Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Floor is Open

I found myself in the middle of an online spat the other day. I really hate to join in when things get nasty in a discussion group, but this time I jumped in because a person I know online was being attacked for no good reason. Something I really hate to see, especially when this lady does so much to support what this particular online community is supposed to be all about.

I'm a big supporter of the Short Mystery Fiction Society but sometimes I wonder if the organization loses sight of what they're supposed to be about - the discussion of short mystery fiction, both the writing and the promotion of. And I sometimes wonder if the members are a little embarrassed about being short story writers and not novelists. If they feel there's some kind of stigma about loving the form and being a writer of short stories.

When the members discuss writing, things go along just fine, but if someone wants to introduce a new idea they're booed right off the stage. I pretty much stopped posting the markets I find there because that usually starts an agitated discussion of why couldn't we post markets that pay. When a newbie writer asks questions, many of the older members are patient and take the time to explain how things work or point them to places where they can learn what they need to know, but others just get this attitude of "how stupid are you?"

Not all writers are created equal. We're, everyone of us, at different levels in our writing. Some like where they are and remain there. Others work hard to take their writing to the next level and the next, always working to be better. In truth, we're all writers, no matter if it's just a hobby or a full blown career. So why the agitation when someone wants to introduce something new? You don't have to agree with them, but at least have the courtesy to listen. They might actually have an idea that would benefit the group.

The world of writing/publishing is an ever changing proposition and writers need to adapt and change with it. And short story writers are no different. The print markets are shrinking and not all the zines are paying markets but if you love the form and want to excel, you have to embrace the changes or just toss your computer against the wall and chuck the whole writing business.

So here's a few questions for you. What changes have you made in your writing and submission habits to deal with publishing changes? What kind of markets do you submit too? Do you think all online zine markets are dead ends for writing? Do you think we should shoot all the hobbyists out there or try to co-exist? Hey, the floor is open, discuss to your heart's content, but take time to listen to your fellow writers, that's the way we learn to be better writers and human beings.

And the newest Conversations with the Bookless is up featuring Robert Pesa.

The new issue of The Thrilling Detective has hit the streets. Take a break and go have a read at this excellent zine. And a big Snoopy Dance for Kevin B. Smith and Gerald So for their hard work and excellent taste in PI fiction and facts.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Pinch and a Dash

In the comments that follow Patti Abbott's interview over at BSC, she said, "Nice that the Internet lets us know each other more than print journals do." And I just so totally agree with her. I like to believe that here in our little blog world we've built up a community of writers that support each other, cheer for each other, laugh and cry with each as much or more than any family.

There's a real camaraderie that goes beyond anything I've ever experienced in the real world or even in other writing groups. I love that everyone has a voice, from the newbies to the pros. Wherever you look, there's a hand extended in friendship. Voices that help us become better writers. Offers of help with stories or market suggestions. We've become our own little village and everyone is welcome. A writer's world doesn't get any better than this. Unless, of course, we all get to be millionaire rich, best selling novelists.

And a few items of interest.

The May/June issue of Crime and Suspense has gone up and sad to say, it's the last one. I guess Mr. Burton changed his mind about finishing out the year.

The lovely Rafe McGregor has posted Kurt Vonnegut's rules for writing short stories. Wow! Does Mr. vonnegut hit the nail on the head. Here's the url

And I should have posted this before, but its never too late to read an interview with short story writer G. Miki Hayden. Steve Torres conducted the interview and has posted it on the Nasty, Brutish, Short blog.

Last but by no means least, the newest Conversations with the Bookless is up. Today's interview is with Patrick Shawn Bagley.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Linky Goodness

***And this just in - Conversations With the Bookless - Patti Abbott

All kinds of linky goodness to be found about the 'net yesterday and today.

Looking for a bit of history about the old guys of writing?

Leigh Lundin has "Professional Tips - Jack Kerouac" at the Criminal Brief blog yesterday. Read Jack's thirty writing tips here

And a hat tip to Ed Gorman for supplying this link to an essay on the father of shorts, Edgar Allan Poe

And for a couple of essays on writing.

First, you might try the link to Murderati that I put up in the last post. The discussion that follows is just as informative as the essay itself.

Again at Criminal Brief, James Lincoln Warren has an essay up called "Backstory Blues" with is damn fine, being both informative and entertaining.

And writers helping writers is a special love of mine. The Little Blog of Murder has guest blogger, Shelly Costa who essay "The Mystery of Yes and No" will tug at your heartstrings.

Today's Snoopy Dances.

Now, I'm not a technical kind of girl, I don't even own a cell phone, but friend of The Corner, Michael Bracken has had his PI novel "All White Girls" picked up for release on Kindle. Give up your Snoopy Dances for Michael and check out the links to his book at

And I'm going to have to hire a chorus line of Snoopy Dancers for Keith Rawson as I noticed he has stories up at Powder Burn Flash and Darkest Before the Dawn. Keep 'em coming, Keith. urls to the left, readers.

And some short stories to check out.

It's always fun for me to stumble across a new to me short story writer. This morning I popped on over to the New Mystery Reader and read a gem of a PI story by Jim Sells. His PI is HW Grady and I love the voice that tells this story, its tough, but tinged with humor. You can read Mr. Sells' story, Not My Little Girl, here

And with a hat tip to Cullen Gallagher at Pulp Serenade here's a link to an excellent story by Frederick Brown called "Don't Look Behind You"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Arrrgh! Part the Second

Rewriting for me is where I find the center of a story, the little nugget that makes it sing. But this story, "Fractured Memories", didn't feel quite right when I got done putting the polish on it. So, what do you do when you know it's not quite right but can't see what the problem is?

Yep, get someone else to read it. For me, I subbed it to my online flash group and got two crits back. One gentleman said, "You've got comic, sentimental, tragic and sexual. You left out Western, space alien, whodunit and horror, otherwise you could have captured just about every group of readers. I wonder if it would work better if you cubby-holed it into just one or maybe two genres."

Uh-huh. Rereading the story through his eyes, I realized he was right. I was trying to cram too much into the story, trying for shocks and twists instead of just going with the heart.

The other gentleman pretty much agreed with the first but added that he didn't care for the ending. Now, it was the ending that felt wrong to me, but I was so caught up in the shock value that I couldn't see how to finish it. By using the two crits together, I finally saw how to make this story work and its so much smoother now and 1300 words long. Yeah, rewrites always make my stories longer unless I'm writing flash with a tight word count.

"Fractured Memories" still can't be pigeon-holed into any genre, except maybe non-crime noir, so finding a market for it will still be tricky, but the story is publishable with a good solid flow and a satisfying ending.

How do you work through your stories when you come up against that something's-not-quite-right wall? Do you find another reader or just submit and hope the editor comes up with a better idea to fix your story? And you do know that it's not the editor's job to write your story, don't you?

And a link for you today. Over at Murderati, Allison Brennan has a great post entitled "Is Marketability More Important than Story?" check it out here

Saturday, April 25, 2009


There are all types of contests out there for writers to enter, some free, some not. Since I never win writing contests, I usually opt for the free ones. "If you never win, why bother entering?" you ask.

Well, there is the off chance that I might place. I've placed third and had an honorable mention in two of Jason Evan's Clarity of Night flash contests. As a matter of fact, I've entered all ten of his contests because, quite frankly, I love the forum he's set up for them. Everyone gets to read all the stories and leave comments for the writers and even suggestions on how to improve the stories. Two of the entries (not mine) from past contests have been lengthen to novels and are being published this year. Jason's contest is more about the meeting and greeting of writers than the prizes. And writing a 250 word story is a challenge and a chance to stretch your writing muscles.

I entered Christopher Grant's contest at A Twist of Noir this year because he asked me to and I wanted to support his zine. I don't know how many people entered because of the plugs I gave the contest here on the blog, but I know that a lot of great stories came out of the contest. Stories that might never have been written, including mine.

Over the years I've entered contests at Crime and Suspense, on a couple of blogs, and at Tales From the Moonlit Path. Which is the reason for this post.

Tales From the Moonlit Path is sponsoring a new contest. The prize? A book of short stories by Charlotte Emma Gledson entitled "The Lonely Tree and Other Twisted Tales of Torment". This contest is about publicity for a new author and her book. That's always a good reason to enter a contest, right?

The contest is Tales of Torment and they're looking for stories under 2000 words. They want stories of torment, you know, tormented souls, why they're tormented and how they deal with their torment. As I said the winner gets a copy of the book and the rest of the winners get their stories published. Not a bad deal, you get to support a zine and another writer and write a new story that you might never have thought of. The deadline for the contest is May 12. Here's your url to the contest guidelines

And if you're just looking for something different to read, check out this short story by a writer friend of mine, Wayne Scheer. You've seen his stories around in places like MuzzleFlash and Big Pulps. Here's the url Go on, its Saturday, treat yourself.

A Snoopy Dance for friend of the blog, Scott D. Parker, folks. His first published short story, You Don't Get Three Mistakes, has just gone live at Beat to Pulp and it's great! Here's the url

Friday, April 24, 2009


I wrote a new story today. The story was kick-started by an ad I misread. Have you ever done that? The ad said Call today to reserve your parties, showers, and meetings. These folks definitely need a writer, but anyhow, I read it as Call today to reserve your panties. Yeah, that made my brain do a double take. But I thought, why not?

The story I imagined is not the story that came out of the ends of my fingertips. There's cursing, sex (alluded to, not shown), a seventy year old protagonist and God help me, barely a smidgen of crime. Its a pretty decent story when all's said and done but it doesn't fit within the guidelines of anything. At 1050 words it's too long for flash, though I could probably trim 50 words easily enough, but the story doesn't fit the crime, romance, horror or literary genres. It just dangles out there on a string of its own. So, now what do I do with it?

I know, I'm searching, and will probably send it either to LuridLit, though it might not have enough sex in it, or to Pear Noir! which says they take stories that don't fit anywhere else. Lurid pays for their stories so I'll probably take a crack at them first. Plus I'll do a little more searching as I still have to polish this one up just a tad more before its fit to send out.

So, how about you? Do you just write the story that tracks through your brain or do you write with a specific market in mind? For me writing for a market is plain torture and it shows in the writing, so I tend to write the stories as they come to me, then search for a market. Not the best way to work, I guess, but most days that works for me. Just not today.

Market News

Rey Gonzalez, editor for the Flash Fiction Offensive, was in an automobile accident and the guys from OOTG have picked up the reins until he's back on the job. If you have a story to send, be advised that there's a new email address to send your story to and the guest editor calls himself Satan. There's many new stories posted on the site and they've also added a few stories that were first up at MuzzleFlash then featured in OOTG. Lots of good reading. url to the left.

Crimson Highway appears to be a dead market. They had posted a note that they were going to start back up after a hiatus but that doesn't seem to be the case now. Clicking on the CH link, you're now directed to their newest enterprise Comet Press. This press seems to deal in anthologies featuring novellas and novelettes. Unfortunately, they're closed to submissions at the present time. I'll check back now and then and let you know when they'll be open again.

The April issue of Horror Bound is open and they're featuring an interview with Joe R. Lansdale along with some reviews and short stories. They're also open to submissions. url to the left.

Storyglossia's April issue is up and they're open to submissions for issue 33. url to the left

And I found four new markets, three flash and one that takes stories up to 2000 words.

Micro 100
Their fourth issue has just gone live, they want stories that max out at 100 words but I noticed that there's several longer stories posted.

Postcard Shorts
stories to 250 words with an online submission form.

Tweet the Meat
Another twitter market, horror stories with only 140 characters. They want to be scared and they only take subs on Saturdays and Sundays.

Strange World Magazine
These folks take stories up to 2000 words, they want mysterious and unusual stories in all genres. The deadline for their first issue, due out in June, is May 22.

As always, check out the guidelines and read the zines to see if you have what they need.

If there's any editors out there who'd like more stories directed their way, drop me a line and I'll be sure to post a link to your zine and will post any comments that you'd like to add about what you're looking for in particular, what you hate to see crossing your computer screen, and what makes a good submission stand out for you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

End of the Day Links

There's a new Conversations with the Bookless up at BSC. Today's conversation is with the talented Greg Bardsley. A very interesting interview which you can find here

And there's only two days left to vote for the Spinetingler Awards. Show your support for the crime community by clicking on the link and voting

We Little Fish

Dan Brown has a new book coming out and the shit-slinging has already begun. There are writers out there bitching about the enormous print run that he's getting, blaming readers, cursing the gods. Give it a rest, already! The man paid his dues. He sat his ass in the chair, booted up his computer and finished what he started. "The Da Vinci Code" was his THIRD book, not his first, and who knows how many failed attempts are sitting in a drawer somewhere.

Is he the best writer in the world? Hell, no, but the stinking fickle stars of fate happened to align in just the right place for him. And in the end, no matter how hard you work if you don't have the luck you're just not going to make it.

There I said it. This business is about being in the exact right place, at the exact right moment, with the exact right story. And if you don't believe that, you're only fooling yourself. Life spins us like that little ball in the roulette wheel and no matter how hard we work or pray for success, it's still that one lucky chance that wins out.

People spend too much time telling everyone that all they have to do is work hard and they'll succeed. LIES. Life doesn't give a damn how hard you work. I'm almost sixty, so take my word for it, life doesn't give anything to anyone, no matter how hard you work. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't work hard and have faith in yourself and your writing. Giving up isn't an option either. Just don't believe that by showing up and doing the work you're going to have the world handed to you on a silver platter. If everyone got what they deserved because they worked hard and did everything right, we'd all be billionaires.

Do you love writing? Does it give you great joy to put words on the page and see them published? So many writers, after they reach a certain level of success, start complaining about the work, about the deadlines, and the piss-poor pay for all their labor. I sometimes think that I never want to be a success in this business. I don't want to lose the pleasure that writing brings to my life. If it comes my way, will I grab the brass ring? Of course, and so will you because in the end that is our dream, to put our words and stories out there for people to read, even if only one person gets what we're trying to say.

Being a little fish in a small pond can be just as satisfying for a writer as being the whale in an ocean of fish. I guess what I'm trying to say is that as a writer you still need to keep striving to be the best that you can be, but don't fool yourself into thinking that only the best make it. They don't. That fickle finger of fate is what this whole business comes down to. And if you can't deal with that, you might as well get out now.

In this world of writing that you've embraced, take the time to appreciate the small successes that come your way. Pissing and moaning because someone else got the luck isn't going to make you any luckier, its just going to rob you of the pleasure that writing has brought into your life like good writing friends, shared Snoopy Dances for each other, and the stories themselves. Appreciate where you are because life is about the journey, not the destination.

Since this post is about our small claims to fame, tell us what new success has come your way recently, what you're looking forward to, or just do a Snoopy Dance for a friend. Celebrate your achievements and forget about the brass ring today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Did You Miss Me?

There's nothing like opening the floor to discussion and totally disappearing! We had a wind storm here that flicked the electric like a twitching eye and totally screwed with the borrowed computer I was using. So, today I bit the bullet and headed to Wal-Mart and bought myself a new one. The screen is bigger than our first TV set (what we called a 13" portable back then and B&W) if you can believe that!

And being almost three days off the 'net, there's a lot of catching up to do.

I haven't read them yet, but there's two new stories up at A Twist of Noir by some friends of The Corner. Let's break out the Snoopy Dances for Patti Abbott and Albert Tucher. I haven't read the stories yet, but Patti always finds a way to break your heart with her writing and I love Al's Diana stories. So head on over for a read, I'll be joining you later.

There's a new Conversation with the Bookless over at Book Spot Central featuring Jordan Harper. Don't know why, but I always thought Jordan was a woman. He's not and there's a great interview and links to some of his awesome stories so check it out here

And I have it on good authority that Little Bitty Book Bytes is a legitimate site and they're a paying market. When I get a few minutes I'll slip their url in the links.

I have to check my email yet, but I will return to catch up on the comments.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Floor is Open

I think some writers forget that they are responsible for their own editing. Sure, when you submit a story, a good editor is going to ask for revisions but before it gets that far, you, the writer, have to write the best story that you possibly can. And that means rewriting and rewriting until your keyboard is worn out and you can't think of anything else to change. Heck, I'll be changing this blog post for the next hour or so after it's posted.

One of the biggest drawbacks to online publication is the lack of editing. While it's fun to be published online some writers fool themselves into thinking that everything they write is perfect because, hey, they're published. Many of the zines just post the stories as they come in, so if you've made a huge mistake, it's there for all the world to see - FOREVER!. I know, I've got some stories out there that I wish weren't.

Okay, so what do you look for when you edit your own story? I hit spellcheck, then look for the words that spellcheck misses. And believe me the wrong word is spelled right quite often. I'm an atrocious speller and when I don't trust spellcheck the dictionary is right next to the keyboard.

Another thing I do is compose sentences backwards. You know, like throw the cow over the fence some hay. It's a regional thing and I always have to rewrite my sentences so they make sense to the rest of the world. I'm doing it less and less but I still have to watch.

One of my biggest nits in a story is beginning a sentence with It. And yes, I do it and go back and change it later. I remember reading a best selling author and on one page she started about twenty sentences with it. That's just plain lazy writing.

Here's an example to show you what I mean. "It was a dark and stormy night." Yeah, I know that's an old cliche but it works for this example. Why not change it something like this, "The wind howled around the sleeping house, rattling tree branches against the windows, shaking monsters loose from restless dreams." Yeah, I went over-board, but do you see the difference getting rid of it does for your story? And of course, there will be times when It is the perfect word to start a sentence.

The list is endless of the things you can look for when trying to polish your story, but the important thing is making sure you've polished it. Your story is a reflection of you, if you don't care enough to write the best story you can, why should a reader care enough to read?

Those are some of the things I look for when I'm rewriting, now it's your turn. What trips you up when you're writing? Come on, don't be shy. There's no wrong answers here and we can all learn from each other's writing problems and maybe someone out there will have a tip to make your writing woes easier.

And the newest Conversations with the Bookless is up at BSC. A very interesting interview with writer, Frank Bill.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Linkage

Lots of interesting things around the 'net today, so here's your links.

Twitterzines seem to be the newest craze in writing and with a hat tip to Rafe McGregor, I found this little gem of a zine called Nanoism. Stories of 140 characters or less and they pay. $1.50 for original stories, $1.00 for reprints, and $5.00 for serials. Nanoism also has links to two other zines if you care to check them out. And the url is Have fun you merry band of twitters.

Friend of The Corner, Paul Brazil, has yet another story out for our enjoyment. This Old House is up at Thrills Kills 'n' Chills. A very cool, spooky story. Http:// Happy Snoopy Dancing, Paul!

And Beat to a Pulp has a new story up by Frank Bill called "Tweakers". Stop on by and have a read, then drop back by on Wednesday for the second half of Bill's double bill. Yep, two stories this week! url to the left, folks.

The newest entry in Conversations with the Bookless is up, featuring Jedidiah Ayres

Patti Abbott has pointed us to a new e-publisher called Little Bitty Book Bytes. They're looking for stories in the 3000-5000 word range and while they're looking for mysteries and thrillers, they want it clean. You can find the guidelines here As they are a publisher and not a zine proceed with a bit of caution. There's not much info and they might or might not charge a publishing fee, something you'll have to ask them about if you decide to submit. I've never checked out the e-publishers so I'm absolutely clueless in this area. If someone here has dealt with this type of publishing, please, feel free to tell us all about your experiences in the comments.

And if your rejections are getting you down and you think you're never going to make it in this befuddling business drop on over to Murderati for an excellent and uplifting essay.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Off the Regular Topic of Shorts

I just read about this over at Bill Crider's wonderful blog. There's a small press that's open for business and looking for submissions called New Pulp Press and they're looking for the nasty characters that exist in the noir world. As they put it - Bullets, Booze and Bastards. So, you guys with novels looking for homes might want to check them out. Mr. Crider has a link to the first couple of chapters from one of the books, yeah, I forgot to grab it, if you want to check out the type of writing they're publishing. Here's the url

Mr. Crider's url

and the two chapters

Winners and Interviews and Norbert Davis

A giant round of Snoopy Dances for the winners of the Twist of Noir Contest!! Great stories guys!

1st place "In the Shower, Thinking" by Keith Rawson
2nd place "Past Due" by Eric Beetner
3rd place "Henson Comes Home" by Andy Henion

Regular readers of The Corner know that I'm a great admirer of Kyle Minor's short stories, so imagine my surprise when I received an email from him last night. He had dropped me a thank you note for mentioning him in my interview at BSC and the lovely man pointed me in the direction of an interview he'd done at Hardboiled Wonderland. Here's the url Well, don't hang around here, the man's a short story genius, go see what he has to say.

Last week I won a book over at Poe's Deadly Daughters. I'm three chapters into "Flipping Out" by Marshall Karp and enjoying the hell out of the book. Mr. Karp is a new to me author and this is the third book in his Lomax and Biggs series, so I was quite pleased to find an interview with him up at Murderati this morning. Here's the url Excellent interview with loads of fun and good advice. Check it out, Marshall put a smile on my face this morning!

Since we're doing interview links today, I thought I'd mention The Big Adios. No, this isn't a western site, it's a crime forum, and at the forum is a section called Interrogations. If you click on that you'll find interviews with both newbies like Ray Banks, Duane Swierczynski and Ken Bruen and old, familiar names like Ed Gorman, Joe Lansdale and Bill Pronzini. Hey, it's Saturday, treat youself to some time learning about authors you love. You'll find a link to The Big Adios in the Link section to the left.

And in celebration of what would have been author, Norbert Davis', 100 birthday, David Cranmer has posted an excellent essay about him with lots of yummy links to click on.

And when it goes live, I'll post the link to the newest BSC post of Conversations with the Bookless. I'm loving this series, not just because I'm learning more about the writers but because Brian is taking the time to showcase the short stories of these talented writers. You've gotta love a man (or woman) who points readers in the direction of our beloved shorts.

I'm declaring this Keith Rawson day here at The Corner, not only did he win the Twist of Noir Contest, it's his turn up at Conversations with the Bookless. You can read Keith's interview here And I just found out he's up at Crime-Wav! That calls for another round of Snoopy Dances!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flash Again

One of the best uses for flash fiction I've found is a chance to stretch my writing muscles in a new genre. With flash you can tiptoe into a new genre and test the waters to see if it fits your voice and talent. I've dabbled in sci-fi, romance, and horror using flash, even going so far as to dip my toes in the (shudder) literary niche. These are all genres that I suck at, but by writing small, I avoid the frustration of trying to pull together a longer story or novel. Tossing three paragraphs in the circular file is a lot easier than tossing away five or six thousand words that you've suddenly discovered don't work at all.

I also read flash in these genres to get a feel for them, how they work, and how they sound. Every word written or read is a step in my learning process. What genres do you avoid when you're writing? And how do you stretch your writing muscles so you're not writing the same old, same old?

And I found two, brand spanking new flash markets today.

Fictionville is looking for flash under 1000 words. I read a few of the stories that are already posted and they tend to be more of a literary site than genre. Here's the url

Now this next one looks like it might be right up our genre alley. It's called Lurid Lit. There's no stories up yet but you can find the guidelines here And no, they're not looking for pornography. They're looking for sleaze, hardcore horror, bikers, women in prison, and grindhouse lit. For you non-fiction folks, they're looking for original pieces on the subjects of pulp fiction, sleazy paperbacks and horror comics. Have a look and see if your stories might be a fit Just a word of caution here for those who are easily offended. The site contains pictures of the sleaze paperback covers of the sixties. And so do some of the links that go off that site.

I'm not sure if you've noticed or not but I added a couple of flash fiction blogs in the links column. The editors of Apollo's Lyre are posting their views of flash fiction at the Apollo's Lyre Blog and Every Day Fiction has spun off the same type of blog at Flash Fiction Chronicles. Lots of good and interesting essays on these blogs.

And the next installment of Conversations with the Bookless is up at Book Spot Central featuring friend of The Corner, Anonymous-9. You can find her interview here

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pulling My Head Out of the Keyboard

I've been wrestling with another Dakota Gideon story and today the pieces just fell into place, so I was pounding the keyboard trying to get it all down before it vanished into the corner of my brain that can't remember anything. Does that happen to you? You know, that brilliant flash of an idea and then poof!, it vanishes. One of the reasons there are pens and pads and scraps of paper in every room of my house. Some days it looks like a ticker tape parade just passed through.

Any hoo, I finally took a stroll around the Internet and found us a few open markets. That always makes for yippee-skippy moments. So here we go.

Not One of Us, url to the left, is open for subs for their next issue. They're open to all genres and lengths.

And a new one,to me, Fear and Trembling opened to subs on April 1st. They have a new issue up and they're looking for horror and dark fiction for their next issue and please sidestep the gore, they want atmosphere. And they bill themselves as Christian friendly. Here's the url I'll put this one in the links column later.

About a week or so ago I read a FlashShot by KC Ball that just blew me away, so I went looking for an email addy to drop her a note. I found her blog instead and dropped a comment and linked to her blog. She posts a few flash markets on her site but I also found that she's starting up a new flash zine called 10 Flash genre flash fiction online. The first issue is by invitation only and the site will go live with stories on July 1. After that, it will be open submissions. KC's blog link is to the left, here's the url for the zine

And now a Snoopy Dance for friend of The Corner, David Cranmer. He has a story up in the new issue of Yellow Mama called "The Education of a Pulp Writer" which is also the name of his excellent blog. The url for Yellow Mama is to the left and there's plenty of great reading on the site - shorts - poetry - and flash. This should have gone live yesterday but I'd hoped to do a round of Snoopy Dances for David and the winners of the Twist of Noir Contest. Alas, the judges are still deciding and the winners won't be posted until tomorrow. So, my apologies for the delay, David.

And last, Brian over at Book Spot Central has started a new series called Conversations with the Bookless. He's planning on a thirty day run and there's already twenty interviews in the pipe. The first one went live today. Here's the url
God knows why, but he started with me. There are many friends of The Corner in the lineup and I'll be sure to post the links as they come up. It's going to be a fun month of learning about other writers. Let's all do a big Snoopy Dance for Brian to thank him for all the hard work he's putting into this. Much appreciated, Brian!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trigger City by Sean Chercover

Oh, yeah, this has got to be one of the best PI stories I've read in a long time. Chercover neatly avoids all the normal "PI patter" that you associate with the genre, there's no smart mouth comebacks from Ray Dudgeon. This guy has problems but they don't rule his life. The best thing about him? He actually shows fear, not just for himself but for those around him. It's refreshing to see a male PI who isn't infallible, who actually gets hurt and winds up in the hospital. He's just a regular guy, not a superhero.

Another thing I like about "Trigger City" are his descriptions of Chicago. Bless the man, he didn't drive me down every street in the city and point out every damn building. He gave me the flavor of Chicago, the food, the smells, the sounds and the people in much the same way that James Burke shows us the cities and countryside of Louisiana. We get the skyline not the potholes in the street.

Now, I'm not much of a reviewer and have a hard time explaining a book without giving away the plot but I will say this, Chercover takes on the government and paints the picture that we all know exists but are too afraid to talk about.

I hadn't read the first book, "Big City, Bad Blood", in this series and thought I might be lost but the author does a fine job of making this book stand on its own with passing glances at what came before. Having read this one, I'll definitely find a copy of the first and will be waiting for the next.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. The story contains all the elements that embrace the PI and thriller end of the genre, but there's also a good mystery that's set up with plenty of clues to follow if you keep your eyes open. If you're looking for an exciting and thoughtful read, this is the book you've been waiting for.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Orchard Press Mysteries

Patti was asking about Orchard Press Mysteries in the comments of the last post and I have to admit that I'd forgotten about them as a market. Back about four or five years ago, OPM published a lot of short mysteries from SMFS writers, that's when I first heard about them. They were, I believe, a print paying market and also hosted contests. When they switched to zine format and stopped paying, nobody mentioned them as much and I completely forgot about them.

They're still a non-paying market but they do publish mysteries, poetry and other types of stories. But, you have to query first on their site query form. Probably the reason I forgot about them, because I hate to query short stories. First, I find it difficult to break a story down to one or two sentences and how can you explain a story without giving it away? But that's just me, for those who don't mind doing a query I'll post the market in the zine column. They've been around a long time and their stories are current so I'd say they're a viable market for those who are interested.

I also discovered that Mystery Dawg has moved Darkest Before the Dawn to a new format and a new url. Hat tip to Keith Rawson for the news. I was wondering why there'd been no new stories.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend, I know I did. I spent today doing my taxes and have them all ready to pop in tomorrow's mail. I hate giving the government our money before I absolutely have to.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Forgotten Short Stories: Warrior's Farewell by Edward D. Hoch

As readers of this blog might remember, last summer I managed to find about a dozen short story anthologies at our Historical Society's summer book sales. The Spring-Summer 1979 Hitchcock's Anthology contains my entry into Patti Abbott's Forgotten Short Stories. You can find links to the rest of the forgotten stories at

With nearly 940 published short stories to his credit, Mr. Hoch has left us with a rich legacy of mystery short stories that will endure for years to come. While most of his shorts revolve around series characters like Nick Velvet and Captain Leopold, "Warrior's Farewell" is a stand-alone.

The story begins with a man reading about the death of his old Army buddy, Sam Zodiak. Our narrator takes us back to Korea and the killing of a North Korean officer during the war. As the story unfolds we learn about Sam's sense of right and wrong and how he deals with what he calls a lack of justice in the world. Our narrator is appalled as he realizes what Sam has become and deals with it the only way he knows how.

I love how this story unfolds so softly, yet builds up to a horrific ending that leaves our narrator realizing that there's not much difference between him and Sam. A marvelous noir told by a master of the short story.

In 2007 I read a short essay by Ed Hoch that was published on the Criminal Brief blog. The piece is called "Why the Short Story?" and its worth the read to see why this master preferred writing short stories to novels.

Bits and Pieces

All sorts of links today from writing articles to free stuff with a dash of erotica tossed in.

Robert Gregory Brown, who blogs at Murdurati, has set up a new web site called Casting the Bones. The site is full of writing articles that he's written over the twenty years he's been in the writing business. Lots of good stuff on the site. You can check it out here and I'll put up a permanent link later.

GW Thomas has written to say that FlashShots will no longer be delivered to your inbox. He's set up a blog to post the daily stories thus avoiding all the spam hassle he's been dealing with. He'll be archiving the stories and also reprinting some of the classics. The new site is

According to Cynthia Sterlings Newsletter Black Lace Books is looking for short stories to fill four anthologies but when I checked out their guidelines they said they weren't looking for shorts but were looking for novella length erotica. When I was checking out the guidelines, I found that they have a wonderful list of do's and don'ts for writing erotica for anyone interested in writing in this genre. Here's the guidelines url and the site url is And there is a block on the site you have to click so they know you're over 18. If anyone is interested in the short story guidelines that were in the newsletter, drop me a note and I'll forward the letter to you. Could be that they haven't updated the guidelines page to include these anthologies.

Over at Book Spot Central you'll find a link to download a free book of sci-fi short stories. They have a list of titles and authors there. The e-book is called Lone Star Stories Reader the link at BSC is

And don't forget that tomorrow is Forgotten Short Stories Day. Use your blog to remember and promote short stories.

And a twitter contest. Details here

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Floor is Open

Do you ever wonder why you write what you do? Why one form of writing fits you like a glove while another just makes you want to pull your hair out? Whenever I sit down to write a short story, I feel like I've met my soul mate. Sounds odd, doesn't it? But any other kind of writing is a struggle for me. Yes, I can write articles and poetry and blog posts but they don't flow with the ease of a short story. And a novel? Well, that just stops me dead before I can string together the words, rather like hitting a panic button that shuts down the whole operation.

But the fact is, I don't mind being a short story writer. I love the flow of ideas, the chance to explore something different every day, and the ability to experiment within the story by breaking a few of the writing "rules". Writing short stories is a constant joy for me, they make getting out of bed in the morning an adventure. I never know where the words will lead me, but lead me they will.

Many writers scorn the short story. They're too abrupt, they don't say anything, they're too dependent on twists and shock value, they're...well, the list is endless, but the truth is, short stories are difficult to master for some writers. Some writers prefer the room of a novel to expand their thoughts, to draw beautiful pictures with their words, to dive into the minds of a multitude of characters, something they feel they can't do in the confines of a short story.

What I love most about the short story is the ability to meet one character head on, usually on the worst day of their life, and see how that character is going to react. I get to play with heroes and villains. I see people with their backs against the wall and know that they'll either cave to the pressure or beat their way through that wall. I can have it all, passion, sex, brutality, murder, self-defense, love and hatred. Heck, I can even take a trip through outer space and have a sword fight in another galaxy. And I can do it in the space of a few hours instead of months and months of writing the exact same story day in and day out.

I feel sorry for the writers who can't see the beauty of a short story, who can't set aside their prejudice to accept that a story doesn't have to contain 50 to 100,000 words to say something meaningful. For me, their brevity is a thing of beauty.

And how about you? Why do you write short stories? Are they a means to an end by getting your name out into the world or by learning how to string words together so you can finally write a novel? What do you love about short stories? Hate? Drop a comment in the box. We're here to discuss short stories this week and our love/hate relationship with them. Have at it, boys and girls.

Monday, April 6, 2009

In Praise of Shorts

When I first started this blog, I said I wanted to put my blog where my mouth was. In other words, I wanted to point people in the direction of short stories and give a bit of advertising and praise to both writers and zines. Over the months, I think I've accomplished that on some small level. In that spirit, here's some links to check out.

Patti Abbott is sponsoring forgotten short stories this Friday in place of her usual Forgotten Books series. This is something every short story writer out there should participate in. If we don't take pride in short stories why should anyone else? If you'd like to participate, drop on over to Patti's blog and leave her a message in the comments, then on Friday she'll link to your blog and your review. And if you don't have a blog, Patti hosts reviews on her blog. If she runs out of room, with her permission, I'd be more than happy to host any overflow reviews on my blog. Help tell the world about the joys of short stories.

Back a week or so ago, Rafe McGregor asked if the short story was dead. I think the response to that post surprised him and this week he's hosting two blog posts by Michael Bracken, short story writer extraordinaire. Michael's first post is up now and if you want to learn how to make a living at short story writing, head on over and have a read.

Over at BookSpot Central, Brian has posted this week's Short Thoughts on Short Fiction. This post is more about the links to short stories than reviews. The stories he's put up were runner-ups to the top ten for the Spinetingler Awards. And I've gotta say, they're a WOW! bunch of stories. Head on over and click those links for some great reading. My favorite of the group was Nicole Fix's "Jello's Escape" published at Thieves Jargon.

And a couple of Snoopy Dances for friends of The Corner who've had stories published.

Cormac Brown found Flash Fire 500 through the links on the left and had his story "Recalculating" published there. This story shows a different side to Cormac's writing than most of you are familiar with. Go have a read.

And Gary Dobbs has a new story up at A Twist of Noir, But be forwarned, if cannibalism isn't your cup of tea, you'd best pass on this one, but you'll be missing one heck of a story.

And leading up to Friday's Forgotten Short Stories, expect to see more links and thoughts on short story writing this week.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Somebody gets what we short stories writers are all about.

Thank you, A. O. Scott, for putting it so eloquently.

And a tip of the hat to Sarah Weinman for the link.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Have you ever wondered how to choose which new markets to submit your stories to? I have. Zines pop up all the time, some flourish like BTAP and A Twist of Noir and others just struggle to get enough submissions for the first issue, then die.

So, how do you pick? Take a good look at the start up page. Did they care enough to get the spelling right? Don't laugh, I ran across a new market last week that's seeking submissions and there were misspellings all over the place. If a publisher doesn't present themselves in a good light, are they going to care about you and your story?

And what about the people behind the new zine? Are they enthusiastic about finding the best stories out there or are they just looking for filler and a place to publish their friends? Take a look at their "about us" page or check out their blog, find out who they are and what they're about. Is their site presentable or does it look like it was just thrown together as an afterthought? Is this a place you want your work showcased?

Another thing to look at is who else they're publishing. Are they writers you know and admire? If you don't know the writers, read the stories. Do you want your story sitting side by side with theirs? I remember when Flashing in the Gutters started up, I was thrilled to share space with authors who had books published and writers who I knew from the zine world.

But the truth is, even if everything comes together with a good-looking zine, a publisher who cares, and writers who will knock your socks off, the zine can fail. Why, you ask? Good question. Not enough readers, not enough word of mouth, not enough quality submissions to fill the pages. The reasons are endless and success as iffy as the weather.

I remember Todd Robinson once saying in an interview that in the first year of ThugLit they filled the pages with their own stories because they weren't getting enough submissions. But they hung in there and all of a sudden they were the hottest market on the web. Where others would have thrown in the towel, he persisted and now the zine has an anthology publisher and more submissions than they know what to do with.

The zine world is a coin toss at best. As writers we need to seek out the best of them, support the new ones that look like they're reaching for the stars, and spread the word. Word of mouth advertising and submitting your stories is the easiest way to support and keep the best of them alive and breathing. And yeah, I'm a zine fanatic and damn proud of it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

We Love Shorts!

Scrolling through this morning, I discovered a new flash site. Yeah! While its billed as horror, they take their scares in any way, shape or genre and Paul, they dig the black humor. The first stories will hit the web on June 1 but they're open for subs as of yesterday.

What? Oh, the details. The site's name is The Daily Tourniquet, word count maxes out at 1500, so you have plenty of room to play. They're hoping to make this an every day, in your e-box sort of deal, like FlashShot and Every Day Fiction. And from the looks of the site, well, they just might make it happen. So, here's the url, go have a gander and get writing.

And for you short story lovers out there, Patti Abbott is sponsoring a forgotten short stories spot next Friday. If you've got a blog, post a review of your favorite short story. Get the word out that shorts are here to stay and they're a fun way to pass the time. Share the secret!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wasted Writing?

A couple of posts back I was bemoaning the fact that I'd totally screwed up a short story I was writing. Now, that story is mellowing out in my brain, searching for the proper notes to make it dance to its own music. But in that wrong story, I discovered several paragraphs that work within the frame of another story I'm working on.

One of the things I discovered was a description of Rachael Reilly's home that I'd been wracking my brain for. I could see the space in my mind but I couldn't seem to get it down on paper in a way that captured the reasons Rachael lives the way she does. Here's her home as seen through Harry's eyes.

"Rachael lived on the upper floor of a two story brick building that used to house a dress factory before they started shipping that kind of work overseas. The space was completely open, almost bare, so the line of sight wasn't cluttered. In one of the back corners a loft had been built for her sleeping area. There was no way anyone could ambush this lady, even in her own home."

What I love about that paragraph is that it captures the state of the city she lives in, where jobs are vanishing and buildings are being deserted. It also shows how paranoid she is about keeping herself safe, which goes back to her days on the street. How cool is that?

I was also able to draw a better picture of a few other characters who live in Rachael's world. While the original short story didn't work on one level, it did open up enough to give me a better feel for Rachael and her world. Which proves the point that no writing is wasted, there's always something in the words we put down on paper that we can use, even if only a simple sentence or paragraph.

So the next time you're getting ready to toss a story in the circular file, take a second look. Maybe your brain wasn't working on that story because it was mulling through another one, trying to pick up threads that you dropped. No time spent writing is wasted, you just have to pick through the muddled story to find the true gems that your writer's brain was searching for.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Dash of This - A Pinch of That

First up, Markets.

Necrotic Tissue opens for subs today and will accept them until the 30th. Also their last online issue is up on their site. The next issue will be print. Url to the left.

Withersin Magazine is a horror print magazine. They open for submissions today and accept until May 15. And for you flash writers, it's a market that takes flash.

Apollo's Lyre. I just received word that Apollo's Lyre has moved it's site and while it is still under construction they are open to submissions and they now have a blog for information. They accept shorts and flash - it's a wonderful flash site for those who enjoy micro fiction. The new url is

Magazine Newsletters.

I don't know how many of you sign up for the free magazine newsletters, but it's not a bad thing to do. You're sent an email when the publication posts a new issue and most times you're advised when they open to submissions. Always nice to have that heads up when it's time to submit. Does it increase your spam? Not that I've noticed.

Finding Guidelines.

How many of you find it difficult to track down the guidelines at a zine site? I'm raising my hand here. On more than one occasion I've found myself clicking and clicking on links to find out what exactly a publication wants. I've found the guidelines under such titles as: Who We Are, Contact Us, News, Submission, Guidelines and at PulpPusher under Deal. Always hunt for the guidelines, besides formatting details, you find submission dates, types of stories they're looking for, and the preferred length of those stories. And yes, also take the time to hunt down the editorial staff, they're not always with the guidelines. And if a site has a news blog, click on it. They're usually full of information that makes you look like you know what you're doing when you submit a story.

And finally, with a hat tip to Brian at Book Spot Central, the newest thing in creating a short story.

And a final late day note - Storyglossia is open for submissions. Url to the left.

And the news keeps coming - There's a new issue of ThugLit on the streets.

A Big SMFS Snoopy Dance

A round of Snoopy Dances for the Derringer finalists. Congratulations to everyone on the list and for you SMFS members - let the reading and voting commence.

The finalists for the 2009 Derringer are:
1000 or Less

Black Pearls by James C. Clar
Incident in Itawamba by Gary Hoffman
No Flowers for Stacy by Ruth McCarty
No Place Like Home by Dee Stuart
This Bird has Flown by BV Lawson

Independence Day by Allan Leverone
Regrets, I've Had a Few by Allan Leverone
Stalkers* by Lew Stowe
Taste for It by Sophie Littlefield
The Cost of Doing Business by Mike Penncavage
Wishing on Whores* by John Weagly


Bonnie and Clyde Caper by O'Neil De Noux
Dead Even by Frank Zafiro
The Art of Avarice by Darrell James
The Big Score by Chris Holm
The Quick Brown Fox by Robert S. Levinson


Haven't Seen You Since the Funeral by Ernest B. Brown
Jack Best and the Line in the Sand by Steve Olley
Panic on Portage Path by Dick Stodghill
Too Wise by O'Neil De Noux
Vegetable Matters by Terry W. Ervin II