Let’s Blitz Again – #ICTTBCONTEST

October 21, 2016 at 10:36 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

screenshot-2016-10-21-at-7-05-16-pm-editedToday’s submission was to Grey Matter Press’s flash fiction contest. More about that in a bit.

Yesterday brought a new rejection, but not one from the blitz.  It was a story I sent out in the summer – one my sister had inspired while I was on vacation.  The editors said it had piqued their interest, but in the end, they had decided it was a no.  They did however say they hoped I would send in another story before the call closed.  Well it just so happened the short story I had recently finished and not yet submitted anywhere matched well with their theme, so without skipping a beat, I sent that one in.  I have high hopes and may end up disappointed, but it was worth a shot.

On my hunt for my next submission, I came across Grey Matter Press’s “I Can Taste the Blood” flash fiction contest and decided I’d give it a go.  Today was the last day to submit, so I just managed to squeak in there.  You can check out all of the flash stories submitted (including mine) at the link above and vote for your favourite.  If you give it a read, I hope you find my story quite chilling.

Two-thirds of the way to blitz end.  This has been a fun one.

And I’m off to hunt out my next call.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Women in Horror – Inspiration

February 26, 2014 at 1:36 am (dark fantasy, fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , )

I didn’t start out reading horror when I was younger. My earliest inspirations when I was a child were writers of fairy tales and classical mythology. I grew up on the Grimm Brothers, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Edith Hamilton.

My first real introduction to horror was a cross-genre book offering up horror versions of fairy tales written by Tanith Lee – Red as Blood. My treasured hard cover copy still sits on the shelf (the one with the Michael Whelan cover pictured here – now a collectible.) I’ve read it cover to cover several times. That was what hooked me when it came to horror.

After reading that I went looking for more of her dark work, most of it fantasy that delved into horror, The Gorgon and Other Beastly Tales, Tales of the Flat Earth and others. I loved every bit of it.

I’ve read plenty of horror since, some of the popular writers like Stephen King and Anne Rice, lesser known greats like Frederic Brown and oodles of small press authors, but Tanith Lee was the lady who bridged that gap for me, luring me into horror along a pathway of dark fantasy. If you think my writing is edgy and merciless, at least at times, you can thank her.

I’ve even tried my hand at a couple of horror versions of fairy tales myself, one of which has been accepted for an anthology (more details to follow at a later date.) I can only hope that someday I’ll have the opportunity to share pages with her in an anthology…I had a close call once with a “maybe” that unfortunately turned into a “no.”

She remains the woman in horror who serves as my biggest writing inspiration.

Permalink Leave a Comment

10 Simple Questions – WWW Edition

September 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

with Rebecca Snow

And now a few words from a lady I consider my horror writer alter ego. It’s like she’s the horror yin to my dark and freaky yang. Someone asked me once who I’d want to finish any unfinished stories, were I to kick off tomorrow, and she’s top of the list.

1) Who are you?

I am me…Rebecca Snow. I have a super power that no one can see. Anything else I’d say here would be rambling blather and sleep inducing (sleep…what is this thing sleep? – CB).

2) What have you written and in particular, what have you written that’s wicked?

Words…I’ve written lots of words. Not as many as some, but more than others. As for being wicked, just about everything I write is wicked in one way or another (I can vouch for that – CB). Even the humor is a little evil. As for all the places I’ve had a story published, instead of type them out, here’s a link. http://cemeteryflowerblog.wordpress.com/publication-credits/

3) I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but why do you write?

If I don’t write, the voices get too loud. If I ignore them too long, I start to twitch (that might be kind of fun to watch – CB).

4) Do you have a preferred theme or topic (zombies, serial killers, demons, etc…)?

To read, I prefer anything that doesn’t make me roll my eyes like dice. In writing, I rather enjoy horror in general. I’ll try any topic once as long as it doesn’t make me want to scrub off my skin. I find horror to be a great way to relieve any frustration that lingers throughout the day.

5) Are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

Having had to ask what a pantser is, I have deduced that I am a pantser. Granted, sometimes I plot my pants. Most of the time, I get an idea, grab a few characters out of the closet, and throw them into the middle of things to see what they do (I always marvel at those who can do this, because it never works for me – CB). It isn’t always successful, but it is fun to watch.

6) What do you like most about writing?

I like getting the stories out of my head so other people can see them. They aren’t always well received, but I’m not the greatest vocal storyteller. It’s much easier to scribble the tales than tell them.

7) What challenges you the most about writing?

I wrestle with interruptions. I have a writing room, but the cats always know where to find me.

8) Who or what inspires you most?

Breathing (that must make life easy – CB).

9) What are your plans for the future?

Funny, other than short term, I rarely make big plans. I’m in middle of a few shorts. Hopefully, my next endeavor will be another novel that has more of a chance at being published than either of my others. (I wish I could be so laid back…I always have new unachievable goals to add to my list. CB)

10) Why Wicked Women Writers?

Why not? And the company is outstanding.

Awwww – a woman after my own heart, even if she would be likely to dig it out with a sharpened spoon. I hope you give her story consideration along with the other Wicked Women Writers. She’s #8 on the list. Read more about her at http://cemeteryflowerblog.wordpress.com/

Permalink 1 Comment

A Current Endeavor – Jell-o Brain

June 27, 2013 at 2:01 am (Sam, writing) (, , , , , )

This posting will be brief thanks to having a heavier workload at my day job. Not that I’m working over-time hours (yet) – but when I’m maintaining the pace I have to set to keep from being totally overwhelmed by the growing to-do pile, my brain just turns to goo by day’s end. That does concern me a little bit when I consider the fact that part of chapter 9 is being written when I’m not all there, but at least this is just the first draft. There will be room for repair later.

What I can do when my brain turns to goo is play around with artwork, so that is what I ended up doing. Here’s a rough draft of drawings inspired by Endeavor. We’ll see if I can turn them into anything exceptional.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Positive Thinking

June 25, 2013 at 12:06 am (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

I’ve been researching improving your life by improving your way of thinking and my most recent reading has included a couple of great books to guide me on that path. I’m trying to raise my level of positivity – because I have a habit of sabotaging myself with negative thoughts when I know I can exceed my own expectations when I live more optimistically. I’ve experienced it firsthand. So here are two recommendations I have for those needing that kind of a boost.

The Power of Why by Amanda Lang

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book because Ms. Lang was a keynote speaker at this year’s CMA conference in Nova Scotia. The book discusses the importance of innovative thinking, which includes trying to recapture the type of curiosity we had as a young child before the industrial-era-developed school systems we still have place in our innovation-era world killed that curiosity. It touches on the need for divergent thought, the ability to explore many answers rather than just focussing on the one “right” answer and the freedom to fail in order to be able to create.

I love the concepts in this book as well as the case studies of a variety of innovators and examples where divergent thinking and a willingness to move beyond accepted norms allowed for new inventions that did change or may change entire industries.

My only minor complaints is that I did find the book a little repetitive in places (possibly for the sake of reinforcing important points) and I didn’t like the emphasis on competitiveness over cooperation – I guess because I have “too Canadian” a mentality.

-A very good read for someone studying business, interested in innovation or just looking for some inspirational and positive stories.

10 Gifts to Give Yourself for a Successful Life by Christina Westover

Another book filled with positive thoughts and suggestions of ways to clear the negativity from your life and to focus on the things that matter. I think most people would agree that the gifts discussed would be considered ways of making your life happier and more meaningful, including pursuing your dreams, ridding your life of toxic people, and being open to the people who can have a good influence on our lives. Most would consider these ideas common sense, but truthfully, many individuals have forgotten their importance or have just become lost in general and can use a guidebook to get themselves back on track. The author even provides avenues for applying these concepts to your daily living.

I consider this a great pick-me-up manual that I can turn to for an injection of positivity – certainly an enjoyable read.

Permalink 1 Comment

A Current Endeavor – Crazy Busy

June 10, 2013 at 12:36 am (Casualties of War, fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I eked out a little Chapter 6 today but the last few days have been frantic. I attended a CMA conference on Thursday and Friday with some pretty incredible speakers and I’m still trying to process everything they had to say. Amanda Lang’s views on the necessity of changing how we think and how we educate our children so we all ask more questions and become more innovative sounded pretty sensible to me, and Bill Strickland’s keynote speech about treating people like assets and recognizing the value of generating hope where hope is lacking was very inspirational. I liked his notion that hope is the cure to spiritual cancer, and he ought to know considering the miraculous things he has accomplished in his life. I’ll be dedicating next month’s blog posts to him. I think after a year that has been pretty dismal to this point, I could use a little more hope in my life.

Yesterday was the date of my children’s school’s spring fair. In addition to baking a few things for their bake sale, I donated a copy of Casualties of War and The Blood Is Strong. The books went into one of the raffle prizes and I’m hoping someone will end up reading them. After the fair, I was planning a weekend of gardening, writing and rewriting when two e-mails popped up. I found myself spending eight hours reviewing the edits for Prisoners of Fate (followed by a quick proofread of a short story’s final edits) and now I can’t shake Ebon, Urwick, Shetland and Anna from running around in my head.

I’m very proud of my plot for that book. It is dizzyingly convoluted, in a good way, and an excellent example of the type of story – one with circular logic in places and multiple timeline cross-references – where an outline was absolutely required. As my hubby said: “without one, you would have definitely gotten lost.” But we’ll let the critics judge for themselves once it has been published. I’ll be offering up a teaser tale, “The Phoenix Egg,” for that book in the near future, once the book’s release is drawing near.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Submission Blitz – Day 22

April 23, 2013 at 12:05 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , )

My first blitz acceptance! After getting thumbs up from the small press editor, the associate editor for the anthology liked “The Paint-box” as well, and sent me an acceptance (yay!) I guess I can’t complain about a lack of rejections if it means I’m going to get acceptances. Even if only 20% of my submissions for the month end in acceptances that still means 6 new stories will be published as a result of these trials and tribulations. Not an unrealistic or unpleasant aspiration.

I managed to finish up “In too Deep” today – easy to manage because it was already 2/3 complete. I had started it for a very particular anthology and given it up when the slot I was aiming for was filled before I had even had the chance to finish it. I’m glad I did get back to it though. When I read through it I really was inspired to finish it, and today I submitted it to an appropriately themed anthology. I don’t know how it will fair, but I think it has a reasonable shot.

I think I’m going to go for some dark humour next and tackle my zombie-weasel story. It involves chickens so I have a possible anthology in mind for it – but we’ll see. I still have “Implements” available for submission if I don’t finish this latest one by tomorrow. I have no idea how long it will be, but I’m expecting shorter rather than longer.

Permalink 3 Comments

Inspiration and Motivation

March 4, 2013 at 2:14 am (fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I received an e-mail today with a thank you and a free copy of an e-book in which I had participated in a very small way. The anthology, Deep Cuts, is a tribute to female horror writers and I contributed a short blurb about how my favourite female horror writer, Tanith Lee, had inspired me, along with a recommendation of one of her short stories.

I’ve read a lot of horror in my day, despite being primarily a fantasy reader in my teens and as a younger adult. I’ve indulged in some of the well known horror writers like Stephen King, John Saul, Anne Rice, Peter Straub and Dean Koontz, but I think I drew more inspiration from some of the lesser known horror talent. I have a fine collection of horror anthologies and short story collections (Tanith Lee’s and Frederic Brown’s are the most worn from being re-read.) The influence was there before I started trying to write horror, it just took me a decade or two to realize my writer’s brain works the way it does.

The inspiration has always been there but the motivation has been harder to come by. I used to write when I didn’t have much going on while I was between jobs or semesters. I wrote to keep from going crazy on maternity leave. I wrote to try to make sense of things when I had two friends commit suicide within a year. But I also wrote, once my life got too busy to offer any sense of ennui, because I had a dear friend who has read everything I’ve ever written, given me constant feedback, both good and bad, and pushed me when I wasn’t up to pushing myself. Even my husband hasn’t managed to keep up with her (although he tries).

Now she’s facing challenges of her own, and it’s up to me to do what I can to inspire and motivate her. I can’t begin to understand what she’s going through. Offering her a similar amount of encouragement is going to require tamping down my typically pessimistic nature. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it, but I’m certainly going to try for her sake. It also means finding motivation for myself elsewhere because she won’t be available at times for various reasons. I haven’t figured that one out yet either.

And speaking of motivation, I have my winner for my contest to help me choose my next project. I did go with “Sifting the Ashes” and the winner is atalantatheargonaut – I’ll be e-mailing to find out your prize preference. Congrats J

Permalink 1 Comment

Adventures in NaNo-land – The Next Big Thing

November 15, 2012 at 12:29 am (fantasy, Fervor, horror, Links, Royce, Sam, writing) (, , , , , , )

As much as I would like the world to stop in November so I can get off of it and focus on NaNo, the fact is, it doesn’t. The next in my Fervor series, Transcendence, will be released very soon, and I can’t drop the ball with my publisher. So I agreed to participate in a promotional blog hop called The Next Big Thing, to help put the word out.

It was the dynamic Autumn Birt who invited me to participate. Autumn is one of those creative free spirits who seems to have more energy and ingenuity than any three other people combined. That, and she’s one of my fabulous cohorts at the Guild of Dreams. She did the Next Big Thing last week, so make sure you go check out what’s happening with Autumn at Weifarer’s Writing and Wanderings.

So this leads to this interruption in NaNo-land. Or, in other words, “and now a word from our sponsors…”

And now The Next Big Thing! (at least as far as I’m concerned.)

1. What is the working title of your book?

Transcendence (Fervor #3 – it’s pretty well set in stone at this point)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s the third book in a dystopian science fantasy series I started because an agent had a wish-list of certain themes he wanted to see. I was inspired by a book on genetics I had been reading and used that as the basis for the story, while following his theme. Apparently, the agent didn’t want to see those themes that badly unless they were coming from an established author (I’m pretty sure he didn’t even look at my query.) Nevertheless, I wrote Fervor, my debut novel, because of him because of him, so I guess I should be grateful.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Dystopian science fantasy with a hint of horror

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

Logan Lerman would be a good Sam, but he would have to grow his hair and dye it blonde. Steven Strait would make a great Royce (clean-shaven with longer hair), and I think Natalya Rudakova (as a short-cropped redhead) fits Angela to a T (the three characters depicted on the cover.)

5. What is the one sentence synopsis for your book

Free from Fervor, but not really free at all, Sam and the other refugees face the intolerance of Windlea while trying to figure out how they will rescue their friends from the Scholars.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is being published by May December Publications

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Several people have compared the Fervor series to Golding’s Lord of the Flies or the Maze-Runner trilogy

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My real-life muse, Barb McQueen (and my publishers, who asked for it.)

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has a futuristic feel with elements of fantasy that seems to appeal to readers of all ages. There’s political intrigue, romance, action-adventure and mystery all mixed into the story as well.

And now that you’ve seen what I have coming up, here’s the hndful of folk up next on the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, fabulous writers you might not already know. Remember, their answers to these questions will be up next week, so make sure you check them out to see what they have to show you.

Ren Garcia

Steve Vernon

E. S. Tilton

And now back to our regular programming…

More tomorrow J

Permalink 2 Comments

Mental Music

March 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm (writing) (, , , , , )

The discussion came up in one of my writers’ groups as to whether it’s better to listen to music while you write or to sit in silence. Opinions differed, and I don’t think that any one answer is correct. Some people want a completely distraction-free environment and that’s how they work best, but that’s not what I find works for me, and I’m not alone. Others insist that they can only listen to instrumental music and that lyrics draw them away from what they are writing. Once again, I don’t share that belief, for my own writing. I enjoy listening to music when I write and find it highly inspirational, preferably songs with lyrics and most often alternative rock.

I’m not suggesting that my method would work for everyone. Some people need to be very single-minded when they do something creative, but even in silence, my brain is cluttered and music seems to help me to drown out some of the clutter and to focus. Considering I’m one of those oddball dual-sided thinkers, I wouldn’t expect my creative process to match that of the typical right-brained scribe.

Science does provide some positive evidence for those in favour of listening to music as they write. There are scholastic studies that support the notion music heightens creative processes through increased pleasurable emotions, although particularly with music that the individual enjoys. While not necessarily having drastic effects, there is an “enjoyment arousal” factor (a term coined by C. F. Chabris) that can improve creative performance (see details of stimulating effects of music in the study paper “Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion” by Anne J. Blood and Robert J. Zatorre, from McGill University). The study specifically shows an increase in higher thought processes and a decrease in the more animalistic brain functions in response to the music. The music also has a calming effect (as per the Harvard Gazette article, Music on the brain:
Researchers explore the biology of music, by William J. Cromie), and relaxation is helpful when trying to be creative.

A second paper from McGill supports that emotional responses correlate to the music played, something else we discussed in the group. If you are writing a love scene versus a battle scene, the two definitely call for different musical playlists to generate the appropriate ambiance.

The studies also support those who say they need to write in silence. If a writer hasn’t found a type of music that can draw that pleasurable reaction, then the response to the dissonance caused by the music is the exact opposite – the music would create a negative result and actually draw their attention away from other things, such as the story they are trying to create. It could very well be that those who need silence in order to write have yet to find a music with which their mental functions are in sync, if one exists for them at all.

Musical food for thought…

Permalink 2 Comments