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A review: Dark Screams (Volume Six)

May 6, 2017 3 comments

Well, it’s been a ridiculously long time since I’ve written anything here. I’ll talk about why in my next post, but for now, I thought I would go ahead and share a review of an ebook I was recently asked to read. It’s the latest entry (volume six) in an anthology series from Cemetery Dance Publications entitled Dark Screams.

Here’s a link to the ebook in Amazon: Dark Screams (Volume Six)

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I’ve posted my review there, but I’ll go ahead and include it here as well. If you’re a fan of horror fiction, check it out, or any of the other entries in the series. Or, for that matter, any of their other publications. The best place to go for dark fiction.

–ddp

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I’ve been a long-time fan of Cemetery Dance Publications. I’ve bought numerous books from them and have subscribed to their magazine for many years. They truly are the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to horror fiction, and I’ve never been disappointed by them. So, when I was recently given the opportunity to review their latest release in the Dark Screams series (Volume Six), I jumped at the chance. I’m glad I did, because it was great. Here are my personal opinions on each story in this most recent installment.
The Old Dude’s Ticker by Stephen King. I enjoyed SK’s intro to this story, and got a kick out of his apologies both to the reader (due to the age of the material, having come from the seventies) and E.A. Poe. I’ll leave it to the reader to understand why he felt he had to apologize to Poe. Regardless of the dated writing associated with this story, I still enjoyed it. A fun read and a nice homage to a story most readers will most likely have already read.

The Rich Are Different by Lisa Morton. I’ve never read any of her works before, but I must say I truly enjoyed this story, and her writing. A well-written tale, I found myself drawn in and taken on a journey which I had not expected (a bit of a twist on a love story). I can now say I’ve become quite a fan of Lisa Morton and look forward to reading more of her fiction.

The Manicure by Nell Quinn-Gibney. A manicure only found somewhere in a bad dream. It makes me rethink whether I ever want another pedicure, which is a bummer, because I like them. I’d like to read more of her stories.

The Comforting Voice by Norman Prentiss. A wonderfully creepy tale about new parents and a newborn baby that tries their patience (to the extreme), a situation everyone who’s ever had kids can relate to. Frightening in a way no parent wants to admit.

The Situations by Joyce Carol Oates. A new author to me. Overall, a quick read, but I didn’t really follow it very well. At the end, I was left with something of a “so what” kind of feeling. Because of that, I’d consider it one of the weaker stories, at least for me.

The Corpse King by Tim Curran. A grim and dark story about two grave robbers that ran quite a bit longer than the others in this collection. While the writing was top-notch, it could have been shortened a bit, as I found myself beginning to skip small sections to progress through the story. Also, the author frequently used words I didn’t know, which is either a commentary on my sad vocabulary, or it’s indicative of using bigger words when simpler will do. Overall, I enjoyed it and the two main characters, and I liked the ending as well.
Dark Screams Volume Six is a worthwhile read for those who enjoy reading short forms of horror fiction. My rating of the collection: 4/5 stars. Another worthy entry in the Dark Screams series.

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On writing: Cemetery Dance 2 : Dave 0

July 17, 2014 18 comments

Just found out today that the story I submitted for an upcoming anthology (October Dreams 2) from Cemetery Dance was, to put it euphemistically, not accepted. On to the particulars. Turns out that around 200 people submitted stories. From those they decided to use 3. What is that? 1.5%? Guess I shouldn’t feel too bad for not making it into the top 98+% 🙂 On the plus side, the editor (Richard Chizmar) looking over the stories did say that around 10% of the stories were excellent and that they’d already decided to use several of the others for various publications. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it into one of those? Oh, and I should also note that he personally read through all the submissions (yeah, that’s right, 200 short stories!). How many times is that going to happen? I thought that was pretty cool, and I thought it was pretty awesome that he chose to request submissions like he did. I can only hope he chooses to do the same thing in the future.

The original request for submissions and subsequent notification of those selected has all been done via Facebook. A perk, I suppose, for being a friend (Facebook only) of the founder of Cemetery Dance publications 🙂 Now here’s the question: do you think it would be unreasonable, or bad form, to send a message to him to ask if my particular story made it into the top 10%, or even 3% (they considered 6 stories in the end)? I’m not really worried about whether it didn’t, but just curious about whether my story was decent, as in good enough that a writer/editor for one of the premiere horror/dark fiction publications thought my story was worthwhile. Yeah, I know, I suppose in the end it’s really just about me getting some validation and all that. But for some reason I’m really feeling the need to know something, anything, even if mine was in the “gee that wasn’t so great pile”. But, I also don’t want to come across as too amateurish (even though I am). Thoughts?

Well, now it’s on to the next big adventure(s). In the short-term, I think that might be, along with working on the stories already in progress, looking for other good horror/dark fiction publications that are accepting short stories. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

A final note: as fate would have it, just yesterday, I saw this blog post : How to take rejection.

Read through this short but helpful article. The last paragraph sums up the writing life.

Here’s the lesson to remember: far better writers than you have been rejected far more often. In success, you will be able to look back fondly at the people who’ve said no. But to get to that success, you’ve got to power through the failures.

Update: Thanks everyone for your responses and encouragement. After hearing what everyone had to say, and allowing some time to pass, I think I’ll most likely just let it go and concentrate on writing and finding other good publications that would consider my genre. When I jump into the submission arena again, I’ll be sure and give an update.

–dp

On writing: submitting another short story

March 11, 2014 12 comments

I recently found out that Cemetery Dance Publications, one of my favorite publishers of dark fiction and horror, is accepting submissions for one remaining slot in their upcoming publication, October Dreams 2, an anthology of Halloween-themed short stories. So of course, I can’t resist … I must submit a story, despite the overwhelming odds against acceptance (I wrote about my first submission/rejection here). But I’m okay with that, because as one of my blog friends reminded me when my last story was rejected, I’m aiming for the top, and acceptance into publications of this caliber is hard. So if ever one of my stories is accepted then it will mean even that much more.

Don’t get me wrong, though … I’ll still be disappointed if/when the rejection comes, but at least this time I’ll remember that I’m in the company of hundreds of other talented writers who also were rejected. There is some comfort in that 🙂

So, off I go into my next big adventure. I’ll keep you all posted.

Wish me luck!

–dp

On writing: The inevitable rejection

July 16, 2013 28 comments

So, back in January, I accomplished one of my goals for 2013: I submitted a short story to Cemetery Dance magazine. With high hopes I’d pressed that submit button, sending off my short story of which I was so proud. And then I’d waited … and waited … and waited. After a while, I’d waited so long I didn’t really even feel like I was waiting for anything anymore. But to be fair, they did warn that due to the deluge of stories it would likely take several months before I’d hear back from them. Well, they were wrong. It took over five months! But, on the positive side, I did hear back.

While I’d like to tell you I received a personal note from the managing editor of the magazine/publisher, Brian Freeman — you know, something telling me all about how it was a wonderful story but they just couldn’t quite fit it into this quarter’s magazine but they’d sure like me to submit again — the truth of the matter is that I received a “form” rejection from some unknown underling in charge of reading through the slush pile (at least I assume it was the slush pile … who knows, maybe I made it further along). I suppose I can understand why it happened, though. With the sheer volume of material that’s submitted to some of these magazines, especially one of the caliber of Cemetery Dance, it’s nearly impossible to personalize rejections. Otherwise, nothing would ever get published. But still, it would have been nice …

To put a positive spin on things, though, you could say that I accomplished something else in 2013: I got my first rejection 🙂 At least that means I wrote something, and that I overcame inertia and fear and actually submitted it, knowing full well that in all probability it would get rejected. But I consider it a part of my growth as a writer. After all, if you can’t handle rejection, there’s no reason to be a writer, unless, of course, all you want to do is keep your stories to yourself, hidden somewhere on your computer. But that’s not me. I’d like at least one other person besides my lovely wife to read something I’ve written.

I’d like to thank all those who left encouraging comments on my original post. I appreciated each of them. One in particular, though, had some advice that I plan to follow. I’d like to thank Michael over at Parlor of Horror for taking the time to give me some good suggestions on what to do with my stories. So thanks, Michael 🙂

I’ll post the rejected story soon, then some of my other work. Eventually, I’ll even post some of my W(s)IP. I’d also like to find a writing buddy at some point, or an alpha reader, preferably someone serious about their writing and their interest in reading over works in progress. I’ve also heard about some folks having great success with online writer’s groups, so I’d like to pursue that as well. I’ve already got an account on scribophile.com; now all I need to do is become active within the community.

Should make the remainder of the year interesting, and hopefully productive.

–dp

Short story submitted: first writing goal of 2013 accomplished

January 9, 2013 24 comments

So, I did it. I just submitted one of my short stories to Cemetery Dance Magazine.

Of course, this was only after my wife read through it several times for me and made some wonderful suggestions. I then spent days going over and over it to make sure it was as good as it could possibly be. Finally, after mustering all the nerve I could, I uploaded it to their submission site and pressed “send”. Off it went, into the submission slush pile.

While I hope for the best, I realize that my chances of getting selected are pretty slim. According to them, they get around 500 submissions per month, so the odds aren’t all that good, even if I wrote something that managed to get their attention. But, even though they will most likely pass on it, I still feel good about what I wrote and figure everyone has to deal with their share of rejections. After all, the world of writing is tough, so if I can’t handle some negative responses then I might as well stop writing.

To keep me busy while waiting to hear back, among other things I plan to polish another short that I think is pretty good. Their guidelines say they want only one submission at a time, but that it’s okay to submit a new story if a previously submitted story is rejected, so I plan to keep on submitting until they stop accepting.

I’ll provide an update when I hear something. If I get rejected, I’ll lick my wounds and submit another. Then, I’ll post the first short story here for those who would like to read it.

Wish me luck!

–dp

On writing: my plans for 2013

December 29, 2012 10 comments

This year, I’ve decided to be approach my writing and the upcoming new year differently. In the past, I’ve pretty much just barreled into the year headlong, with no forethought and no clue to what I wanted to accomplish with my writing other than knowing that I wanted to write. All well and good, but I figured this year I’d try something that would help keep me focused and help me track my progress.

So here, in no particular order (that’s for you, DJ), are my writing goals for 2013:

  • Write a novel in a new genre (I’m a dark fiction/horror person typically).

  • Which one you might ask? Why a romance/love story, of course. What provoked me to stray so far away from my comfort zone? Well, in the past, I’ve had moments where I’ve felt compelled to write very short pieces of fiction (flash fiction to be exact) that were centered around love (check one out here and the other here if interested). But the real inspiration for this idea came to me over the last year as I spent time with my folks while my dad was ill. Sitting around with them and talking about their lives and how they met and all that happened over the years, it just seemed to lend itself to a beautiful love story. I have no idea if it will work, but I feel it strongly enough to give it a try.

  • Complete and edit Whispers.

  • This is a novel I started during NaNoWriMo 2010 and mostly finished during the months that followed. It’s a story about a young couple, their son, and an evil secret that forces them to face an ancient and malevolent force.

  • Write one new short story.

  • I’ve got many ideas, but I’m not sure which one I’ll choose, yet. I suspect I’ll just sit down and let inspiration take over.

  • Complete and edit The Last Descent,

  • This novel is about 2/3 complete and was written back in 1989/1990. I wrote it while I was waiting to hear back from publishers about my first book, The Light. (I talked about this way back here). It’s an apocalyptic story, one of those “end of the world” books, where people make some big mistakes and end up setting evil loose on unsuspecting world. It’s got a lot of great potential. My biggest obstacle so far has been trying to get my mind wrapped around the story as currently written so that I can figure out exactly where I was trying to go at the time. It will be a challenge, but if I can get it done I think it can be a great book.

  • Submit some of my work for publication.

  • My first attempt will be with Cemetery Dance Magazine, which is currently accepting unsolicited short story submissions. I have a few I think are pretty good, so I thought I would give it a try. I haven’t collected any rejection letters recently, so why not 🙂 Wish me luck!


Yes, these are pretty ambitious goals, but I figure the only way I’m going to get some serious writing done is if I set the bar high. If I don’t accomplish them all, well that will be okay, because even if I only accomplish a few of them I’ll have made tremendous progress. So, I plan to revisit these goals throughout the year and comment on how I’m doing. The prospect of doing so will, I hope, encourage me to do more of what I really want to do: write.

Anyone else setting goals for their writing next year?

–dp

Writing update

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

So, as of tonight, I’ve finished editing three stories that I’m considering for submission to Cemetery Dance magazine. I think they’ve turned out pretty good, but we’ll see. I’ve turned them over to my alpha reader (my wife 🙂 to see what she thinks. After that, I’ll have my beta reader (you know who you are) look them over and get their opinion. After that, I’ll do a final edit then consider it ready for submission whenever it becomes time.

Editing these stories has been interesting. When I first wrote them, I thought they were pretty good. After gaining some perspective and maturity along the way, I discovered that the stories were not all that well written. They tended to be verbose, and the writing was stilted. Much of it “told” what was going on rather than “showed”. Kind of funny how, after you mature in your writing, it’s easy to see stuff that just doesn’t work for a variety of reasons. Bottom line: the new, edited versions of the shorts are, in my opinion, way better than the originals.

I’m curious to see what those who read the stories think of them. Once I know, I’ll post an update. And once I know which of the stories I’m going to submit, I’ll post the other two here.

Still making progress on the most recent novel, though it’s been somewhat slow given the emphasis on getting the short stories ready to go. All in all, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve accomplished over the last week. I finished editing three short stories *and* still made some progress on my current WIP.

–dp