Archive for May, 2020

Many of us cut our teeth writing short stories.  But how do you find markets for your work?  Consider submitting to anthologies.  This book will help you tailor your stories for the best chances for acceptance and publication.  So starts Amazon’s blurb for this short, 62-pageish guidebook by Weldon Burge, GETTING THE STORY STRAIGHT:  THE WHYS AND HOWS OF SUBMITTING STORIES TO ANTHOLOGIES (see May 16).  Why anthologies?  I always found them to be easier markets than magazines in my early years of writing fiction.  The odds are in your favor with anthologies because the acceptance rate at many magazines and journals, despite their proliferation now online, is discouragingly low.  Anthologies, on the other hand, typically have narrower themes — and the narrower the theme, the better your odds of acceptance.  Assuming, of course, that your story meets that theme.  Stories that squarely hit an anthology’s target will likely go to the top of an editor’s pile of submissions.

My thumb in this pie?  As Weldon continues:  As I wrote this book, I also asked other editors and writers (many of them contributors to Smart Rhino anthologies) for their observations, suggestions, and advice.  I’ve quoted them throughout the book, and I hope you find their opinions and recommendations helpful.  In other words, don’t just take his word for it, though he himself has worked both sides of the street as Editor/Publisher of Smart Rhino Publications as well as a writer submitting his work to various others, but hear it from (as it were) the mouths of additional horses.  And one of those added equines, c’est moi.

And that is that.  For more, or to order on Kindle, press here.

[T]his anthology is looking for well-written, spine-tingling tales of horror infused with black humor (gallows humor).  We are open to all categories of horror:  gore, psychological, killers, monsters, and occult/paranormal.  Twisted and tacky is a plus.  This is from the original call for MADAME GRAY’S CREEP SHOW and what’s not to love?  The guidelines said “original stories” and it just so happened I had one I’d written some time back, but the one market it had clicked with went belly up before it could be published and after that it just sort of languished . . . well, you’ve heard this sort of sad story before.  The title was “Wormbreath” and it’s about the joy of being dead — especially if you’re somewhat of a practical joker who’s had a bad marriage and don’t much like your daughter either — so “why not?” I thought and off it went.

Today brought the answer:  HellBound Books is pleased to accept “Wormbreath” for inclusion in MADAME GRAY’S CREEP SHOW!  With it was a contract along with details about sending a bio (already done!) and how page proofs for vetting should come around early October and to be ready for them.  Madame Gray would not be the kind to want to let grass grow under her feet.

Well, fair enough thought I, I like to see things published on schedule too, so just a couple of hours ago I completed step one, reading and signing the contract, and sent it back.

“Ballet of the Dolls,” we may recall (see May 4, 2, et al.), is now up on Tell-Tale Press’s NABU CARNEVALE promotional site.  Or to put it in the publisher’s own words:  THERE ARE EVEN MORE FREE ONLINE STORIES FOR NABU CARNEVALE!  This story is a beautiful dark fantasy piece by James Dorr.  James has provided us with his wonderful work before; his story “The Bala Worm” appeared in THE BLOOD TOMES VOLUME 2:  CREATURES, NOVELETTES EDITION .  This time, his engaging and haunting piece from the FANTASY LIBRARY, “Ballet of the Dolls,” fits perfectly within the NABU CARNEVALE theme.  We’re always happy to have James’s work in our books and libraries!

Artwork is by Ruslana Golub from the Ukraine.

Artwork too?  The story, “Ballet of the Dolls,” was first published in 2004 in the Lone Wolf CD ROM, CARNIVAL, as well as in print in my 2007 collection DARKER LOVES (see center column), and is about an ambitious young woman, needlework, and birds in a sideshow setting — plus a bit of not-so-nice seduction.  The artwork, along with a link to the story, can be seen on FaceBook by pressing here, or just for the story — it’s free! — press here.

The email came from Eerie River Publishing editors Michelle and Alanna with an edited copy of the story:  We request that you check that the title, your name and the content are all correct, though also bear in mind that edits may have been made to streamline reader comprehension and/or to correct grammar and punctuation errors.  The edits in fact were almost entirely stylistic and fairly extensive, but that can happen, with my corrected copy going back this evening, the relatively few changes I suggested being for content, mainly to clarify a few locational details.

The story is “The Calm,” originally published in NEW MYTHOS LEGENDS (Marietta Publishing, 1999), set in colonial New England about unfortunate — dare one say “eldritch”? — things in the mountains where Massachusetts, New York, and what would become Vermont converge.  The book itself is IT CALLS FROM THE FOREST VOLUME 2 (cf. May 9, et al.) with another milestone reached on its journey to publication, more news to appear here as it becomes known.

The announcement from author/publisher Weldon Burge is already up as a tag on FaceBook.  From, as it were, the horse’s mouth:  I’m working on a how-to book on submitting to anthologies.  It’s coming along nicely and (I hope) will be valuable to short story writers everywhere.

Not only does the book contain advice from me as the editor/publisher of Smart Rhino Publications, but you’ll read great advice from Nancy Day Sakaduski, Jonathan Maberry, Joe Mynhardt, Andrea Dawn, Christine Morgan, James Dorr, Rick Hudson, Jeani Rector, Lucy A. Snyder, Jezzy Wolfe, Adrian Ludens, Shaun Meeks, Greg Smith, Joanne M Reinbold, Joseph Badal, Elizabeth Black, and L.L. Soares.

So it’s not so much “how to write” (though there may be some hints in terms of writing for certain markets) as “having written, how to get it placed,” from an editor/publisher himself who the new writer might submit to, and augmented by the thoughts/experiences of several of us who have sold a number of stories, including some which he himself bought.  So we ought to know, eh?  In my case, I’ve had work in three of Smart Rhino’s publications, ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (“Golden Age,” see November 28 2018, et al.), INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS (“The Labyrinth,” November 28 2018), and UNCOMMON ASSASSINS (“The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” September 9 2014), along with many, many other publishers’ offerings.

The initial contact on this was at the beginning of January when Weldon asked if I would be willing to answer some questions about anthologies and how they figured in my growth as an author.  Why not? I said (or words to that effect), and the result, with comments from the other writers cited as well, is a short ebook, at about 60 pages, tentatively titled GETTING THE STORY STRAIGHT:  THE WHYS AND HOWS OF SUBMITTING STORIES TO ANTHOLOGIES.  So if you’re a bit new to the game yourself, but would like to know more, keep an eye out for it from Weldon Burge and Smart Rhino Publications.

It started with a friending on FaceBook but led from there to a brief conversation (on my FaceBook “wall,” the antique laptop not comfortable with Message), an invitation, and a very quick acceptance for May.  The story is “The Re-Possessed,” initially published in CEMETERY RIOTS (see November 9 2018, et al.), and the book-to-be titled 25 GATES OF HELL, a sequel to the general horror anthology 19 GATES OF HELL published by Kydala Publishing, Inc., in 2018.  Beyond this I don’t know terribly much about dates or details:  the invitation came Saturday with my deciding on an appropriate story and sending it in this morning (Tuesday), and the acceptance from Editor R.L. Burwick came this afternoon.  A sort of whirlwind business affair, as one might say.  While the story itself is a tale of Victorian funeral practices — as it were, targeted for the longer term — and dark Haitian magic.

The email came five days ago, Monday, from Eerie River Publishing’s Michelle McLachlin:  Hi, I am in the planning stage for author interviews and story snippets for Volume Two authors.  If you are interested in having your profile highlighted please let me know.  If you would like the beginning of your story included in a snippet also let me know.  (You don’t have to say yes to either, no pressure!)  The story and book referred to are the French and Indian War set “The Calm” and IT CALLS FROM THE FOREST, VOLUME 2 respectively (cf. March 26), the story itself originally published in NEW MYTHOS LEGENDS in 1999 by Mariatta Publishing and which also appears in my 2001 collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES, from Dark Regions Press.  And so of this, its latest appearance-to-come, the email continues:  I haven’t set up a pre-order yet, but am planning that for mid June.  Until then, we will be doing some fun author highlights to get people excited.  More information of course to be here, with appropriate links, as it becomes known.

But first things first, I replied immediately:  Yes for both the profile and snippet, just send the details/information, followed with a reminder about the vintage computer I’m working with until COVID 19 required lockdowns loosen and I can get back on 21st century library machines.  No problem with that, though (we’d already worked basics out with the contract in March), and the next day saw the interview questions and other details (bio, picture, social media. . .) as a simple email which I then converted to RTF to move to the off-line computer, filled out, and — to get right to the punch line — all went back this afternoon.

A strange day, today, with gloom and rain to greet the dawn — and me when errands took me from the house; a clearing by noon and bright sun from about 1 p.m. on and me locked back in the house.  A seasonal thing, sort of, a morning like March, “in like a lion,” and an afternoon only a few degrees short of summer weather, more June than even May.  And so the spring issue of STAR*LINE arrived in the mail, number 43.2, with one poem by me this time, one written for summer, “A Ray of Sun,” on as it happens p. 13 (cf. April 7, 1, et al.).  So who’s superstitious, but “A Ray of Sun” brings back our seagoing blood-drinker the Mermaid Vampiress and tells us how she likes to spend her summer — decided bad luck for the people she shares with.  But, and here’s the point, another publication and thus good luck for me.

STAR*LINE, for any who may not know, is the official publication of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, more on which can be found here.

Another stroll down Memory Lane (see November 30, 2019):  The guidelines said it.  “We’re looking for nursery rhymes, poetry, and stories that can be read and enjoyed by children of all ages.  There is no lower word limit on poems or nursery rhymes.”  Mine, however, would be a story, “Snow,” a 2000-word riff (more or less) on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”  An evil queen, a stepdaughter in training, height-challenged jewel miners.  The book in question, to be published by B Cubed Press:  ALTERNATIVE BEDTIME READING FOR PROGRESSIVE PARENTS.  Thus the story accepted; a contract signed (a drawn-out process involving coronavirus-related computer limitations, but so it goes, eh?); yesterday, Sunday, evening brought the edited copy of “Snow” from the publisher for my approval.  Then, following a lateish night read, I added in a few small corrections and back it went.

So despite the troubles of the world around us, the writing life continues as always.  Contracts. . . .  Approvals. . . .  The slow grind of publishing, but this book, I think, will be well worth the wait.  More to appear here as it becomes known.

Also for a shorter look-back, the promised preview of stories for Tell-Tale Press’s NABU CARNEVALE promotion (see May 2, below) has now gone live in the Press’s “Library,” for which one may press here.  Scroll down to the Fantasy section, the first section listed, and press to find mine, a dark fantasy titled “Ballet of the Dolls,” where it will be the second of four stories.

The article is by Ute Lotz-Heumann, titled “This 17th-Century Plague Diary Hits a Little Too Close To Home,” in this manifestation via MSN.COM.  But the meat of the piece is contemporary with the events described, from the diary of Samuel Pepys in the years 1665-66 in London. That said, there’s not too much that is “new,” mostly a couple of comparisons the the present pandemic, including the lateness in realizing what had seemed a small local outbreak of illness was really something far, far bigger.  Houses are quarantined, an amount of paranoia ensues, records of burials start to be published giving, too, an account or sorts (but recognized to be very incomplete) of the plague’s rate of spreading.  Various remedies are suggested, some clearly irrelevant (my favorite involving the use of tobacco which, given medical theories of the time, actually makes sense), but, although the plague did come back the next year, the excerpts here end in September 1665 with a falling trend in  cases and hope for the future — including Mr. Pepys’s own special means of celebration.

So it’s no great shakes, but it is interesting and perhaps may elevate spirits a little.  “This, too, shall pass.”  Or, to see for yourself, press here.

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