Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sigh of Relief

Do computers drive you crazy? I love writing on the computer except when I think it's getting ready to explode or die. Of course if it exploded it would be dead, wouldn't it? Anyhoo, mine was doing all sorts of weird stuff the past few days, highlighting when I just wanted to erase a letter or backspace, double clicking every link so I didn't always get where I wanted to go and closing files before they opened. Looking for a possible solution, I dug out an old mouse and plugged that in. Now everything is working perfectly and faster. Just have to slow my hand down a bit. :)

Big sigh of relief as a new computer isn't in my budget right at the moment.

Keeping it Simple but Smart

I found this post by Theodora Goss about simplicity in writing quite interesting.

The truth is, most people sitting down to read want to be entertained. Teach me, but don't beat me over the head with your philosophy. And I love beautiful language when I read but I hate having to read with a dictionary in my lap to understand what I'm reading :)

Keeping your story simple doesn't mean dumbing it down to "See Spot run." when you can just as easily say, "Spot cleared the dead fall log with a smooth motion, catching the rabbit in mid-hop."

Angie's Desk

I missed this earlier this month, but over at Angie's Desk you'll find her monthly posting of anthology calls. This month's calls are mostly erotica and fantasy but there's also a YA call. You'll find the listings at this link

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Spinetingler has opened for submissions and they're also changing their fiction format in 2012. You can check out the details here Spinetingler is a paying market and MWA approved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Unreliable Narrators

I've been playing around with a story. I know pretty much how the story is going to unfold, but... You knew there was a but, didn't you? But one of the character's voices keeps talking to me, pulling at me. I love the sing-song sound of her voice but she's what you might call an unreliable narrator and not the PI I had envisioned telling this story. And the truth is, I can't remember ever using an unreliable narrator to tell a story and wondered if there are any preset expectations from readers of this type of story. Do you as readers like this type of story, or do you feel cheated in some way when you've finished?

Recently I read Megan Abbott's "The End of Everything" whose narrator tells you everything, but in reality tells you nothing. Her memories as the story unfolds turn out not to be what she thought they were. But then everyone's memories are different so each teller of the same story has a different view of what happened. Having finished the story, I still can't shake the feeling that I've missed something important.

"Soft Monkey" by Harlan Ellison tells the story from a homeless woman's point of view but she's living in a past that doesn't exist anymore. This one worked for me because you don't know until the twisted end that she's trying to do in the present what she failed to do in the past.

Fredric Brown's "Don't Look Behind You" unfolds the story from the POV of a man who tells you that you're going die when you finish reading the story he's written down. I loved how this story unfolded and the madness of the narrator, but telling me I'm going to die when I know that's not true didn't really work for me.

And "The Payoff" by Stanley Ellin has a narrator who makes you believe he's been forced into killing someone, but the ending? Sends chills up your back when you realize that he's not to be trusted. The totally twisted ending of this story worked on so many levels it was scary.

These were just a few stories I could think of off the top of my head with unreliable narrators. Can you think of others? And did you love how the author told the story or did you feel tricked?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Reviews

I love when new readers stop by the Corner and leave comments because I get to find some great new blogs. Last night Tim Mayer dropped by. Checking out his blog I discovered that he reviews pulp fiction and had great reviews of two anthologies, Pulp Ink and Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled. Check him out Many thanks for the kind words, Tim!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Black Friday Story Cupboard

Have you ever gone shopping on Black Friday? I did. Once. Never again, but there's something about Black Friday that gets the creative juices flowing and the story cupboard filling up.

Well, think about it. You've got massive traffic jams and spend more time on the highway than in the stores. And if you're not in your car, you're in the checkout line. Waiting. Tempers get shorter and shorter, then some guy starts singing, "tis the season..." Oh, yeah, you can go anywhere with that one.

And of course, you've got crowds of people. Body dump in the parking lot, anyone? Trust me, no one will notice, especially if you tuck a few shopping bags around it and leave it in a shopping cart. A good serial killer would have a field day walking through with his little .22 or hunting knife. Heck, try dropping a guy with a machete into that crowd. "fa, la, la, la..."

Then you have the dressing room. Great for shoplifters or a cat fight. Naked bodies or a naked witness running through the store. "now we don our gay apparel..."

Did you see how I worked that Christmas carol in? Well, how about a group of people stuck in an elevator with "Jingle Bells" playing over and over?

And if you're staying home and away from all the madness, check out the new 4-G commercial. Say 4-G four times really fast and you've got "Walking in an orgy wonderland". And yes, my husband and I both thought that's what they were singing. Great jumping off place for a holiday erotica story, don't you think? Then toss in the new wresting match I saw advertised last night called "Thong Thunder" and you're all set for another mad romp.

The best thing about the Black Friday story cupboard? It doesn't cost a thing!

Looking at Female Characters

Maybe it's because I've been thinking about female characters and writers lately that a few lines I've heard this past week stood out like a bunch of sore thumbs for me.

From "As Good As it Gets" When the Jack Nicholson character is asked how he writes women so well he says, "I think of a man and take away reason and accountability."

From the Bio channel's biography of Jodi Foster. "She's too intelligent. Hollywood doesn't know what to do with her."

And from another movie, "State of Play". A newspaper editor to a reporter, both intelligent women, "Find out who she knows, who she blows, and the color of her underwear."

I know that there are intelligent female protags, both in movies and books, but why do writers go out of their way to make every other female character appear to be either stupid or a sex machine? Does making that female lead appear more masculine than the other female characters make her character more palatable?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Sorry I haven't been around this week, life decided to pounce in unexpected ways which kept me pretty busy with other things. Hopefully next week will be better. Anyhoo, I just wanted to wish everyone in the States a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with friends and family, good food and happy memories. For those of you not celebrating - I wish the same. Life is best when each day is blessed with happy times filled with friends and family. Those memories make getting through the shit life throws at you so much easier.

I'd liked to thank each and every one of you who stops by for the good times you've given me over the years and may it be returned a hundredfold. Thank You!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Originality Again

I found this link to a great essay about originality from author, Robert Bennett.

Anthology Call

A new anthology call with Woodlawn Press attached as the publisher scroll down the page for the guidelines.

Hills of Fire: Bare-Knuckle Yarns of Appalachia is looking for shorts up to 2500 words written in the pulp style and using any time period so long as the story is set in the Appalachia region. Deadline is June 30, 2012 and payment is 5cents a word.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Spinetingler has revamped their site - very nice, guys!! Drop on over and have a look

The Online Story Cupboard

I don't know if these story cupboard posts are of much help to anyone but I find there are way too many story ideas out there for just one person, so sharing seems the logical thing to do.

Last week Brian Lindenmuth emailed me a link to a post about pox parties. It seems that there's a group of parents on Facebook seeking other parents whose children have the Chicken Pox and they wish to get together so their children can gain a natural immunity to the disease. The bad thing is, they're starting to mail infected items which is considered bio terrorism. Now that opens you up to a whole world of story ideas. (I wrote a story called "Poxed" that appeared in Crimefactory issue #3 before I even saw this article, so the possiblities are wide open.)

An actual terrorist sending these items, a distraught mother who has lost her child and wants to inflict the same pain on other mothers. Many of these people are also holding group meetings in real life which could lead to a whole other set of ideas.

And this morning I discovered this link about hackers who have taken over US satellites on several occasions. The article blames the Chinese, but you can take that one step further. What if a group of teenage hackers decided to take over the world? And of course, you could have undercover aliens doing the nasty deed or again, go with terrorists looking to spread more terror. But what if, in taking over the satellite, you open a gateway into the past or future? And of course, there's always a PI who might need to track down that female client's husband before he kills her. And if you're going crime, a group of bank robbers controlling a satellite could control police communications. Or, oh no, the Godfather?

You're only limited by how many what-ifs you leave your mind open to.


For those of you who write dark YA thrillers Jordan Dane talks about starting a new blog with a group of authors who write in this particular genre. the new blog will officially launch in January but you can check it out here

And Patti Abbott has started a discussion on her blog about writing shorts and what can stall that story when you're writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The First Line

The First Line has posted their 2012 first lines and deadlines. This is a print market looking for shorts of 300 to 3000 words in all genres - you just have to use their first line to start the story. Payment for stories has increased from $20 to $30. They are also looking for non-fiction critical essays about favorite first lines from literary works. 500 to 800 words. Payment is $20

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Advice

It's been a while since I linked to Chuck Wendig's blog, but today's post contains some of the best advice a writer can get. Be yourself and do what works for you, no matter what's working for Joe Smoe over there. And yes, Chuck says it much better

Monday, November 14, 2011


New Hampshire Pulp Fiction is open for submissions for volume 3. The theme for this issue is dedicated to sci-fi and spec-fic stories, with New Hampshire as a tangible presence, of up to 8000 words. The last issue paid $50 per story but there's no mention of pay for this one so you'll have to make an inquiry. You can find the details here

And from Paul Brazill there's word of a new ezine hitting the streets called Gritfiction helmed by Craig Douglas. They're looking for fiction that makes you cringe, weep, and think. You can check them out here This is a non-paying market looking to display new talent.

And there was some chatter on Twitter today about the status of "The Back Alley". According to their submission guidelines, they're still closed to subs and the issue that is posted now was published a year ago.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Learning From Shorts

One of my regular stops on the 'net each day is Charles Tan's Bibliophile Stalker blog. Like me, Mr. Tan is a short story writer and his blog is an invaluable resource for finding links to articles about short stories. This morning the link is his own blog where he's compiled a list of short story collections for the aspiring speculative fiction writer.

"One common problem among writers who attempt to write short fiction is that they don't read enough short stories. Novels, yes. Short stories, no." That quote is from his post and contains so much truth. Yes, we're all readers, but if you're going to write short, you need to read and study shorts. And I'd add this piece of advice. Don't stick to just one genre when you're reading shorts.

When I'm writing Western shorts, I read in that genre. It gives you a feel and flavor of what your readers are going to expect because each genre has its own particular tics. I also read literary shorts because here you learn the beauty of language and how to choose the perfect word to say what you mean. Sci-fi, fantasy, and spec-fic teach you how to build worlds, how to turn a story on its axis to make it more than you thought it was. And horror teaches you how to create fear and suspense. And if you're like me, and write crime stories, you can incorporate what you've learned from other genres to create a story that will touch your reader in a way that just having your characters walk around killing each other doesn't.

Reading shorts teaches you how to think short, how to center your mind on that one bit of story you're writing instead of adding threads here and there that are better suited to a novel than the story you're trying to tell. Reading shorts helps you find the heart of your own story.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Elizabeth A. White

For those of you looking for new anthologies stop on by Elizabeth A. White's great review site where you'll find current reviews of:

Pulp Modern
Noir at the Bar
The Chaos We Know
Crime Factory: The First Shift
West Coast Crime Wave

If you check out the archives you'll find other collections and anthologies that Elizabeth has reviewed along with her many book reviews. Elizabeth is a great friend to the short story world. Thanks Elizabeth!!

Hear Us Roar

Some weeks tend to open themselves up for a theme and this week's is closing out with another round of links relating to women in fiction.

Katherine Tomlinson posted a grand essay on her blog last night initiating Feminist Fiction Friday, where she celebrates women writing women.

Also from Katherine, I received a link to a feminist flash fiction contest that was being promoted on Nick Daw's blog

And here's a direct link to the Mooky site's contest rules This is a no fee contest for under 200 words for a haiku, poem, or flash fiction. Deadline is November 30. There are cash prizes and yes, men are allowed to enter.

Stopping by SleuthSayers this morning I found an excellent essay by writer, Janice Law, titled "All Beautiful Girls are Murdered".

Friday, November 11, 2011

Odds and Ends

If you're putting out your own ebooks you might want to take a look at this post over at Alan Rinzler's blog about choosing book covers.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been writing and sharing her experiences for many years. Today's blog post takes a hard look at how things are changing and explains why no one knows how to deal with all the new situations coming out of epubbing.

And Chris Rhatigan has a lovely review of Pulp Modern here Thanks, Chris!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

From Brian

Brian Lindenmuth emailed me a link to Sarah Hans' blog where she's posted a list of deadlines for submissions. There's contests, anthologies, and magazines listed - all paying.

More Noir Nation

Mulholland Books has posted an interview with Noir Nation editor, Cort McMeel, being interviewed by author Dennis Tafoya.

The Sanctity of Football

Did you ever try to wrap your head around a news story but found that all the pieces didn't add up? Here in PA the big and ONLY news story is the firing of Joe Paterno, head football coach at Penn State for the last 46 years.

Now, I'm not a football fan, so I could care less about him being fired and how this will affect the season. What I'm finding hard to believe is that students actually rioted in the streets last night because he was fired. I would think they would be more outraged that he failed to report the crime of child molestation that was taking place in his own locker room. Sure, he told the school administration, but hell, you can't have that sort of scandal screwing up your football program, can you? It took fifteen years for someone to finally call the cops. Fifteen years and at least eight young men whose lives will never be the same.

I say shame on Joe "let's just say a prayer for the victims" Paterno, Penn State, and a sports-crazed world that believes football is more important than actual human beings.

Invisible Me

Kat Howard has a most interesting post over at The Rejectionist about the invisibility of women.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anthology Calls

The Writing Contests site is posting once again after a summer break. On this site you'll find writing contests, calls for anthology and magazine submissions, fiction and non-fiction. Some contests have fees and the markets are both paying and non-paying for those interested in having a look.

Searching for anthology calls, I came across three publishers I hadn't seen before. Each one has anthology calls listed and pay royalties. They're also open for other submissions. Be sure to look them over before making a decision to submit and don't be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear.

First up is Entangled in Romance This press is looking for romance short stories for two anthologies. One a Steampunk and the other a Superhero anthology.

Pink Petal Books is an erotica press with calls listed for four anthologies.

And last is a new press called Midnight Magic Press that is looking to launch in February of 2012. They're looking for Romance, Urban Fantasy, and Mysteries for their book line. The anthology call is for a Valentine's Day stories. The deadline for this one is December 5.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Last year I started watching "Harry's Law" and couldn't wait for each new episode. This year, I watched the second episode and could less if I ever watch it again. Why? Because they took away the totally original idea of the first season and turned it into "Boston Legal".

I loved the character of Harry because she was a woman who wanted something more out of life than the same old boring legal practice. She stepped out of her safe life and into something entirely new to her. I loved the shoes, the neighbors walking in off the streets, and I especially loved when she pulled the gun on the street's protection guy. She embraced this new life.

The whole concept of the show was a cast of characters who were totally outside of their safety zone, there was room for them to grow, to experience a life that was totally unexpected. So why the change? Why throw away the complete originality of the first season to replay a tired, dead show with a different cast of characters?

What is wrong with originality? I know there is "nothing new under the sun" but when you can put an original spin on that old theme why shrug it off? Why do we feel the need to make our stories conform to the mold created by those who wrote the stories before us?

I'm working on a short story now with a fifty-something bag lady playing a superhero of sorts. And I keep asking myself is this going to fly? Will readers accept an old lady playing superhero or are they going to say that's impossible? I can hear the whispers in my ear, superheroes have muscles and form fitting costumes and the women are beautiful with big boobs. How is my character going to fit into this genre?

So, I wonder, does stepping away from an original idea have more to do with the writer's fear of actually writing that original piece or the fear that editors and readers won't accept the story because it doesn't fit into their perception of what the story should be?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Men and Women

My rant earlier this week brought about this thoughtful post by Chris LaTray. Http://

And this post by Robin Agnew really made me stop and think about some of the stories I've written over the years. She also made me wonder if it's really that easy to recognize the sex of the writer.

A Pair of Markets

Dark Discoveries is open to submissions. They pay 5cents a word for stories of 500 to 6500 words in the Horror/Dark Fantasy/Dark Sci-fi and Dark Mystery genres. You can find the guidelines here

And CrimeSpree Magazine is open for the month of November.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Post: Patti Abbott

This is a first for the Corner, today we have a guest blogger. Patti Abbott is the author of a new collection of short stories released from Snubnose Press called, "Monkey Justice". Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know Patti's blog and all the wonderful things she does for writing community from her "How I Came to Write this Story" posts to Friday's Forgotten Books. She's also one of the best writers I know. Don't believe me? Check out her story "A Saving Grace" over at The Thrilling Detective web site And here's Patti:

First, my thanks to Sandra for the invitation to talk about my collection of stories Monkey Justice. It’s nice to get out of my house once in a while and this constitutes a new way of doing that.

I think the biggest issue for me in putting together this collection was choosing which stories to include and deciding the order in which to place them. Many of my early stories were too literary to fit in well with the thrust of the collection. Easy to eliminate them. And some had not yet appeared in print or online, so I couldn’t use them. From the number that was left, I tried to pick ones that showed some range in plot, character, etc. I also tried to balance lighter stories with darker ones. Good luck with that.

Most interesting to me were the things I discovered about myself working with the stories. Of the 23 stories in this collection, 14 are from the male point of view. I’m not sure what this says about me as a writer. Do I write from that viewpoint because I see men at bigger players in life than women; do I see them as the primary perpetrator of violence; is my inner voice more often male? I’m not sure. Seven of the stories are about old people, not surprisingly since I am nearly there myself. But there also about the same number of stories where people under twenty-five are major characters.

In MONKEY JUSTICE, I kill a lot of people, but that’s the kind of story I write. Even before I stumbled into this community, my stories were always dark. As hard as I might try to write a lighter tale, things always turned out badly. In my very first published story, a man dies and his friend steals his collection of pornographic pictures of the town’s female sheriff. You could see the road I was on already—although when I say already, I was in my mid-forties. Definitely a later bloomer. In my second published story, a woman electrocutes her husband because he’s so untidy. Both of these stories were in so-called literary magazines, but it was an uneasy fit. There they would sit amongst the poetry and stories of angst-filled college students, drowning their sorrows in the nearest bar.

In this collection people are torn apart by dogs, smothered (2), shot (2), killed with a knife (2), killed by a dropped bus (1), killed by a dropped mirror (1), strangled (2)—once by legs. And if you count the mice that die in the last story-killed by mousetraps. Sometimes no one dies, but no one is very happy either.

Recently a friend remarked she didn’t know how my husband could sleep soundly knowing the likelihood of my smothering him with a pillow. What I don’t know is how he reads all these stories without wanting to smother me.

Thanks again to Sandra for this opportunity to talk about MONKEY JUSTICE.

You can find Monkey Justice here


Had a couple of notes from editor, David Cranmer. Beat to a Pulp has opened for submissions. and Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled is now available for your ereaders. Check out the details here

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Head Banging Rant

Do you ever feel like you're beating your head up against a brick wall that's never going to give no matter how hard you beat on it? It's been one of those weeks and it's only Tuesday.

Why is it that most writers only want to discuss ( bsp - promote ) their own work? Are we that jealous of other writers that we refuse to say in a public forum, "Hey, here's a great short story, you should go read it, like right now!" Or do they not read short stories and only use their own short story work to promote their novels?

I love short stories and I know that there are thousands of writers and readers out there who feel the same way I do. And yes, they review and share and promote other writers, but some days it feels like such a minority for a form of writing that has been around since words first hit paper.

And why is that when a new crime imprint opens shop there are no women writers included in that long list of writers they've signed on?

Point being. Why should women even bother writing dark crime fiction if they're going to be totally ignored unless publishers can roll them into that romance/cozy hole they love women to fill? I can count on my fingers and toes the number of women who are considered noir writers, whose work is treated with the same respect as their male counterparts.

Okay, done with my rant, think I'll go hide under my blanket for the rest of the week.