Sunday, April 29, 2018

From the "Ideas Just Never Flowing" File -- Gho-Gho-Girl

Now I'm going to have to actually write this story one day.

Su Li Chiang was born to immigrant parents in 1871. In 1892, she died along with her parents in a fire started by anti-Chinese "patriots."

In 1967, her spirit was summoned by a group of hippies on the run from demon-worshipping killers. They needed a spirit to become their protector.

Su Li "Suzie" Chiang is no longer alive, but that won't keep her from protecting her new hippy friends as Gho-Gho-Girl!

#seewhatididthere #ghoghonotgogo #itslikeghost #bootsnotincluded #canyoudancetheswim #perhapsakickstarterisinorder

Saturday, April 28, 2018

[Link] Editing for Frugal Self-Publishers

by Val Breit

Who doesn’t want to save a bit of money when they self-publish a book? Today’s guest post by Val Breit offers many cost-saving tips and resources for authors editing their books before sending them to a professional editor. If you’re not ready to have your book edited, you may want to bookmark this post and come back to it later. Enjoy!

You want to write (and sell) an amazing book, but you don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it. If you aren’t careful, the costs of self-publishing a book could run your bank account dry.

In fact, the average cost of self-publishing a book can be between a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars.

And one of the most expensive parts of publishing is editing.

Editing is not something you want to skip. With a weak storyline, the reader won’t read past the second chapter. And a book littered with grammatical errors and typos screams amateur.

So what can you do to have a professionally edited book without spending thousands of dollars?

Here are the best frugal tips for getting a talented editor to polish your book for less money.

Read the full article:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce City of Lost Souls

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the fourth title in Ron Fortier’s daring new pulp series featuring the Undead Avenger, Brother Bones.  “City of Lost Souls,” continues the saga of Cape Noire’s supernatural protector, the relentless skull masked vigilante who exist for only one purpose; the utter destruction of evil.

In the past three volumes, pulp fans were introduced to Tommy Bonello, a cruel sadistic hitman who found himself cursed with a conscience and then was murdered by his own twin brother, Jack. But hell didn’t await the slain gunman, rather his soul was chosen by the Cosmic Fates to return to the land of the living and there become the gruesome avatar of justice, Brother Bones. The vengeful spirit complied by taking over his brother’s body, effectively ending Jack’s life and thus becoming an animated zombie.

Starting with “Brother Bones The Undead Avenger,” the character burst on to the New Pulp scene over ten years ago. His remarkable debut was followed by a full length novel, “Brother Bones – Six Days of the Dragon,” by author Roman Leary, working under Fortier’s guidance. The following year saw the release of Fortier’s second collection, “Brother Bones – Tapestry of Blood.” Now comes the long awaited fourth book, another anthology featuring five gripping tales of murder, mayhem and the unstoppable Undead Avenger.

“I sometimes think Bones is in charge,” says Fortier, who is also Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor. “His stories propel me along as if I were merely a chronicler. Bones and the entire cast of Cape Noire have, over the years, taken on realistic characteristics in my imagination. In this new collection, we find old characters from previous stories resurfacing in new ways I’d never have conceived of ten years ago. Each is taking center stage with startling new stories that will definitely change the landscape of Cape Noire forever.”

The longest tale in the collection is “The Synthetic Man” and for the first time ever, Brother Bones combats a classic golden age pulp villain, Doctor Satan. “This was a real challenge,” Fortier adds. “I realized bringing Satan into Cape Noire would set a precedent allowing other classic pulp characters to enter this world. Where that will take us right now is anybody’s guess.”

Joining Fortier to provide ten black and white illustrations is Rob Davis, Art Director for Airship 27 Productions and super graphic artist Michael Stribling created the beautiful stunning cover. And this new book is soon to be followed by a brand new role-playing game module, “Ron Fortier’s Cape Noire” from Scaldcrow Games due out within a few weeks. The popularity of Brother Bones continues to grow and these new entries are sure to add to that momentum.


Available from Amazon in both paperback and on Kindle.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Nugget #130 -- Scary Get's Philosophical

Writing scary is hard. It's really hard because 
it takes an understanding of the human mind, 
memories, senses, and universal generalities 
about the human condition.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Political Correctness and New Pulp Fiction


Take your seats, boys and girls and all shades in between. Today we’re going to talk about political correctness in genre fiction, particularly stories set in our less than culturally sensitive past.

But let’s back up first and walk before we try to run, as the cliché goes. When we talk about political correctness, we’re not really talking about politics at all. We’re talking about cultural exclusivity/inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, and most commonly we’re talking about culture clashes (and that’s where politics gets involved). In particular, we usually are talking about the “good ol’ days” bumping heads with the new-fangled days of integration and acceptance of things like interracial relationships, homosexuality, transgender issues, counterculture (pierces, tattoos, and the like), etc.

There are several points of view when it comes to these clashes.

One says don’t sweat it because the good ol’ days were good, and even things like racism and sexism and homophobia can be overlooked because it was a different time and that makes it all right.

Another says history is filled with bad things like racism and sexism and homophobia, and those memories must be purged and hidden so future generations don’t know they ever existed.

Still another says sure, those things were there, and we can learn from them, but let’s cut our elders some slack. They just didn’t know any better.

Yet another says reparations. The sons and daughters of those former generations owe something special because of the actions of their grandparents and forebears, whether in the form of public apologies or in political and economic changes.

Still others say that when we revisit that racist and sexist past, we must use our creativity to recreate that past with culturally sensitive stories in our art, even to the point of rewriting the past so that characters in the 30s are as culturally sensitive with blacks and women voters as we oft believe ourselves to be today.

Others beyond even those have views that combine some of these already mentioned, often in personally confusing ways that don't always line up logically in their worldviews. Hence the struggle, as they say, is real.

Where does all this leave us as writers of new pulp and genre fiction? Do we have a responsibility to the truth of the past, the values of the past, the values of the new culture, the dictates of the market, or somehow to all of these things and more?

A few days ago, a fellow writer of new pulp put forth the following on one of the pulp groups I'm a member of:

At [a con] two weeks ago, I participated in a panel on “Cops and Crime in New Pulp Fiction.” An audience member raised a question concerning political correctness and its impact on NPF. I commented at the time that writing period fiction entails bringing along the baggage of the era, including attitudes and epithets. I also suggested that a part of the nostalgia that fuels the re-emerging pulp fiction market is the joy of reading fiction free from the iron bands of PC.

I recommend reading the new novel by Christopher Moore (Love Bites, Fluke, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, etc.) titled Noir (New York: Harper Collins, 2018), a tongue-in-cheek take on the old the pulp detective genre.

Moore's Author's Note at the beginning of the book reads thus: This story is set in 1947 America. The language and attitudes of the narrators and characters regarding race, culture, and gender are contemporary to that time and may be disturbing to some. Characters and events are fictional.

Well said, Moore.

Frankly, gang, we as pulp writers are not the United Nations, and we need not be all inclusive, nor do we need to be sensitive toward giving offense to any given mainstream reader or special interest group. We write for a niche market, not some public library reading circle or the Weekly Reader Book Club. Write what is genuine.

End of Sermon.

I agree... to a point.

What are our priorities as modern writers of old-style stories? What are our responsibilities as contemporary authors writing about older times and character of previous generations?

We have a responsibility to research and to history to portray our settings (place, time, etc.) as accurately as is needed for our stories. That’s the often hard work (but still fun for those who enjoy it) of writing—research. We do that because we value accuracy. We want out fiction to be as real as we need it to be from story to story.

For example, a cop thriller needs to get its setting—and particularly the police work of its time—right. But, if you're writing an urban fantasy set in the 1920s, then it's far less important to be as accurate—unless you really want to stress the dichotomy between the two worlds. If not, the accuracy of the Valentine’s Day Massacre or police procedure isn’t as important to a world where a wizard and vampire operate as founders of the FBI.

The same could be said for cultural issues. If you’re dealing with an alternate take on historical reality, your 1920s Chicago or New York can be a super-happy world where everyone loved everyone else and no man ever slapped a woman for hysterics. It’s about the story context.

For this topic though, let’s assume a more real world example and story. A cops and robbers thriller (or even a private detective mystery) or a wartime pilot adventure needs to be fairly accurate to the time period. Racism was rampant. Sexism too, and being gay could get you killed if people found out—among other things.

As a writer, you don't have the luxury to pretend these things didn't happen. However, you also don't have the luxury of reshaping them in to harmless tidbits of history. You have to face them for what they were and are.

A caveat… Some among us are writing what equates to a “benevolent” form of propaganda, such as in the religious publishing world. For example, your audience demands that you don’t use “bad” language or (let’s just say) uncomfortable situations. That’s not my calling, and for most of my readers here, that’s not the case either. But if it is yours, you have rules for your market and you must follow them. But even that doesn’t necessarily prevent you from hitting some of these more heavy ideas in a more tactful way.

Along those same lines, some among are writing a less religious but equally "benevolent" propagandized fiction in which the writer caters specifically to his or her cultural worldviews. These can include revisionist histories that "nice" up the world for "safer" reading or doing what can come across as a sort of “reverse racism” that often comes with a “let’s see how they like it” tone induced to elicit social change. Just like religious fiction, these have their place and thir markets, but let’s not confuse them for truth in setting.

Don't read so much negativity into the word "propaganda" at this point. I mean it purely in the sense that the writing is intentionally out to influence or indoctrinate.

Others (hopefully not among us) are writing a less benevolent form of propaganda, literally trying to rewrite the world to our POV or our ideals. For example, I know of some who are writing historical stories that makes slaves and owners commonly out to be good friends from opposite sides of the cotton field. And yeah, maybe that was true for some (maybe), but that wasn’t the general truth of the world and portraying it as such is simply trying to rewrite the truth of the historical record. Even if your hero lives such a life, you have a responsibility as a writer to make sure the readers knows that his or her life makes him or her different from the rest of the world.

Outside of those caveats, we contemporary writers have a responsibility to modern readers to be sure that things we understand are bad now, like racism, homophobia, and sexism, while accepted at the time, are in fact bad things.

So, how do you write them?

For me, it gets down to character. The characters who occupy my stories are always on a sliding scale—starting somewhere between pure good and pure bad, and constantly sliding back and forth toward one or the other.

Those bad things from history are great ways to build my non-heroic characters. Your villains can be filled up with these things. That’s fair game. If your villain is a racist bastard who beats women and sees them as less important than a man, that's one thing, but if your hero has the same ideas and the same nature, then you may have a problem when it comes to modern readers.

Your heroes can also be struggling with some of these issues, but usually will be more enlightened in the others. Or at the very least, your hero, if he believes these ideas, must be struggling to better himself against them or to begin to learn the wrongness of them.

Let’s say your hero is on a case that involves a man killed because his rich uncle found out he was gay and it would bring shame on the family name. Let’s say your hero can totally understand that reasoning but is learning throughout the case that maybe that kind of violence is never the answer in such a situation. It may not be a full enlightenment, but it is a step toward the light, so to speak. And that works for a modern reader, particularly if the character’s further adventures continue his progression toward being a better human being.

Be careful though, because the further your hero is from full enlightenment in terms of today’s standards, the harder the sell will be for a contemporary audience. That said, readers have always been and continue to be suckers for a good change-of-heart or redemptive story.

It’s important to mention that these issues also involve questions about marketing. As a writer you may have the ability to write whatever the hell you want, but as a marketer who wants to sell books, you have a responsibility to write what will appeal to your market. And most modern readers don't want an abusive hero.

Now, these are all issues that are near and dear to my fiction writing career. After all, my first published story was about the legacy of an African-American boy who was rescued from a hanging by a still somewhat racist Southern sheriff. These kind of inclusive characters who still struggle are very important to me because they ring true. I don’t know anyone who is pure Lawful Good or pure Chaotic Evil (to use the gaming terms). And I love to write the gradations between those two points.

I think that's one of the reasons people respond so well to the Rick Ruby stories (The Ruby Files Volume 1 and Volume 2). Rick is a man of his time (the 1930s), but he's also a man in a mostly black world. He sees and lives with all the stuff that Belle and Broomstick and Evelyn put up with, and all that he has seen has changed him into a better man of his time. It's there, and the writers in the series don't shy away from it. But, Rick's world feels the pressure from it, and he has to watch out to keep his damn mouth shut when he wanders out into the rich white world of his clients.

Also, Rick is a philanderer (a bad thing), but his reasons are based in those same pressures. He's in love with Evelyn, a black woman who sings at Belle’s club, but they both understand their relationship won't work in that world, in that time. Therefore, he struggles because he can't commit to the one woman he really wants to, no matter what, and it sends him out to other women to try to get around that loss.

The truths of his world make a good man do bad things, and I think that's the difference, that's the important story Rick is telling in his adventures.

And I think that’s a good way to wrap this up. The standards and truths of the time must influence your stories if you choose to set them there. You ignore them at your peril as a writer, and you risk missing out on the really important stories that might be waiting to come out.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Giving my birthday away this year!

This year, I'm donating my upcoming birthday (May 2, the big 5-0 birthday) to raise a little money for literacy in Atlanta, a cause I can really get behind as a writer. If you can, please get behind it too. Thanks.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

HerStories Project Looking for Essay Writers -- Pays $80

The HerStories Project publishes first-person essays about what it’s like to be a Gen-X woman at midlife. It also considers opinion pieces and informational articles or features. (Note: We have a pretty loose definition of Gen X — anyone who’s now in their late thirties to late fifties.)

Although we are interested in essays about how any facet of your life at midlife — work, kids, marriage, care taking, and all the rest — affects your particular experience, we are not a parenting publication, per se. In other words, we are less interested in essays about how to parent or how to raise good children and more interested in you.

Suggested word count: 750-2000 words

To submit to The HerStories Project, please send your completed piece to, in an email (no attachments, please). Also, please include a short bio (2-3 sentences) and 2-3 links to other published pieces (if you have them).

Pay: $80 for a personal essay or opinion piece (Pay is negotiated for longer feature articles.)

If you are interested in writing a feature article, please pitch your idea(s) to and write “PITCH” in the subject line.

For full submission guidelines:

Friday, April 20, 2018

[Link] Outlining Your Future Book in 30 Minutes

by Becca Puglisi   

To plot or to pants? That is the question—one with as many different answers as there are writers. As an avid plotter, the idea of pantsing gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I understand that my over-the-top planning would probably make other writers break out in hives. That’s why I’m happy that Lesley Vos is here to share a quick outlining method that pretty much anyone could use to lay the framework for their story.

We all have a story in us, and the day comes when we feel ready to share it with the world. But writing is hard. It’s often a challenge more than a pleasant pastime. One of the reasons for this is a lack of planning.

Some fiction writers believe that creativity and imagination are enough to take them where they need to go, that if they allow the characters to live their own lives, they result will be a highly readable book. And this does work for a small number of writers. But in many cases, a few weeks or months go by, and neither the authors nor their characters know where the story’s going.

Outline your fiction or nonfiction book project in just thirty minutes.Things work a little differently with nonfiction writers, who seriously plan their books before they’re written. This planning can help fiction authors, too, saving them time and energy and preventing plot and character mishaps, along with writer’s burnout.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, for those of you who aren’t too keen on planning, I’d like to share my plan for outlining a story idea in just thirty minutes.

Read the full article:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

[Link] How Indie Genre Fiction Ebooks Are Thriving Online

by Adam Rowe

In the indie ebook world, the genre is king.

According to a 2017 Author Earnings report,  over 70% of all genre fiction consumer purchases — the "overwhelming majority" — are now in ebook format. Of these ebooks, most independently published ones have a larger market share than traditionally published ones when broken down into genres: Self-published romance, mystery, horror, science fiction and fantasy all sell better from indie authors or Kindle imprints than they do from traditional publishers.

According to the numbers, genre fiction has taken over in the self-publishing community. Mark Coker, founder and CEO of ebook distributor Smashwords, has some insight as to why.

"The bestselling indie titles are genre fiction," Coker says. "Genre fiction is ideally suited to screen reading because it's straight narrative and easily reflowable." By his reckoning, a first wave of commercial success for independent books can be pegged to the "reverted-rights out-of-print romance titles" that debuted as ebooks in 2009 or 2010 and proved the model could succeed. "In addition to romance, we had several authors who broke out in those early days with fantasy and sci-fi as well," he adds.

Read the full article:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nugget #129 -- Scary Gets Stuck

Writing scary is hard. Books are stuck in one place, but the 
reader isn’t. Skip ahead a few pages and the suspense can 
be ruined. Put the book down, and the tension is released.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Reading Short Stories for Beginners -- A Primer and List of Required Collections

by Sean Taylor

So, you're not really a short story reader. You've been reading your Summer novels for a while now, and you'd like to see why I'm so gung ho about short stories. That's cool. It's okay. I can help you with that.

Well, if you're a regular reader here on the blog, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of short stories and that they are, in fact, my favorite medium for writing and reading prose. I simply love the art required for short fiction.

How to read a short story collection

Step one -- open to the table of contents.
Step two -- read the list of titles.
Step three -- pick one that sounds interesting.

That's right. Totally ignore those 1s, 2s, and 3s in the "chapter" numbers. They don't matter anymore, not one bit.

That feeling you're getting giddy and euphoric on... that's called freedom. You're no longer bound to follow the order the sections appear between the covers. Read the end first. Read the beginning last. Read from the middle out. Jump around from story to story. Pop around like popcorn (the old Jiffy Pop stuff, not microwave). Read all the short ones first. Read all the long ones first. You do you. There are no rules.

Step four -- if you're not enjoying the stories you've read, close the book and pick up a different collection.

Whoa, now... Don't get crazy. Once you start reading you have to finish all the pages, right? Nope. That's the beauty of short stories.

Also, if you don't have time to read a novel per week or month or whatever timeframe you assign yourself, then just jump around with several collections of stories. You feel like you're cheating on your "main read" because there is no main read. Not this time.

See? That's true freedom, baby. Drink it deep. Breathe in it. Roll around and get it all over your jeans. It's okay.

Okay, so where do you start?

Well, here's my list of single-author short story collections to get you started. I mean, if you want to read, then you want to read the best. Right?

The Ways of White Folks is perhaps the finest volume of stories from the post-slavery United States. Each tale relates the culture shock when blacks and whites try to co-exist in a word that won't let them without shying away from the implications. But best of all, Hughes tells his stories with the ear of a poet, making each tale a feast for the ears and eyes.

This forgotten volume is the work of an older world, but the creepiness of these stories can't be denied. If you've ever wondered how horror without gore could still creep you the hell out, then you need to read this book. Modern horror writers would do well to rediscover this one and take its lessons on the art of horror to heart.

Most readers will know Ed McBain from his Matthew Hope and 87th Precinct novels, but even so, it would do you well to look up this collection of early stories from the master of the police procedural. These are the stories that made McBain the writer he became.

Eudora Welty is another of the masters of Southern Fiction. The people she writes about are as real as anyone you've ever met south of the Mason Dixon Line (or above it, for that matter). Welty has a sense of storytelling that comes across like a folk historian.

This one is worth the price of the book for "Harrison Bergeron" alone, but don't be fooled -- Vonnegut's no one-trick pony. He's perhaps the master satirist of the 20th Century, and his characters will stick in your brain long after you put the book down. If you like your fiction with a touch of the absurd, Vonnegut's your writer, hands down.

While The Great Gatsby may be considered by many as the quintessential Great American Novel, Fitzgerald is also a craftsman of the highest caliber when it comes to short stories. Nobody captures the fun, craziness, and self-indulgence of the 1920s better. But unlike lots of period pieces, Fitzgerald's tales aren't stuck in the past. They still ring true for modern readers.

What can out-Lovecraft the great H.P. himself? Well, The King in Yellow can. Based on an unrevealed play of the same name that can cause madness when read or performed, the stories in this book will stick with you for a long, long time, particularly those from the opening pages. Chemicals that turn people to stone, ghastly stalkers, creepy painters -- it's all here.

Almost everybody knows "The Lottery," but few could name her other stories by name. And that's a shame. Jackson knows her craft, particularly as it relates to making a reader care about slightly odd and broken people who exist just off the edge or normal.

This is the first of Bradbury's collections on this list, and I'm not apologizing. This volume is a bit of a departure from the average short story collection because the stories weave in and out of the lives of a town experiencing the seasons. One of the first to combine the novel with the short story effectively, Dandelion Wine is a must-read for any serious reader of short stories.

Pinning down just one volume from Flannery O'Connor is a difficult thing to do for a list. She has a knack for creating some of the most memorable characters in 20th Century fiction, all pulled from the Southen Gothic way she saw the world and incorporated it into her fiction. Nobody else could have created such a "good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

No list of short story collections is complete without Hemingway. He's the guy who defined the concept of literary short. All the classic stuff you either love or hate about Hemingway is here -- the talking around things, the "what the hell is actually going on here," and the to-the-point prose that sticks to the who, what, where, how, and why that he masters during his time as a newspaper writer. There's a reason Hemingway is considered the master of the form.

Nobody, and I mean nobody tells a short story like Ray Bradbury. He's the pinnacle of the artform, and this is his finest work, particularly the title story about a time traveler who faked it to change the world for the better.

Few contemporary writers can sell short stories like Neil Gaiman. Including some essays, this isn't only a short story collection, but it does contain some of his best fantasy shorts that have redefined the genre and pulled it away from the Tolkienesque.

In my opinion, Stephen King is an okay novelist but a damn fine short stories writer. Where he misfires on his novel endings, he has the luxury of not having them in his short stories. In medias res is the norm here. These quick bites of horror and terror are King at his best. (After this one, then read Just After Sunset, his second-best collection.)

One of the best sci-fi collections ever. Kilworth tinges his sci-fi with both horror (the title story) and satire (as well as anything by Vonnegut). This is an often neglected or forgotten work well worth looking for.

Raymond Chandler may be a novelist of the finest quality, but if you haven't read his pulpy shorts, you're missing the full picture. This is adventure writing at its finest. Nobody turns murder and theft into art like Chander. Period.

If Raymond Chandler wrote about relationships falling apart instead of murder, he'd write this book. Take the terse, straightforward style of the pulps and add a few literary techniques like characterization and talking around things instead of about them, and you have this book, one of the finest short story collections ever, and well worth your time.

Garcia Marquez is best known for being part of a literary style/genre called magical realism. Basically that means the mundanely normal and the weird and supernatural (but not too much) sit side by side. This is one of my favorite types of stories, and "Eva Is Inside Her Cat" and "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" (two of the best examples) are in this collection. Garcia Marquez is perhaps one of the biggest influences on my superhero fiction (and it's pretty evident in my story "The Other, As Just As Fair").

Your Turn

That's it for me. What are your favorite short story collections?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Look what arrived!

I'm thrilled to be able to help bring this collection of Howard Hopkin's Golden Amazon work to print.

To order your copy: Paperback, Hardcover
#GoldenAmazon #MoonstoneBooks

Sunday, April 15, 2018



BROADSWORDS AND BLASTERS is looking for quality submissions in the pulp magazine tradition. What does that mean?

We want your tales of:

  • Sword and sorcery
  • Westerns (Weird or otherwise)
  • Horror (Cosmic, Southern Gothic, visceral, and psychological)
  • Detective tales
  • Two-fisted action
  • Retro science fiction
 Tales should feature strong characters and visceral action. No navel-gazing.

Despite having great action, detailed settings, and iconic characters, much of old-school pulp is unfortunately emblematic of limited cultural ideals that we have no interest in propagating. As such, we encourage diverse characters and welcome stories that subvert the standard pulp formula.

We prefer clear descriptions. While we appreciate poetic prose, the reader has to be able to understand what is happening.

For rating guidelines (language, descriptions) we are looking at a hard R-rating. That is to say, we don’t shy away from cursing, gore, or sex, but such content needs to serve the story, not be there for the sake of being there.

Word count: Submissions must be between 2,000 to 5,000 words. Anything outside these limits will be rejected.

Please submit stories in either .rtf, .doc, or .docx. Please use standard submission format.

We do not accept reprints.We do not accept multiple submissions. Please submit only one story at a time.

We do accept simultaneous submissions, but please tell us in the body of the email that you are submitting to more than one publication. If the story is accepted elsewhere, please let us know as soon as possible.

Payment and terms

We pay a flat $15.00 per story upon publication. All payments will be made through paypal.

All published contributors will receive a comp electronic copy.

How to Submit
  1. Email your submission to
  2. Use the subject line Submission: (the title of your story)
  3. Include a short cover letter in the body of your email. Mention the title of your story.
    The cover letter should also include a short biography (100 words or less).
    Don’t forget to mention any social media accounts (Facebook, twitter, etc) you would like to have included with your bio.4. 
    Our goal is to reply within 2-4 weeks of submission. If you haven’t heard from us after 30 days, please send a query to Please include the title of the story you are querying about.
For more information:

Saturday, April 14, 2018

[Link] The Inevitable Direct Market Implosion

by Augie De Blieck Jr.

The Winds of Change

We’re in the middle of the retail apocalypse.  Or, perhaps worse, we’re at its beginning.  You all know the list of the big ones. It includes J.C. Penney, Sears, Toys R Us, Macys, Sports Authority, Radio Shack, Borders.

Retail debt is piling up and going unpaid.  Fewer people are going out to stores. Amazon is eating everyone’s lunch on-line, while Walmart squashes the brick-and-mortars.

And even Walmart is closing stores.

Change happens.  Nostalgia never wins.  The cold, hard reality of business always wins, and that’s prompted by what the consumers wants.  If not enough of them are spending enough money, the business model fails.

Change the model or give up the business.

The entertainment industry is filled with well-known examples of this. These are lessons other industries learned the hard way.

You don’t need me to run them all down, but look at the worlds of books, television, movies, and music.  Not one of those hasn’t had its entire business model upended in the last twenty years. They’ve all changed to provide easy access at any time to a larger catalog of titles at a more reasonable price.

Easy access. Instant access. Vast catalog. Reasonable price.

I’m sorry, but that’s not the Direct Market.

The Inevitable Death of the Direct Market

Business models change.  Businesses change.  It’s inevitable.

Comic books started as a magazine business distributed on newsstands until that distribution model failed to support it.  Then, it moved to the Direct Market, a smaller collection of hobby shops where the books had a lower profile but a built-in market willing to keep it going.

Over the course of the last 30 or 40 years, we’ve seen that built-in audience shrink in size drastically.

Is the business model for comics about to change again?

In the internet age, everything speeds up.  It’s difficult to keep up with the changes, but if you don’t, you will surely die.

Industries may survive, but often at the cost of large chunks of infrastructure.  You can still buy a movie or an album or a book, but the way you get it today — and the way you WANT to get it today — is vastly different from what it was 10 or 20 years ago.

What makes you think the comic book industry is immune to this?  Why does the Direct Market deserve to live?

It’s inevitable.  It won’t be this year.   It might take another five or ten years. But why do we all pretend otherwise?

The Direct Market as it exists today is doomed.  Just look around.

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Friday, April 13, 2018


On Friday evening April 6th, the ninth annual Pulp Factory Awards were announced at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Show.

Best Pulp Novel: Pulp Heroes: Sanctuary Fall

Best Pulp Cover: Holmes & Houdini by Chad Hardin

Best Pulp Short Story: “Takedown” The Ruby Files V2, Bobby Nas

Best Pulp Interior Illustrations: The Ruby Files V2- Nik Poliwko

Best Pulp Anthology" The Ruby Files V2 -Ron Fortier.

In addition Ron Fortier was awarded the first “Grand Master Award” chosen by the awards committee for service to New Pulp above and beyond. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the awards. Kudos to all!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Changing Role of Comic Books in Adventure Entertainment

Can Internal Imagination Compete with Immersive Tech?

There's no getting around it. Entertainment becomes more an more immersive. And it's not just video games. There's also the IMAX experience that transforms a regular "watch the movie" outing into a 3-D adventure.

While some long for the days of books and radio with their theater of the mind, others embrace the new tech of immersion. Is there still room for both? Can the two still compete on level ground?

Curious, I posed the following questions to readers, writers, and publishers.

In a world where the top-selling entertainment items have become immersive and interactive, can anything really be done to save or revive the internalized and imaginative medium of comic books as an industry?

Robert Bear: To be honest, I think comics already made the transition (to video). The medium may be a fading medium and that is an issue for all mediums at some point. Book sales have dwindled some due to the switch to audio books. Much like film has mostly went away, taken over by digital format, comics may have to give way to a more inclusive or interactive format.

Andrew Salmon: Comics are done. The younger generation watches the movies, then... watches the movies again while waiting for the next movie. Very few get hooked on the comics. But it's really a reflection of changing needs. Kids grow up addicted to screens of any and all shapes and sizes. And the movies show on screens so they're good with that. Comics are also way too expensive these days. That's not helping. I'm not saying comics will disappear entirely but they now sell at levels that would have got each title cancelled a few decades ago. It's mostly older folk reading them now and we won't live forever. Sad reality. I believe they will always exist in some form but as a "go-to" medium, that ain't happening.

Matthew Gomez: Moving beyond the big two publishers. Supporting indie comics. Getting more trades into traditional bookstores, including indie stores.

Frank Fradella: I find that a lot of people want to throw stones at the giants, but the fact is that they own their marketshare because they earned it. They all-but created the industry and while they may at times have strangled out their competition, they have their success in the marketplace because what they're selling SELLS.

I'd much rather see people adopt the point of view that 90 percent of the playing field belongs to them, so let's look at what they know.

The problem, ultimately, is that they have millions invested in market research annually that continues to tell them that nobody wants non-superhero comics. At least not enough to make it financially worthwhile. They're not guessing. They know. If there was money in it, THEY'D be doing it.

An indie publisher can publish a western comic, but it's not going to be enough to move the needle in public perception that comics = superheroes. The problem is a cultural one.

Other countries have non-superhero comics and graphic novels. The fact that Americans by-and-large conflate "comics" with "superheroes" is something that Sean and I battled [through Cyber Age Adventures and iHero Entertainment] for a decade, with little success.

John Morgan Neal: Get the comics in more hands. By hook or crook. Kids are naturally drawn to them.

PJ Lozito: Make comics good again. Take a look at a bunch of 1960s Marvels and DCs. High quality!

Ian Ramirez: There will always be a place for stories in every medium. Just because we may stare at a screen, does not mean we won't be looking at panels filled with art and littered with dialogue boxes.

Percival Constantine: People don’t want interactive 24/7. Look at books. There are a lot of novelists who are making a full-time living off their books, maybe more than ever before. And books are even more internalized than comics because all the images have to come from the reader.

Ashton Adams: Yes, the industry can be saved. A major evolution has to occur that probably won’t look much like the current one. But comics media will survive.

Corrina Lawson: Comics books are doing just fine, except the market may be shifting to the bookstore market. Look at Ghosts.

If books and comics both operate in the same medium (that of the internalized and imaginative), why hasn't the book publishing world suffered the same decline in market that comics have?

Dave Creek: Industry stats on book sales look at the industry, that is the large publishers -- not self-publishing authors who make up a large part of book sales. It's also why you see reports claiming that ebook sales are declining. That decline is often among the major publishers because their ebook prices are so high. Meanwhile, cheaper indie books are cleaning up.

John Morgan Neal: Books are not a visual medium. Not as much crossover and there are more older readers overall that aren't into gaming or high tech.

Kel McKay: I would argue that books are a slightly different audience demographic than comics. Those who are interested in  comics are often also interested in technology-based entertainments. So there has been a slow drag in that direction as the technology improves.

Corrina Lawson: Book publishing is tight and has constructed over the past ten years. YA, however, is still an excellent market and that's where many of the successful graphic novels are being aimed.

Ashton Adams: That’s just simple cost benefit. $4 for a comic with a (generous) 15 minute entertainment value vs. a book for $10 that has hours or days worth? Comic’s value isn’t there anymore. I have to make a conscious decision to make a bad spending choice for my entertainment time when buying a comic just for the love of them.

Matthew Gomez: Comics still(!) face a certain stigma of being for kids, despite generally being price-pointed out of kids' budgets. Book world, while taking a hit, has the benefit of being a) not stigmatized and b) being generally more diverse. If I go into a bookstore I'm not faced with an overwhelming barrage of variations on a genre. In a lot of ways, for the book market to look like the comics market, it would be like walking into a bookstore and being faced with 90 percent pirate bodice rippers. And in some cases, you would feel like you had to read 10 years worth to know what was going on currently.

Percival Constantine: Two words: direct market. Diamond still holds a stranglehold on the industry and the direct market has been holding comics back in a way that books didn’t have to worry about.

PJ Lozito: As expensive as books get (someone like Mary Higgins Clark gets $7.99 for a mass market paperback), they still offer a lot of pages. A comic book, at this point, is a pamphlet you read while your coffee cools.

Vik-Thor Rose: Part of it is price... when 3 floppies can cost more than a paperback book, and can be read in a fraction of the time.

Is there any kind of marketing or culture re-shaping that can be done to rebrand or rebuild the audience for sequential illustration formats? If so, what repercussions might that have on the "insider club" that has been loyal all these years to their tights and capes books that one the one hand, kept the industry alive but also created the insular market that is gradually killing it?

Ashton Adams: Evolve or die. Screw the insiders club. That’s a sure fire way to kill the industry quick. You need the highest quality product for the best price like everything else. You want to put out McDonald's you can’t price like Ruth’s Chris.

Corrina Lawson: Get comics where people can read them. See: the success of the tie-in works connected to DC Super Hero Girls and the Superhero High stuff.

Keith Gleason: I don't know what the answer is but when you see a small indie company like Alterna Comics start printing on newsprint paper again and get the cover price down to $1.50 and their profits start to double and triple there's something to that, now imagine if Marvel and DC did that.

Frank Fradella: We grew up in an era when comics were on spinner racks. When I started, they were 25¢ which seemed a reasonable trade for the amount of time you spent reading them. Then came the direct market, a exponential rise in prices, and an exclusionary culture.

You're not going to change anything unless you change everything. You've got to eliminate every objection people have to buying comics -- price, availability, and culture.

Mike Schneider: We need a reading device designed for digital comics. Flexible, gutterless, dual-screen full color paper white at an affordable price point and DC, Marvel, and others publishers throwing in with the same all you can read service would go a long way.

Marlin Williams: The days of riding your bike to the store that sold comics is lost to the newer generation. It's easier to view on an electronic device and much more convenient.

John Pyka: To answer your question think back to how you were introduced to and hooked on comics... technology may have changed but human nature is constant. My first Comics were given to me. I think we need to start gifting comics more often.

Matthew Gomez: Diversification in genre. Adapt and change. The old guard is going to be pissed as hell about, but then it seems easy to get a significant portion of them angry about anything (could be an over-generalization and obviously those that yell loudest get the most attention, even if they are only a small subset as a whole).

Percival Constantine: Pay attention to manga. I know a lot of American comic fans roll their eyes at that suggestion, but guess what? Manga is popular. Manga sells.

John Morgan Neal: Utilize the even more well know comic book characters and worlds and make folks realize they exist. Too many times I have been asked when holding a comic. "They still make those?"

Simon McCoy: I don't know what parents give kids these days as an allowance (assuming they do) but I'm still a firm believer in the idea that the average comic book is too expensive to hook kids these days. They also have options that weren't available when a lot of us were kids: smart phones, tablets, pcs, game consoles -- and these things can provide content without even leaving your home.

You can pay for a month of Netflix at the price of, what... three comic books at most? And quite possibly two? The most iconic characters will survive, but I think print comic books will become even more of a niche thing.