Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I’ve been involved in running several conventions over the last few years, mostly filling the role of booking/hosting author readings. Some might say it’s a thankless job, but I won’t. In fact, I received so many complements from authors and fans this time around that I couldn’t be more pleased with the way things turned out.  I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the authors who shared their work, everyone who attended a reading, and a special “thank you” to Allen Ashley who coordinated the Poetry Showcase that was held on Saturday evening. Thank you for making this year’s Reading Cafe one of the best ever.

One of the best parts of attending conventions is the opportunity to be with like minded people. People who share a passion for reading, writing and keeping the art of storytelling alive. People who remind you why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.  Please who are willing to help you when you are struggling, and who are there to celebrate the victories, too.

I’ve been in a bit of a hole in the last couple of years. Some personal losses in that time made me doubt whether or not I had any stories left to tell. I busied myself with several writing related volunteer projects. Being a Jury Chair for the Bram Stoker Awards for the last two years certainly allowed me to learn more about what makes a good story. But it didn’t leave me with a whole lot of free time to actually write any new stories of my own.

So back to the people…the fellow writers/friends who want to see you succeed…I am fortunate to have a few of them in my corner. The most important moments at this convention were the conversations where I got the right mix of tough love, inspiration, and motivation from friends old and new. I’m thankful for everyone of them.

And for those who like visual aids, here’s a few photos from WFC 2013.  Cheers!

Patrick Rothfuss fills the Reading Cafe.

Patrick Rothfuss fills the Reading Cafe.

Convention swag

Convention swag

Books I couldn't leave England without.

Books I couldn’t leave England without.

My pint of Stella at the Druid's Head.

My pint of Stella at the Druid’s Head.

The real reason to go to the UK...SWEETS!

The real reason to go to the UK…SWEETS!

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

There are times as a writer when I read a book and think, “Boy, I wish I’d written that!” And there are times as a reader when I think, “Wow! I really didn’t want that to end!” And I’ve come to notice that it’s when I read stories by Tom Piccirilli that I think both of those things time and again.

*****SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read THE LAST KIND WORDS, proceed at your own risk.*****

I finished reading THE LAST WHISPER IN THE DARK yesterday afternoon. After I set the book back on my bookshelf, I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes. I just wanted to sit there for a few minutes and let the story soak into my brain some more. I wanted to think about things like friendship, loyalty, and family. To let my mind explore the possibilities of what I might do to protect the things I hold dear. Or what I might do if someone tried to take those things away from me.

Picirrilli introduced readers to the Rand family in THE LAST KIND WORDS. After a five year absence, Terry Rand returns home just days before his brother is to be executed for a horrific killing spree. Terry’s brother, Collie, claims that one of the victims wasn’t his and the “real” killer is still out there. Terry doesn’t know what to believe but allows himself to be drawn back into to the life he abandoned in order to find the truth.

THE LAST WHISPER IN THE DARK picks up shortly after Collie’s execution. Terry and his family are reeling from the losses not only Collie, but also Terry’s uncles, Grey and Mal. Tensions are high and even the family dog, JFK, appears to be suffering. When Terry left five years earlier, he didn’t just abandon his family. He also abandoned his fiancee, Kimmy. Kimmy moved on with her life and is now married to Terry’s ex-best friend, Chub. However, Terry can’t let them live happily ever after. He’s convinced Chub’s doing business with the wrong people and is in over his head. Terry wants to protect Kimmy and her daughter, who he still views as “his girls.” But how far is he willing to go to get Chub out of this mess? Does he even want Chub to get out? Perhaps the only person Terry really wants to help is himself.

Meanwhile, John, Terry’s long lost cousin from his mother’s side of the family, surfaces intent on reconnecting. Terry’s mother was disowned when she married into the Rand family. But now, nearly 30 years later, her dying father wants to mend fences. Terry is skeptical but doesn’t want his mother to face this alone. Terry is surprised by the type of family his mother came from and doubts that the life she’s lived since was worth the life she gave up.

From this point, Picirrilli leads readers into the underneath. Terry learns that the while the Rand and Crowe families might travel in different social circles, there are points where their lives are intertwined. The pull of the bent life is still there whether you’re rich or poor. But once you’re in, can you ever escape it?

The writer in me loves this book because it’s an example of perfect execution from a craft perspective.

And the reader in me loves it because Picirrilli made me feel like I was living Terry Rand’s life right along with him. That’s what I want when I read fiction…to give up my own life and take on someone else’s for a little while.

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

I’ve been a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) for several years. During that time, I’ve heard many complaints about the Stokers, some valid, some not. One of the biggest complaints has always been about how the Stokers really don’t mean anything; they are nothing more than a popularity contest. I’ve heard allegations of “rec swapping” where an author or group of authors would recommend works for the award, not because the stories were the best of what had been published that year, but because they knew they would get a recommendation for their own story quid-pro-quo. And while I’m sure things like that have happened, I’m glad that the HWA is moving in a direction that will hopefully prevent things like that from happening going forward.

2011 was the first year of partially juried system. I was honored to be the Jury Chair for the Long Fiction category. I would like to personally thank my fellow jurors: Chris Welch, Nate Kenyon, and Rich Payne for their service over the past year. We read more than 100 stories and had to trim that list down to a maximum of 5 stories for Jury recommendation.

And I’ve got to tell you, that part of the job was not easy.

I sometimes hear people say, “Horror (as a genre) is dead.” I say those people are looking in the wrong places when it comes to fiction anyway. Were there some real clunkers in the 100+ pile of stories that the Jury received? Yes. There were. But what I found encouraging is how many great stories there were. There were easily another 10 stories that I felt could have made the cut. I know many of the other jurors felt the same way.

So if you are looking for something good to read, here are my “Top 10” picks (in no particular order) from my Long Fiction reading last year:

1) “Alice Through A Plastic Sheet” by Robert Shearman. Remember the days when you knew your neighbors? The days when people actually talked to each other, in person, instead avoiding human contact? This story explores that social dynamic, the trend toward passive-aggressive behavior that might easily be resolved through a conversation and the degradation of relationships between the people who should know each other best.

2) “Beyond The Door” by Jeffrey Thomas. Two strangers meet in a train station bathroom and become engaged in a wild storytelling duel. The sense of competition is the quest to “one-up” the other guy adds to the excitement and pacing of the tale as it unfolds. Be prepared to devour this one in one sitting. It was a hard story to put down.

3) “But For Scars” by Tom Picirrilli. Two of Tom Picirrilli’s stories were submitted to for Stoker consideration. And they were both wonderful. The problem comes in when the Jury has to narrow their choices. While “Every Shallow Cut” could have easily made my list, “But For Scars” resonated with me more. There is an emotional complexity in Tom’s writing. He can make you feel what his characters are feeling. A writer who can do that will hook the reader every time no matter what the story is about.

4) “Ghosts With Teeth” by Peter Crowther. This one really surprised me. The story I was expecting, something with a quiet an eerie feel, took a turn to a nastier place. I love it when the author can trick me into thinking I know how the story’s going to end.

5) “Recalculating” by Jennifer Weiner. This story is about spousal abuse and how it can exist even after the abuser is dead. Some readers might not get totally on board with the plot. You have to believe in ghosts for this one to work. But it stuck with me long after I read it.

6) “Roots And All” by Brian Hodge. Another author with two stories I could have easily picked. Failure and regret are often themes in Hodge’s work, but his take on those themes is always different. There’s always some new insight that keeps the stories interesting. Set in a rural community ravaged by meth addiction, Hodge explores the pursuit of justice and its price.

7) “The Cranston Gibberrer” by Martin Mundt. Readers who like H.P. Lovecraft and have a sly sense of humor will love this offering from Martin Mundt. This story is very different in terms of style from its competition. A fun and fast-paced read.

8) “The Door To Lost Pages” by Claude Lalumiere. The story reminded me why I love to read. Ever since I can remember, I’ve spent countless hours in bookstores and libraries, hoping to find books that would transport me to worlds greater than the one I live in. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m the only person in the world who cared that much about the joy that reading could bring into your life. But I know now that I have a kindred spirit out there in Claude. If I was stranded on a desert island and only had one book to read, I hope it would be this one.

9) “The Ghost In You” by Gary McMahon. This one is as heartbreaking as it is scary. Another one that stuck with me long after I’d read it.

10) “The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Possibly my favorite of all the stories I read last year. Maybe it’s because I have two kids that are taking piano lessons that this one hit a chord. Like “Ghosts With Teeth” this story takes the reader to a creepier and nastier place than they might want to go. You might want to read this one with the lights on.

Honorable Mentions:

There were so many great stories in 2011; it was hard to narrow 100+ down to 10, and then to 5. Just because you didn’t see these stories listed on the final ballot, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them. I hope you will seek them out and enjoy them as much as I did.

• “Death Light” by Michael Marshall Smith.
• “Every Shallow Cut” by Tom Picirrilli.
• “Torment” by Greg Chapman.
• “The Red Empire” by Joe McKinney.
• “Hate The Sinner, Love The Sin” by Brian Hodge.
• “Rusting Chickens” by Gene O’Neill.
• “Urban Legend” by Lisa Morton.
• “Island Funeral” by Keith Minnion.
• The anthologies SUPERNATURAL NOIR, BLOOD AND OTHER CRAVINGS and NAKED CITY edited by Ellen Datlow. All three had several gems worthy of being read. A couple of my favorites were: “The Last Triangle” by Jeffrey Ford, “The Third Always Beside You” by John Langan, and “King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree” by Elizabeth Bear.
• The 2011 novella series by Delirium Books. Lots of gems in here, including “Nancy Goats” by Weston Ochse and “Unearthed” by Gina Ranalli.

The complete final ballot selections can be found here.

Congratulations to all who were nominated. “Good Luck” to all of you.

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I’m very excited to be a part of Heroic: A Womanthology, an all female comic anthology. Proceeds will be donated to charity. Our Kickstarter met its initial funding goal within the first 24 hours. With 27 days to go, we have a great chance of raising even more money for a great cause.

I’ve been teamed up with artist, Sarah Becan. You can check out Sarah’s art here:

http://www.sarahbecan.com/

I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with. This is my first time writing for the comic form. Sarah’s been a great help so far.

To learn more about the project, check out our Kickstarter page and feel free to donate early and often ;)

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/renaedeliz/womanthology-massive-all-female-comic-anthology

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Many of you know that my good friend, John Helwig, passed away earlier this week from a heart attack at the age of 43. This news has been devastating for me. I can’t remember another time in my life when I’ve cried as much as I have in the last 3 days. Of all the people I’ve ever lost, losing John hurts the most. It’s hard imagining life without him.

I hate funerals that are dry and somber. I hate it when the pastor tries to give a eulogy for a person they didn’t really know. The shock of John’s loss is still so fresh for his family that his sister, Amy, told me she didn’t think anyone in the family would be able to come up with anything to say. I didn’t know what John’s relationship to the pastor doing the service was, but I knew that I couldn’t sit through one of those dry and somber services. I couldn’t let a man who was the polar opposite of dry and somber be sent off that way.

I cried and I prayed for God to give me the right words to help me capture the essence of John’s spirit. And while I was happy with the result, I had a hard time when I practiced reading it out loud at home. I knew I was going to need a little help from above to read it in front of all of those people. I prayed right before I got up to deliver the eulogy.

Dear God – Please give me the strength to make it through the next 10 minutes without crying so that everyone who is in this room will be able to hear and understand what I am about to say.

When the pastor called for people to come up and say a few words, I was the first to step forward. Here’s what I had to say:

I dated Tony for six months before I ever met any of his friends. He talked of this mysterious of group of guys during that time but I had my doubts about whether or not any of them actually existed. When I finally did meet them, I understood why he’d been keeping me away. They were all cute, smart and funny. The type of guys that I would’ve liked if I didn’t already have a boyfriend. And there was no one cuter, smarter and funnier, than Tony’s best friend of all, John Helwig.

Tony and John became friends because they shared a passion for music. John played bass. Tony played drums. And anyone who knows anything about music knows that the bass and the drums are the glue that holds any good band together. So it’s no wonder that they’ve stuck together through thick and thin for nearly 30 years.

There are stories that shaped my impression of John and their friendship before I ever met him. I’d like to share a favorite:

When John and Tony were about sixteen, Tony had 8th row tickets to see Rush. The girl he’d planned to take to the concert, asked to “hold” the tickets until the show. Then she broke up with him and refused to give the tickets back. Tony was down in the dumps about this until John suggested going to the concert anyway. They wouldn’t be in seats that great but at least they’d be seeing one of their favorite bands. After the opening act, they were out by the concession stand and a couple approached them asking if they wanted to trade seats because it was too loud where they were sitting. When they looked at the tickets, they found out that if they traded they would wind up being in the front row. I’ve always imagined this moment like a scene from Wayne’s World. Wayne and Garth flashing their tickets as they made their made to the front row, pausing briefly by row #8 to let that girl who almost ruined the night know that she hadn’t, and by the time she realized they were sitting in the front row, they had ruined hers.

I knew then that John was the kind of friend you’d want to have. The kind that wouldn’t let you wallow in sorrow when you could just as easily be having a good time. Yes, you could be mad. No, it wasn’t fair. Things might suck for a while but if you wanted to have any kind of joy again, you’d just have to roll with the punches and deal with whatever life had to throw at you. And John always seemed to find a way to do that with a smile.

Over the past few days, I’ve been going back looking at pictures and old e-mails, trying to find the words that would sum up the kind of man that John was. I found a joke that he sent to me. And this one really hit home, because I think this one illustrates the different aspects of his personality…the man he wanted to be and the man he was:

Part One:
WOMAN’S PRAYER
Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man, who’s not a creep,
One who’s handsome, smart and strong.
One who loves to listen long,
One who thinks before he speaks,
One who’ll call, not wait for weeks.
I pray he’s gainfully employed,
When I spend his cash, won’t be annoyed.
Pulls out my chair and opens my door,
Massages my back and begs to do more.
Oh! Send me a man who’ll make love to my mind,
Knows what to answer to “how big is my behind?”
I pray that this man will love me to no end,
And always be my very best friend.

Part Two:
MAN’S PRAYER
I pray for a deaf-mute nymphomaniac with huge boobs
who owns a liquor store and a golf course. This
doesn’t rhyme and I don’t give a shit.

I think his former girlfriends would agree that he was all of the things listed in the first poem. He was sensitive, kind, and caring. He loved kids and sometimes I think he got along better with the kids than the girlfriends, because he was a kid at heart. John was kind of like Peter Pan. I don’t think he ever really wanted to grow up.

I see a side of John in the second one. The guy who isn’t afraid to tell like it is, whether it is politically correct or not.

I joked with Tony about John being my “back up” husband in the event that something bad ever happen to him. I say this partially because John is the type of friend who would have made sure our kids knew what a great dad they had. But also because John was often a peacemaker. Sometimes he the one who got an earful whenever one of us was mad at the other. Whenever I was the one who had a gripe, he’d always say, “Yeah, well that’s Tony. He’s been like that as long as I’ve known him.” Then he’d start telling me some funny story about something that happened during the course of their friendship and by the time he was done, I wouldn’t be mad anymore.

Remember how I said the bass and drums are the glue that holds the band together? Sometimes, John was the glue that helped his friends hold their lives together. He celebrated with us when we triumphed in good times. And he held our hands and cheered us on in bad times when we struggled to keep moving on.

Finally, I thought I’d read part of an e-mail that John sent me in January of 2010. I picked this one because it touches on all the things that were important to him, in his own words.

Hi Martel!
I’m writing this email in response to all your sweetness. Thank you for the Christmas card. The Charlie Brown Theme gave me a good grin. I don’t participate in facebook very well. I log on and read other peoples posts and thats all I do!! I like to read your posts.

I’ve been very irresponsible with my credit card debt for about two years and already its showing improvement. I bought some things to make my evenings at home funner. My new PC and bigscreen tv.

My christmas was nice. My dad moved to New Mexico and he traditionally threw big fun x-mas parties. It was the first X-mas not with him. But my sister Amy has her new son Sammy and he’s 3 and a half. He’s GREAT! He made Christmas fun again at my moms. There hasn’t been any little ones at our parties for a long time. He loves his Uncle John. He lives with Amy ( single mom ) about an hour north in Oshkosh. I don’t get to see him often but when I do we have a great time. This year might be the first year I spent more for gifts than I got in return. Most people have this happen at a much younger age. I’m growing up honey.

My job is going well. My job relies on other businesses doing well to keep me busy. Because I’m not married / no family I’m able to be flexible. I can make some money by putting in tons of hours.

I miss you guys down there in Roselle and you are always in my thoughts. I will visit again soon. Your kids don’t know me as well as I’d like. That sucks. Going to change that.

(Note: And he did, he came down to see us a couple of times in the last year and got a chance to bond with our daughter, Linnea, over their mutual love of The Beatles, her piano playing, and most recently, the news that she wanted to learn to play the guitar.)

I could simply drive down and go out with Tony to his gig. Back to the house and crash on the couch. I guess when the weekend comes all I want to do is my shit around here and rest. My dad who I already told you lives in New Mexico sent me a PC cam for X-mas. Are you interested in Skyping with me?

I know you are interested so I’ll share …….. my love life! Dead! I’ve been solo for awhile and its been fine. I tend to throw my cash around alot when I’m hooked up. I’m admittedly terrible with my money. This is one aspect of being hooked up with a GOOD woman that can be beneficial. A good woman can help manage money better than me. I’m beginning to get the itch.

DANG! ( here goes – take another swig from my tall frosty mug of Miller Lite ). NOOO ! no stinkin girls! My 40 inch Sony is so damn cool. Really friggin great! I have plenty of distractions. I would love to take a road trip this winter to visit my dad in New Mexico. A free place to stay out in the desert. Or maybe trip on down to Mardi Gras. I’m going to try and discipline myself and not do anything. Keep working until my debt is reasonable. Its so stupid to pay all that money (in interest) to the bank.

My health is great. My job helps me to keep in shape. I feel good. I haven’t gotten any flu shots yet. Do you think I should? Swine or seasonal? Both? I go so many places everyday and grab a million different doorknobs each week, I feel my system is in good fighting condition. I never call in sick.

Simon and the Barsinisters in Chicago? DANG! We missed it! We had a great time dancin to him in NYC. We coulda danced like that again!

Photo is of Lambau last season. Too bad so sad about Bears. Hmmmm….. am I ripping on Bear fans? I was born and raised a Bear fan. What can I say? I love both teams. Can I rip on Bear fans? Truth be told I have become a Packer fan first and Bear fan second. My fellow pack fans relish in ripping on bear fans. I don’t (much). C’mon! The teams are rivals. Its fun!

-love helwig

Some people may look at John’s life and be sad about all the things that he didn’t do or didn’t have the chance to do, like being more responsible over the years, settling down, getting married and having a family.

I don’t look at his life that way. John lived his life, on his terms, surrounded by people the he loved. That’s what he needed to be happy. Not money or things. Well, except for that 40 inch Sony and an ice cold beer. And he got to see the Packers win the Super Bowl…again.

My daughter asked, “Why couldn’t Uncle John have died in 2050 instead of now?”

And the answer that keeps coming to my mind is, “Would that have made this hurt any less?”

Anytime we lose someone we love it hurts. I think this hurts more because it was so sudden and many of us didn’t have a chance to say everything that was on our hearts. You feel like it would have been easier if you could have just said “I love you” one more time or even a simple “goodbye.”

To John’s parents, I’d like to say thank you for blessing all of our lives with such a beautiful son. To his mom, Joan, thank you for being a “second mom”, opening your home to us and making us feel welcome any time we came to visit. To his sisters, know that he loved you, and was proud of you and your kids. He loved being the fun uncle.

I was telling my mother-in-law that when I think about John, every memory I have is a good one. We laughed and cried over so many things over the years. But no matter the situation, John always had a way of turning it around and finding something positive in it. How many people in life can you say that about?

And to John, I love you. I hope what I’ve said has done justice to the incredible man that you were. This world is not going to be the same without you in it. I’m going to miss you so much. But I am so thankful for the time we had. I will never, ever forget you. And I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll see you again. Watch over all of us until then.

*********
I also read my husband’s tribute to John:

I have to say good-bye to my good friend John Helwig today.

Thanks for never judging me
Thanks for making me feel normal when it seemed I was the craziest person ever
Thanks for talking me into doing the most stupid things I’ve ever done
Thanks for leaning on me when you needed it
Thanks for all the laughs, so many I can’t count them
Thanks for being the one where nothing needs to be said
Thanks for being there all hours when I needed it
Thanks for showing me how to be fearless

So many memories of fun times, laughs, trouble, stupid things, great things, jams…I’ve lost a part of myself today.

I don’t know why God needed a guitar player all of a sudden, but save a spot for me because I’m ready to jam.

Thanks for being a real friend.

**************
And finally, some words from a mutual friend of ours who could not make it to the service:

In the short time I got to actually spend with John,
(although we’ve known each other since High School),
the one thing I remember most, was his wonderful spirit.
He was the easy going one of us all, care-free. There was
never anything, or any song, that he could’nt do or play.
He was the first of my friends to have no fear in learning
difficult music, and not being intimidated by the artist or
their technique.We will all miss his laugh and his crazy
way of making everyone else laugh. Though we might
be missing him, he’s now jammin’ with the angels, and
making them laugh. Thanks John, thanks for being a
wonderful, positive part of my life!
Your friend,
David Young

***************
Many people came up to me after the service and that what’d I said was perfect. That I’d even managed to make people laugh and forget for a minute how sad they were. Maybe I was channeling John for a couple of minutes because that’s what he would’ve done in a situation like this. I hope I did him proud. I knew some of his friends from Milwaukee and NYC, but I’m sure you have great stories about him that I’ve never heard. Feel free to post your memories of him here.

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

With any luck, I’ll have a few new stories out in 2011. I sold “The Turtle’s Only Friend” to DEAD WEST. I’ve signed the signature sheets and have been told that it will be available for pre-order soon.

My poem, “The Wrong Man,” is set to appear in A SEA OF ALONE: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock.

And I’ve also sold an essay to the BUTCHER KNIVES AND BODY COUNTS: Essays on the Formula, Frights and Fun of the Slasher Film.

In other news, I will be serving as the Jury Chair for the Long Fiction category of the HWA’s 2011 Bram Stoker Awards. We’ll see how this stacks up against reading submissions for Apex Magazine. Can I beat my record for number of stories read in one year? I’m looking forward to it in any case.

I will also be the hostess of the Reading Cafe at WHC 2011 in Austin.

So much to look forward to in the coming year and we’re only 11 days in. I hope your 2011 is filled with lots of good news and things to look forward to, too :)

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

BEA Schedule:

Wednesday, May 26th

Signing THE BOOK OF DEAD THINGS from 3-4pm in the HWA Booth (#2951)

I’ll also be working in the HWA Booth at various times throughout the day. I’m scheduled to be there from 9-10am and 5-6pm on Wednesday and from 11am-noon on Thursday.

If you’re in the area, feel free to stop over and say “hi.”

In other news, I’ve been working on a non-horror project for the last few months. Waiting to see where that project is going. Hoping to have a better idea after BEA.

I’m also writing a bi-monthly column for the Cemetery Dance online newsletter. If you’re interested in receiving that, sign up here:

http://www.cemeterydance.com/page/CDP/Newsletter

Still have to get my con report from WHC up. Hoping to get to that soon. That’s all for now.

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

My short story, “The Color of My Wounds,” is now available (for free) as a podcast at FEAR ON DEMAND. You can listen to it here or download it through iTunes.

Thanks to Sidney Williams and David Byrd for bringing the story to life.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

For those who haven’t heard, I’m now one of the Submissions Editors for APEX MAGAZINE. I’ve been on the job for a couple of weeks now and here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

1. The cover letter can provide clues about the quality of the story.

when i recieve a cuver leter written in lowercase letters with know punctuation and plentee of spelling errors, i no i am in four a reel treet.

2. A high percentage of authors must have been bad used car salesmen prior to taking up writing fiction.

When the guidelines say APEX wants only “dark/horror/thriller SF,” don’t try to pull the ol’ “bait & switch” on me. If we wanted to read romances set in the Old West, that’s what we would have asked for.

3. A story can be good, yet still be rejected for a number of reasons.

If APEX passes, find another market to submit to. Don’t take it personally. Move on.

4. View the submission process as a continuing education opportunity.

A “bad” story can almost always be improved. If you are fortunate enough to receive feedback from an editor, listen to what they tell you. If they took the time to give you feedback, you must be doing something right. Don’t let the anger/disappointment of being rejected cloud the opportunity to become better at your craft.

and finally,

5. Reading one “good” story can erase the memory of one hundred bad ones.

I wish you the best of luck in improving that ratio and look forward to reading your work.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I’m a little late to the party…here are my top ten favorite books read in 2009:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

3. Morbid Curiosity Cures The Blues edited by Loren Rhoads

4. Dope by Sara Gran

5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

6. Starkweather Dreams by Christopher Conlon (This is really a poetry collection but I loved it so much I’m including it here anyway.)

7. The Darkness by Jason Pinter

8. Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher

9. Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan

10. The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald

My record keeping got sloppy toward the end of the year but I know I read at least 50 novels, 10 short fiction anthologies, 5 poetry collections and 5 non-fiction books related to the craft of writing. This was an improvement from 2008. Here’s hoping I can keep up that pace in 2010.


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