December and Dark Corners

December 3, 2016 at 12:28 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

darkcornersI know this has been my first blog post in some time and it’s not because I participated in Nanowrimo this year (I didn’t). Rather, real life had me busy. An issue with my well/running water that had to be resolved before the ground froze for the winter had me (and to a larger extent, my husband) occupied on the home front for over a week.

Meanwhile, having to move offices (for a third time since I started my current job) meant numerous missed breaks and lunch hours and just a general sense of feeling burnt out at the end of the work day – so any blog posts got put on hold for sometime.

December won’t be much better, time wise. Commitments for the holidays, Christmas shopping and trying to fulfill the act from my daily act of kindness advent calendar doesn’t leave much wiggle room for writing or blogging, but I’ll do my best to squeeze some in.

On a happy note, I did keep up with my short fiction writing in November. One of my blitz acceptances (from a rejection the publisher retracted the day after it was sent – a first for me) came with a request for a sequel short, so I completed that. I hope they like it. I added a bit of plot and character complexity that they might appreciate, or it may put them off. I’ll wait and see.

I also worked on a sci-fi story for a selective call for submissions (a call extension by invitation only) with an impending deadline. Writing to a requested theme can be tricky – I have a tendency to skirt the edges of the topic to avoid being boxed in, which doesn’t always work in my favour. The story ended up nice and tight though, so I’m hopeful it has a chance.

And in other news, November saw a new story release. My horror short story, “On the Tip of her Tongue” is now available in the latest Dark Corners anthology, dedicated to the original editor, who sadly passed away before the anthology saw the light. Thanks to his wife and others committed to seeing the anthology’s completion, his efforts won’t go to waste.

I’ll try to get in a few updates in December, but if blog posts are limited, I’ll make up for it in January with my first annual winter submission blitz. I’m aiming for 100 submissions next year. Let’s see if I can make it happen.

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Tis the Season

December 1, 2015 at 11:26 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

Dethlehem3

This has been a good week for me. To begin with, I have a new notebook computer. It was going to be a “family” Christmas gift to me, but thanks to my lovely mother, Christmas arrived early. This means I’m writing consistently again and I will have a number of submissions to make over the next month, even though I won’t be blitzing. It also means a return to regular blog posts – happy, happy.

I’m also celebrating the release of “The Hack-Jack Prospect” in time for Christmas.  And Grinning Skull’s latest Christmas charity anthology should soon follow.  Watch here for more details.

So I’m off to saturate myself in coffee and get in more writing – happy holiday season to all.

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All Was Quiet on the Home Front

December 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , )

xmas5How many times have you sent a question out into the universe and actually expected to get an answer? Usually such questions are more an act of despair, not really anticipating a response. But then sometimes life will surprise you.

I hadn’t written anything in over a week, and I did not submit the last three stories I had considered submitting. Why? This year has been a struggle to maintain motivation. I had failed to make any of the progress I had been hoping for and suffered some serious setbacks. My publisher’s managing editor had encountered some delightful success with his own writing (go him!) and his financial manager spouse had met some serious family troubles that left her wanting to cut back on her workload (my sympathies), so they decided to focus on his work and release the majority of their authors.

My novels are now all in limbo, with the exception of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. Most are just sitting on the shelf. Two are still with my old publisher but I’m expecting them to come down eventually. The others are mostly unavailable, many of them waiting on a release in writing, and a couple of them sitting with a Canadian publisher for review (they have been there for about a year.) It feels like everything has just stalled out. And it is not very encouraging.

I did have a few short story acceptances this year, but the pickings were slim. One of my stories also got picked up for a theatrical reading for Halloween, a new one for me. But mostly, I was looking at a handful of stories put on hold and then turned down by pro-rate venues (I did appreciate the “maybe”s and the feedback I did get was useful) and a big bag full o’ rejections. My creative process is fueled by feedback, preferably positive, and this year I was facing a drought.
To top it all off, I had failed at my new year’s resolution. My aspiration to get a pro-rate sale this year died with the rejection letter this month from the last pro-rate venue that still had one of my stories on hold – the one I considered my best shot. I was starting to believe the universe was trying to tell me something because my hard work seemed to be yielding little in the way of returns. There’s a saying in accounting about throwing good money after bad. The same thought could be applied to effort, especially when you find yourself moving backwards. Was all of this worth my time?

It doesn’t help that I’m not very good at marketing myself. I try, but I’m not a natural salesperson. I lack the gift of schmooze. That can make or break you in the publishing industry.

I figured I’d step back from writing until I had shaken this off. Either I’d come back to it fresh and ready to start writing just for fun again, or I’d move on to something else. I stopped blogging, wrote my last couple of short stories for a spell, and threw the question out there into the cosmos. “Is this worth it? Give me a sign?”

I’ve lived my life as sort of a cosmic joke, and this situation proved no different, because the cosmos’s answer got filtered right into my e-mail junk folder twelve days before my chance to succeed at my resolution would come to an end. Call it what you want – the powers that be…fate…coincidence or just dumb luck. Call it a good thing that I check my junk mail folder on a regular basis. Anyway, rather than finding my first pro rate sale, it found me.

There it was, mixed in with the spam about pills that could improve the size of my manhood and princes from Nigeria needing help to access their inheritance: an e-mail from a big publisher wanting to buy one of my stories, and a reprint at that.  I hadn’t even submitted anything to them.

I answered back right away. The e-mail had already been sitting there for three days. The going price they were offering was pro rate. So now it is just a matter of settling out the contract and providing them with the extra bits they need for promotional purposes (photo, bio, etc.).

If any of you were wondering why my blog had gone quiet, now you know. It won’t be quiet anyxmas1 longer. Right now I want to sing (and do a series of happy dances.) I’ll have a Christmas treat for you coming up and some links to share.

Happy holidays, and I hope you have your own reasons to happy dance as well.

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Genre for the Holidays – Counting Down

December 31, 2012 at 3:07 am (Fervor, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

You don’t get to berate me just yet. I did manage to get the first item on my list from yesterday out of the way. I now have “Riot!” complete, but I have no idea where the story came from. It is nothing like anything else I’ve written and I have no clue if Ren will like it, but at least I got that task out of the way.

So now I get to reminisce about what I have managed to finish in my writing last year. I published two novels small press and successfully completed and released the first in the trilogy for my self-publishing experiment. I had several acceptances for anthologies (six acceptances, six different publishers, two UK, two US, two Canadian.) I had my second pro-rate “maybe”…and I’m hoping I can actually turn this one into a “yes”. I wrote a selection of short stories and three novels: “Intangible,” “Providence,” and “The Trading of Skin.” Not bad, but not any better than the year before and I’m running out of steam. So what to do in 2013?

As I mentioned, I’m having trouble settling on what I should work on for my next project. I’ve tossed around a few ideas. I have “Dagramar’s Zoo,” book nine in Masters & Renegades, but I told the hubby I’d wait until book five came out before I’d tackle that one and I’m waiting on book three at the moment (it’s with the publisher.) I haven’t flushed out the full plot for the next in my Fervor series. I could make a go at my planned YA book, but I’m not feeling terribly excited about that. I could do the follow-up to “When You Whisper” or take a stab at something else completely new on my to-do list. It’s a case of too many ideas and not enough direction.

So I guess I’ll wait until something prompts me – a nudge from my publisher, a shove from a test-reader or (do they really exist?) a fan, or maybe some prompting from my muse. In the meantime, I have my hands full with other things.

…Oh, and the other thing I’m counting down are the final two weeks before I can definitely say I have officially lost the Harper Voyager lottery. If I haven’t heard from them by then, I won’t be, which means “Elements of Genocide,” “Sleep Escapes Us,” and “Intangible” are free for re-submission. I wonder how many years I’ll be kicking them around before I figure out what to do with them.

Enjoy the last of 2012. J

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Genre for the Holidays – Procrastination

December 30, 2012 at 1:13 am (writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I have to confess, I’ve been using the holidays and housecleaning as excuses to procrastinate, something I don’t normally do. The work involved in the few things I do have to do right now with regards to my writing doesn’t thrill me, so I’ve put all of them off. I figure if I’m going to do them, I better make a list and if I don’t make a note of getting work done on them over the next few days, you all have the right to chastise me, berate me, slap my wrists … I’d even say spank me, but the hubby would object to that one. Anyway, here are the things on my writing to-do list. Maybe if I have them written somewhere public, it will shame me into getting my tushy in gear.

1) Write a story for Ren Garcia’s anthology – why have I been putting this off? Nerves. I don’t typically write this type of speculative fiction and I’ll be writing to Ren’s world, fan-fiction of sorts. I know I can’t come anywhere near matching Ren quality-wise and I honestly don’t have a story idea at this point. I need a little push with this one.

2) Submissions – I have two short story submissions I’ve been putting off. It won’t take long, but it feels so much like work and I haven’t been enthusiastic about submissions lately. I don’t know why – I’ve had some success lately so you’d think I’d be gung-ho, but I’m not.

3) Rewrite – I have a story ending to rewrite at an editor’s request. I’m scared to even start, despite having a few ideas on how I could change it. I guess I’m just worried I won’t be able to improve it and I’m waiting for that “zen” moment when the words just flow like magic.

4) Formatting – I have to format The Blood Runs Deep so I can get this second book in my Snowy Barrens trilogy out there. I was using the lack of cover art as an excuse, but I’m almost done with my attempt. It is nowhere near as good as Dianne’s work on the first cover, but it is a really good piece for my efforts and I think it will be acceptable. I just need a good kick in the pants to get started.

So there you have it, in order of importance based on deadlines, simplicity and necessity. And I’ll get to them, eventually, once I conquer this severe case of procrastination.

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Genre for the Holidays – The End is Near

December 29, 2012 at 1:02 am (writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The end of 2012 approaches and it is a year I’ll be happy to see come to a close. I still am grateful for the things I care about most – healthy family, friends and a job that makes me happy, but the year was stressful, with money woes, a handful of disappointments, some health scares for my friends and their families and a sense I’ve sort of hit a plateau with my writing and any promotional attempts. I’ve got that “grinding halt, don’t know where to go from here” kind of feeling, which is leaving me uninspired and shrugging my shoulders in the face of a series of potential projects.

I honestly don’t deal well with that feeling. Whenever it seems like I’m spinning my tires and wasting energy on futile efforts I get very frustrated. I’ve achieved a lot in the last few years, but I honestly don’t know where to go from here to improve on things even more, especially in the face of limited resources. Maybe I just need a break in order to mull things over and regroup, or maybe I need to change direction. I’m not sure how to figure that out.

The one thing I do know is that I’m resilient. If there is a way past this plateau, I’ll eventually find it. The year 2013 holds promise, even if I’m unclear what that promise is, exactly.

I also refuse to lose my levity. Frustrated or not, I will maintain my sense of humour. There’s always something in life to laugh at if you look hard enough.

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Genre for the Holidays – Last Minute Business

December 24, 2012 at 3:17 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , )

Just tying up the last few loose ends before Christmas. Dinner items have been purchased, gifts wrapped, stockings readied and cards were sent out long ago, although I realize three went to old addresses and I need to resend them because folks have moved since last Christmas (they’ll get their cards late – so sorry). Next I have to go through my face paints and get them organized for the party tomorrow – my daughter will be making balloon animals. The party lasts 3 hours and involves more than 100 kids – ugh! I won’t want to see another child again for a week, other than my own. We have two other parties to go to after that, first visiting friends and then my husband’s family. It’s going to be pretty busy.

I’ve also been typing in that horror Christmas story I mentioned, Deck the Halls. Here’s the promised excerpt:

The house was lonelier than Ward thought it would be, even though he didn’t really miss his mother. Now that it was the week before Christmas and Ward had had one too many celebratory rum and eggnogs, heavy on the rum, he had decided it was time to decorate.

“I don’t need anyone to bring me any lame-ass ole’ presents,” he slurred as he pulled out the storage bins, talking to nobody in particular. “I can buy plenty of my own damn presents, thanks to that insurance money. All I need to do now is sell this crappy house – probably in the spring. Then I can go anywhere and do anything I want to.”

He stumbled along with boxes in hand, headed for the hallway where he had already set up the artificial tree. He had bought that himself, a few days after his mother had died. She had always insisted on a real tree, so he had gotten it just to snub her memory – proof that she could no longer order him around.

Ward staggered around carelessly, dropping more than one ornament as he attempted to hang them on the tree. He cut his finger on one of them, but just laughed at the pain, shovelling all of the broken bits into a garbage bag along with a few of the undamaged but tacky ones his mother had adored, but he had always hated. They were mostly ones with a religious motif.

“I don’t have to look at that shit anymore, and I don’t have to listen to your nagging ever again either. I get to ‘deck the halls’ anyway I choose.” Ward sang those three words like the Christmas carol. “I get to hang my hockey team ornaments wherever I want, not just in my room, and I get to put up my naked girly garland that I got at the novelty store. This is my home now – and my decorations. So fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.”

Ward belched and threw a couple of her favourite gaudy antique ornaments against the wall, with a loud “crash!” He laughed uproariously as they smashed to smithereens.

“That one’s for you, Ma.”

There will be one of my full flash fiction pieces featured on the Guild of Dreams site tomorrow. I’ll be reblogging to Word Blurb, since I won’t have time to do anything more. See you then!

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Genre for the Holidays – A Little Bit of Mystery

December 23, 2012 at 2:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Today I’m going to talk about a genre of a different nature. I’m not a big mystery fan, normally. I don’t see myself writing mystery (although I did put together a little fantasy murder mystery party called “Who Killed Dodger Nabbit?”) I am, however, very much inclined to the modernized versions of Sherlock Holmes (I enjoyed Mr. Downey Jr. as Holmes on the big screen, although I prefer him as Iron Man). I was fortunate enough today to get to see Episode 1 of Season 2 of the latest British Sherlock TV series which was a holiday episode encompassing Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Day. It also was a risqué episode involving a dominatrix known as “The Woman” who managed to actually capture Sherlock’s interest. The series is brilliant, and this episode is captivating. While other versions of Sherlock Holmes are entertaining, the acting in this is impeccable, the plots are interesting and there is amazing depth to the characterization (I adore both Holmes and Watson in this version.)

Comparing the latest American version, Elementary, is a little unfair. The British version wins hands down, in my opinion, but Elementary is still worth watching. I wasn’t planning on following it – I figured with a female Watson (Lucy Liu,) and Hollywoodization, it would be kitschy, but it sucked me in despite my intentions to avoid it. So far, I’ve found it quite interesting, and there’s good chemistry between Watson and Holmes, although it fades in the shadow of the chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I also can’t help but look at them with fan-girl awe, when you consider Freeman played Arthur Dent and Bilbo Baggins and Benedict Cumberbatch joined Freeman in The Hobbit (in the later segments of the story) and is playing the big baddie in the next Star Trek movie.

And I miss another American Sherlock series that I didn’t recognize for what it was until it was ending. Of course, there was a slight attempt to disguise it. Rather than Holmes, the name used was House, his best friend Doctor Wilson instead of Doctor Watson, and the detective was a medical one, but Gregory shared many of the characteristics typical to Sherlock including drug abuse, an acerbic personality and the love of catching people in lies. I just didn’t clue in to all the similarities until the end.

Word has it that despite new fandom success for its co-stars, there will be more episodes of Sherlock. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend it.

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Genre for the Holidays – Sounds for the Season

December 22, 2012 at 12:59 am (fantasy, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

One of the great oral features of the festive season is the selection of holiday episodes at my favourite genre podcasts. I thought I would share my picks and links to some winning seasonal audio tales. Here they are:

Tales to Terrify: a horror podcast with sinister flavour, this episode features a short story called The Spirit of Christmas – http://talestoterrify.com/tales-to-terrify-show-no-49-lawrence-santoro-and-james-lovegrove/

Podcastle: for fantasy fans you can find their yarn with a Christmas spin, Catching the Spirit, at http://podcastle.org/2012/12/18/podcastle-239-catching-the-spirit/

Pseudopod: Podcastle’s horror sister podcast offers a gothic Christmas tale, The Dead Sexton – http://pseudopod.org/2012/12/21/pseudopod-313-the-dead-sexton/http://pseudopod.org/2012/12/21/pseudopod-313-the-dead-sexton/

And I’ve mentioned this one before, but this year’s Wicked Women Writers competition featured holiday stories including ones for Christmas and Hanukah. You can find the full spread here: http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/horror-addicts-079-wicked-women-writers-challenge/

While they do not have any specifically holiday-themed stories, you can find some excellent speculative fiction at Drabblecast and Starship Sofa.

4 days left ’til Christmas J

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Genre for the Holidays – It’s Magic!

December 21, 2012 at 2:26 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

My Top 5 List of Holiday Magic

5) A light-up nose – the Christmas equivalent to a magic lighthouse – brings new meaning to the saying “like a deer in the headlights”.

4) Wormhole chimneys – How else would someone with Santa’s girth fit through there? Instead of “slip n’ slide”, this is more like “shrink n’ slide.”

3) Faster-than-light speed sleigh travel – Wormholes might be involved with this one as well, or perhaps Tardis technology.

2)Animated snowmen – from cutesy creations like Frosty the snowmen to creepier constructs like the snowman in the movie “Jack Frost”, supernatural snowmen are super cool! (pun intended)

1) Flying reindeer – I have a thing for reindeer thanks to my just completed project based on Sami mythology. Mind you, the Sami would sacrifice reindeer for Winter Solstice, rather than fly them. This is the happier, more PG version.

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