Category Archives: erotica

Writing: 2015’s Year in Review

I’m a bit late with this, so imagine where I’m going to be with my taxes this year. I’m recapping last year’s writing accomplishments. I managed to complete a novel that’s taken far too many years and it’s off making the rounds.

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From left to right: Burning Maiden, nEvermore! Tales of Murder, Mystery and the Macabre, Playground of Lost Toys, Second Contacts, New Canadian Noir, (front) On Spec Summer, Best of Horror Library, Imaginarium: Best of Canadian Speculative Fiction, and Blood in the Rain

Last year was very busy. How busy? What do all the books in the picture above have in common? Why, I’m in them all. The biggest project was Playground of Lost Toys and I’m pleased to say that Ursula Pflug and I (co-editors) are nominated for an Aurora Award in Best Related Works for the anthology, published by Exile Editions.The books to the left and right are nEvermore! Tales of Murder, Mystery and the Macabre, and Second Contacts are also nominated. My story “Asylum” is in the first and “Scar Tissue,” written with Rhea Rose in the second.

Burning Maiden Vol. 2 published three of my poems, “As I Sleep,” “Medusa” and “Tea Party,” and On Spec published my poem “The Hedge Witch” along with an interview of me, which actually came out in January though it says summer 2015. Those weren’t the only poems: “Visitation: Leda’s Lament” was in the HWA Poetry Showcase, “the moon: Fever Dream” was in Pantheon magazines Nyx issue, “Morrigan’s Song” was in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #24, “Persephone Dreams: Awakening” was in Eternal Haunted Summer’s summer issue, and “I Dreamed A World” was published at Polu Texni. This last poem is also nominated for a Rhysling Award (SF Poetry Association) in the long form category. (Clicking on any story or poem title will take you to the actual piece.)

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Playground of Lost Toys is available through Amazon published by Exile Writers

 

Other stories included three reprints: “The Book With No End” (which made it to the Stoker award longlist in 2014) was reprinted in CZP’s Imaginarium 2014: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. And “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” (honorable mention in the Year’s Best Horror) was republished in Best of Horror Library I-V. In Blood in the Rain, a collection of erotic vampire fiction, my story “Hold Back the Night” was reprinted. This story had also been shortlisted for several awards and received two honorable mentions in the Year’s Best anthologies.

A couple of online stories appeared in Black Treacle with “Shaping Destiny,” and “Symbiosis” in the Scottish Shoreline of Infinity #1. “Pears and Swine” an erotic noir story appeared in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir.

So, yes, it was a very busy year. On top of that I wrote 33 new poems for a collection contest, only to find the publisher had been sucked into a vortex and disappeared. Now I’m shopping that around as well.

This year has started out busy and successful and I have several more projects brewing but I’ll save these for another post.

 

 

 

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Writing Update and Free Book Giveaway

More news on the writing front, which has kept me seriously busy.

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Dance of the Minotaur, by T.C. Calligari

So, in reverse order: I write different types of fiction and have some late summer sizzlers now available. Until Thursday you can get a free download of two books on Amazon.com. That’s right! Absolutely free. They are Crossing the Line: Four Sultry Tales of Submission and Dance of the Minotaur. The second is historically set. Yes, these are erotic tales, so be forewarned. Go ahead and download them (click on any underlined title), spread the word, and if you are so inclined, please leave a review. The kindle app can be downloaded to your computer and you can read them that way if you have to reader device.

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Pantheon Magazine’s Nyx issue

New out in the last few months: “the moon: Fever Dream” has just come out in PantheonMagazine’s Nyx issue. Also available on Amazon. “Scar Tissue,” written with Rhea Rose, is coming out in Second Contacts from Bundoran Press and should be on the shelves soon. Another free to read poem is “Persephone Dreams: Awakening” in Eternal Haunted Summer’s Summer Solstice issue.

There are alas, some long delayed works that I’m still waiting to see from Nameless, Burning Maiden, Our World of Horror and OnSpec. I’m hoping those will all come out this year. Other recent works include “Asylum” in nEvermore: Tales of Mystery, Murder and the Macabre, based on stories from Edgar Allan Poe. It’s available on Amazon as an ebook and pre-order for paper, due Oct. 1. The Best of Horror Library Volumes 1-5 includes “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha,” which received an honorable mention in the Year’s Best Horror is doing very well and currently #1 on Amazon in hot new releases.

Yet to come and recent sales include selling “Hold Back the Night” to Blood in the Rain. This is a vampire anthology and my story is a reprint first published in Open Space. It was shortlisted for several awards and received honorable mentions in the Year’s Best anthologies of SF and of Fantasy. I’m pleased it’s going to appear again. I’ve also sold “Buffalo Gals” to Clockwork Canada. Edited by Dominik Parisien, this collection of Canadian tales will look at alternate histories where steampunk redefines the face of Canada. I believe both of these tales will come out last year.

The Playground of Lost Toys has been completed by Ursula Pflug and I. It’s an anthology due out from Exile Editions this November and contains 22 tales about toys and games. They range from humorous to darkly disturbing and from fantasy to SF to horror. I think it’s a good collection that explores toys, games, childhood, nostalgia, loss, love and many other things very well. On top of that I completed my synopses for books 2 & 3 and have sent the whole kaboodle to an agent. I’m trying not to bite my nails. And last, but not least, I’ve written 33 new poems for a poetry book competition. They just need a few more tweaks and I’ll be submitting it.

This is why I haven’t been posting very often. I’ve just been far too busy of late. In October I’m going to the Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat in Colorado. This is the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s The Shining. I plan to start a new novel that will take place in the world of my Evolve story “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” but a few centuries before. I’m hoping I can post a bit more often, so stay tuned for more writing news and just other pieces about stuff. 🙂

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Writing Update

Okay, someone is sucking time away. I haven’t posted for a while for several reasons. I went to Spain in April and there will be pictures about that eventually but I’m also co-editing The Playground of Lost Toys with Ursula Pflug. Submissions closed on April 30 and we had 150 in all. We’re down to our last 30 subs and there will be between 16-25 stories in the final selection. Right now, we probably will have to cut four more stories from our yes list, but we’re rereading, editing the stories, weighing SF to fantasy, as well as types of toys/games. That’s taking up all of my time beyond my day job. Oh how I wish I could just edit and write all the time.

Top Pet Peeves on Submissions:

  1. Not following submission format. Some stories came without author names, addresses, word count (super annoying) and not double spaced. Editors ask for this for a reason. The next anthology I edit will have a very strict rule on this. You don’t follow–I don’t read, and reject.
  2. Sending a story that had no speculative element in it. If you don’t know what this means, google it. We even said fantasy, SF, horror, magic realism, etc. Really, people, (and some of you know better) did you think we’d just ignore this because your story was awesome?
  3. Sending a story that didn’t have a toy or a game. As above we had specific guidelines that said this must be integral to the story. A wide interpretation was allowed but some people took it down to a thin thread.
  4. Not proofreading stories. I’ll allow some grammatical issues, especially in newer writers who are still learning their craft, but everyone can run a spellcheck. Rereading your piece helps, and it can save aggravating your editors. 🙂
  5. Both too many stories of stuffies and dolls, when there are worlds of possibility. We were worried at first that people were just not using their imagination to think beyond the box. There were some very good stuffy and doll stories; and there may be one or two in the anthology, but remember this whenever you’re submitting to any themed anthology: there are popular tropes and you have a better chance if you go for something unique.

Besides the editing for the anthology, I had a rewrite to do, and planned to get my novel manuscript off to an agent before I left for Spain. I did that! But! Turns out the agent wants old school, which means printing the massive tome (folks, make sure you use proper manuscript format if you ever submit to an editor or an agent). But the agent also wanted an outline for books 2 & 3. When I emailed everything I was told, that they should be synopses, not outlines. So…I still have to do that. When I’m done editing. I’m also working on 50 new poems by September. I have the roughs but next will be researching and refining, after the editing, after the synopses.

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Walter Crane

Now, I do have a few things that have come out recently or are due up in the next couple of weeks. You can read my poems “I Dreamed a World” up at Polu Texni, and “Morrigan’s Song” up at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. Both are free to read. The story “Shaping Destiny” is available at Black Treacle and there is a free Smashwords version. The site should also have it in the next couple of weeks. And out of Scotland is the new ezine, Shoreline of InfinityMy flash fiction piece “Symbiosis” will also be up by June. You’ll have to pay for this one but you will get other stories as well.

Recent stories that have been published are my erotic noir story “Pearls and Swine” in New Canadian Noir, available through Exile Editions, and “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” republished in The Best of Horror Library, Vol. 1-5. This story originally received an honorable mention in the Year’s Best Horror, and I was recently contacted by an agent. But I have no horror novels, so guess what is on my list as well?

There are other poems and stories coming out later this year but for now, this is my holdover until I can blog about more.

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Publishing News

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Issue #71, only the third all-fiction issue in 25 years.

Okay, this is really sad, and I’m not talking about all the annoying changes WordPress is making. I’m talking about tooting my own horn. Sigh.  The following paragraphs in italics are what I started writing 8 months ago. Good God!

I’ve been so remiss on my updates here that I’ve neglected to mention the pieces that have come out this year and that I’ve sold. In May, “The Collector” came out in Cemetery Dance magazine. From submission to publication, this story took 6 years. That’s a record but it was worth the wait.

Last fall, “Gingerbread People” was published by EDGE Publishing in Chilling Tales 2: In Words Alas Drown I. Unfortunately many magazines and anthologies never get reviewed but there is a short one up at Bitten by Books and Tangent. However, be forewarned that Tangent reviews tend to give summations of the stories as well.

So, continuing on from there, just a note that “The Collector” is eligible for a Nebula, Hugo or World Fantasy nomination. Not that that will happen much as I’m still a fairly unknown pea in a pod. I actually had very little published last year. It sometimes happens like that, with sales happening one year and the publication in the next. I did also sell the poem “Family Tree” to They have to Take You in, a book published in Ontario and edited by Ursula Pflug.

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Imaginarium: Best of Canadian Spec Writing

Now, for this year, there is a ton of news! “The Book With No End,” first published in Bibliotheca Fantastica, was reprinted in the current Imaginarium 3: The Best of Canadian Speculative Writing, from CZP. It came out in February, and this month “Pearls and Swine” came out in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, editied by David Nickle and Claude Lalumière. Polu Texni has also published another one of my poems, “I Dreamed a World,”  which is up and can be read for free.

Later this month (I hope) Burning Maiden will be published and I’ll be the feature poet with three poems. It’s from Evil Eye Press. “Sins of the Father” was sold to Our World of Horror, (Eldritch Press) and “Symbiosis” to Shoreline of Infinity, a new online mag out of Scotland. And “Our Lady of Redemption” should be out in Nameless Magazine sometime soon. There are also a couple of articles on monsters.

Rhea Rose and I sold “Scar Tissue” to Bundoran Press’s Second Contact anthology, about aliens after the initial introduction. “The Hedge Witch” will be published in OnSpec this summer and there are rumors of an interview. And “Persephone Dreams” will be published this summer in the online magazine Eternal Haunted Summer. Also, Horror Library is being resurrected and “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha,” which received an honorable mention in the Year’s Best, will be reprinted in The Best of Horror Library, sometime later this year. There is one other story sold to a dark fiction anthology but more on that later when I’m allowed to mention it. 🙂

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Cover for the Exile Noir book. Available now and a collection of all noir genres.

So yes, I’ve been rather busy. And I’m co-editing The Playground of Lost Toys as mentioned a couple of posts ago. On top of that, I’m trying to write 50 new and dark poems by Sept. That’s a lot so I am working on them now. I’m about to send a manuscript and outlines off to an agent to see what will happen there. And in the meantime I’m also working on a few stories. I’ll be taking a good old fashioned blank book with me to Spain to do some old fashioned writing, as well as a tablet. It will be a vacation but writing will be involved.

I’m off to my best year for published works so I’ll see what the rest of the year brings.

 

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Women in Horror: Liz Strange

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Liz Strange likes to explore the vampire myth.

February is Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization. Its purpose is to highlight women who are under-represented in the artistic field. Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Liz Strange.  What a great name for writing speculative fiction, don’t you think? Liz has published the following novels: Love Eternal, A Second Chance at Forever, and Born of Blood and Retribution (The Dark Kiss Trilogy), a paranormal/horror series. She also has the following short stories: “Night of Stolen Dreams” (Bonded By Blood II: A Romance in Red), “The Memory Thief” (Unspeakable), and forthcoming,  “Riel’s Last Stand” (Dark  Harvest). www.twitter.com/LizStrangeVamp

1. Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I am fascinated with world mythology, folklore, urban legends, all of it, and the idea that all people contain some level of “darkness.” The medium can be sensational and even exploitative, but it can also be a beautiful, gut-wrenching metaphor about human nature, fate, and triumph. In particular I am drawn to the vampire legend, in its many guises throughout history and cultural presentations.

I also write in fantasy and mystery genres, with a dash of romance/eroticism, but I find that all my works have a darker edge to them. I enjoy the freedom to let my mind take the story where it will, and to push the envelope a bit, make people react and think.

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

2. What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I like to explore what it is that draws people to darkness, madness and violence, what are the triggers that make people step over the line. I think there is a “breaking point” in all of us, it just takes the right circumstances or even just the right combinations of personalities to bring our hidden monsters to  light.

I’m also interested in the shared fascination with dying, death, the afterlife and the chance of immortality. Folklore and religion have delved into and speculated about this since the dawn of humanity.

3. Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I do feel it’s an important genre, and one that is often overlooked and/or de-valued over other genres, as though horror writers are somehow less talented or legitimate. I think it gives writers the opportunity to get right to the core of what makes us human, or inhuman as the case may be. There is an opportunity to delve into our baser instincts: fear, lust, rage.

Authors that have inspires me are: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Slade, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson and many others!

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Born of Blood and Retribution, by Liz Strange

4. Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance).

Like many of the creative/artistic mediums I do feel woman are under-represented. Whether the focus is on men, or simply that not as many woman write/work in darker genres I can’t say, but suspect it’s a bit of both. Maybe it’s a bit of a hold on the traditional view that women are the “fairer sex,” and therefore not of the capacity to write stories to scare, repulse, and titillate?

I also dabble in screenwriting and see an even bigger discrepancy there.

5. Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

I would like to see women own their place in society, be proud and true to themselves. Don’t accept second-class status, or abuse, speak up for yourself.

And most importantly, never be afraid to try.

6. Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I’d just like to say thank-you for including me in such great company, and for taking the time to highlight the many wonderful, talented Canadian ladies we have writing in the horror genre.

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Writing Year in Review

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Creative Commons: Drew Coffman, Flickr.

Well, it’s time to reflect on my year before I run off for the New Year’s celebrations. I did start the year with the three-month Apocalypse Diet, which I blogged about. It was an interesting experiment and I didn’t have to eat brains or truly battle zombies.

This year I was determined to write more and send out more. I can say I had a record year for submissions and rejections, and maybe even for acceptances. In some ways I call this my bridesmaid year, as in always a bridesmaid, never a bride. I think I had a record number of stories held for final selection or shortlisted, but in the end did not make the cut. In some ways this is more painful, yet encouraging. So that this is not hyperbole I’ll give a list of those places where my stories and poems were held past the first reading:

  • Writers of the Future honorable mention for Monstrous Aberrations
  • Friends of Merril fiction contest (one of ten shortlisted) for The Ties That Bind
  • Aurora Award nominee (poetry) A Good Catch
  • Punchnell’s (literary fiction)
  • Pedestal Magazine (poetry)
  • New Quarterly (poetry & literary fiction)
  • Gulf Coast (poetry)
  • Tesseracts 16 (fiction)
  • Whitefish Review (poetry)
  • Stupefying Stories (fiction)
  • Dark Faith 2 (fiction)
  • Penumbra–Dreams issue (fiction)
  • Scape (fiction)
  • Plasma Frequency (fiction)
  • Abyss & Apex (fiction)
  • Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (fiction)
  • Horror World anthology (fiction)

But…it was also a year for acceptances and works published, though in the end I’ll see most of these out next year. The first four were published and the rest are out next year I hope.

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Embers Amongst the Fallen available through Smashwords

  • Mermaid (poem) in Polu Texni
  • Legend (poem) in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
  • Queen of Heaven an Earth (poem) in Eternal Haunted Summer
  • The Brown Woman (fiction) in Over the Brink from Third Flatiron Publishing
  • Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood (fiction) in Deep Cuts
  • The Highest Price (fiction) in Heathen Oracle: Artifacts and Relics
  • P is for Phartouche: The Blade (fiction) in Demonologica Biblica (Britain)
  • The Book With No End (fiction) in Bibliotheca Fantastica
  • Gingerbread People (fiction) in Chilling Tales 2
  • Lady of the Bleeding Heart (fiction) in Fantastic Frontiers 2
  • Tower of Strength (fiction) in Irony of Survival, Zharmae Publishing
  • Visitation (poem) in Bull Spec (I hope next year…it’s been 2 years now)

My goal was to get at least 12 items accepted and while Visitation was accepted previously, as was Gingerbread People I believe, I think I ha a pretty good year of near acceptances. While it’s disappointing on one side it means my writing is getting closer. I’ve also identified one of my issues. I put in too much backstory up front and now that I know this, I can try to chop frugally.

Carolyn Clink and I edited and chose some fine poems for Chizine. I also drove out to Calgary and attended theconvention When Words Collide, where I read a bit of fiction an poetry, and was asked by Brian Hades to co-edit Tesseracts 17 with Steve Vernon. We’re working our way through many stories right now.

Steve Vernon, Tesseracts 17, Canadian fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, SF

Nova Scotian Steve Vernon will be co-editing Tesseract 17, a collection of Canadian speculative fiction.

I also flew to Toronto and did a poetry reading at the Art Bar Poetry Reading Series and thank them for inviting me. I attended the Specfic Colloquium and World Fantasy Con. I met some new writers and had a blast visiting old friends Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory of Chizine Publications an getting to know some new people. Another project started to germinate there but I can’t mention it yet until we have more details to make sure it’s happening.

I almost forgot but I also self-published a collection of my reprint stories, Embers Amongst the Fallen. It is available through smashwords and Amazon.com. I also put up two erotic stories under T.C. Calligari. I plan to put up the rest of them in the new year and get a bit more speculative fiction up. Should you have read a copy, please leave a review on those sites as well as Goodreads.

As well, I hosted a specfic cocktail party for writers an it was a success. I’m trying to build community here in

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Not hard to guess what this one is about.

Vancouver and I’ll be hosting another one at the end of January or early February. I’m also looking for the right venue to see if we can spring the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, which happens monthly in Toronto. We’re hoping to launch it in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver in April so I’m looking for the right type of bar for a Wednesday evening.

I and continued to write and read. For my holidays (ending tomorrow, alas) I decided to catch up on Tesseracts reading, but also get working on that novel I’ve been working on for ten years. Yes, ten years! I watched all of Game of Thrones seasons one and two to inspire me and then hunkered down. By tomorrow I will have completed the story arc for one of three viewpoint characters, and I’ll have half of my chapters written. This is good considering how slow it’s been up until now. I have a deadline of April to finish the first draft and hopefully the rewrite. Then it’s off to the agent and editor who expressed interest nearly two years ago. Yes, I’m stupid.

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When it comes to writing and reading, just do it! Creative Commons: Eric Guiomar

Doing this review helps when I begin to think of all those rejections I’ve received, and that the stories that were shortlisted or received honorable mentions won’t sell anywhere, or that what I consider are my best three-four stories also won’t sell. But then, some of my stories, that I thought were good have taken ten years to sell. There is hope and maybe I’ll look at those four again and see if there is too much up front for all of them.

The main thing is to persevere and not get depressed. I’ve wanted to edit an anthology for a long time and now I’m doing it. I’m hitting some of my goals and therefore are setting new ones. To all of you who write, edit or read, continue doing so. Support writers and buy books and magazines. Give your input, give your reviews. We all need each other. So have a great new year. May it be productive and fulfilling and may all your endeavors bring you success.

Happy New Year! Creative commons: Flickr Champagne Toast

Happy New Year! Creative commons: Flickr Champagne Toast

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When Words Collide Writing Convention

 

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Chizine’s table at the room party.

When Words Collide is a writing convention in Calgary, Alberta, organized by Randy McCharles and a host of helpers. This was its second year in the making and it’s growing too big for the Best Western it was held at. There were a host of panels and a moderate sized dealers room for various publishers to sell their wares. While there was a heavy accent on the speculative in the panels there were also mystery and romance panels. The romance writers had their own party and IFWA (Imaginative Fiction Writers Association) of Calgary was present.

There are cons that are professional track and some that have fan tracks. WWC is a professional track, with some readings, panels about writing and publishing and parties held by publishers. I combined a trip to Alberta to visit family and friends, and to meet some of the writers I knew through email but had not met in person. I could spend time with friends, participate in writing related fun, and yes, the Aurora Awards were held at this event.

I’m actually a bad convention goer. I go to conventions and talk and drink with

Brett Savory, writer, publsher, CZP, Chizine, When Words Collide, writing conventions

Brett Savory, writer, and publisher of CZP at one of the happy room parties.

people, visit the parties and maybe get to a panel or two. This time I was on a good size of panels so felt less inclined to go to other ones. I had intentions of going to a reading or sitting in on a panel discussion but I only made to part of one reading. I did do a combined reading with Bob Stallworthy who read some really excellent poetry, and Susan Forest, who read part of a story that is up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She was also up for a short story Aurora. I read two poems and part of a story, and not too good a reading since I was a little foggy from the parties the night before.

I also did a  live-action slush reading which involved people handing in the first page of a story. Guest of honor Jack Whyte would read the page in his lovely deep, accented baritone. When we as editors would have stopped reading a submission we put up our hands and said why. In truth I have a habit of trying to read through a full submission because sometimes a writer will hit their stride after a while and just needs some editing. The writing might be sucky but they idea might be great and it might be worth salvaging. The panel also had Susan Mac Gregor and Hayden Trenholm.

wriiter, When Words Collide, editor, Susan MacGregor

Writer and editor, Susan MacGregor

The panel I sat on about poetry and how not to make it boring turned out way better than I thought it would. Poetry has a bad rep of being inaccessible. Sandra Kasturi is a great moderator and there were enough people in the audience so it went well with input from the audience and the panel. The panelists meshed well and the audience seemed interested.

The last panel was on sex in fiction; should you put it in, how much when. We had a publisher of erotic fiction, a writer who writes young adult fiction, another who writes male to male erotica and I write short mostly hetero erotica. Many points were covered but I don’t think the panel flowed as well as the poetry panel. It felt a bit like we were trying to get across individual crusades as opposed to looking at how erotic and explicit scenes can be fit in all types of fiction if warranted. Still, the panel was intelligent and well-versed so the audience got their money’s worth. This panel was set against the publisher parties, but didn’t harm it too much.

The parties and the liquids were plentiful, and Bundoran, Tyche, Edge and ChiZine were some

Aurora Awards, nominee, Derryl Murphy, writer, writing convention

Derryl Murphy was one of the nominees in the Aurora novel category.

of the publishers throwing parties. Jack Whyte had to leave early Saturday morning due to an emergency but he was the hub of a scotch party, which involved four bottles of scotch and a lot of pretty interesting talk about sex and writing and all sorts of things. There wasn’t a drop left by the end of the night but there were a few green faces in the morning.

In all the convention was very enjoyable and I met many authors who I had only chatted with

Aurora Awards, writing convention, When Words Collide

The Aurora Awards were presented at the convention and the list can be found on their website.

in the past. This is a great convention for the new or established writer, and for fans who want to take in a few readings and the parties. Next year’s convention will be August 9-11, in Calgary.

The Aurora Awards ceremony was held Saturday night after the banquet. The list of winners can be found on the site. While I was nominated in poetry I didn’t win, but Helen Marshall won for Skeleton Leaves. Her poetry is excellent and anyone should pick up this gem published by Kelp Queen Press. It was worthy of winning.  Oh, and Randy McCharles won for his organization of the When Words Collide in 2011.

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News in the Summer

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A collection of previously published speculative fiction, available through Smashwords and soon through Amazon.

Okay, it’s been a very busy couple of weeks. I was working hard to get my book up on Smashwords, and Embers Amongst the Fallen is available now there. It turns out that Smashwords, while they say they put it up on Amazon, doesn’t really because Amazon won’t accept from Smashwords. So I next have that to do.

I also put up two previously published erotic stories, under my pen name, T.C. Calligari. Those are all available now but will soon be up on Amazon. I’m still hoping to have my end of the month goal of the print edition of Embers.  I have other writing news, some that I can reveal and some that is in the works.

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Obvious what this one is about.

Imaginarium: the best Canadian speculative writing has come out through ChiZine Publications and is edited by Sandra Kasturi and Halli Vallegas. Any one who has had published speculative pieces for 2012 can submit to the next one, as long as you’re Canadian, living in Canada or expat Canadian. None of my pieces placed in it but I did received two honorable mentions fro poems:

  • Anderson, Colleen. “Darkside,” ChiZine.com, April 2011
  • Anderson, Colleen. “Shadow Realms,” Witches & Pagans #23

I did sell another poem to Polu Texni.It’s a villanelle titled “Mermaid” and I don’t know yet when it will be up on the site. As well, just before I left for holidays (hence the big lag in posts) I found out I had sold my flash fiction piece “Lady of the Bleeding Heart” to Fantastic Frontiers for their second issue. Their first issue will be coming soon.

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Through Dagan Books, available soon.

I’m still waiting for another poem to go up at Bull Spec. Better ask them again as it’s been a year. And I think Bibliotheca Fantastica is coming out soon with my story “The Book with No End.” I’m negotiating a contract for a story right now and if we can agree on that contract I will be able to announce that information soon. As well, I will be editing an anthology and I’m just waiting for the moment to announce that, when the publisher gives the go. More details by September. So, yes, it’s been very busy in the writing front, and I’m certainly not done. Rewriting a story, working on several others and of course trying to get more works up on Smashwords in the near future.

The posts were on hold for the last two weeks because I drove from Vancouver to Calgary to visit family, friends and to go to the When Words Collide writing convention. The Aurora Awards were also being presented and I was a nominee in the poetry category. I did not win but Helen Marshall did for Skeleton Leaves and it was well deserved. If you can, go get a copy of this lovely book that is a poem that is a story.

When Words Collide was great fun. Held at the Best Western in NW Calgary, it wasn’t all about speculative literature but there was definitely a large portion that favored this area. The Romance Writers were also present. Panels abounded and numerous authors from across Canada were there to read, be on panels and hobnob. Jack Whyte was guest of honor but had to leave early due to a family emergency. But not before he showed up at a room party wearing a dapper shirt, singing in his deep voice, chatting amiably with his lovely thick accent and flirting with the crowd. I’m not sure he was responsible for all the scotch but he was definitely a major contributor. Perhaps it was the power of his dark sorcery that left a few people looking a little green in the morning.

There were book launches and parties by ChiZine Publications, Bundoran Press, the Steampunk group, Edge Publications and others. I got to meet many new people and put faces to some names. I bought a few books and am currently reading Nancy Kilpatrick’s collection Vampyric Variations.

The weather was hot, the hailstones, when they fell, the size of golfballs & then peas, and the company great. In between all that I made a trip to Edmonton to visit more family. It’s been a long time since I did the long drive out to Alberta. I broke it up by staying with friends in Penticton. Overall the trip was really good and that’s because I saw lots of people and visited with some great friends including Andy Tarrant, the talented artist of Trespasser Ceramics. If you’re looking for a gift, check out his site.

One thing I forgot on my drive, was how beautiful the mountains really are. Rogers pass was filled with blues; azure, indigo, phthalo, navy, and greens: emerald, kelly, peridot, lime, forest and more. The scenery is truly amazing and the weather was perfect. Of course I didn’t stop, thinking I would do this on the way back and then I couldn’t find my camera. I thought I had left it in Calgary until I got to Revelstoke and realized it was in a bag with books. Of course it was too late then. I love the scenery around Merritt as well where it turns into rolling hills spilling out of the Coquihalla, with ponds tucked in between. So lovely. Too bad the drive is so long and a bit hard for me. Next time I might see if I can snag someone to share.

I had limited internet and decided to just enjoy the break. I’m right back in the swing of things now, and on to the new writing projects. I expect to be quite busy this fall, and hope to even get a few readings going where my book will be available for sale. More on the writing front as it happens.

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Writing Update: The Collection Progresses

I have actually been too busy to write here but I thought I’d toss in an update on what’s been transpiring.

Deadline for voting in the Aurora Awards closes on Monday, July 23 so if you’re Canadian and would like to vote you can go here. There is also a voters package that contains the works being nominated. Since you pay $10 to vote (unless you already paid to nominate), then you can consider it a purchase of several novels, short, stories, art works and poems. My poem “A Good Catch” is nominated in the poetry category and the awards will be given in Calgary at the When Words Collide convention, which I will be at.

I have a week left to finish my story for Masked Mosaic. It’s been a bit of a struggle so I’m not sure how successful I’ll be. But mostly my time has been taken with formatting and getting my collection of stories ready for putting on Smashwords, for ereaders and then for print. If you’re interested in a print copy, send me a message and I’ll let you know when it’s ready and the cost.

The collection will be called “Embers Amongst the Fallen” and will include sixteen stories, two of them new. Wayne Allen Sallee has written a lovely blurb:

“Anderson is an enigma. Many of her stories evoke the tense subtleties of Shirley Jackson, but then I go on to another story and it breathes of Richard Matheson or the late Ray Bradbury. Few people can pull off the whipsaw of terror to wonder and back, but Colleen makes it way past easy.”

Wayne is a “5 time finalist-Stoker Award-First Novel, Collection, Novella, Novelette, Short Story.” East Coast, dark fiction writer Steve Vernon is writing an introduction for the collection as well so I feel very honored that these people, along with Sandra Kasturi of CZP who proofread it, have agreed to be part of it.

Polu Texni has bought another poem, “Mermaid,” which is written in the style of a villanelle. I’m not sure when it will be up on the site. Now, on to the process of self-producing a book.

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Creative Commons: Ninha Morandini

Smashwords is for ereaders and once you have your book formatted they will make it readable for different readers and send out a catalog. You have to meet their formatting guidelines and produce a cover. I have a friend working on one right now. There is a giant book that can be downloaded for free that is the Smashwords style guide. Interestingly enough, it has formatting issues in rtf, but is okay in PDF. It’s written for those who are not even that familiar with using Word. I’m pretty much an expert (though the stupid Office/Word 2007 sucks big time and annoys the hell out of me) so I’m finding the book a bit tedious in some sections. I have to glean through though because some information is buried and some not so clear.

I have got rid of most of the marks and spaces that they require but I also have one story with footnotes and I still have to determine how to make sure those show correctly. I’m presuming once I get to the submission part that I’ll get to review before it goes to the vetters (they send it back if  there are formatting errors). It’s that part that could slow down my release date of Aug. 1.  I’m more than half way through the formatting and just waiting for the intro (and to complete my acknowledgements) so I hope by this weekend I’ll only be dealing with getting the cover art finalized.

It’s been an interesting process and I’ve been working on a few erotic stories to put up as well. Formatting one story is much easier than the book but I’m learning some things when doing this. Stay tuned for the release of my first collection.


			

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Writing: The Trouble With SFWA

Creative Commons: gnuckx, Flickr

SFWA stands for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. They’ve been around for almost 50 years and protect the rights of speculative writers, which  includes legal and emergency medical aid, ironing out contract disputes, putting pressure on publishers (there is a bad boys list) and otherwise helping writers. They also maintain a list of professional markets, and to be a full Active member you must have sold three pieces, of at least $50 each, at the rate of .05/word or more. Or have sold a novel/novelette for at least $2000.

Further professional qualifications include that the publisher/magazine must have been in existence and publishing regularly for at least a year, pay the above professional rates or more, and have a distribution of at least 1000 copies. It used to be that this was 10,000 copies, if memory serves correctly, but I imagine it’s a sign of the times that not even mass market publishing houses print 10,000 copies of most books anymore. When the Canadian dollar was .50 to the US dollar there was never any consideration for the difference in rates, although it’s called SFWA and not SFWUSA. Five cents a word might have counted but when you can put the population of Canada into the state of California, it was pretty hard to hit those early distribution rates of 10,000 copies in Canada.

While SFWA does a lot of good, it’s also the old boys’ club and resistant to some change. The advent of small presses and POD (print on demand) has upset the apple cart in many areas. Costs of printing have gone up, readership of paper books is going down, and the economy is floundering. The dinosaurs need to evolve or they’ll be nothing but sludge. SFWA still cannot accept that flash fiction exists, or tweet markets. Instead of finding some in-between ground, they decided that a sale must be .05/word to be professional but if your story is 900 words or less, it won’t count. They could fix this and say at least four (or some number) sales of flash fiction or a combo of short and flash, etc. would be equivalent.

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Mary Beth Griffo Rigby, Flickr

Some change has happened, but last year, after nearly 20 years as an Associate member (having one professional sale based on the above criteria) I ended my membership and joined HWA (Horror Writers of America) instead. There are several reasons I did this. When I first joined SFWA they invited me, on the basis of selling a poem to Amazing Stories. At $36 that wasn’t bad money for a poem, even now, and I think that was around 1986. When I sent a copy of a contract for a story sale that met the requirements (and that after a year of my letters being completely ignored) I was told that my poem didn’t count and that I now had a 1/3 Associate membership, again. One step forward, one step back.

So not only did SFWA decide that poetry was no longer a valid art form nor worthy of notice, but they’d ungrandfathered me. I wonder if they would have booted me out if I didn’t have that second “pro” sale, except they probably wanted my money. Then I sold an erotic fairy tale to a Harlequin anthology. There was my third sale. (You can vote when you’re a full member.)  But guess what? Harlequin decided to do a vanity press line and SFWA disapproved (and rightly so), but instead of banning or disqualifying that particular imprint, SFWA disqualified Harlequin and all its imprints. Now Harlequin is one of the biggest publishers in the world. They’re rolling in the dough and not hurting, so why they thought they had to lure in hapless newbies with a vanity line, I’m not sure, and they should have their wrists slapped for that. But SFWA’s ban really only affected writers. Harlequin doesn’t care. I’d actually sold the story before the ban but was paid after.

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Will SFWA embrace the digital age? Creative Commons: Tony Hutchings/Getty Images

SFWA has helped me in the past with an iffy contract and they do at least have some standards but they need to evolve a bit more. I also joined HWA this year because I wanted to see what they’re like. While I haven’t even had time to look at the benefits yet I can tell you that I’m full-fledged voting member, and I did this on my credentials as a poet alone. I could have probably done it with fiction credits but the contracts I could find were for the poems. In HWA’s case their pro rate is the same for fiction but for poetry you must have had at least 10 poems published for at least $5/poem or .25/line. In fact, their definitions are more detailed but also more extensive than SFWA’s.

Arguments can be made that if I was a better writer I’d have been a full member long ago, and that of course holds water, but I’ve sold mostly to Canadian markets and even good writers sometimes can’t get their feet in the door of a tight market when a known name will sell more magazines. It will be interesting to see if HWA serves me better of if SFWA did. I could go back to SFWA at any time if I wish.

I’m a very strong advocate for poetry and anyone that’s worked on a poem can tell you it takes as long to write a poem as to write a story in many cases. Some poems take me years to perfect. I truly detest when someone pooh poohs a form of writing because it isn’t as long as a novel or a story. It’s a snobbery that not even the literary world aspires to. They have their own as many literary writers turn up their noses at “genre” writing. Half the time Margaret Atwood swears she does not write science fiction.

But any organization that recognizes poetry will probably get my vote over ones that ban it.

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