Wednesday, March 25, 2020

State of the Anthology Address

From the editor:


Hello, Women and Female-Identifying NEHW members!
This is Trish, guest editor for Wicked Women with some updates for y’all.
Our first round of rejections, acceptances, and revise & rewrite requests have all gone out this weekend. If you submitted and have not heard, you may send an email to nehwsubs@gmail.com to ask about your submission.

We do still have some space in the anthology, and due to just about everyone’s life getting turned upside down thanks to COVID-19 & co, we’re extending the deadline to APRIL 15. (So you have something other than taxes to look forward to or to redirect stress!)

After having gone through the first round of submission decisions, I wanted to say a few things...
First, I’m very glad we went with blind submissions. Many choices were very hard, but not knowing who sent what allowed me to focus on the writing equally for each piece. When I accepted the guest editor position, I decided I’d send feedback with rejections. And I would send out R&R requests for stories that hooked me with something but didn’t quite work for us.
Next, I want to remind everyone who did receive a rejection (as well as those who received R&Rs and might not agree with the suggestions), that you are all not only welcome but encouraged to submit something else. Really!

Now, here’s some cheat code for the incoming submissions:

While some of you have experience with Editor Trish, not all of you do. I am a TOUGH editor, and I know how well many of you can write. I expect each submission to show an author’s best game. Wicked Women should showcase of how freaking awesome I know NEHW women are.
So, I was rather surprised at how many submissions had common grammar errors or didn’t appear proofread.

Outside of straight up typos and missing punctuation, the top three grammar/proofreading errors found in over half the submissions:

·         Run on sentences and/ or comma splices
·         Improperly punctuated or hard to follow dialogue
·         Incorrect verb tenses (especially past perfect / pluperfect)
These are all things authors can check for themselves, and they are all explained for free online. Do a Google search for what I listed, make sure you’ve not included those mistakes, and that will make a huge difference. While these issues weren’t sole reasons we  rejected stories, they factored into decisions between an R&R and a rejection or an acceptance and an R&R.

I cite these first because they are easy to avoid and fix. But it was Big Picture issues that influenced our decisions most. Here are the three most common Big Picture issues we found:
·         The submission was not a complete story; it was an “experience” or felt like a scene from something bigger.

·         We didn’t see a clear motivation for character actions; the interiority of the character was missing or didn’t match the actions taken. 

·         It was a plot we’ve read / seen / heard / was forced to read in school several times already; we could predict each plot turn.

So if your incoming submission doesn’t have any of these issues, it will have a much higher chance of acceptance. But if you really want a powerful cheat code... do all that and...
#1! Give me a story with obviously queer characters!
Every. Single. Submission. We. Got...
...had either all cis-het characters—often with a plot point dependent on a heterosexual monogamous relationships—or sexuality/gender was not brought up at all. This made me extremely sad. Please make me happier with more rainbow representation? In gender AND sexuality? Pretty please???
2. We also received no stories with characters who were anything but able-bodied. Change that.
3. While there was a better representation of different ethnicities and cultures than queer and able-bodied identities, submissions that aren’t a cast of all or nearly all white people will be looked upon with more favor. (Unless they are racist or clichéd representations. Manuscripts that include racist, bigoted, or ignorant renditions of characters of color will be rejected.)
If you’re an author writing outside of your own experience, Writing the Other (writingtheother.com) has great resources. TV Tropes is another great place to check your clichés regarding characters of color—and clichés in general.

Double-bonus cheat code:
Here are some near and dear topics / themes we were hoping to receive...
While not nonexistent, there was a severe lack of wicked faery women or wicked human women dealing with the fae! And a severe lack of non-western folk / faery tale wicked representation. There was also no space horror, very few reimagined historically wicked women, and nothing with horses or horsewomen outlaws.

And no lighthouses! (One editor in particular would really love a good lighthouse horror!)
I’m not saying you have to include those topics, but clean manuscripts that do include diverse representation and favored topics are going to be exceptionally strong contenders!
So, potential submitters to Wicked Women—Go forth and write!! I look forward to the submissions we get by April 15!

If you need a reminder of the rest of the guidelines, here they are:
Length: 3K to 6K words; query for longer or shorter works.
Payment: $50 for short stories and $25 for poetry (depending on length that could change).
Formatting: Standard MS, 12 point Times New Roman. One space after the sentence ends. Attach the story as a file .DOC, .DOCX, or .RTF. No PDFs please. Do not copy and paste the story into the body of the email.

Send submissions to: NEHWSUBS@gmail(dot)com.
Submissions, as well as revised and resubmitted pieces, will be read blind. Make sure you identify yourself in the cover letter, but if you scrub your manuscript of your name—including the meta info if you know how—that makes things a lot easier for Dan, who has been wonderful about helping us keep things blind. We shouldn’t have to say it, but announcing publicly when you’re submitting, asking story-specific questions on a public forum, or letting one of the editors know you’ll be submitting soon hurts the blind process. Please don’t do this.

We also shouldn’t have to say this, but please do not send stories of sex with animals or with children. No extreme violence or gore. If you have to include violence in the story to continue the plot, that’s fine - not too graphic and move the plot along. Keep it R rated.
Payment will be made 90 days after publications.

Finally, we are still taking cover submissions!
If you are an artist or you know an artist who should submit, here’s the GLs for that:
Send 2-3 thumbnail concept images as .JPG or .PNG files to NEHWSUBS@gmail(dot)com along with a cover letter that includes estimated cost, time frames, and your contact information. Cover pitches do not need to be sent blind.
Thank you everyone!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Wicked Women - Guidelines


Wicked Women

Wicked Women will be the 7th anthology from the New England Horror Writers. The current plan is for this book to be released October 2020 during our appearance in Salem MA in the outside fair in Derby Square. If the book is ready a little earlier, then we’ll release it at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival or when we’re in Salem.

The purpose of this anthology is to focus the talented women writers in the NEHW. We only want stories written by women or those who identify as female.  If you’re a guy writing under a feminine pen name who doesn’t identify as a female the story will be rejected unread.

We will have female editor.

We will have a female cover artist.

We will have female writers and poets.

The only theme of this anthology is the “female author” aspect . We want the best horror stories and dark fiction, and maybe a few dark fantasies from our New England women writers. Please don't fill us up with Dryad, Witch (we've already done that) or succibi stories. We'll likely take 1 or 2 but not the whole book.

If the protagonist or antagonist isn’t female, that’s fine, so long as the author is.

Word count should be 3K to 6K query for longer or shorter works. Payment rate is a flat rate $50 for short stories, and $25 for poetry (depending on length that could change).

We will be doing an OPEN CALL for the cover artist. We’re still undecided on interior artwork.
And though we shouldn’t have to say it, do not send stories of sex with animals or with children. No extreme violence or gore, please. If you have to include violence in the story to continue the plot, that’s fine - not too graphic and move the plot along. Keep it R rated. Same with sex: R rating.
Standard MS formatting, 12 point Times New Roman. One space after the sentence ends. Attach the story as a file DOC, DOCX, RTF, and no PDFs please. Do not copy and paste the story into the body 
of the email.

Submissions can be sent to NEHWSUBS@Gmail(dot)com.

Reading period will be 12/1/19 to 3/31/20 or until filled.

Payment will be made 90 days after publications.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Women in Horror - week 4

Week 4 of Women in Horror month is with guest blogger Renee S. DeCamillis


Have No Shame—
Promote to Stay Afloat
1/29/2020
by Renee S. DeCamillis

     I am a newly published author, and when I had set out over ten years ago to start taking my writing more seriously I had no idea that there was more than just the craft of writing that I needed to learn about. The all too common saying—I wish I’d known then what I know now—is hitting me hard now that I realize I had never learned how to get my name and my work out to the masses in this monster publishing world. 
     Yes, I majored in English Lit. in college, and yes, I went on to earn my MFA in Popular Fiction Writing, and I learned a hell of a lot about writing and literature, but nowhere in my studies to become a published author were there any courses on Promotions and Public Relations, not unless you were a business major. Somehow there seems to be this illusion among new writers and the masses of non-writers that once someone gets a book deal everything else is all set and the sales and the money and the movie deals—yes, many people do believe this; luckily I wasn’t one of them—will start rolling in.
     The publisher will promote the shit out of your book, right? The publisher will send your book out to all the reviewers, right? The publisher will get established writers to blurb your book, right? The publisher will set up interviews for you, right? The publisher will arrange your podcast appearances, right? The publisher will arrange your book tour, right? The publisher will submit your book for all the award opportunities, right? The publisher will contact the book stores to get your work on their shelves, right?

WRONG!

     Since it’s the publisher that has all the connections, and it’s the publisher that is in the business of making money, and it’s the publisher who wants their authors to succeed it almost makes sense to assume that all of the promotional work will get done by the publisher. What isn’t widely known to new writers, and it’s especially unknown to much of the masses outside the publishing world, is that most authors will not sign book deals with any of the Big Five publishers; they will sign deals with the indies. (Thank the Gods and Goddesses for indies!) Still, it seems reasonable to assume that even the independent publishers will do a lot of promotional work for the books they’re signing and selling. Coming from a mindset of—Since they’re indies, they’ll fight even harder to promote and sell more books—seems like common sense. But that is not at all how this world works.
     New writers need to realize that most of the indie publishers don’t have the people-power to do all the promotional work that is needed to bring a book the recognition it needs to generate sales and find more readers. Of course the publisher wants the books they publish to sell, but at the end of the day they are small businesses doing the best that they can to stay afloat and put the authors’ work out into the world—just like indie authors themselves. Many of the independent publishing houses depend a lot on volunteers, people working for the pure love of literature, or working to gain experience for their resume, or working to simply help out their business-owner-friend and/or partner, etc. The staff members that they can afford to pay are often low in numbers.

     With that said, I want to stress that if you are with an indie publisher, be very thankful and appreciative for every single thing they do to help promote your work and to promote you as an author. Their job is not an easy one, just as your job as an indie author is not easy. We all have to wear multiple hats, and some of those hats may not fit us well, but that’s the nature of the beast.
     Speaking of those multiple hats, another thing an indie author should learn a little more about above and beyond the writing is how to use a fucking computer. Yes, I drop the f-bomb here because this is a constant struggle I contend with on a daily basis. Between figuring out who to email about getting reviews and podcast appearances and interviews and award considerations and scheduling reading appearances and getting your book(s) into bookstores, yada-yada-yada, there’s the “basic” online representation and advertisement of your work. Some personal experience of mine with this aspect: I had mistakenly thought it would be easy to post/share a video of my book launch reading as a way to promote my book and promote my narration ability, but even that became a two month process where I had to recruit the assistance of a very helpful and considerate friend to teach me how to condense a video from my phone into a small enough sized video to post online. Yeah, this shit is in no way quick and easy. Every time I turn around and want to promote something, I find that there’s something else with computers that I still need to learn how to do. Shit—I’m still trying to figure out how to use Instagram as a promotional outlet (My damn pictures keep getting cut off!), and learning how to convert my book into an eBook, among many other things.
     Seriously, promotional work is practically a full-time job, and there’s a constant struggle to balance time spent promoting versus time spent writing and creating. This, for me, is a constant battle, especially since I—a stay-at-home mom who also suffers from MS—can only work part-time. And many indie authors work full-time day jobs and have a family to raise/support. Finding balance is the key.
     Yes, we are not just writers, we are actual independent businesses all wrapped up in one person. Every indie writer needs to find balance. I personally am still trying to catch my balance. I have in no way figured this all out yet. There is so much I am learning every day, and so much more I still need to learn, and this is why I felt the need to write this piece. If anyone has advice to share with me and others about all of this mind-whirling work, please share it.
     Another important thing I have learned and want to share is that a lot of promotional work should be done before publication day. I am now realizing how crucial this is AFTER the publication of my first book. Reviews, interviews, podcast appearances, author blurbs—all of this promotional stuff is best done before your book comes out. Of course, it does help if you have hardcopy ARCs to give out to reviewers and authors you ask for blurbs and whatnot, which I did not have. Some people will accept digital copies, but not all of them. For those people who do accept digital ARCs, it helps if you have an edited ARC ready to send to them long before publication day, which I also did not have. Yes, you will still need to do this promo work after your book comes out, but the more promo work done before hand helps get you more promotional opportunities after. You can also try to gather a group of ARC readers by way of friends and acquaintances who may post reviews of your work on Amazon and Goodreads and social media, but from my own experience with that—don’t hold your breath for those reviews. Even when many of my thirty ARC readers raved to me about how much they love my book and what a great writer I am, only three people actually posted a review anywhere. But, hey, maybe they just really hated my book and didn’t want to tell me, and that’s fine. I hear that attending conventions also helps promotions a lot, but that takes money and time and good health, all of which are in very short supply for this indie author, though I still plan to somehow make that happen.
     At the end of that day we all just have to keep on pushing through, keep writing, keep promoting, and…Hell, when you get the chance, help spread the word for your writer friends, too. Even if your friend’s book is still in your TBR pile, it doesn’t take much time or effort to click share and give them a shout out. If you have read their work, it only takes a couple minutes to post a sentence or two review on Amazon and Goodreads and click some stars. If you want others to do it for you, you should be willing to do it for others. We are all in this together. Let’s help each other out. Have no shame. Promote. Promote. Promote!   

    
Next Appearance: On Saturday, February 22 at 2 PM Renee will appear at the Lewiston Public Library in Maine to read from her debut book, The Bone Cutters. A Q&A, book sales and signing will follow her reading.   

Visit Renee @:
Twitter @ReneeDeCamillis  


The Bone Cutters is also currently available at Barnes & Noble, on Indie Bound, as well as at Bull Moose, Longfellow Books, and Quiet City Books—indie book stores in Maine.






Sunday, February 16, 2020

#WIHM Week #3

This week's Women in Horror guest blogger is Angi Shearstone.


Angi Shearstone
WiHM blog post for NEHW


Representation matters.

I believed it and supported it as soon as I heard the phrase, however long ago that was, and as a concept before the phrase came into use, however long ago THAT was.

But I don't think I really 'felt' that truth until I saw a very specific movie a few years back, and wished I could send it back in time to 14-year-old me.

Sure, there were several excellent / atypical / 'different' female characters along the way of my 1970s childhood and 1980s teenage journey in to nerdolitry, geekery, and horrorness …

Wonder Woman (Linda Carter)
Charlie's Angels
Isis (spin-off from Shazam)
Princess Leia
Ellen Ripley
Sarah Connor

Please forgive me for pulling from several genres (and across decades), because for me, it was loosely all "that weird stuff" that most of my female friends just didn't get. Yeah, for a while, with our age still in single digits, we shared ghost stories, psychic tales, and ouija board activities, but that faded away for them, somewhere in the transition into make-up and more gendered expectations.

Other geeky loves were problematic with regard to gender (Star Trek TOS, with Captain Kirk boinking his way across the galaxy, tho' Lt. Uhura made strides for both women and PoC), or just unmemorable wrt gender (Battlestar Galactica – unmemorable possibly because I started crushing on the boys, or don't remember because I can't bring myself to go back and watch them).

In retrospect, it mattered to young me that the 'princess' in Star Wars was a leader of rebel forces, could also shoot a laser gun, and wear something other than that dress, and stomp around the woods in camouflage. She wasn't the same kind of princess in most of the other stories i'd heard by that time (I was 7 in 1977).

It mattered that there was a Bionic Woman counterpart to the Bionic Man.

Later, it also mattered that Buffy the Vampire Slayer had so many other things to do than a boyfriend.

And it would have mattered even more, when I was a teenager & loved the orginal classic in all its glory, to see something like Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016). Because so many, if not all of the genre women up to that point, well, they were all pretty attractive, and fit, and sexy in a way that didn't deviate much from standards.

But the female Ghostbusters? Badass and silly and further challenging the notion of ladylike behavior and the lens of 'standard' attractiveness. All spectacular at their respective talents, all while suffering the same kinds of micro-aggressions I and so many women (almost all?) have experienced throughout life.

Holy shit, that mattered. Like, I got tears in my eyes at the end. That's when I really felt it, in my heart and in my soul: Representation matters.

It may not qualify as a great film in the eyes of history or anybody else, but it's absolutely excellent at what it did for me. I genuinely wish I'd had something like that when I was a teenager.

Representation matters. Let's see all kinds of women and men and every other and in-between. Because there's someone else out there who needs to see 'em.

On a side note, does anyone else feel kinda squidgy that WiHM coincides with Black History month? Like, it’s already the shortest month, can they share without detracting from one another? I don't know. I hope that what I've put down here can be at least tangentially relevant to thoughts on both. It's important to see all kinds of people  in our stories, and important to bring to light hidden and underrepresented truths.

Me, I’m Angi, and it’s a small miracle I got this short post done before February 29. You can see more about the things I do at www.blooddreams.com and www.angishearstone.com.