Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Movie List

I've been watching Cinemassacre's Monster Madness of late, and reminded of how many awesome horror movies are out there, the majority I haven't even seen.

PC game: The Cat Lady

Here's my pick of movies that I hope to watch before the month is over. Though no shame if the movie-watching spilleth over into November. And the best thing? All these movies are available on Netflix!

From Beyond - From the same director as Re-Animator--which I've seen, so I already know this is going to be a gory masterpiece. Also another loose adaptation of Lovecraft's work.

Brain Damage - Drugs addiction, parasitic turd-looking worm alien, and nom-nom brains--what's not to love?

Rodger Cormen's Poe films - I've seen many of these before as a youngster and loved them all. Then I'd go read the original stories to compare and contrast. Also you don't need a better reason than Vincent Price.

The Body Snatcher - Title says it all. Another film with an iconic horror star Boris Karloff (aka Universal's Frankenstein).

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - Obviously a classic. Boyfriend hasn't seen it--this needs to be corrected.

Nightbreed - Meant to watch this last year for Halloween but never got to it. I enjoyed Clive Barker's Hellraiser, and even listened to the audio version (as told by Barker himself) of the novella it's based on, The Hellbound Heart.  

The Cat Lady - This isn't a movie, but rather a point 'n click adventure game, which are very story-driven, so might as well be a movie (sic). I had downloaded this some summer ago when it was on sale and kinda forgot. The premise: A lonely cat lady commits suicide and in the afterlife, meets the Queen of Maggots. The Cat Lady is denied an end to her suffering unless she eliminate several "parasites" in the living in world.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages

Seeing as it's Spooky Month--or at least ten more days of it--why not get in the Halloween spirit with a classic documentary? And by classic, I mean 1921, black and white silent film, Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages.

I enjoy documentaries and this one in particular is neat, partly do to its age, but also some great imagery. It's definitely not your typical documentary--think of it as more of a prototype.

The documentary starts off with informative bits, setting up the time and place when witchcraft was widely believed to be real. I'm not sure how historically accurate this part are, but the director does cite his sources, although I don't know if you can find those sources anymore. There's still images straight from books to help illustrate the information. This part feels more like a lecture, even has a pointer!

Next parts are the best, with live action skits reliving the Dark Ages and the supernatural beliefs that existed back then. Often the belief in the supernatural was enough to make it real, with poeple claiming to have seen the devil. Oh, and the devil in this, played by the director, is awesome, always wagging his forked-tongue. One of my favorite depictions. Seemed like the director had a hell of a time playing the devil.

The Black Sabbath scenes are great too. Phantom witches flying through the air, devils cuddling with their witch-mates, kissing the ass of Satan, throwing rubber babies into cauldrons, spreading ointment on a witch's back while the skeleton of a horse walks past, and a devil furiously churning butter. It's pure awesomeness. 

Despite the fun, there is a serious tone. An old beggar woman is accused of witchcraft and is totured until she confesses to what the Inquisition wants to hear. The old beggar woman goes on to blame others of witchcraft, and it just snowballs from there.The old and poor were often targeted, likely because they were easy scapegoats.

The final segment links witchcraft to modern day (aka 1921); odd behaviors that were considered signs of witchcraft, now are symptoms of mental illness. Though back in that day, they committed people to asylums, which may not have been much better than torture.

The director poses some interesting questions at the end, how despite taking better care of the old and poor, and better notice of the mentally ill, society still hasn't done enough.

And the little woman whom we call hysterical, alone and unhappy, isn't she still a riddle for us? 

Sadly, I think even in today's society, she would still be a riddle for us.

Check it out. it's free on Youtube. I recommend the silent version over the narrated one, due to the narrated version adding jazz music, which is extremely inappropriate when there are scenes of torture. And honestly, it's not that much to read.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

BEYOND: A Space Opera Collection

Do you like space? Do you like opera? Do you like the two combined? Well you're in luck! Speculative fictioneer Milo James Fowler has rounded up some awesome space opera tales in BEYOND: Space Opera.

In the vein of Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and Guardians of the Galaxy, this space opera collection includes humorous action and adventure alongside stories with heart. These tales won’t leave you in the pits of despair. Instead, they’ll lift your spirits, taking you to places unknown.

You’ll travel the stars to far-flung planets, meeting heroic humans and aliens alike — even a mech and a clone. There may be lions and jet packs, to boot. No pigs in this space, but otherwise, all bets are off.

Included in this collection:

"Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the Kolarii Kidnappers on Zeta Colony 6" Milo James Fowler
"The Ungreat Escape" by Siobhan Gallagher 
"All Comms Down" by Anne E. Johnson 
"Remembrance Day" by Simon Kewin 
"The Lion's Den" by Devin Miller
"Captain Clone" by Deborah Walker

BEYOND: Space Opera is available from Amazon, Smashword, and Barnes & Noble for free! And if you like the feel of paper between your fingers, there's a print edition too! 

If you want to know more, BEYOND: Space Opera has its own website to check out.

Advertising aside, I'm glad to see "The Ungreat Escape" out there again. I was disappointed when Cosmos removed all their short stories from their website, and considering that I didn't have an easy time placing this story... well, yeah, it's nice to see some appreciation for it. As I've said before, I like Lorelei--she's a twit, but she's my twit.

I also said I'd write an eventual sequel ... which never materialized. Humor is such a hard sell, to the point where it's near impossible. And it sucks. As a writer, you want to write more humor, but you also want to sell stories.

Though the future is bright, even if the short story market is not, so maybe they'll yet be another Lorelei misadventure.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Short Story: Froggers

Again, I'm behind on announcing short story pubs. I do absolutely want to announce this one since the editor, Sam Bellotto Jr., is an awesome dude and probably deserves more credit than the likes of Lois Tilton give him. (She wants Hard Stuff, huh? I get ya. *wink wink*)

"Froggers" is my latest story from Perihelion Science Fiction, and is actually one of my oldest stories too; as in, it's seen A LOT of rejections. Despite what some silly editor said, thinking this was about current events, it's not. This pre-dates current events by a few years. Though I do have this crystal ball...

What are Froggers? So glad you asked...

And step up they did. One frogger—maybe male, but then again, they all looked the same—faced me on the terminal, its beady obsidian eyes on either side of its head stared at me. Always gave me the shivers. The scanner materialized a 3D form of the frogger’s body: bipedal humanoid with massive gut, thick neck, and wide flat head. The scan revealed active cultures churning in the frogger’s bowels, crawling on its slick skin. Froggers were best buds with these microorganisms, couldn’t live without them. Just watching those yellow dots dance all over the 3D form made me want to toss up lunch. 

So we follow cynical Joen as his day only gets worse--snot rockets, anyone? Eck! Then from worse to weird.

Funny thing: this story, like Neither Heaven Nor Hell, was originally written in 3rd-person, but once again, an editor of another magazine didn't "get" my 3rd-person style (which is written very close to the character's perspective) and asked for a change. That editor of course never got back to me. Go figure.

In other news, "The Ungreat Escape" will be in Milo James Fowler's upcoming space opera collection, called BEYOND. More about that on its release date of August 15th!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

You're a Writer, Not a Funder, Goddammit!

Okay, rant time. (Oh c'mon, don't groan like that.)

I saw a post that read:

Hey, short story fans. (snip) has announced that they have until Wednesday to raise the funds needed to keep publishing for another year. As folks who write and submit short stories, we all have a vested interest in helping keep good markets who pay writers fair prices (12.5c per word) afloat. If you've ever thought of submitting to them or enjoyed any of the stories they post for free online, now's a good time to show your support and subscribe to the next issue or donate via the link above. [/soapbox]

There's a lot wrong here. First off, it is not--I repeat NOT--the job of writers to help keep these online zines afloat. The job of the writer is to, well, write.

Secondly, if a magazine isn't making the moolah to keep the lights on, that means one thing and one thing only: no one is reading them.

And if no one is reading them, why would you, the writer, want to fund them so that they can continue to not be read?

This is all so backassward. Did you know there was a time when magazines paid writers, and not the other way around? It's true!

I think we just need to face the music and admit that the short story market is degrading at a rapid rate, because again, no one is reading these magazines--and yes, there are more than a few who have repeatedly asked for funds, not to mention all the anthologies with Kickstarters. If people were reading these magazines, the magazines wouldn't be asking for money. And don't say it's because the magazine offers their stuff for free, and readers today are cheap bastards. People pay for what they like, that's what makes things like Patreon feasible. Frex, that's what makes businesses blossom or fall: if people like your product, they'll pay for it, even if it's outrageously overpriced, like Starbucks' coffee.

Now that's not to say writers can't fund if they really enjoy the magazine. But don't do it if you just want another magazine to submit to. I still think the whole thing is off, much like paying magazines for personal critiques of your story, or paying to get atop of the submission pile. Better to let the magazine die, as it's nature's way of saying that what they publish isn't worth reading in the first place.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


*dusts off blog*

Wow, it's been awhile, huh? So on top of moving to LA, we also got two rat terrier brothers from Clearbrook Kennel. They turned 13 weeks old on the 4th of July, and they've been a joy, though A LOT of work, particularly in the potty training area. Their names are Django (yes, from Django Unchained) and Arkham (because boyfriend loves Lovecraft). Django is the one with pointy Batman ears, and Arkham has the white snout and huge puppy eyes.

Earlier pic, prolly 12 weeks old.
Yep, he insists on chewing his bone on top of the shoes.
Anyone order a box of cuteness? (9-10 weeks old)

I wanna say they're mostly housebroken, but they do have their accidents. Django in particular because he's stubborn as all hell; he doesn't like to listen. Arkham's a good boy, much more people-oriented; he listens and communicates by looking at you, looking at the door, then looking at you again, and whining. Arkahm is also the vocal one; besides whining, he can howl--not in a wolf way, just a cute lil' high-pitched howl. He also has a cheerful growly-bark which we've interpreted as his "Let's play!" bark. Both pups have a bit of guard dog in them and will notify us if the paper towels are in the wrong place, or if a bottle has fallen down. My favorite one is when they warned me about the watermelon I had purchased.

Hopefully I'll do some more blogging this month, assuming the puppies will let me.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


 Due to boyfriend's new job, I recently moved to Los Angeles (or as I like to call it, the Forever City) and we're still adjusting to the place. As you can imagine, LA is vastly different to south Texas. Currently, writing is on hiatus. I'm also behind on a bit of publication news.

A couple things I've learned since being in LA:

If you see an apartment you like and it's a decent price--jump on it! We found this out the hard way when a missed out on a nice roomy apartment that didn't cost too much more than the usual one-bedroom apartment, plus it was in a very nice area.

Walk to work. Because traffic is a bitch here.

Nice weather but... Don't forget the sunscreen! You kind of forget that and wind up spending most of the day outside, only to return looking red (or in boyfriend's case, browner). 

Is that clouds or smog in the sky? I figure it's a bit of each.

People--everywhere!!!! I still miss the open deserts of Tucson. LA does feel very much like Phoenix, though I think Phoenix was cleaner.

LA hates dogs. Okay, so maybe not hate, but it's assumed that everyone is a bad dog owner and must be regulated. This means spay/neutering a dog at four months old. (That's just a puppy!) My friend Rez, who has over 40 years in dog breeding experience, says it's better to wait two years before snipping your ole boy; best is to never do it at all, but that means having to enter your pooch in dog shows/competitions. There's also a lot of pit bull hate (most apartments will not allow you to have one), even though pit bulls are very people-friendly dogs.

The Church of Whole Foods. Gluten-free, GMO-free, chemical-free... the list goes on. Fact is, if it's grown, it's organic. We haven't reached the age of synthesized foods yet. The belief that GMO-free foods are better is just that, a belief. Bill Nye did a pretty good piece on GMO foods (and how they are not the evil of evils). I highly recommend watching it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


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 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 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 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.