Review – The Green and the Black by William Meikle

October 19, 2018 at 10:26 pm (dark fantasy, horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

When I was growing up, I owned an encyclopedia of fairies that I loved to revisit on a regular basis. My favourites were some of the darker tales from the mines, such as those of the knockers and redcaps. I also had a fascination for rocks – I even joined the Dawson Geology Club in university and ended up a member of the Science Society despite the fact that I was an arts student at the time. For these reasons, and others, this book really spoke to me.

I could relate to the characters in the story, their excitement about the historic site (providing the setting for the story) and being from Atlantic Canada, I could appreciate how well the author described their surroundings. It was almost like venturing out on another geological field trip, abandoning civilization for the deep woods. Along with well-executed scene-setting and atmosphere, I also enjoyed the author’s method of tension-building. In my opinion, there aren’t enough horror stories anymore that do that as well as this one does. There’s too much focus on an intro “hook”, on gore, and on spectacle and not enough on the development of the psychological elements of horror. I prefer the slow build that establishes and then grows a sense of the eerie, so that the reader is given a chance to become invested in both the characters and the story-line before things go terribly wrong.

The only two very minor complaints I have about the book is that I would have preferred more character development for Bill and Doug, who felt a little two-dimensional, and I would have preferred to see at least one female character with a role other than just supporting ones … girlfriend and mother. I can understand the reasoning behind not including women in the field group because there are fewer women studying in those fields, but I can attest to the fact that they do exist and are becoming more common. I have female friends who are geologists, engineers, archeologists and botanists and they have done fieldwork. I think the added diversity would have been nice (but this is strictly a personal preference.)

This book was a quick, chilling, and entertaining read with an intriguing combination of the historic and the supernatural. Definitely worth my time and highly enjoyable. I would recommend it to horror and dark fantasy fans alike.

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Kat and More

May 7, 2018 at 2:24 am (dark fantasy, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

I recently completed 6th Turn: Kat, my latest read in Ren Garcia’s League of Elder series. I’m a big fan of his writing, and I enjoyed this book because it was a particularly dark story line but followed the action with a consistent thread of hope (I felt the same way Mentralysis, my previous read.)

This was another world-building win from Ren, and was definitely a favourite so far. The story ventures into the realm of the Black Hats – we get to see their creation process with all of its cruelty and suffering, and then follow four shadowtech females sent out on their first mission where success will mean new status. One stands out amongst the others, and when things take a turn for the worse, she manages to overcome adversity with the help of her “angels”. Her quest takes its own turn and she abandons her original mission for a completely new goal.

I loved following her transformation, the budding romance that matures into something stronger and how she deals with all of the obstacles she must face while trying to achieve her higher purpose as the Covus. She’s no fragile flower, fighting, even killing when necessary to protect the ones she cares about.

I liked some of the scenes so much I went back and reread them after I finished the book. I especially enjoyed their startling trip to Vain (with its air of a post-apocalyptic dystopia) and their encounters at Xandarr that ventured into the surreal.

This one was a big thumbs up for me. More like this one please.

I was happy to hear that Ren has now released an Omnibus collection. This is a great way of getting three of his books in one: The Dead Held Hands, The Machine, and The Temple of the Exploding Head, books that follow the adventures of Lord Kabyl, the lovely Sam and their companions.

His space operas, with their mixture of sci-fi, steampunk and strange, dark magic, maintain the high adventure flavour of old cliffhangers.  When you read them, you can count on masterful world-building, diverse characters and moving story lines. I enjoyed these books immensely individually, so its a great opportunity to be able to get them as a set.

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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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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 – New Release

April 9, 2017 at 11:35 pm (dark fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

Another two submissions have gone out, one micro-fiction and one flash, and both creepy horror tales.  I had another story I wanted to submit, but the venue I was considering doesn’t reopen for submissions until tomorrow, so it will have to wait.  This particular story has been rejected 12 times already, but I feel it is a strong story, as it has had four “maybe”s that turned into “no”s and some decent praise from some pro-rate editors, despite no acceptance.  So I’ll press on and perhaps it will find a home some day.

Another of my stories has just been released by Crimson Streets.  Not only have they published “Amnesty” but they accepted a follow up story involving the same character.  I have another story in mind if ever they decide they want a third.

Back to hunting out more calls for submissions – I still have three weeks of submissions ahead of me.

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Spring Blitz 2017 – Plan B

April 4, 2017 at 11:49 pm (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , )

I recently came across a call for submissions I was hoping to submit to with an existing story I had that matched the theme, but it meant waiting for a rejection from a prior submission. I did get a response back, but not the rejection I had been expecting. So along with a story sale, I was left with now having to resort to Plan B … write a new story. I’m about 1,000 words in, but I have a solid story concept, so I expect I’ll finish it over the next couple of days.

I did submit a couple of reprints since my last post, to a new venue for me.  I haven’t had a lot of luck with reprint submissions, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and my eyes open for other opportunities.

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A New Year’s Blitz – January 2017

January 2, 2017 at 3:00 am (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , , , )

chantal-headshotAfter taking it easy last year, I’ve decided this year I’m going to up my productivity. For the first year, I’ll be adding a submission blitz in January to get my annual submission total up to 100 (or more.)  I was lucky that Gamut is open to submissions today.  They close after receiving 300 submissions, and that’s usually within 24 hours, so I squeezed in a couple while the window was still open – one reprint and one original.  I only have so many unsubmitted stories at the moment, so in addition to hitting up reprint markets, I’m going to have to make an effort to either generate a few new things to put out or edit my novel manuscripts to resubmit somewhere new.

I’m not big on resolutions,  but with a big new challenge to deal with at my day job and seeing a lot of things that need organizing at home, I’ve decided the only way I can do it is to cut down on my time online and watching TV or movies.  I also want more time to read and perhaps start writing reviews again.  I was good about it today and got a few things done that needed doing and a few things read.  I just hope I can stick to it.  It almost feels like I’m trying to shake an addiction.

I hope 2017 shapes up to be a better year than the last one.  It definitely holds potential.  Let’s see if I can make the most of it.

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Let’s Blitz Again – It Takes All Kinds

October 26, 2016 at 2:01 am (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , )

1015584_10152927473845032_887250515_o-editedAlong with making my submissions and working on my latest short story, I’ve also had to review the galley of my first soon-to-be-published children’s story.  I occasionally experiment with different genres and reader age groups, but I always tend to come back to darker adult speculative fiction.  This one is for charity though, so I’m happy to contribute to the anthology.

I did get another blitz rejection back (“entertaining and well-written – but no”) so I sent it out again that same day and I sent out a multi-rejection story today.  Just a few more to go now, with no new material required.

Just a quick post tonight because this is a busy week – more on Thursday 🙂

 

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Let’s Blitz Again – October 2016 #8

October 11, 2016 at 12:56 am (dark fantasy, writing) (, , , , , )

1930969_87232245031_3487_n-editedI managed to squeeze in today’s submission, a dark fantasy story to a podcast, in the middle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner and cleaning up the aftermath. Aside from the turkey, potatoes, and stuffing, everything for supper came from our garden and our front lawn (cranberry sauce from scratch – yay!)  I did spend the day catching up on a few chores I didn’t get done yesterday, and deciding on the next story I plan to start tomorrow.  I also spent the day hoping the power wasn’t going to go out on us while the rains poured and the winds thrashed, and thankfully it didn’t.

A happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends out there.  Wishing you pleasant company and good eats. 🙂

 

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Let’s Blitz Again – October 2016 #5

October 6, 2016 at 11:01 pm (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , , )

202345_10153006317075032_1470588330_o-editedSo far, I’ve had two responses to my submissions. The first was an invitation as a result of my author query on day one (although it may not apply until 2018 – I don’t mind the wait.) and the second was for Tuesday’s submission. Apparently, my daughter is a valid critic. The acceptance came with a request for a title change. I didn’t mind. I’ve had that request for one other story and I didn’t hesitate to change it. I’m never that attached to a given title.

I did start work on another call for submissions yesterday until I realize the call doesn’t open until November 1, so I’m setting that one aside. Maybe I’ll extend the blitz by a day to include that one. I have enough material to spare, especially if any rejections come back during the month.

I may end up skipping a post or two to do garden-y things in the next week. We’ve had a couple of frosts which could end up with a need for some quick harvesting. I won’t skip any submissions though.

Today’s submission, a “multi-maybe but never yes” story that has been through one requested rewrite and therefore now exists in two versions, one with a more optimistic ending than the other. I like them both. I sent off the darker version to yet another pro-rate venue with a fitting theme. We’ll see how it fares this time.

More later…

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