Monday, September 30, 2013

W1S1 September Update

I don't have much to say about September except, "Crap! The year's almost over," so getting straight to the stats.

Stories written:1 (~5,200-word dark fantasy)
Stories submitted: 27 (including resubs)
Stories accepted: 0
Stories rejected: 24

Although kind of a downer month, had to send out several queries, only one of which was responded to, I did receive a rewrite request from Bards & Sages, so hopefully that turns out well.

I figure since I ranted about DOME (a.k.a Under the Dumb), thought I might talk about some of the new Fall shows, in the hopes that something will wash out that terrible dome taste.

Agents of S.H.I.E.D. (or AoS) is the new one from ABC set within the Marvel comic movie universe. It wasn't bad, though I really hate monologues, especially heavy-handed ones that point out the obvious. It could have done without--in fact, it should have done without.. The beginning, after the black guy saves the girl, was slightly confusing, where you have Pretty White Boy drive up, then poses as a waiter in a French restaurant, then scans a room for McGuffin. Then fisticuffs. No idea who I was supposed to cheer for. But I'm curious, at least for a couple episodes, where the show may go. I do agree with the criticism that every female, except for Melinda May, looks exactly the same. Young, medium height, trim waist, brunette... They get all their actresses from the modeling agency?

Sleepy Hallow from Fox, takes the short story written by Washington Irving and greatly expands upon it, in a four horseman of the apocalypse way. Nothing like creative license, right? Quite frankly, I'm impressed. Very interesting twist on the original story, good acting and character chemistry, mystery but not too much mystery that it loses you. And my God! It's so nice to see make-up artists being employed again! The creatures look spooky and cool and real. None of that CGI shit that Grimm employs.

Best "eeep!" moment (possible spoiler): in the beginning of the second episode, where John Cho's character, having had his neck snapped back in the previous episode, comes back to life, stumbling around the morgue with his upside-down head at his back. It's hard to describe, one of those you have to see.

Haven't seen anything else, because there wasn't a whole lot that interested me. I can't even recall what new offerings NBC has up. A comedy about terrible moms? Meh.

To wrap things up--ever wondered what Metallica's Enter Sandman would sound like as bluegrass? It would sound like awesome.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Under the Dumb: A Review

Because Star Trek: Into Darkness and Elysium were not punishment enough, I wound up watching the so-called "miniseries" Under the Dome on CBS. And yes, I want 12 hours of my life back.

For those of you who were fortunate to miss out, the show shares the same premise as Stephen King's novel, where a mysterious dome traps an entire town of people on the New England coast. But from what I've heard (I have not read the book myself), the series bears little resemblance to the book outside of the premise.

Where the hell do I begin?

I know these Stephen King miniseries are never really that good. The last one I tuned in to watch on TV was Red Rose--a haunted house story that kept telling you it wasn't a haunted house story. I also caught bits of that ABC version of The Shinning, which only proved that Stanley Kubrick knew his shit. The acting is always sub par, even when you have talented actors on the set, the special effects are cheesy (though Dome's isn't noticeably bad), and script writing is just meh.   

Honestly, I don't know why I stuck with the show. It's dumb. Stupid, dumb, bash-your-brains-in soap opera garbage. What was supposed to be an interesting situation, what happens when a you're trapped with your neighbors in a glass case?, becomes in episodic soap opera, where characters behave like morons to drag this nonexistent plot out. It wasn't until the fourth episode that we finally get some chaos. You would think people would freak out a lot sooner, right? I guess everyone was on Valium, 'cause they certainly act like it.

The way the series pads itself, is that one event happens in a forty-five minute duration. So there's a fire in one episode, military trying to blow the dome, a birth/death in another, a short lil' water war, fight club ripoff...and maybe some other stuff, but I honestly can't remember.

I don't know if it's worth mentioning the cast of characters, because they really don't do much, except for the scheming politician, "Big Jim" Rennie, who doesn't want the dome to come down, because it'd mean he'd lose his power grip on the town. I kind of wanted to be invested in Junior's character, because he appeared to be the most dynamic, being a psychopath who locks up his girlfriend, yet trying to do good by the town. But damn, is he thick. His dad, Big Jim, not only is condescending to him, but also kicked him out of the house for shooting a criminal. Yet, Junior continues to trust and obey his father. Why???

But the Dumbass Award goes to Deputy Linda Esquivel. This woman, despite all the times that Barbie helped her out in keeping law & order, and discovering that Big Jim was the ringleader of this propane-drug deal, listens to Big Jim's lies instead of interrogating Barbie for the supposed crimes he's committed. I don't even recall her talking to Barbie, one-on-one, because gee, it might clear things up. Oh, and I just love it when she stares all vacant-eyed at the gallows that Big Jim ordered the town to build. Holy shit, you're just going to let Big Jim execute a man without a trial by jury??? With cops like you, who needs criminals.   

The only storyline that has a grain of interesting in it, is the one that involves four teenagers and an egg inside a mini-dome. It's the only element that seems to progress, but like everything else, goes nowhere. The final episode, the one where people expected some sort of reveal about the dome, gives us nothing but a cryptic message. Tune in next season, right? Bullshit.

Aside from this show being based off of Stephen King's novel, I think the only advantage it had, was that it aired during the summer, when your only alternatives are re-runs and reality TV. I'm ninety-nine percent certain that if this show had aired during the Fall, competing with true entertainment like Person of Interest or NCIS, it's ratings would've sucked. But as a result of its "success"--taking a look at IMDb's reviews might say otherwise--it's going to be renewed for a second season.

I'm with others in saying, "I'm done." You can keep your dome, I'm going to go watch American Horror Story.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

More Icing on the White (Cat)astrophe Cake

In case you didn't think things could get worse for White Scat, it turns out that it is worse--and strange!

The former editor of Conjurings, a subzine of White Scat, said this (hope you don't mind, Bart):
I quit in July, just after finishing the TOC for issue one. The owner paid for all of us to take this ridiculous anti-pedophile training. It was strange and offensive all at once; I don't deal with children in any capacity, and I was never expected to. If you're wondering where the money to pay authors went, at least part of it went to giving the junior editors the training they needed not to rape children.


I don't think there are really any words for this except WTF? If you don't know by now, most editors are volunteers, dedicating their time to these magazines because they love short fiction and want to bring about more of it into the world. So to treat these volunteers as though they were potential pedophiles is just--wow. 

But thanks to editor in chief Mr. Moore's unhealthy obsession with anti-pedophilia, contributors don't receive their payments. A real lack of priorities there. No consideration for the editors, or the contributors, or anybody, really.  

I take back the head up the ass comment. The editor in chief needs to check himself into a mental health institution and stay there, permanently.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

White Cat Drowning

In the past, I've made clear my complaints about White Scat Publications, and nothing has changed my opinion. Just some hours ago, I received an email from Dora Badger, which reveals some troubling news about the publication. I'm going to share a sizable chunk of it here since it's already plastered all over Facebook, and the more who know about it, the better.

This email is to inform you that effective immediately, I will no longer be working for WCP/SDP in any capacity and that, to the best of my knowledge, Nightfall Magazine will not be published. 

Here's what I know:

-Payments to authors who contributed to magazines under the WCP umbrella (Blue Shift and Conjurings) have not been made within the contracted time.
-There is no actual plan in place to produce the remaining WCP magazines (Blue Shift & Conjurings #2, Nightfall & Dark Intent #s 1 & 2) currently under contract.
-Some physical copies of Conjurings #1 have gone out to purchasers. Other buyers have been waiting for some time. Physical copies of this magazine do exist and I don't know what is holding up shipment.
-Physical copies of Blue Shift #1 are not going out to people who purchase them. I don't know if physical copies exist.

Here's what I don't know:

-Whether Mr. Moore still plans to pay any White Cat contributors.
-If Mr. Moore has any actual, actionable plan to put out any publications at all over the next 18 months (I do believe he is still planning to produce a cookbook that was slated to be published in December of this year...that is the only item on which I have seen any movement  - except for Alamo Rising, which was effectively finished before things began going downhill - in six weeks).

Here's what I have heard from a very reliable source:

-Mr. Moore was sick for a time, but his illness was neither as long nor as devastating as he led me to believe.
-Mr. Moore and WCP/SDP are in dire financial straits.
-While Mr. Moore hopes to find a way out of this mess, there is no plan in place to do so and no real indication that one will be developed in the foreseeable future.

Please believe that delivering this news isn't easy. It is still possible that Mr. Moore does intend to move forward with Nightfall and with the other magazines, and to fulfill his obligations to pay the contributors. However, over the past several weeks Mr. Moore has completely ignored any requests I have sent for information or assurance. The fact that people who have bought copies of recent publications are not receiving them is extremely troubling to me. There have been other issues as well, which I will not go into here. 

The point is, I no longer have any confidence that WCP can do right by you or that they will provide adequate customer service to readers. Rather than ask you to wait for a year (or more!) while things at WCP are brought back under control, I have made the decision to step down and relay the information that I have to you so if you choose to shop your stories around elsewhere you may do so before markets close for the holidays.

This means my story, "Stone Within," co-written with Rez, won't be published with White Scat. It's a bummer, seeing as I went through quite a few markets to finally find a home for this story, but better that I get it out before the cat has finally drowned. On the brighter side, there have been new dark fiction markets popping up lately, so there's hope I'll be able to place the story in their, hopefully more capable, hands.

I also don't have a whole lot of faith that I'll ever see a penny for my TSW review in Conjurings. Live 'n learn, I guess.

I salute Dora's efforts during this whole fiasco, and for all the crap she probably had to put up with. White Scat wasn't deserving of her.

White Scat: you were a piece of shit publication. May your editor-in-chief get his head out of his ass.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

August W1S1 Update

Yeah, I'm late. Had caught on unfortunate case of summertime cold, and have been stuffing tissues up my nose for the past few days. Cold medicine doesn't seem to work, but then again, it's those gel tablets, and I have to wonder if those are even digestible.

Anyway... What were August's stats?

Stories written: 2 (1,400 weird tea story and a last minute flash piece)
Stories submitted: 26 (including resubs)
Stories accepted: 2
Stories rejected: 28

I knew August was going to be a rejection-heavy month, all the editors coming from their holiday, I guess. I had gotten quite a few personal rejections, and... geez. I'm embarrassed on behalf of these editors and/or their slushreaders. These personal rejections revealed a complete lack of reading comprehension--you know, that skill you learned back in the 3rd grade for book reports. If these rejections were summaries of how well the editor/slushie understood the material, then they would've flunked. Big time.

I don't write complicated stories, steeped in symbolism and metaphor. I'd say they're pretty straight-forward. So it's mind-boggling that editor/slushie's could get them so wrong. Like bang your head against the wall till it leaves a bloody spot wrong.

Anyone else scared for the state of literacy?

It's not enough just to read. You have to consume the material, chew it several times, ponder about what you just chewed, and spit it back out. It's not a difficult process, and should come automatic while you're reading, but obviously very few do it. It's more like they take a lick of the story, and decide if it tastes funny or not.

On the positive side, had some acceptances--one of which is already up at Indian SF. I know the concept behind Birth of a Witch has been done many, many times before--two separate editors told me so--but, this was the 3rd story I had written, and I felt it had some merit, even if the material wasn't new. As they say: there are no new stories, just new ways to execute them.

Also published was Great Find (4th story down) over at Perihelion. Kind of annoying that there isn't a direct link, but hopefully you don't mind scrolling.

Enjoy!--and good luck with writing, avoiding the cold/flu/whatever malady the news has hyped up this year.