Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wait---What???

This is so fucking stupid that I felt a need to blog NOW, rather than think about it for a bit before shrugging my shoulders and going, "Meh."

 I'm actually kind of pissed about this. Maybe because I've had a string of incidents of editors violating their own contracts, because whatever, writers should be grateful lil' shits, right?

But this particular incident is sheer laziness.

Today I queried the editor to "Dreams from the Witch House"--a Lovecraftian anthology featuring stories by women--because I never received a response for my submission. And what kind of response did my query letter receive?

Dear Siobhan,

Thank you for your recent submission to "Dreams from the Witch House".
We received an enormous amount of submissions for this project.
Unfortunately, the story is not quite the right fit for the anthology.

All the best with your writing endeavors.

Kind regards
Lynne Jamneck

You're rejecting my query letter???? Great, but uh ... that's not what I asked. I wanted to know if my submission ever made it to your inbox, because internet goblins could've eaten it; all this tells me is that you couldn't be bothered to look. It's not like it's hard or takes all that much time. You do a search for X title story and see--oh, I did receive it! Or no, I never got it. Simple, and let's me know if there are any email issues. I've noticed that Gmail doesn't always like to work, and something similar could've happened with 1&1.

If it's not an email issue, and the editor got overwhelmed and missed some submissions, that's fine too. I'd still like to know what happened. 

Guess I'll never know. What I do know is never submit to this editor again.

 As an aside, does anyone else find it impolite to get a form rejection for a query letter? Because it's becoming increasingly obvious that editors (or should I say these people who pop up and put an editor hat on) have little to no respect for authors.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

New Stories from Grimdark Magazine and Saurday Night Reader

Looking for some black comedy to morbidify your day? Well, I've got just the stories...

First up, "A Recipe for Corpse Oil" published in Grimdark Magazine issue 3, available from their website or Amazon. There's a R. Scott Bakker story in the issue, or rather, half of a Bakker story. (I'm not familiar with the author myself, but apparently he's well-known. )

Here's the synopsis that I used in my submission email for Corpse Oil: Tavin is a pick-pocket, though not a very good one. But a shopkeeper gives him the opportunity to make a bit of coin, and all it requires is one thing: collecting
human chins.


 Gritty? Grim? Sure. But Tavin is great fun.

But you know what's freaky? Corpse oil is a real thing within the black magic world of Indo-Maylay mythos. "Corpse oil is collected by removing the dead corpse’s chin (using a knife to cut through the bones) and cooking on a hot pan until the oil oozes out." Link.

For story-purposes, Tavin collects chins from live victims. (And if you've read my story Spring Cleaning, then you already know what a Toyol is.)

Grimdark Magazine was another zine that I had my eye on, and was very pleased to have a story accepted by them, especially since I like these niche markets that seem to exist on the fringe of publishing. The editor, Adrian Collins, was very pleasant to work with as we went back and forth on editing changes--if there was something I felt strongly in keeping, it was kept. So big thumbs up for this publisher.

Next up, "Goose Effect" my third publication (hey! I think they like me!) from Saturday Night Reader. It's free to read, and just might make you rethink those geese.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Case of Animal Abuse

I was going to post something more writing related, but, bleh. This topic has unfortunately infested my mind.

About three weeks ago, our apartment neighbor got a puppy, presumingly for his kids--but you know how young children never take responsibility for the pet, right? So this puppy was left alone in the backyard for many hours of the day, with no toys or anyone to play with, and started whining as a result. And I being very fond of dogs, would look out the window to see this poor puppy wandering a filthy--and I mean filthy (beer cans, fast food wrappers, and a collection of junk strewn across the place) backyard, probably bored out of its mind.

On March 4th, I saw the neighbor smack his puppy on the head, in what I assume was an attempt to silence the puppy.

Things became progressively worse from that point out, so much so that we (boyfriend and I) recorded a couple of incidents, which involved kicking the puppy in the face, placing the puppy on top the AC unit and pushing it off, picking up the puppy and flinging it across the yard. All the while, the puppy was making distressful yelps.

The incidents of flinging the puppy had convinced us to take action, and called the police. Previously, we had contacted the Humane Society, but apparently, they don't have jurisdiction in south Texas.  

Yesterday, the boyfriend pressed charges against our neighbor for animal cruelty, the neighbor was arrested, and the puppy taken away, hopefully to a place where it'll be treated better. 

Although that does leave the question of retaliation...

Now my boyfriend thinks our neighbor would be pretty stupid to try anything. And it would be stupid, but stupidity has never really stopped anyone, now has it?

It's my fondest hope that we'll be out of this apartment complex sometime in April. Until then, we'll just have to wait and see how this plays out. At least the day hasn't greeted us with whimpers from a pup.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Phobos Magazine 3: "Troublemake" is out!

"You are Dead, Sir" my first publication of 2015!--brought to you by the weird folks over at Phobos. It's out right now on kindle.

For our third issue of Phobos, “Troublemake,” we called for stories about biters of the hands that feed, timid folk acting out against their tormentors, unlikely disturbers of the status quo, hell-raisers both literal and figurative, and creatures who just plain don't like being told what to do.
An incredible, international collection of writers responded with stories about the various hungers of a corrupt food critic, a clandestine embalmer on the run, suburban botanical troubles, a desperate politician in a haunted town, casual witchcraft gone wrong, casual witchcraft done right, a working dreamer and a dreaming worker, the obstacle course of a disintegrating family, and the clever, web-fingered, eponymous main attraction of our final piece.

And why yes, the cover is of a evil squirrel causing the apocalypse. Beware the squirrel.  

"You are Dead, Sir" contains no hellish squirrels, but it does feature a revenant who refuses to stay in his grave:


Dear Watchman Buerer,
I and your family have grieved for your loss. Your death was tragic and sudden. But seeing as you are dead, we wish that you would stay that way. Please take no offense, but seeing a deadman walking the streets at night is rather disturbing for the residents of Waking Falls. When we carved “Rest in Peace” into your tombstone, we truly did mean it.

This was in part inspired by a reference to a tale I found on Wikipedia from William of Newburgh, about how the Bishop had to put to rest a revenant by writing a letter of absolution. Unfortunately, in my story, letters have no such influence.

This was the same story that had once received an acceptance, which I touched on in this post, and ultimately rejected the acceptance because the contract was lousy, and the editor unwilling to make a few changes to said contact. Oh, I should also mention the editor wanted to edit out "Good God" from my character's dialogue (and could've without my consent under the contract), but could give no reason why. Turns out, the use of "Good God" as a mild swear went against the editor's beliefs. So yeah... Another reason I avoid this market.

Personally, I think Phobos is a much better market, and glad this story found its home with them. Also goes to show you don't have to settle for just any acceptance, because there might be a better market around the corner.
 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Even More Reflections (and Some Shit)

So 2014 passed into the rainy, rainy night with much noise and annoyance. Despite that, I think I'm in a better mood than last year--aside from living in this craphole known as South Texas. If you ever want to see the height of human incompetency, just come down here. Fortunately, I won't be staying here for much longer.

Made some nice pro-rate sales, won one of On The Premises contest, had a lead story in an anthology, and closed the year out with a sale to Phobos Magazine--a weird little zine that I've had my eye on for quite some time.

No SFWA sale, because once again I don't write what the editors want at the moment. (Rez and I have a theory that editors don't know what they really want, which accounts for why a magazine will publish both amazing and absolutely dreadful stories.) The weep-woe trend is still going strong, or stories that bend over backwards to deliver that contrived emotional punch. Or the worse: stories where the fantastical elements are window dressing for a mundane tale.

I want to give props to Tor.com for publishing enjoyable fiction. I usually only read stories from markets when I stop by their site to submit, and often come away uninspired (coughstrangehorizonscough). Not the case with Tor.com. Granted, I didn't read every story of theirs, as I'm sure they published some stinkers, but overall there was some really good stuff. Even when I felt so-so about a particular story, I could see the merit in the story, why an editor would pick it. I like how they haven't forgotten that stories are supposed to be entertaining, that characters aren't always victims, that characters have drive and emotion and don't just whine into a puddle of their own tears, that the reader may question the morals or sanity of the character, that things happen within the story. By Beetlejuice! Where have these story elements been???

And Tor.com is cool enough to publish stories that don't climax with an epiphany or some profound reveal, like "Where the Lost Things Are ", which is just a silly adventure about old people shrinking themselves to find a lost pill. Again, I feel like that's something a lot of publisher have forgotten; I can't recall too many fun stories from other publications.

Now that I look back on it, it was a very odd year for short fiction. Thanks to some delusional old fart on the SFWA forums saying women were ruining science fiction, some editors took the initiative to prove the guy wrong, thus Women Destroy Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror. There's been a few additional Women Only anthologies and podcasts throughout the year as well.

I'm not exactly fond of the Women Destroy X Genre issues; I don't think they're going to change the mind of any fossils who must've been residing under a rock for the past 40 years. If anything, the issues seem gimmicky to me. The potential was squandered on lackluster stories, rather than doing a compilation anthology, taking stories from the great female sci-fi writers in the past, current successes, and future "fresh" voices. Now that would be awesome. Chronicling what women have done for the genre and will continue to do, with no signs of stopping. Of course undertaking such a project would eat a lot of time and money, but seeing as quite a few people got behind the idea of Women Destroy X Genre, I think it's entirely possible.

I do fear, in editors' attempt to make things "right" in the world, editors will go out of their way to publish more stories from women. That's not how it should work. The duty of any editor is to buy the best possible stories out there for publication. Keyword: stories. It's not about whether the author is male or female, black or blue, has green hair or pointy teeth, because those things are irrelevant to the story itself, and stories should sell themselves. You don't want editors getting into the habit of judging a story based on the author (ignoring that they already do this if you're a Big Name), instead of the story's own merit. Also, it doesn't help self-esteem if a woman realizes the only reason her story sold was because of her sex.          

In the end, we'll just have to see. As for me, I'll keep chugging away, and hopefully continue to sell stories, though I'm thinking it might be time to go back to longer works of fiction. Short fiction is great and all, but it has never been a popular form of fiction, and as the word counts get shorter, you start feeling that crunch. I've seen authors gouge out their short stories to fit the the word limit, and it ain't pretty. Or who knows, maybe I'll land an awesome job writing for video games. One can wish.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Podcast Inc.

Looking to listen to something that isn't dripping with holiday cheer? Well, you're in luck!--for I have some awesome podcasts to share.

Tina Connolly of Toasted Cake did a fantastic reading of "All I want for Christmas..." Really enjoyed Santa's faltering and Abbey's obnoxious kiddie voice. This is one to check out if you like a little dark humor in your holiday spirit. Big, BIG thumbs up to Tina for pronouncing my name correctly. :)


And from Third Flatiron, a reading of "Blade Between Oni and Hare" Unfortunately, I can't vouch for the pronunciations of some of the Japanese words (I'll be honest, it pained me to hear katana mispronounced), but it's still a decent reading if you can put that aside.  

There's also a Q&A with me if you're interested in that.

Enjoy! And Happy Holidays, folks!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Good Stuff!

'Tis the season for eggnog, corny holiday music, Amazon shopping, and forgetting the blog. I actually had to do real holiday shopping this year. I don't wish to repeat it.

But fear not! There are goodies to be had, and some awesome stuff to check out.

The cover looks MUCH nicer in physical form, trust me.

Some time ago I received a complimentary issue of Saturday Night Reader magazine--yes, a real magazine that you can hold and read and turn pages 'n stuff! A very nice magazine, too! It's big, has nice thick pages (so no fear of accidentally ripping a page), and colorful pictures and backgrounds for each story. It contains fifteen flash stories from various authors published on SNR's site, including my piece, "A Beastful Hunger."



Also, I didn't know Saturday Night Reader was a Canadian publication, haha.

If you like flash fiction and well-made magazines, and maybe you're Canadian, or have a hankering for noir and fast food, then I think it's worth picking up from SNR's store. Some of the magazine's proceeds goes to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

The long, long awaited W1S1 anthology, "Drunk on Writing," is out!

This anthology contains a whole slew of W1S1 participants, and includes my story, "The Ungreat Escape"--which sadly, this is the only place now you can read the story, because Cosmos redesigned their website and axed all their short fiction.

And best part is, it's free! Pick it up as a PDF, MOBI (Kindle), or EPUB