Updated list of paying spec fiction short story markets: May 2015

Seems like there is an increase in “projects” vs “markets” for short stories. Not sure how many of these projects are legit or if they are trial balloons. I haven’t really included all of them here, as they come and go relatively quickly.  But it is something I am pondering on how to track.

IMG_0459

If you do find this list useful, come say hi on Facebook, I’m C.R.Hodges.Author.

Updates:

The following markets have been added:

  • Pro:
    • Sword and Sorceress  Temp Closed
  •  Token:
    • The Lorelei Signal  Temp Closed
    • Pulp Modern
    • Sorcerous Signal
    • Wolfsinger Publications

The following markets have reopened:

  • PodCastle

The following markets have temporarily closed:

  • Buzzy
  • Blight Digest
  • Monster
  • Shoreline to Infinity

The following markets have permanently closed / appear to be dead

  • Not One of Us

Keep on writin’.

CR Hodges

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Plotter or Pantser?

Me, I’ve always been a pantser, when it comes to plotting.  Which is writer-speak for being too lazy to actually generate an outline, a plan of the plot.  Just let the story flow, just let the characters tell the story in their own way.  And it has worked well for short stories (15 publication credits and counting).  But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way, and more importantly to me, that doesn’t mean it’s best suited for longer works.  So I am trying out plotting.

As I’m a novice at this, I asked Toby to help. Of course, I had to bribe him with the promise of a walk, but I needed a break.  And a bag of munchies.  And another cup of coffee.  Not sure if the process fits yet, but I’m trying it out. Stay tuned.

So to my writer buddies out there, do you plot or pants?

Either way, keep on writin’!

CR Hodges

 

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Musings from the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference

I attended my first-ever writing conference last weekend in Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.  While admittedly my attendance was initially motivated by winning 1st place for Ragnarök Willie in the Pikes Peak Writers Zebulon Fiction Award contest, I came away with a lot more than just that (really nice) certificate.

PP

Firsts for me:

  • First writing conference.  As mentioned above, this was my first ever writing confab.
  • First time to hang out with literally hundreds of talented writers at once
  • First time someone ever told me “There are five key scenes in every novel,” see below
  • First time to read an excerpt aloud in front of a literary agent and a whole bunch of talented writers–amazing
  • First time to meet a literary agent (one of several)
  • First time to query an agent face to face–not so amazing
  • First place in that writing contest…
2015 Zebulon Award. Photo courtesy Jared Hagan

2015 Zebulon Award. Photo courtesy Jared Hagan

New stuff I learned (or relearned)

  • Lots of people have pen names, but if you meet them face to face, you use their real name.  I was a little worried about this as my name tag read  C.R. Hodges, but it was okay just to say, “Hi, I’m Chuck.” Turns out that R.L. Stine, the keynote speaker is just Bob, and Andrew Gross is just Andy.
  • At a writing conference, literary agents are always surrounded by a really large gaggle of aspiring writers.  It’s tough to heard with all the geese-a-squawking
  • But  agents are people too, and deserve a little breathing room
  • Turns out pretty much every novel has five major scenes (I did not know this, but it makes huge sense):
    • Hook
    • Point of no return
    • Reversal
    • Darkest hour
    • Climax
  • It is true that exclamation points and rhetorical questions are frowned upon
  • Every agent likes things different
  • Writing awards like the Zebulon seem to impress other writers but do not seem to impress agents or editors
  • Even shy writers can easily break the ice with other writers–“so what do you write?”
  • This is not necessarily true talking to agents…

geese c

Stuff I gotta work on

  • Querying better–there is a fine art to this that I still don’t get
  • Plotting rather than pantsing
  • Getting in closer with my characters
  • Pushing to the front of the gaggle of geese when an agent is sighted (probably will never learn this)

Back to writing.  Lots to do.

CR Hodges

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Excerpt of Pikes Peak Writers Conference week: Ragnarök Willie

I’m headed off to Colorado Springs tomorrow, to my first writers confab, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Double thrilling because I will also get to pick up an award for my urban fantasy novel, Ragnarök Willie.

A Valkyrie or a bird?

A Valkyrie or a bird?

When an archeologist unearths Valhalla, thirteen valkyries, a pagan cult, and Lasse Nordberg all head north.  The valkyries are vying for global domination.  The pagans are searching for a horn of mass destruction.  Lasse is looking for a job, a girlfriend who doesn’t cheat, and a latte. But he has the horn, and Ragnarök is nigh.

Excerpt:

Ragnarök Willie

C.R. Hodges

Chapter 6: Skål—Skull

Ragnarök Willie dragged me outside into a stiff fall breeze, another cigarette lit before the door closed behind us. A ten-minute walk past the gourmet café I had stopped at earlier, past the fishmongers hawking their pungent catches. We ended up at a seedy pub near the wharves, filled with inebriated sailors of diverse nationalities.

He ordered two beers, coffee forgotten. “Now tell me why the ‘ell you’re here.”

I launched into a refrain of the reporter spiel, but he gripped my collar, pulled my face close to his, coughed, and repeated, “Why the bloody ‘ell are you here?”

“I’m just a reporter for Corren. I do what Mist asks.”

“Not so bloody far from the truth. Let’s try again. Why would Mist be sending you?” he asked, the gravel in his voice more like rocks in a shovel now.

“She wants a story on your dig. In Abisko.” I couldn’t quite bring myself to say in Valhalla.

“Not exactly. She wants to know what I’ve found. Are you her spy?”

“Spy? I’m a reporter.” My first journalistic righteous indignation. If he hadn’t been breathing into my nose I would have been pleased with myself.

“You flunked out of the Chalmers archeology program; you read just a wee semester of journalism.” I blinked; he smiled. “I may be an old fart, but I do know how to use the internet. You’re being manipulated by the woman who put Franco in power.” A grimace. “I need to take a slash.”

He headed for the back door, a cigarette already in hand, before I could ask Franco who?

I wandered to the bar and ordered another round. When the bartender brought back the beers, he also set a chartreuse drink with a tiny umbrella in it before me.

“I didn’t order this.”

“Lady in the corner,” the bartender said, with a nod.

Tack.” I tossed him a krona.

He left the coin on the bar.

A mane of white-blond hair and a pair of toned legs curving out from an illegally short skirt approached the bar.

“Uh, thanks for the umbrella, er, drink.”

“I am called Brynhildr,” she said, separated each syllable with Teutonic precision, her blue eyes fixed on me. She could have passed for Mist’s younger sister.

“Cool name. Like one of Wagner’s Valkyries,” I said, remembering Willie’s playlist. My eyes drifted down to her neon pink bandeau.

“Will you with me dance?”

“He cannae dance. Gimpy leg.” A cold hand fell on my shoulder as a shoe slammed into my bum ankle. Willie grabbed the beers in one hand and dragged me back to our table with the other. “Waltz with her and you’ll be missing some private parts come morning.”

I turned to say goodbye, but she was already surrounded by half of the Latvian navy.

CR Hodges

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Grammar Demons

Grammar.  One of the many nemeses of writers.  Not quite as evil as Writers Block or Post Rejection Syndrome, but one of our banes for sure.  Especially for those of us who foolishly majored in engineering (or science or music or math or, well, you get the picture.) instead of English.  And while good grammar and spelling do not make necessarily for good writing, they are table stakes.  Necessary but not sufficient, we used to say, in one of those not-quite-useless science classes.

devil carving

And Grammar is not an exact science (nor is spelling, we’ll come back to that). English as a language is evolving constantly.  Furthermore, Grammar is more often bent in dialog or close-perspective narration than in business writing.  Starting a sentence with And or But leaps to mind.

Similarly, spelling is also more fluid than one might think.  While much is involatile (notice I got the plural of nemesis correct above), again language is evolving.  Leaped or leapt, dived or dove are two of my own bugaboos (I oscillate back and forth).  Add on top of this differences in American vs British English.  Forgetting the big ticket items like all those excess Us in coloured armour, and the S vs Z conundrum, how about ax vs axe?  While sans E is standard American English, I prefer having that E when I am writing fantasy that evokes medieval weaponry.  A swordmaiden with a battleaxe feels better, at least to everyone but her enemies.  And my spell checker just told me it should be sword maiden, a tip I just ignored

While Grammar enemies abound, there are some friends out there.  Various spellcheckers are our first line of defense, but they pass many goobers and miss many of the subtleties, not to mention all those false alarms.  Two favorite tools of mine are:

  • Grammar Girl, a website devoted to answering those tricky grammar questions
  • Grammarly, a grammar-checking tool that I have recently started using.  It actually works–I routinely find one or two major goobers and a slew of comma faults even in well-proofed short stories.  That’s the good news, bad news is that while there is a stripped-down web version that is free, the full version that works with MS Word is very expensive, sold only as a service at ~ $15 / month. Do the math–this is the cost of a new laptop every 3 years or so. For people who write for a living, great, but a little pricey for my blood at this stage.

What tools do you use to combat your Grammar demons?

Keep on writin’.

CR Hodges

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Updated list of paying spec fiction short story markets: April 2015

Here are some new / updated paying spec fiction short story markets, as of April 12, 2015. Sorry that I have been delayed in posting updates–I messed up and won a writing contest, the Pikes Peak Writers Zebulon Fiction Contest, for my mythica novel Ragnarök Willie.  So I’ve been rather busy getting that novel dialed in for querying. A good problem to have, but a tad stressful and all-consuming.

winter train

If you do find this list useful, come say hi on Facebook, I’m C.R.Hodges.Author.

Updates:

The following markets have been added:

  • Semipro:
    • Science Fiction Romance
    • Shoreline to Infinity Temp Closed

The following markets have reopened:

  • Nameless
  • Ideomancer

The following markets have temporarily closed:

  • Dark Fuse
  • Blight Digest
  • Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
  • New Myths
  • Bastion Science Fiction

The following markets have permanently closed / appear to be dead

  • Lore
  • Aercastle Narriatives
  • Eldrich Press
  • Specutopia

Other

  • PodCastle is now a Pro market

Keep on writin’.

CR Hodges

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Ragnarök Willie wins 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Zebulon Fiction Award

My mythica novel, Ragnarök Willie has won the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Zebulon Fiction Award in the urban fantasy category. To say I’m excited about this would be a huge understatement, although I’m also more than a little intimidated.  Besides my 15 seconds of fame accepting the award, I’ll also be querying Ragnarök Willie at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference the end of April.

winter train

I’m practicing my blurb, so here it is (more info and an excerpt on my updated Ragnarök Willie page):

When an eccentric archeologist unearths the prehistoric fortress of Valhalla, thirteen semi-mythical valkyries, an ancient pagan cult, and young Lasse Nordberg all head north.  The valkyries are vying with each other over global domination.  The pagans are plotting revenge for the millennium-old Christian invasion.  Lasse, a university dropout and video game junkie, is looking for a job, a girlfriend who doesn’t cheat, and a decent latte.

Thrilled to find work at an obscure newspaper in the frozen armpit of arctic Sweden, Lasse is assigned to report on the dig.  He wonders why his blond boss keeps a bevy of throwing axes in her desk drawer.  And why the sexy druidess keeps asking him about old hunting horns.  He should do more than wonder: his boss is one of the valkyries, wingless but deadly, and his druidic girlfriend is using him to find Gjallarhorn, the not-so-mythical horn of Heimdallr.  Which, if blown three times, will awaken Odin’s undead warriors for Ragnarök, the battle at the end of the world. 

Come Midwinter’s Day, his back to a pillar of fire, surrounded by warring valkyries, a blue-bearded giantess charging at him, Lasse has already blown Gjallarhorn twice.

Wish me luck.

CR Hodges

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