stick to some version of morality compared to the others. He was called "the ex-priest." He had a name, too, but it was only used a couple times, so I've forgotten it. Tobin, maybe. Names really didn't matter, anyway. You see, the characters were "the judge," "the kid," Glanton, "the imbecile," Toadvine, "the ex-priest," "the black," and various and sundry others, including a couple Delawares. 

Oh, another grammar choice was the lack of capitalizations on some things. The names above are not capitalized because they aren't capitalized in the book. Mexican wasn't capitalized. So on and so forth.

In addition, there's a lot of un-translated Spanish. I knew enough to get me through, but if you don't have some understanding of Spanish, you'll miss small aspects. I don't think any of it was integral to the story, though.

I skipped what the story was about. Whoops. It follows a group of men who are hunting renegade Apache who are killing travelers. Only these hunters kill travelers, too. And when they can't find the Apache, they just go ahead and wipe out villages of peaceful tribes. They lie, cheat, and steal. They randomly kill people and animals, including driving an entire mule train off the side of a mountain. 

A lot of reviewers who loved the book claimed this was the "real story" of the Old West. Well, they weren't there and neither was I, so I couldn't tell you. It seemed to me to be the same story told over and over about the West, and from what I've read, those stories usually aren't so accurate. I couldn't say for sure. I did see several sources that said he did extensive research, including reading a book by a man who claimed to be part of the Glanton Gang (the gang of mercenaries this book is based on.) What I will say is that the white men (and one black man) were doing an awful lot of scalping. One of them kept ears on a string around his neck. There was rape, though not descriptive and explicit (thank goodness). It would appear there was implied pedophilia by the judge, as well. And just as in any other western, the Native American characters had no personalities. Shocker. Even the Delawares, who never actually spoke. They quietly rode along, scouted ahead, killed babies, disappeared to go do Indian things, I suppose. 

Then again, I think he purposely made his characters oblique and hard to relate to. The judge was the big bad guy. He didn't appear to have a conscience. Yet he was apparently respected by higher ups. I found him a bit like how Charles Manson is being depicted in Aquarius right now. He gave ridiculous speeches, orated bullshit, philosophized. Blah blah blah blah shut up. 

The main character was the kid, but we didn't know much about him either. We basically traveled alongside him by happenstance. Fancy meeting you here. He was fairly set in his ways, despite only being fourteen. Outside of knowing that number, you'd never know he's an actual kid by his life.

It took me awhile to figure out how we were being held at a distance, because I was distracted by the grammar at the beginning. Then it struck me that we never actually get a character's reaction to anything internally. It's sort of an omniscient POV, but as a bystander, nothing more. There's no horror at their actions. Or even glee, really. These are just the things they do. By rote. And maybe that should be the most horrifying part of it. Toadvine and the ex-priest may have had the most conscience. Toadvine actually reacts to some things, such as the killing of a child. Perhaps he was trying to show the reader that the West wore a man down, took the humanity out of him?

I've already gone on way too long, but there's a lot to say about this book. I likely won't read another book by Cormac McCarthy, but I will say that it grew on me. The part I've so far failed to mention (though I did in the previous post) is that his descriptions/settings were vivid, somehow beautiful, even when they were harsh. He set each scene so you could picture it. The scenery was almost more of a character than the actual characters. There were sights, smells, sounds. His pacing was solid, plenty of action. Once I got past the punctuation and killer run-on sentences, I settled into the book. I spent the entire time worried that on the next page would be the violence I was expecting that I could not handle. While it wasn't a quick read, it also didn't take me any longer than most books do.

It bears mentioning that the grammar/punctuation is intentional. It's obviously not that he doesn't know how to write. He was even able to get that old spaghetti western vibe into writing. Men of few words. A callousness they can no longer seem to help. A bright white-hot sun that bleaches out the world around them. Pain, thirst, hunger, misery, filth. No, everything he does in this book, whether for better or for worse, is intentional. It's meant to illicit some response. I could see this being a book writing students were told to analyze to find the layers, the purposes, the tricks used to accomplish what he's written here. 

So, yeah. This is another one I'm conflicted on. And now I sit here trying to figure out where to put it in my rankings. It's one I've thought about for days since finishing. It needs to be digested. Each day I might feel a different way. I suspect the ranking might surprise you, considering how much time I spent criticizing elements of it, but hey, I like westerns, and I'm fascinated by what he did and the choices he made with his style. I will likely discuss this one with others for awhile to come.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
5. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
6. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
7. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
8. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy
9. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
10. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury)
11. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
12. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
13. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
14. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell
15. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

Surprised? Have you read Cormac McCarthy? This book specifically? What's your favorite McCarthy? Do you feel each way he broke the rules was deliberate?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Have You Tried Turning it Off Then On Again? & Links

I'm back after technical difficulties that kept me from posting Monday! I was a bit panicky when I couldn't find a way to get into my own blog. Now I need to give my tech husband a hard time about carbon based errors. He had blocked YouTube, and it managed to block Google Plus and Blogger along with it, despite my Gmail working fine. Weird how it picked and chose what it wanted to block.

Why, yes. Yes I had.

Now for some links. Bear in mind that I am not endorsing these, merely passing them along.

Accepting Submissions:

Strange Horizons is open for submissions. Up to 10,000 words. Speculative fiction. Pays $.08/word. (Thanks to John Wiswell for mentioning they were reopening!)

Briarpatch Magazine is looking for writing on current events, as well as artwork. They prefer you query first. Queries for the November/December issue with the theme "Labour" close July 10. Pay varies from $50 to $150 per type of submission.

Saturday Night Reader is seeking flash fiction up to 1000 words. Most genres. Pays $5 CAD per published story.

Silver Screen Books is publishing novelettes each month themed around B movies from the 50s. Between 7500 and 10,000 words. Pays $20-$25, depending upon length. Also pays in a contributor copy (both e- and paperback) and a further contract for two novelettes.

Flash Fiction Online is looking for flash between 500 and 1000 words. Genre is open. Pays $60 per story.

You & Me Magazine wants stories about your personal experiences with medical illnesses. They expect articles to be between 1000 and 3000 words. Payment is somewhere around $.04-.05/word.

Poetry Foundation is accepting poetry, including visual poetry. Can submit up to four poems at a time. Pays $10 per line.

Of Interest:

Business Insider put up a story by Maggie Zhang: 22 Lessons From Stephen King on How to Be a Great Writer.

99U posted a piece by Jamie Todd Rubin on productivity: How I Kept a 373-Day Productivity Streak Unbroken.

Marketing Land put out a story by Kelsey Libert on what publishers want in a pitch: Survey of 500+ Publishers Reveals How They Want to be Pitched, Part II.

Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday Already?? & Links

Whoops! Now that my kids are out of school I'm having trouble keeping my days straight. I'm pretty sure it's Wednesday, which means I need to put out a links post. Yikes!

Yep, I just consulted with my computer, and it is, in fact, Wednesday.

Thank you, Computer.

Since I'm woefully unprepared, I'm going straight to the links.

Accepting Submissions:

Uncanny Magazine is looking for speculative short fiction. 750-7500 words. Pays $.08/word. They are only open to submissions from June 16 to June 23. (Thanks for the info, DeAnna!)

Story Magazine wants your take on their themes. This month's is Un/Natural World. No word restrictions. Pays $20/page for prose and $30 per poem. Current theme deadline is July 15.

LampLight Magazine is seeking dark fiction. They take flash fiction and short stories. 2000-7000 words (1000 or less for flash.) Pays $150 for short stories and $50 for flash. Current issue deadline July 15.

A Two Dame Production is putting together a literary erotica anthology, A Slice of Sin. Up to 4000 words. Pays $25 and a contributor copy. Deadline July 15.

Lightspeed is looking for science fiction and fantasy. 1500-10,000 words. They prefer 5000 or less. Pays $.08/word. Deadline July 15. (Thanks to John for the info!)

Splickety Havok is accepting stories for their October issue. Theme is Shivers & Screams. Fiction under 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline July 24.

Country Magazine is open for submissions. They pay $250 for stories that run a page or more. A page is about 400-500 words.

Grimdark Magazine is looking for grimdark fantasy and science fiction. Stories up to 4000 words. Pays $.07 AUD/word.

Cicada is looking for YA. Current call for submissions with the theme Ghosts. Up to 9000 words for fiction, up to 5000 for non-fiction, poetry, comics, and art. They take work from teens, too! Stories and articles pay up to $.25.word, poetry up to $3 per line. Deadline for this issue is June 26.


A Life Examined is doing a fun and easy blog hop the first Monday of each month. Each participant answers that month's question. Simple! July's question is: What are three things you'd do tomorrow if fear wasn't stopping you?

Any of these of interest to you? Anything to add or share? Got a teen who might like to write a story or article? Have you read any of these magazines or submitted to them? 

May you find your Muse.