The Blurb on Other People’s Word: Mentralysis

December 15, 2017 at 1:44 am (dark fantasy, horror, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

Review – House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis – by Ren Garcia

I’m a true fan of Ren Garcia and I’ve read all of his books to date (well, I’m working on Kat now.) Mentralysis started in a very puzzling way. I was very intrigued to see where it was going. Ar first it seemed similar in some aspects to his other books, but off in a way, straying from some anticipated norms.
Then it took a turn to a place darker than any of the others and I found that more than a little disturbing. I thought: “This book is nasty! Nasty, nasty, nasty! I love it….”
Understand, this is coming from an avid reader of all speculative fiction, who especially loves both horror and fantasy. I found the storyline of this book the most creative and original of all Ren’s books, and considering he’s a master world-builder, that’s saying a lot.

In addition to an edgy and moving storyline, the new characters were delightful and entertaining. I particularly enjoyed Laika, a Haitathe – quite a force to be reckoned with and one of the pivotal components of the story. Ren also turns some of the pre-existing characters on their heads (with a well-thought out explanation, of course.)

He presents his heroes with conniving villains who provide some exceptional challenges. They offer up equally exceptional resolutions in return.

If you are looking for some genre-bending, speculative fiction with a fresh approach to a great story, this book’s for you.

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No NaNo for Me, but Other News

November 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm (fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

My day job still has my life a chaotic mess right now, so NaNo was a “no go” this year. I’m in denial that the holidays are rapidly approaching and trying to stay somewhat healthy despite massive amounts of stress and no real vacation time to be had. I haven’t stopped writing altogether, but I have slowed down.

My latest completed project (I have three others in the works) was a children’s story – written for a friend.  I rarely write children’s stories, a few YA and the majority adult, but it so happened that this project wrapped up just as another of my children’s stories is being released.

I have a story, “Braving the Fire,” in the recently released C is for Cabbage anthology.  The anthology is a charity anthology, organized and edited by Emma Ennis, with proceeds going to the Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, a children’s cancer charity.  It’s a great cause, dear to Emma, and the anthology has received testimonials from Vikings’ Travis Fimmel and author of Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer.  She put a lot of work and heart into this anthology and I hope it proves to be an extraordinary success.

I’ll have more news in December, once I catch my breath from the chaos.

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October Blitz and New Releases

November 8, 2017 at 12:40 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

Sometimes life sucks all the creative energy out of you.  Lately, changes at my workplace have placed additional demands on my time and my mental resources so I’ve found myself with nothing much left to invest in producing or promoting my writing.  I did actively try to complete my usual October submission blitz, but I fell about 10 submissions short.  I will be working to make those up before year’s end, so I still get in my 100 submissions for the year.  I am also currently working on a drawing project and two short stories, but progress has been slim.

I managed to gather up enough initiative for a long needed blog to announce some of my recent releases, but I’m hoping by the time November ends and things slow down a little at work, I’ll get a little more of my mojo back.  I can usually manage family, gardening, jugger and my creative endeavors along with work, and I’d like to get back to that happy balance.  Considering gardening is winding down for the year and jugger is now only once a week, the main trade off is day job versus my artistic side.

Anyway – here are some of my recent releases along with links where you can find them (three are reprints but the fourth is new.)  I’ve still been busy, but just not my usual prolific self.  I’m fortunate to have made it into some pretty impressive publications:

Killing It Softly 2 (Octavia)

Allegory: Volume 32/59 (The Lure)

Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 (Wrigglers)

Gathering Storm Magazine: Year 1, Issue 5 (Foil-Hat Crazy)

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that December will bring a little more sanity and time for writing, but I’m not holding my breath.  I’ll at least try to get back on my weekly blog schedule, including a couple of reviews I need to post.

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Anthology News

September 27, 2017 at 3:10 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

I’m waiting on a few stories coming out shortly, but I do have a couple of things to note for September.

The first is that The Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 Anthology (pictured left), which contains my short story, “Wrigglers,” is now available for pre-order.

The second item of note is that Compostela: Tesseracts Twenty, containing my short story ,”Better,” is now available in paperback format.

I also have three submitted story “maybe”s awaiting final judgement.  Fingers crossed for me there. I’ve had acceptances with both publishers involved in the past, so there’s hope for me yet.

More to come, very soon…

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Summer’s End

September 26, 2017 at 2:32 am (Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

It’s about time I end my summer “blog hiatus”, and what time better to do it with some thoughts on this year’s Hal-Con.

I decided to make the most of the writing options of my one day there by scheduling as much in as possible. I started things up with a meet-up with a few local writers (which was a fun time) and I followed that up with a Tanya Huff presentation on adapting novels to TV. I made friends with a playwright from California and chatted with an old friend while in line. Tanya had some great stories to share.

The next panel I attended was on women in media – some great questions for the panel and thought-provoking conversation. It convinced me to buy one of the books written by one of the panel members, Tim Hanley (cover at left).

I ended up skipping the next panel I was half interested in attending so I could have some snacks and play a couple of rounds of Munchkin Deluxe. Then it was off to a reading by Tamora Pierce.

The last presentation I attended that day was on writing style. While I agreed with much of the content, there were some minor issues. I’m not sure if the presenter had the credentials to offer themselves up as a “writing expert,” especially considering a lack of publishing experience and some of the technical issues with their slides. There was one notable typo, problems with punctuation in their dialogue examples, referring to something that was clearly a simile as a metaphor and repetition in some samples that wasn’t being used to reinforce a point. All that aside, the presentation was a good one overall and a few rounds with a good editor may help the presenter refine their technical skills.

Supper with a friend followed and then I ended the night by attending the Aurora Awards (congrats to all the nominees and winners.) As I waited for my drive with my daughter and her friend we tried out Chupacabra.

The only hiccups I ran into at the con was an obstacle while trying to pre-register, so that didn’t happen, and a lack of healthy gluten-free snacks/food available at the con. You had to go off site to get that, but it wasn’t terribly far.

My latest writing news will follow tomorrow and my October submission blitz is rapidly approaching. More soon!

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June News

June 27, 2017 at 12:39 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

June has been busy for me with new acceptances, contracts, cover reveals and releases. Add into the mix outdoor jugger and gardening and blogging gets reduced to one or two postings a month.

I’m happy to say that the e-book version of Tesseracts 20: Compostela is now available with the print version to follow in September (it contans my short story “Better” – I mentioned the pre-order last post) This one’s a thrill for me, due in part to the fact that Spider Robinson is one of the editors. I grew up reading his books (Night of Power was my favourite as a teen but I’m not sure which I’d give top place now,) and he actually lived in Nova Scotia for a time, so I hold him in high esteem.

Another new release is in Gathering Storm Issue #3. “Counting Crows” is my second appearance in this beautiful venue (their format is formidable and their artwork breathtaking, like the cover artwork here.) I’m submitted something for issue #4, so fingers crossed.

My story “Wrigglers” will make a reprint appearance in Gehenna and Hinnom’s Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 Anthology . You can find the ToC announcement here.

And to top it off, I just receive an acceptance and contract for an all Canadian horror anthology in the works. More news on that later.

I have a couple more things brewing but I can’t include them just yet. I’ll share when I can

As crazy as it may sound, I have decided to do Camp Nanowrimo this July. This will be my first time participating as part of a group (our cabin) but it should help me stay focused. I skipped the last couple of Nanowrimos because I haven’t felt all that motivated when it comes to novel writing (especially when the 20+ novels I already have completed could probably use another round of edits and then maybe a new shopping run.) But I’ve promising my hubby the one I have planned for camp for some time now, so it’s time to buckle down and get started. I just have to get a little research in before July 1 and work my writing in around overtime and family day trips.

See you in July!

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Catch-Up in June

June 2, 2017 at 12:52 am (dark fantasy, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

A post has been a long time in coming (sorry), but I have been well and truly busy. I’ve been working at setting a blog up for my pseudonym as well as prepping a couple of between blitz submissions, juggling proofing and marketing requests and participating in the voting process for one of my writer’s associations. It’s also gardening season, jugger season and I’ve been spending a lot of time with my daughter lately. So yeah – I’m busy.

That being said, the last few weeks have been pleasantly rife with story acceptances, payments, cover reveals and ToC announcements – so I have to play catch-up on those (or, at least the ones I’m allowed to talk about now.)

Compostela – Tesseracts 20 – containing my sci-fi short story “Better” is now available for pre-order here . Tesseracts is one of my “writer’s bucket list” achievements, so it’s a big deal for me. I’m sharing pages with some pretty impressive people.

Clockwork Canada, the Exile Editions steampunk anthology containing my short story “The Curlicue Seahorse” is on the ballot for the 2017 Aurora Awards, in the category of Best Related Work.

I have a new free read available too.  My flash fiction, Pure Mime, has been published by Body Parts Magazine.

And you can also find me listed on two ToC announcements. The first is from Digital Fiction Publishing. My short story “Octavia” will be included in their all-female writer horror reprint anthology, “Killing It Softly 2” .

The second can be found on the blog for Mackenzie Publishing . Their “Two Eyes Open” horror anthology will include my period horror short, “Soul Cakes.” I’ve shared the lovely and intriguing cover above.

I’ll have more announcements coming soon as my last submission blitz proved to be quite successful. And I just finished a horror short for a themed anthology invite that I can’t discuss just yet. We’ll see how that goes.

I hope everybody’s year has been as exciting as mine has been so far. Now its off to work on some edits…

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Spring Blitz 2017 – The End Is Nigh

May 2, 2017 at 9:40 pm (horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

My blitz is all over now but the waiting. I do already have a couple of acceptances (and multiple rejections).  I should have posted this wrap up on Sunday, but I beg off based on illness (I had a cold), taxes (I had to finish them up) and gardening (we planted this weekend.)

I had meant to write this following review up as soon as I finished the book, but all the things I mentioned above got in the way. Besides, I find writing a review is something better done once I’ve had a chance to mull things over.  And so, I’ve been mulling.

The first thing I want to say is that Zeroes, by Chuck Wendig, was a breath of fresh read.  After having read a handful of very formulaic Sandra Brown thrillers, which while entertaining on a basic level, had seriously flat and repetitive characterization and even reused the “father gave daughter up for adoption but regretted it later” plot line, I needed something with substance.  Zeroes had substance, and then some.

First of all, I always judge a book by its characterization, and the characterization in Zeroes offered novelty and depth.  The cast was diverse.  While one of the protagonists…perhaps you could call him the protagonist-in-chief, because there were technically five protagonists (six if you want to count Harris who perhaps is more of a strong secondary,) is very much a white male everyman, he certainly doesn’t “save the day”.  In fact, he is heavily reliant on the diverse other characters in his hacking group and would have gotten nowhere without them.  There’s a rocky romantic thread with the exceptionally competent Aleena and the “buddy” component with DeAndre, and even the aging mentor/father figure in Wade.  While in essence none of these plot elements are original, what makes them different are the strengths and weaknesses of the particular characters and the out of the ordinary dynamics involved.

And then there’s Reagan – the best part of the book for me.  She’s the character I both loved and hated the most.  She’s the one I could identify with even though in some ways I despised her…someone I could have been if my life had taken a different turn at some point.  She’s callous, brash and unapologetic.  She’s also clever, creative and conniving,  Plus she’s broken.  All the protagonists are in some way, but you can see it most in her because she’s brutally honest about it.  Her most notable shining moment is my favourite part of the book and without it, the story would have been lost.

I can forgive a book with a weak plot line as long as the characters are good, but I didn’t have to in this case.  The plot had oodles of dark intrigue and thrilling action with enough complexity to keep me interested.  And I have to say that I loved the little introductory chapters for each of the characters.  It gives you a chance to properly “meet” them before jumping into the story, so that you actually care what’s going on.

I picked up this book out of curiosity because I follow Chuck’s well-written blog.  Now I will probably go out of my way to read more of his books.  This one was a winner.

Here’s one of the recent release of one of my flash fiction stories from a prior out.  Check out “Pure Mime” at Body Parts Magazine.

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Spring Blitz 2017 – Hanging in There

April 21, 2017 at 2:12 am (Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , )

I completed my 20th submission for April today, despite not keeping up with regular blitz blog posts. I blame mundane tasks that have gotten in the way, like helping with homework, chasing chickens (see the dastardly Pecan here to the left) and doing my taxes, and not so mundane tasks like being eyeball deep in Chuck Wendig’s Zeroes (which I hope to review on Monday.) I’ve been testing new venue waters too which has meant investing more time to broaden my call searches.

I’ve been waiting on a couple of new releases expected shortly. Forest Seclusion (adult content warning) is now available here, and there will be more to follow fairly soon.

I’ve also received a new acceptance – a year and four days in the making.  I was on the brink of retracting that submission when the acceptance came through, but I was pleased to see the wait was worth it.  I try to give a submission plenty of time before retracting, but I usually figure a year is enough.  Sometimes I do let them sit longer though, if I’m not anxious to resubmit.  At the same time I received a quick confirmation that another submission had made it through phase one of a three phase review process.  Fingers crossed. 🙂

And, or course, this month isn’t without its rejections – 5 so far, with two of the submissions clearing the year long mark.  It only pays to be patient some of the time.

I may not post again until Monday.  I have a short story I hope to finish and then it’s back to working on taxes.

But at least gardening’s not that far off … right?

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Spring Blitz 2017 – Catch-Up Day

April 13, 2017 at 1:35 am (writing) (, , , , , )

Between parenting issues (which included helping my daughter with overdue homework) and other “priority items”, I missed a couple of days worth of submissions, so today I had to play catch up. I’ve now used up my reserve call for submission options so I’ll have to dig up a few more. I’m lucky enough to have multiple sources for calls that I can tap into, which makes finding ones I can match my existing stories to that much easier.  I am getting closer to the bottom of my “available” list though.  Unless I find more calls accepting reprints or a few more rejections come in, and/or I finish up the two shorts I’m working on. I’m going to have to start looking through older submissions that have gone a year or more without a response.  Occasionally, they don’t send one and leave your story in submission limbo.

I’ll have some extra time over the long weekend.  We’ll see what I manage to accomplish.

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