The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Steve Vernon

June 3, 2018 at 6:12 pm (horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I have a few reviews a long time owing for Nova Scotian writer, Steve Vernon. I’ve reviewed his YA Sci-fi (Flash Virus) in the past, but I especially like Steve’s folksy storyteller approach to tales of murder and horror, and I’ve read several of his short story collections, and a novel, I have yet to review. I thought it was about time.

If you’ve ever witnessed Steve give a “reading”, you’d understand where his particular flavour comes from. He’s the guy you want adding his two cents to stories around the campfire or when you’re huddled by a candle during a power outage on a storm day. His stories, like him, are very animated, hooking your attention and drawing you further in.

His stories are often based on material close to home. Three of his collections I’ve had a chance to read and very much enjoy include Halifax Haunts, local ghost tales retold with Steve’s particular type of flare, Maritime Murder, true crime stories from the past revisited, and
The Lunenburg Werewolf: And Other Stories of the Supernatural, exploring some local legends that were in many cases new to me.

The research required to bring these tales to light is quite obvious, with dates and details that give them substance above and beyond Steve’s enjoyable characteristic style. Most of the stories are dark, some are more playful and some are downright chilling, but they are all entertaining and seem real enough to suggest plausability.

Steve’s books stand on my bookshelves among my favourites. If you’ve never had the opportunity to read his books, I’d recommend doing so.

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March News – Chillers and More

March 19, 2018 at 3:42 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

February was a busy month, and I’ve been tackling some short story and editing deadlines.  Normally I try to offer up something for Women in Horror month, but it got away from me.  I’m hoping to make up for that a little in March – not that things look like they’ll be any less busy.

I’m happy to announce the upcoming release of my horror tale “Territory” in the Engen anthology Chillers from the Rock. The contributing authors hail from Atlantic Canada and the cover showcases some eerie artwork.  It is currently available for pre-order (links posted below) and actually made it to bestselling status in a few categories before release!

I’ll be back at prepping a couple of items for submission (and then I have to work on my taxes) and I have a couple of reviews to write up, but I hope to get at least one more post in before month’s end.

Here are those links:

Canada

Kindle

US

Kindle

Paperback

 

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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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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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Blitz’s End – October 2016

November 1, 2016 at 1:20 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

screenshot-2016-10-31-at-10-13-00-pm-editedI get to say goodbye today to another blitz I’ve decided November will be a month of editing to follow-up after a month of submissions. Several of my stories that have had multiple rejections could use a tweak, and all of my novels could use another round too.

Maybe that will get me in the mood to write more prolifically again, especially now that gardening season is practically over (the kale, chard and rutabagas are still holding on). Dealing with a still busy day job and a household full of challenges (my mother-in-law lives in my basement, my daughter is a teenager and my son is on the spectrum, ‘nuff said) leaves me feeling drained at the end of the day and less than inspired. And that’s without going into all the issues facing my family in far away places (worrying about it can wear on my nerves.) It has been a brutal few years, and it leaves me being thankful for everything I do have, even if it does come with its share of challenges.

Aside from my novels, which mostly remain unsubmitted at the moment, this last blitz left me with only a handful of unsubmitted stories. I count that as a good thing, but it means if I want to have enough material for January’s first submission blitz, I’ll have to make a diligent effort to get things written in December. I have a couple of unfinished stories to finalize but the rest will have to be new.

On a happy note – my story “Hand” is now available in the Kindle version of the charity anthology “Silent Screams”. The print version should be available in a couple of weeks.

Enjoy many treats and not so many tricks. Bob for some apples and have a good swig out of the puzzling jug (if you don’t know what that is, go for a Google.)

Happy Halloween!

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Once Upon a Scare Blog Tour: The Evolution of a Mash-up

May 22, 2016 at 12:00 am (dark fantasy, fantasy, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

RitualDollI’m not overly fond of most mash-ups, but I love reading and writing mash-up fairy tales. I’ve loved them ever since reading Tanith Lee’s Red as Blood story collection when I was a teenager. I had played with an assortment of them before I wrote “Without Family Ties”: horror versions of Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, a cyberpunk version of Jack and the Beanstalk, a Nordic dark fantasy version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and an adult dark fantasy version of Rapunzel. So when I set my sights on Pinocchio, I’d had some practice.

I decided I wanted a modern setting with a story centered on some sort of ritual doll, so I sent out some research feelers. When I came across the description of an unusual collection of 140 spiritual and cultural art objects from sub-Saharan Africa on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. called “In the Presence of Spirits,” I knew I had my inspiration. The exhibit included ritual dolls, masks and spiritual symbols of power that dated from about 1850 to the mid-20th century.

After reading through the available material, I decided the rituals of the Kongo (or Bakongo) and the Ambo peoples worked best for the mash-up. Their traditions included the nkisi, bakisi, baganga, mpungo, ovana, and rituals that could be completed by a single individual, such as my version of Geppeto, Jojo. My research also provided the traditional materials used to create the ritual dolls and the fertility stones. After I was done reading, I had plenty to work with.

Considering Geppeto constructed Pinocchio out of a desire to have a son, I chose a similar ambition for Jojo with Berko. Add the elements of a Kongo power figure and Ambo fertility magic along with his desperation and an evil twist, and the stage was set for horror. The challenge was then for me to match up the plot points and characters in the story with aspects of the original fairy tale. Top it up with an extra helping of fear and I had myself a mash-up.

If you are curious to see the end product, “Without Family Ties” is now available as part of the Once Upon a Scream horror mash-up anthology. My next mash-up WIP is a modern dark fantasy version of Sleeping Beauty with an Asian back-drop.

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April Blitz 2016: Into the Homestretch (#21-23)

April 24, 2016 at 2:21 am (writing) (, , , , , )

11113976_10155756422485032_8749282938326147892_oAnother shot at a pro-rate venue and a couple of new venues leaves me with only a week left to go in my blitz. I’m scurrying to hunt out new submission calls as I get to the last of my unsubmitted stories.  A busy weekend hasn’t left me with much time: gardening (which will hopefully grow as nicely as last year’s), a well-needed shopping trip, a teenage sleepover, a weekend fandom event and tax time have me somewhat occupied this weekend – and next week isn’t any less busy.  I’m looking forward to May, just so I can have a brief breather.

That’s all I have the time for — more later.

 

 

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April Blitz 2016: My Lucky Number (A Baker’s Dozen)

April 13, 2016 at 9:52 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

12971004_262163934118403_6007906465112743331_oLet’s hope today’s pro-rate submission proves as lucky as my lucky number. Today was a YA urban fantasy submission – not my usual fare. Hopefully it will at least get a better perusal than the last two. The rejections came back in less than 24 hours, which always has me wondering if they even bothered to read them at all. Perhaps they eyed my cover letter and when they didn’t recognize my name, they hit the “automatic rejection” button, sending out that form rejection letter without any further fuss or muss.  Disappointing, even though I was anticipating a rejection.

But that won’t happen with today’s submission, as it’s a blind read. It gives me a fair kick at the can, the judgement based on story quality and not name recognition. I wish all publishers used this method, but name recognition can help guarantee sales, so I understand why the pro-rate venues might show some bias. You need sales to fund those pro-rate payments to the authors. I’ve only had two if you use the HWA standards …one based on the SFWA, so I don’t rate active membership yet (you need three and a certain minimum total word count), but I never will if I don’t keep trying.

Besides, 13 really is my lucky number.  I was born on a Friday the 13th (appropriate for a horror writer,) received my first novel acceptance on a December 13th, and the anthology containing my next horror mash-up is coming out on May 13th (see the cover of said anthology above and find details here.)

Hopefully some of you can join us for the online release party.  Knowing the Horror Addicts crowd, I’m sure it will be a blast.

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April Blitz 2016: The Next Three (#8-10)

April 11, 2016 at 2:25 am (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , , )

springI have become a terrible procrastinator lately, which I hope will change with better weather, but at at least I’m getting the submissions out there. Three more have been sent, one dark fantasy, one horror and one weird tale, two have which have had pro-rate “maybe”s turn to “no”s and had several re-submissions without a bite. I’m still hopeful though, and I’m treading in untested waters by sending them out to new publishers/new venues.  A lot of them are only offering token payments, but right now I’m just looking for some variety, not necessarily my next shot at a pro-rate sale.

This weekend was particularly nasty for April, with a heavy wet snowfall this morning, so I don’t expect to shakes the blahs anytime soon.  An acceptance or two from this blitz might help, until I finally get to start planting my garden. That usually lifts my spirits (fresh veggies – yay!)

I’ll keep my eyes out for new calls.  I have no lack of material for submission, so my focus now is on finding my stories a home.

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