Of Subs and Crows

Submissions by the numbers – or not

I made four short story submissions in March, doubling my goal of 2 per month. Of course when I look back to the beginning of the year, I’m 4/6, or 4/8 including April so numbers continue to dampen any moment of celebration I might have.

Focusing on the submissions themselves, one story was rejected within 24 hours, two await a response, while Arctic Marauder made it through the first level of slush and has moved up the ranks for review by a senior editor. It’s not yet an acceptance but makes me feel pretty good.

My real-life horror story

dark-souls-wallpaper-3 (hdwallpapersearly)I use my daily walks to work out plot issues and mentally outline stories as I circle a 5K section of the Rideau Canal. I’ve been walking the same section for years and could pretty much do it blind if not for other pedestrians, runners, cyclists, strollers, pets and gaping holes peppering the East side that open all the way down into canal water, threatening the loss of a lower limb. Other than for those life-threatening dangers, I can pay minimal attention to my surroundings and focus on stories.

Usually around this time of the year, and for several weeks, I need to change my route as a family of crows have taken to nesting on the Pretoria bridge and mommy crow attacks me every time, approaching from a blind spot and holds on to my cap for dear life with her prehistoric claws as she pecks the hell out of my head until I run – wildly screaming and swinging – out of the kill zone. I’ve never seen others attacked so I’m not sure if it’s to protect her young or a protest against my fashion sense, but the experience is always terrifying. It’s probably happened 8 or 10 times by now, but invariably I think it’s a whole murder of crows attacking and find out it was one  lone bird. I can’t even imagine how Tippi Hedren felt filming that scene in “The Birds” but I wouldn’t be surprised if she had to keep a defibrillator nearby.

It’s still snowing these days so maybe the crows are also off-schedule but they will be coming for me soon. I still wear the hat but I am currently shopping for trekking poles so I least I will have a fighting chance this year. That walking loop is mine and when I divert I can’t get my writer thinking done so watch out for me this year, mother crow.

I’ll be ready for you.



Walking the Maze

thCA0O41S9Great news first: My short story “Maze Walker” will appear in an upcoming anthology, due out in March 2015. I have done two interviews in the past few weeks, one in anticipation of the anthology, and one in conjunction with February’s celebration of Women in Horror. I hope to be able to share more in the coming weeks.

Other than for the above, writing projects were paused last Fall when I began battling a nasty sinus bug but I am happy to report treatments have recently kicked in and I am feeling much better. In January, I had a Popeye-style burst of energy, leading me to write an entire short story from scratch in five hours, averaging a thousand words per hour (my usual speed when I’m in “the zone”).

The energy burst didn’t last, but after a few months of little scribbling, it felt good to finally write something that seems solid. I have since spent some time editing it and submitted it for critique to my local writing group, The Scrawling Narwhals. I’ve already made a few notes of what I think need to be addressed in the re-write but we shall see what the feedback is like next week on “Boomerang”. Maybe I just imagined the story being good, which wouldn’t be much of a surprise after the past few months of brain freeze.

One of my standing writing objectives is to make at least two submissions each month. Despite the bug, I still managed to do that up to the end of December but I haven’t yet submitted anything in 2015. I have just heard back about the lone outstanding sub (rejection) so I am making a push to be able to meet my two sub minimum this month, and hopefully at least one more to make up for the January zilch count.

First up is “Arctic Marauder” (formerly “Frozen in Time”), the story of an Arctic Expedition finding a lost WWII soldier who has survived alone some seventy years at the bottom of an icy crevasse. A hint: the plane’s mysterious cargo may have something to do with his survival. Next, I will work on “The Beaten Path” (Alien chiropractors, who knew?), and “Threader”, a complicated Earth where nothing happens by chance, where lives are controlled by a chosen few forced to live in the Earth’s mantle to hide the reality of how the world really works. Those are the three stories that have been occupying my mind in my recent delirium so I just had to move them up to the top of the pile. I have feedback on all three stories and it’s a matter of using what can help make them great ones. I hope that doesn’t sound easy because it’s not.

Lots of work ahead – happy writing!


Getting Away with Murder

Presentation by Dr. Debra Komar, forensic anthropologist and historical crime author.

I attended a presentation this week by renowned forensic anthropologist and historical crime author, Dr. Debra Komar, called “Getting Away with Murder”. Her talk focused on how cutting-edge investigative methods are rewriting legal history, and how she’s using her modern forensic skills to right the wrongs on some of Canada’s most notorious historical crimes. (Her presentation was of great interest to me because even though I didn’t know what it was called then, growing up I dreamed of being a forensic anthropologist, though no one believes me since the explosion of all the CSI tv shows.)

Her presentation included a reference to universal lethality, a somewhat controversial theory (and one used in serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s defence), meaning everyone has the potential to kill and, under the right circumstances, will act upon that innate impulse. The writer in me couldn’t help but speculate what story could be created from such a world. If this theory holds true, it means everyone would likely kill at least once in their lifetime. What if a world existed where everyone had one-time free pass to kill because of it? Who would they kill, and would the act be premeditated or impulsive? Would there be age restrictions, either for the killer or the victim? Allowed only on strangers or relatives? Specific locations only? Any exceptions? Thoughts on universal lethality are going into my story idea file for future consideration – feel free to share any thoughts on this theory on this page.

2014 Summer Project update:

  • Still Daughter, my story about a very different and creepy little girl facing the major life challenge of being dead, was completed and submitted. The 8 to 12 weeks waiting period for a response begins;
  • I completed a rewrite of Arctic Marauder (formerly titled Frozen in Time) and submitted it for online critique. The story is about a modern polar research expedition finding a downed aircraft and a lone survivor, some seventy years younger than he should be. The mysterious cargo aboard the 1943 B-26 Marauder may have something to do with the surviving soldier’s youthfulness and murderous disposition;
  • I did some research this week of potential markets and found a handful of interesting anthologies coming up, three of them with deadlines by the end of July. I’m now shifting my focus to the stories Walker Watcher (an alternate Hell story), Thirty One’s Elysium (a post-apocalyptic tale), and Ringleader (a retelling of The Three Little Pigs fairy tale). Ringleader will be the most challenging because it is probably not twisted enough for the anthology call but hey, that’s just the kind of challenge I’m up for.

Happy writing.