New Year, New Publication

The new year has started out for me with plenty to think about. Besides the new house, I’ve officially taken the reins as publisher for Space and Time Magazine. I don’t enter into this challenge lightly.

While my background is in publishing, this is a whole new kind of publication with an impressive history. S&T has consistently introduced some of the best names in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres for 52 years. It’s the oldest continuously published magazine in the genre. That’s a lot to live up to. Fortunately, I won’t be alone.

The magazine comes with a small army of professional editors and writers that bring a passion for new speculative fiction and poetry to every page. Founder Gordon Linzner remains as editor emeritus to watch over his creation as it continues to evolve. Current publisher Hildy Silverman will also remain to help guide this magazine into a new era.

I also come with my own team. My husband and fellow author R. A. Smith is on board along with my daughter Kyra Starr—a competent graphic artist, marketer and social media manager. They have both worked with me over the years on a variety of projects.

I look forward to helping S&T continue to develop. Already a venerable publication, my involvement will be less about change and more about growth. S&T is already a leader in consistently breaking new literary ground and my wish is for that to continue as is. I look forward to bringing this magazine forward for many more decades.

The world of publishing has drastically changed since Linzner first launched it back in 1966. Higher printing and postage costs are just a few of the realities that have challenged not just S&T, but magazines and newspapers in general. Given S&T’s long tradition of publishing excellence, talented core of passionate professionals and dedicated readership, I believe that the soul of S&T will remain and thrive.

The news that the magazine would be changing to my hands came on my 50th birthday. I had a quiet moment as I considered where things would go from here. This has been my dream for many years. There is a great joy to being published. To have the ability to bring other voices to ink only magnifies that joy. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to do just that for such an amazing magazine.

I credit the previous pioneers who have made S&T what it is today—Gordon Linzner, Hildy Silverman and all those who have contributed their talents for so many years. Thank you for allowing me to take the helm.

Onward to new horizons!



Explore the Space and Time Magazine website here.

Read Hildy Silverman’s press release on this here.

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Exquisite Corpse #7: The Reckoning

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this month’s exquisite corpse—the final corpse of the year. All your excellent lines have given our exquisite corpse another month of purpose!

I do have my computer back, so I’m able to pair our poem with an image again. The way the lines came together amaze me. I have a sense of this collaborative poetry form as being something akin to magic. How do we all manage to create something so connected each month from such disconnected parts? Magic.

I wish everyone a wonderful 2019. May the distasteful bits of 2018 fall from your life to rot in the past and may the beautiful parts remain, growing brighter over the coming year until they illuminate every dark recess… except the shadowed corners you to choose to preserve. We can’t wipe away all the darkness, of course, or light would have no purpose.

Please enjoy the final corpse of the year, and I hope you will rejoin me soon for our next collaborative creation. This month’s eCorpse prize is a necklace containing real dirt sustainably harvested from Edgar Allan Poe’s original grave site—the perfect lucky charm for horror writers. This month’s winner is Sumiko Saulson. Congratz Sumiko, I will be emailing you for your address. Contributor names are in order of their line.

The last chimes of the old year die on a frozen wind as our corpse stretches sinew and cord to sing one last verse to times past. His fingers clutch at nothing, for that is all that is left to him… except words.

Lines of verse have been offered and he receives them gratefully as the lines that tether him to this place between worlds. Without them, he would cease. The gifted fragments are enough to quicken his thickened blood and give pulse.

Blank eyes look skyward at the hypnotic fall of midnight snow, and across the emptiness of winter he sings… and lives…

Read past corpse creations…

Exquisite Corpse #1: Collaborative Poem
Exquisite Corpse #2: The Daunting Riddle
Exquisite Corpse #3: Toxicated
Exquisite Corpse #4: Deceptions
Exquisite Corpse #5: Final Chimes
Exquisite Corpse #6: Treading


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Final Corpse of the Year

E. Corpse courtesy of Kyra Starr

I tried to go on holiday vacation and let the corpse rest until the new year but lines are coming in my inbox anyways, so let’s do this. This will be end of the corpses for 2018.

The old year will die with his final verse. I’m especially excited to see how this one turns out. Some of the lines coming in are giving me chills! Soooo…. despite what I said yesterday…

Submit your line now for the final Exquisite Corpse of the year. Send me your line via email— with EXQUISITE CORPSE in the subject line.

Please add your line and your name as you would like it to appear to the body of the email. Deadline is December 30th. The poem will be posted on December 31 to sing out the old year.

The names of contributors will be added in order of contribution. I’d also like to include our poem in my next poetry collection, Altars and Oubliettes.

And there will be a prize! I have made a few necklaces that contain real dirt sustainably harvested from Edgar Allan Poe’s original grave site—the perfect lucky charm for horror writers.

I’ll pick one line at random and send the creator a necklace in a gift box. Congratulations to Tawny Kipphorn for winning last time!

Aaaaand… in case you don’t know, an Exquisite Corpse is a collectively assembled poem. You can read more about them here.

Read past corpse creations…

Exquisite Corpse #1: Collaborative Poem
Exquisite Corpse #2: The Daunting Riddle
Exquisite Corpse #3: Toxicated
Exquisite Corpse #4: Deceptions
Exquisite Corpse #5: Final Chimes
Exquisite Corpse #6: Treading

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Closed for Christmas

I’m throwing in the towel for this year and putting myself on vacation until the new year. I’ve overestimated my abilities to keep to my daily blogging schedule while moving five apartments into one house with no car (still totaled) and no computer (still getting fixed).

We are in the thick of moving and I am more tired than I ever imagined was possible. A nasty cold bug is running through our tribe on top of everything else. ‘Tis the season for coughs and sneezin’…

I’m taking the rest of the year off from blogging to finish moving in, build a fence, install a dog door, fix my car, fix my computer, unpack and put together my office under the stairs. I’ll be back in 2019 with more exquisite corpses, fiction, reviews and excellent interviews.

I have one waiting now with the horrifically charismatic “Terrible Tim” from Drive-In Movie Maniacs, an award winning, nationally syndicated T.V. show that I will be excited to share in the new year. Read more about them here.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday however you celebrate (or don’t celebrate). See you in 2019!

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Exquisite Corpse #6: Treading

E. Corpse courtesy of Kyra Starr

Please read my post from yesterday for all my excuses as to why this exquisite corpse is late. My apologies for tardiness. I’m happy to have some new names joining us this time.

There will be one more corpse this year. Submissions open on Dec. 17th  and the poem will be posted (unless more crazy happens here) on New Year’s Eve. But more on that next week.

In the past posts I’ve enjoyed pairing the poem we create with an image but that will not happen today. The rickety computer I’m working on doesn’t have Photoshop and I’m not sure it could handle it… but no complaints! I am grateful to have anything to work on at all.

This month’s eCorpse prize is a necklace containing real dirt sustainably harvested from Edgar Allan Poe’s original grave site—the perfect lucky charm for horror writers. This month’s winner is Tawny Kipphorn. Congratz Tawny, I will be emailing you for your address.

But enough of the mundane. Let’s see our creation…

The corpse struggled to rise again, but the linen bindings were drawn too tight against his stiffened limbs. He cried out for help, but there was no internet to hear him. Finally, he prevailed and managed to slip off the table. He tore his bonds, released his voice and spoke this verse to the empty dark…


Distant thunder rolls across the heavens
as the sacred Dance of Death begins.
The glowing moon quietly sat in a rust-colored ring
as I drift upon waves of ebon shimmer.
The tea leaves shift in the microcurrent…
divination by peppermint.

I always dreamed of breathing underwater.

Over my soul a shadow looms,
and of my love this flower blooms.
Some things are better left unsaid,
some things are better off undead.

Collectively created by—Marge Simon, Sonora Taylor, Nina D’Arcangela,
Angela Yuriko Smith, Christina Sng, Tawny Kipphorn and David B. Harrington

Read past corpse creations…

Exquisite Corpse #1: Collaborative Poem
Exquisite Corpse #2: The Daunting Riddle
Exquisite Corpse #3: Toxicated
Exquisite Corpse #4: Deceptions
Exquisite Corpse #5: Final Chimes

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Still Standing

The last week and a half reads like fiction with all the catastrophes that popped up, but we are not only still standing, but pressing on in spite of it all. Tonight we find ourselves not quite at the end of the tunnel, but at least seeing the light.

We closed on our house at the end of November. We have the perfect house for us—a 123 year old house that’s been completely remodeled across the street from a park, a two minute walk from a large library and a short stroll from the historic square of Independence. It has a full size basement lined with antique brick. We are thrilled!

The next morning, the crazy started. First, my computer wouldn’t start. My CPU fan had gone out. Then my phone charge port decided to malfunction and I could barely keep it charged. It was the day after a blizzard, but progress must go on, right? I rented a van so I could pick up a stove. The sellers gave me the wrong address and at the end of the day I wound up at the bottom of a frozen hill in a moving van with a dead phone in the middle of the woods.

I managed to get a ride out to civilization, and the next day it took one of my sons and I two hours to break the ice enough to rescue the van. Once we did, I stubbornly tried to go after the cursed stove. Two more missed connections and another wrong address later, I finally got to see it. It was rusted. So much for being brand new. I left it and returned the van still stove-less.

We moved one of my sons in the new house so there would be someone on premises while we sorted things and moved ourselves. I dropped him off with supplies for a few days to find that the furnace wasn’t blowing heat. The furnace was the one thing we couldn’t inspect due to the gas not being on, but we were assured it was fine. It’s new, so we accepted that.

I did wind up smoking a pack of cigarettes at this point. I haven’t smoked since.

It wasn’t fine. A clogged exhaust, a bad pressure switch and a faulty thermostat meant $600 and two chilly nights for my son. Then the basement drain clogged. Once I got the furnace working I had to plunger the basement. I did get the drain cleared, and the water turned out to be from under the garage door due to extra heavy snow melt. I was glad to know it wasn’t anything busted.

Meanwhile, I managed to borrow a back up computer from my daughter so I could still get online and found that if I worked the cord just right I could still charge my phone. We had heat and online capabilities. Things were looking up.

That night I went to pick the other son up at work, and a teenage girl failed to stop in the parking lot and totaled my Civic. We were all very lucky she had hit the front of my car, causing it to spin. If she’d hit my passenger door straight on, she would have been seriously hurt. Lucky for me, I had no passengers yet.

A coworker boasted I finally had a “grown up girl car” when I pulled up in this car. Does this mean I no longer have to ‘grown up?’

That night I added up our situation. I was out a computer, a phone and now a car. The new house had no stove, fridge or washer and dryer and my budget for appliances at the moment had just gone on a furnace.

This is life, I decided. We had some huge blessings… a beautiful house, a family to fill it with and none of us had been hurt in the accident. I decided we were doing okay.

Since then, we’ve had some major blessings and things are back on track. I find myself grateful for little things, like the fact that my daughter had an old thrift store computer in her closet I can use while mine is being fixed. Every time I walk in the new house and feel heat, I smile. I probably would have never noticed it before. Now it’s a pleasure.

We are still in the thick of things… we have three apartments to break down and move into the house. The internet couldn’t be hooked up yet because of a rotted telephone pole, so that’s delayed, and we are still working out details like dog runs, dog doors and address changes.

My future writing space.

But the important details have been decided. I have my writing space claimed. There is an old cupboard under the stairs in the heart of the house that will make the perfect writing office for me. I can’t wait to get in there to push the spiders over, set up a desk and get back to writing.

So, a busy and adventurous week and a half for us, and more adventures ahead. I hope to get back on track with my work. I owe a finished exquisite corpse and prize. I plan to post that tomorrow, barring unforeseen incidents.

I’ll be offering Bitter Suites for free on Kindle next Friday. I was interviewed by the Horror Tree and that interview goes up this weekend I think… and I have an exciting announcement I hope to share at some point this week.

For now, I’m sitting back and being grateful I’m still standing.

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New House Horror Story

Yesterday I had my own real life horror story.

We just bought a house so I have a lot of details to manage—utilities, mail forwards, insurance, purchasing appliances…

My computer fan died so I can’t turn it on. My phone also decided not to charge. At the tail end of a major blizzard, there was ice everywhere. But progress doesn’t stop, right?

I had to rent a van to move things. The day went great until the last stop. Google maps took us out in the middle of nowhere. We wound up stuck in the dark, freezing woods with flat cell phones. No one knew where we were.

As soon as I stopped swearing at the van and spinning the tires, my son mentions “This is how a lot of horror movies start…”

This morning is off to a better start. I borrowed a back up computer from my daughter. I figured out how to charge my phone with some precarious balancing of weights on the cord jack. The weather promises a thaw so we can retrieve the van and get on with things.

So, excuse my absence… I am back where I love to be (in front of my computer) rather then as a frozen corpse in the deep, dark woods. I like to write horror stories, not be in them!

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Review: Occult Detective Quarterly #1

Perfect reading while it snows…

Last October I promised a review of Occult Detective Quarterly’s first issue published at the end of 2016. As ODQ prepares to release issue #5, it’s high time I got this off my list of tasks-to-do.

First off, I want to compliment the ODQ team on an innovative and elegant magazine. I love all the covers they have, including the ODQ anthology. The cover art they’ve chosen does the trick of grabbing my attention and then holding it. Very professional presentation. I wouldn’t mind seeing the art for these covers released in a special collectible package.

This is value packed reading material. There’s a nice blend of graphics but the majority of the magazine is pure reading. The layout is easy on the eyes with a two column format. Not over powered with ads and I really liked the black sidebar title treatment.

The stories all adhere to the theme of supernatural detectives like Kolchak or Dresden but these aren’t copycat tales. Dark humor and originality is a key element. In “Got My Mojo Working” by David T. Wilbanks and William Meikle the story hooked me from the first paragraph when a gorilla admits he hates shaving. The resolve at the end of the story is hilarious and unexpected.

“When Soft Voices Die” by Amanda DeWees was a a pleasure. Less dark humor, a touch of romance well done in a classic ghost story I enjoyed very much. It was satisfying, like comfort food for the mind.

“How to be a Fictional Victorian Ghost Hunter (in Five Easy Lessons)” by Tim Prasil was another of my favorite pieces. Funny with a dry wit, Prasil manages to entertain and educate with his observations of ghost hunter lore. His ‘Lesson 3: Bring Along a Dog—Preferably One You Don’t Love’ made me laugh.

There are too many tales and features to recount each by name. I enjoyed every story and the nonfiction pieces like “The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor” by Charles R. Rutledge.  He follows this informative piece with an interview with the creator of Doctor Spektor, Don F. Glut. I hadn’t heard of Doctor Spektor until now.

If I have a criticism of ODQ, it would be the lack of page numbers. I noticed it in issue #2 which I reviewed back in in October 2017 (here). I’ve only read these two issues so far so I don’t know if this has been addressed.

I couldn’t find any way to subscribe to ODQ, but it looks like issues 1, 2, and 3 are available on Amazon to some degree. Issue 4 is readily available on Amazon for £7.35—about $9.43 USD—as of this post. Find issue 3 on Amazon here, or visit ODQ on Grey Dog Tales here.

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One Review Closer to Twenty

Just eight five reviews away from giving away a $100 Amazon gift card!

How to enter? Leave a simple, honest review about Bitter Suites on Amazon. One winner will be picked at random from all the reviews when the 20th review is posted. The winner will be notified by comment on their review and here on this blog, so check in often when it gets close to 20.

  1. Get a copy of Bitter Suites here.
  2. Leave a review on Amazon.
  3. Wait to see if you win and spend.

About Bitter Suites:

Book a stay at the Bitter Suites, a hotel that specializes in recreational suicide experiences. Whether you schedule your demise as therapy, to bond with a loved one or for pure recreation, your death is sure to give you a new lease on life. Renewable death is always beneficial… at least to someone.

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Edit Like a Hobbit Eats

Today I was talking to someone about what it’s like to be a writer and she asked my advice on how to find a good editor.

“How many edits are you in?” I asked.

“What do you mean…how many?” she asked.

“I mean what edit are you on?” I asked.

“Um… I guess the first one. I wrote it, so now I need an editor,” she said.

“So, you wrote it and now you want an editor to polish it up,” I said.

“Um…yea,” she said. She rolled her eyes when she didn’t think I was watching. I was.

“You don’t need an editor. You have to have a book first,” I told her. “Right now you have a first draft.” She wasn’t too happy to hear she wasn’t to the fun parts of publishing—pick a cover, hit publish and roll in the royalties…? 

She’s not alone to think that she can throw some money at her first draft and walk away with a best seller. I did the same thing with my first book. I wanted my raw genius to shine on the paper. The thing that shone was what a noob I was/am. The more experienced I become, the less of a genius I remain.

Writing is hard, hard work. It’s much more than tossing some pretty prose down on paper. Then there is the editing yourself and letting other people edit you… repeatedly. Kill some prose, add some prose. You can’t read it over once, pat yourself on the back and pass it on. If you want excellent work, edit that thing like a hobbit eats. You need first edits, second edits, elevenses edits…

“I actually have a really good editor,” she told me. “I’m sure it will be fine.”

I think that’s fabulous, but she just told me how she had dedicated a year of her life to writing this book. An entire year working hard to walk away with a book that’s fine? There are amazing editors that can work magic with raw sewage… but why make them?

Each book we write is our masterpiece. What would we think if Michelangelo had smacked a hunk of marble with a hammer one night and sent it on to the statue polisher? Sure, the guy can coat the rough marble with enough wax to make it shiny but it will never be the masterpiece it was meant to be.

But I get it. That first book wants to be published so badly it burns like fire in your dreams and dances in your peripheral vision when your are awake. You convince yourself it’s fine and it’s good enough. I’ve been there. Oftentimes, I’m still there. This is a reminder from me, to me.

Edit. Rinse. Repeat. Chop your babies, murder your prose and ax your unnecessary pages without shedding a tear. What survives will be your best work, worthy of bearing your name and signature. Why settle for less?

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