Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pencils Down!

So - the deadline has passed, and the 9 Days of Madness event ... will be happening!

Thank you to everyone who sent in stories. There is a difficult decision ahead of me, but I hope to have all acceptances out in the early part of next week.

I've also been on the fence about "story number 10."

Last year I wrote a piece "just in case" I didn't get enough entries. I ended up running it as a "bonus" at the end of the actual Eight Days of Madness, because I enjoyed how it came out so well.

This time around, I have more than enough stories to choose from, and will sadly have to turn some away, so I'm debating running my own piece at the end. Weird position to be in - thoughts?

(p.s. The current look of the site will soon change for the festivities as well. The curtains will rise.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

9 Days of Madness - Deadline Extended

The deadline for submissions for 9 Days of Madness has been extended to February 25.

This is for two reasons:

The first is that I set the original deadline, forgetting that I've got a family vacation starting in a few days, and will not have any chance to look at, or manage submissions until I'm back on the 25th.

Secondly, and more importantly, there is still room left. I've received some really great stories so far, but there's at least three days on the schedule left to fill. If the new deadline passes without enough submissions, even though I'll be bummed - I'll be cancelling the "show". I don't want to do disservice to the people that have submitted so far by doing the thing halfway, so all stories would be returned at that point.

But - that's a last resort. Last year's festival of psychological terror was an amazing gathering of authors, some new, and some that I already knew. From what I've received so far, this year could be even better - so spread the word, and get those "Unsettling" stories in!


Friday, February 10, 2012

This is an AWARD WINNING post

... in that I'm talking about some awards that have come my way.

[editor's note - I started writing this post - I'm now halfway through, and I can safely tell you to go get a beverage - this is turning out to be a lengthy read. Go on. I'll wait. Got it? Super.]

First off - apologies for not getting around to everyone's site of late. I caught a pretty good writing tide in the past week or two, and have been riding it hard. I've made some headway on my short story collection, subbed a new piece, and finished a second new one. Feels good.

A few neat things have come my way in the meantime -

The first is that I was nominated for, and selected as one of's top 75 Writing Blogs.
Not sure where that particular accolade places me in the great hierarchy of the inter-webs, but it's nice to know someone thought enough of the Leaky Pencil to want to nominate me!

Neat thing part 2 - the Versatile Blogging award. This is one of the "I like your blog, now tag- you're it" badges that go around from time to time, but again, it's great to know you have people stopping by.

Now, the rules of this one are:

1) If you get the award, you have to post a link back to the person who gave it to you, so "Thank you!" to Mr. Benjamin Sobieck, crime writer extraordinaire, 8 Days of Madness Alum, and blog-master of the Crime Fiction Book Blog.

2) Then you have to nominate 15 other bloggers for the award. (Fifteen Benjamin? 15???? Well, so be it, So-bi-eck. See what I did there? [kidding aside - I'm thrilled you thought of me]

Ok - first the Blogs of Note. I'm going to break the rules a tiny bit here. I've received a couple of these types of awards in the past, and have tended to nominate only those people that I know very well; which means I've nominated the same people over and over. Instead, I'm going to nominate some of my newest followers, as both a "thank you" and a way to get to know them a little better, as I'm now suggesting you do!

1. The Eagle's Aerial Perspective - The Golden Eagle blogs about life, writing, science, and anything else that catches her fancy! 
2.Kelda Crich  - the alter ego of novelist Deborah Walker - used when she writes and blogs about horror!
3. Hope Whispers - Carrie Burtt writes poetry, and fills her blog with musings and words of inspiration
4. Silver's Reviews - Silver Solara, a.k.a. Elizabeth publishes thoughful, personal book reviews.
5. David Powers King - writer of YA Sci-fi and Fantasy!
6. Will Write for Cookies - Peggy Eddleman gets this award for the title of her blog alone. Mmm cookies.
7. here to read and write - asuqi is... asuqi, and asuqi is delightful. Meet asuqi.
8. In Medias Res - Milo James Fowler is a writer of sci-fi and short horror fiction - check him out! 
9. Writing My Novel... and stuff - Now Nina is someone I do know - and a fellow Canadian to boot!. Given the super cool prompts and other blog-post goodies she has at her place, I suggest you check her out!
10. Scribble & Scatter - Susan May James is a fellow contributor to Lily Childs' Friday Prediction, and a damned fine writer of dark fiction
11. Life on the Muskoka River - Cathy Olliffe-Webster is another fellow Canadian, and a recent friend. Her blog has candid - often hilarious musings of one Muskoka-based author's journey.
12. Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome - Hannah Kincaide loves fiction - both reading it, and writing it. Oh - and donuts. She likes donuts too. Say hi!
13. Popsicle Stand - Jenny Dreadful will challenge you with the things she writes. That is a very good thing.
14. Ramblings of an Unkempt Mind - The blog of horror novelist Marissa Farrar - author of the "Serenity" vampire novels.
15. The Futurist - another fellow "Prediction-eer", Tony Cowin writes dark, scary fiction, and he's got a new book coming out

To all my nominees - thank you for being followers here - and I hope this award gets your own places buzzing!

Anyone with an award has to say seven interesting things about himself/herself. Here's mine:

1) I've used this before but it's a good one ... I once played Jack the Ripper on The Discovery Channel.
2) I once served a Coke to Roger Clemens, and a chicken sandwich to the "Matrix Twins"
3) My first apartment was shaped like a triangle.
4) I have a minor in Film Studies, and have watched the three hour Russian film "Solaris" twice (and liked it better than the remake)
5) I used to be able to "perform" the first fifteen minutes of STAR WARS IV verbatim. (Because 16 minute would've been obsessive)
6) My personal mascot is a plastic moose.
7) Once, I sang the Star Spangled Banner ... at a Karaoke Bar ... in Toronto ... and a group of guys visiting from Texas got up and cheered.

And THAT is the Versatile Blogger Award.

I had more to say in this post - but if you've made it this far, your beverage is now cold, or lukewarm, or gone, so I'll save it for another day.

Thanks for coming by!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updates, Deadlines and Stretching (Oh my)

My sub/pub cycle is a little slow at the moment, as I'm getting the short story collection up and running. It's going well, and should be ready in April. (stay tuned!!)

That said, I wanted to draw attention to the magnificent, weighty tome that is Pill Hill Press' "Daily Frights 2012" It features 366 stories, all 500 words or less, and is ideal for those who like their horror in short, breathless gasps.

My story, "Scratch" which was first published as part of Lily Childs' Friday Prediction is in there, I'm happy to say. In addition there's dozens of names you'll recognize within the over 550 pages - and all of them are bringing the scary! It's available at Amazon etc. now.

Speaking of the inimitable Ms. Childs, she's hosting the horror event of the season over at her blog. February Femmes Fatales is in its second year, and features a stunning story by a different fascinating female author each day. (For those of you keeping track, you'll note that this year has one more story than last year.) Do yourself a favour and get over there, quick.

Now, I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that my own little story extravaganza, 9 Days of Madness, is just six weeks away. The deadline to submit your stories (to 8.mad.days(at)gmail(dot)com) is February 15. Send me your tales in the theme of "Unsettled", or just check in on March 13 to see the madness begin! Full details on the event here.

And finally - something to take away. I've been considering "character" recently. One thing that I know some people do, and it helps them, is to diagram their characters. They take a page, or whatever, and put down all the information that they can imagine about that character. I've tried this, to mixed results. Usually, despite what I put down on one of these things, the story takes its turn, and all that work is left behind. What I tried doing instead, recently, was to come up with situations outside of my story and see how my character(s) would react. So far, I've found that more rewarding. There's even a small chance that whatever you come up with may well develop into a viable scene in the story.

Here's what I've used so far.
1.     Your character has a date. He/she has been waiting over an hour. It is now apparent that they are being stood up. What is the first thing they do?
2.     Your character is back in their childhood. (If they ARE a child, don’t change them) They’ve just broken something expensive. What do they do next?
3.     Your character is waiting for a bus. How do they interact with their fellow waiting passengers? (If you like they can be alone – what do they do? Have they ever taken a bus before? Etc.)
  1. It’s three a.m. Where is your character on a normal night? If they are normally out, what are they doing. If they are normally asleep, something has gotten them out of the house at this hour – what is going on, and how are they dealing with it?

Tell me what you think!

(And keep writing. Keep. Writing.)