Wandering Away with My Uterus

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

A while ago I told you that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ had been accepted for inclusion in the anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’. I’m very excited about introducing you all to my new character ‘Sorrowful Jones’ and the anthology promises to be filled with interesting articles, poems and stories, all carefully curated by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard.

My previous post looked at the history and mythology around the Wandering Uterus so I thought today I’d give a brief outline of how my story was accepted and the process to publication.

Sub to Pub

As so often happens, I saw the invitation for submissions on social media. I was intrigued by the title and decided to submit.

I carefully read and reread the submission guidelines. These can be a little vague and tricky (many places ask for stories to be for,attend in ‘the usual way’ but each have their own ‘usual’ style so it’s always important to check their preferences’).  Luckily Kate had been very clear with what she wanted so then it was a matter of writing the story!

I’d long been percolating a character, influenced in part by cowgirls in the ‘Wild West’ but who didn’t fight using guns. I’ve been listening to a lot of Amanda Palmer and so decided that my character would carry a ukulele. This being me, there would also be elements of the supernatural.

So, Sorrowful Jones was created!

I wrote my story, sent it to beta readers who also loved it, but who made a few suggestions about how to change things and picked up a couple of grammar mistakes. Multiple readings and more edits and I was happy with the story.

Then came the stressful part – submitting! After getting hubby to check my formatting, my story was flying through the internet. I obviously started hitting ‘refresh’ every two minutes on my email to see if it had been accepted. The waiting for acceptance/rejection is always the hardest part for me. I always think of it like Christmas where you have the expectation and excitement, then on the day you either get the pony you’ve always wanted or another naf jumper. Luckily for me, after waiting impatiently for weeks, I had the good news that Sorowful Jones would be out in the world.

Kate and Byron then had the unenviable job of editing each submission before deciding on the running order.  First edits are sent to the authors for their approval or rejection. More often than not, I accept the suggestions as they will often make my story sharper and ensure there there are no major plot holes. There’s also the grammar and spelling mistakes that I always manage to miss, despite my best efforts.

Once they’ve been returned, the stories are collated and checked before the final proofs are sent out. This is our final chance to check for typos or any strange formatting. I once had proofs sent which were fine in .pdf format but once they’d been put into the book formatting program had strange gaps, added spaces and blank pages! It’s a laborious process for all involved to check for mistakes and I remember a book agent once telling me that you can read and reread a piece but it’s not until it’s been printed that you’ll see a very obvious mistake, usually on page one.

So that’s in brief is the process of putting an anthology together. It’s a long process of putting a book together, but it’s exciting and different every time. Now, we’re trying to get the word out and generate interest before ‘P Day’. If you’d like a review copy, please contact Kate or Byron. Keep an eye out for more information and news, including where to meet different writers in the anthology at conferences and more.

If you’d like to read more about my Path to Publication, as well as some hints and tips for submitting your own work, click here.

While you’re waiting for ‘My Wandering Uterus’ to be published why not check out my other book of short stories ‘Weird Wild available now. (The link below is an affiliate link which means I may receive  small commission, at no added cost to you, if you purchase after clicking)

Women in Horror Month: Terrifying Treats

Phew! Well, after a month of movie reviews, short stories, fun makes and more, I think we all need a treat to keep our energy up.

I had planned to make something from ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake‘ by Lily Vanilli but the toddler decided she wanted biscuits instead. However, we did make use of the skull cookie cutter from the set, whilst also making a zombie and some bunnies (it must be bunnies!) I’ve used this basic biscuit recipe from the BBC Good Food site a number of times. I like to add some freshly ground vanilla, mostly because I always forget to buy vanilla essence at the supermarket and it seems to work equally well.

We’ve collected assorted cookie cutters over the years and so have a zombie, skull and rabbit. I’ve not much success with the zombie cutter in the past and it was the same story today as his arms broke off but the crumbs tasted good.

It’s always fun baking with the toddler and as normal it’s not until it’s time to decorate that the real mess, sorry fun, begins. It being Women in Horror Month, we used a lot of pink icing, which was fun and I think, looked good. The only frustrating thing was that the Dr Oetker icing pouch was tricky to use, hence the hole in one skull. Still, it was our first attempt and we managed to make brains, eyes, teeth and more.

Our finished biscuits! Waht do you think? Have you made anything special for Women in Horror Month?

Women in Horror Month: Let’s Play A Game

How are you enjoying ‘Women in Horror Month’ so far? And are you enjoying the daily challenges? I’m loving hearing about people’s favourite movies, books, actresses, characters and more. As always, I have a growing list of assorted media I need to plough through and I’m excited about being terrified by all your recommendations.

Today’s theme is ‘Let’s Play A Game’ and it’s definitely something I need your help with. I’ve never been a gamer as such and the scariest game I play is ‘Plants vs Zombies‘. If I’m honest, I was never into video games growing up and the few I’ve attempted, I’ve not been brilliant at (I generally get stuck in a corner and can’t get out or I get frustrated at slow gameplay and give up).

For those who don’t know, it’s a simple strategy game that’s free to download. You have to grow plants which have special abilities (‘pea shooter’ which shoots peas, dragon fruits which breath fire etc.) in order to defend your house against assorted zombies. I like the strategy aspect to it, plus it’s not too scary to play first thing in the morning.

However, I feel I should expand my horizons and want to know what games you’re all playing? Let me know in the comments below about the scary first player action games, strategy games or more that you’re playing and why you love them.

Movie review: Valentine (2001)

Valentine 2001

Synopsis: A group of school friends find themselves hunted by a Valentine-sending, masked killer.

Director: Bruce McDonald

Starring: David Boreanez, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton

Review: I originally watched this as a huge fan of Boreanez (I was massively into Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the time). It was part of a glut of similar movies (including Urban Legend, the ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer series, and Scream to name a few) starring semi-well-know actors who were all murdered in various ways by mysterious killers.

The premise is much the same for all these movies: a group of friends has a shared history, during which they caused harm to someone, in this instance the group of girls were rude to a young boy ‘Jeremy Melton’, who comes back years later to exact his revenge.

There’s little to make this movie stand out (unless you’re a fan of Boreanez). The performances are fairly standard, with Richards playing the over-sexed vixen she seems to have been type-cast as, Broeanez playing it pretty similar to his Angel character and Shelton seeming to be permanently annoyed (possibly for agreeing to do this movie). None of the characters are particularly nice, especially the assorted males who hit on the girls – they’re overtly lechy, rude and unprofessional that it’s unbelievable and you sort of wish the killer would do us all a favour and ‘off’ them so save us their performances. As for the girl, it’s hard to see why their friendship as survived, as aside from attending parties together, they don’t have any camaraderie, so really it’s just a matter of waiting to see what way they’ll be murdered. Valentine is sadly not a gift for your loved one, but like a bad date, once it’s over, you never need to see it again.

Women in Horror Month: Terrifying Treats

It’s Pancake Day! I LOVE pancakes and we don’t have them just once a year here in Casa CH. Hubby and I don’t disagree on much, but the best type of pancake is something about which we can’t agree. I prefer the thinner crepe style, whereas hubby likes the fluffy American stacks. We’ve agreed to disagree given that any pancake is a yummy pancake.

I used a cookie cutter to create feet, then added strawberry ‘claws’

This year I wanted to do something in combination with Women In Horror Month so I tried to create shapes from the pancake batter, then use fruit for some added details. Not going to lie, I did use a cookie cutter for some shapes and tried to be creative, with mixed results. Luckily the toddler enjoyed them all and wasn’t too scared of her food!

Not too sure what this monster is with tentacles and large banana teeth

Pancakes are pretty simple to make and I like this recipe for crepes from the BBC Good Food site.

Movie Review: The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook movie poster 2014

Synopsis: A widow and her son battle with an evil entity in their home. Don’t invite in the Babadook!

Director: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman

Review: I first watched the Babadook when my daughter was first born and I remember being terrified. I couldn’t watch it all in one sitting and had to watch the rest during the day whilst the baby slept as I was too scared to watch it at night.

So, I wondered how I would feel, watching it nearly four years later with the benefit of dealing with my own little bundle of trouble (although thankfully no Babadook!).

Well, I was still terrified! In many respects, my situation is completely opposite to that of Davis’ character but I have a definite feel for the exhaustion felt by a mother when you’ve got a child who hasn’t slept for an extended period, coupled with the demands of a job, keeping house and all the other pressures both external and internal.

Davis has rightly been lauded as she gives a fantastically nuanced performance of an exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed single mother caring for a troubled child whilat also grieving for her husband. Her character is trying to manage so many things without support from her family, no real friends and a child with very specific needs. Her son, played by Wiseman also deserves huge praise for excelling is a very challenging role. I’m always impressed with child actors who are able to display a maturity in their performance well beyond their years and should he continue to follow an acting path, then I expect we’ll see more stellor performances from him.

However, the kudos belongs to writer and director Kent.  This project was born from a 10minute short caleed ‘Monster‘ she wrote and directed. Nearly ten years later the story was still nagging at her and she expanded it to create ‘The Babadook’. Kent’s other credits include directing an episode of a TV show, acting and producing. She truly has a rounded knowledge of the industry and this is evident with the slick delivery of ‘The Babadook’.

From the first instant, the movie has you on edge and it doesn’t release you until the final few scenes. Kent’s use of different colours to signify moods works well, with the bright sunlight of time spent outside in contrast to the blues and greys of their home. This lighting lends itself well to the scary scenes which are light enough to see the action, unlike some horror movies where I have no idea who is running in terror etc as it’s too dark to see anything.

The script, for the most part, is sharply written and Kent’s observations of looking after a child, as well as pressures placed on parents both by society and themselves are dealt with well. The scene where the group of mums are sympathising with Davis’ ‘Amelia’ whilst also silently judging her is spot on and something I know a lot of mothers have endured. Amelia’s isolation in this scene, reflected both in the fact that the colour of her dress is different to the muted colours of the ‘popular’ mum gang, as well as having her seated whilst the other mums are standing at the opposite end of the table is a scene which has stuck in my memory. It’s not overtly horrific but it’s one of the more run-of-the-mill daily encounters which resonated with me, and one which I experienced more the second time I watched it because like ‘Amelia’ I’ve had to find my voice to stand up to others who have judged my parenting style.

It’s an intimate movie in many ways, with the bulk just playing out between Davis and Wiseman. Keeping other characters at arms length works well to help build up the tension of what lurks in the house as well as the sense of isolation felt by ‘Amelia’. The creepiness of the book as well as the lack of explantion as to where the Babadook comes from is works well. Sometimes the over-explanation of where the ‘big bad’ is from slows down the pacing and doesn’t add anything so it’s lack allows speculation and for the viewer to create their own scary ideas.

Overall, I loved this movie. There were a few minor niggles I had but then, everyone’s a critic and they didn’t stop me from enjoying this movie. It’s one I’ll definitely be watching again, although hopefully not from behind a pillow!

If you’ve enjoyed this review, have a look at the other movies I’ve reviewed.

Women in Horror Month: Favourite Book

It’s always tricky asking my friends for book recommendations. Knowing a lot of writers, reviewers and book lovers, I know if I ask for a recommendation I’ll open floodgates of books. I wrote a post about my ‘12 Favourite Books‘ and the minute I posted it I had my friends reminding me of so many other good books I had left off my list!

I spoke about Mildred Hubble and ‘The Worst Witch‘ (written by Jill Murphy) as part of Witch Wednesday yesterday. I really loved those books growing up. It was definitely my first experience of ‘fantasy’ and allowed me an escape into Mildred’s magical world which, although challenging seemed both similar and also more exciting than my own school experience.

I’ve read assorted books by horror authors over the years but recently I seem to have been enjoying short stories. I suppose that running around after a toddler and the other assorted demands mean my time is less (sadly no more Sunday afternoons lost in a book!) and my attention span is definitely shorter. However, there are so many fantastic short story writers out there, and for the purpose of this article,  female short story writers.

Luckily for me, Adele Wearing, founder of Fox Spirit Books has always championed female writers and many of the assorted anthologies, including ‘Eve of War’ and the ‘Monsters’ series have been curated by women. Here’s a brief look at a two of my favourite Fox Spirit Femmes.

Chloë Yates: Chloë very kindly agreed to be interviewed as part of my ‘Big Interview‘ series where she spoke candidly of her battle with mental illness. She’s been a staple of a number of anthologies and I’ve always loved her work but it’s probably ‘Tuna Surprise!’ in ‘Under the Waves‘ which has stuck with me. Like all of her work, it’s unexpected, witty, dark and sharply written with a twist at the end.

KT Davies: another victim, sorry interviewee for my site. I raved about her debut novel ‘The Red Knight‘ and have been begging for a sequel. What I love about KT’s writing is her use of language – it’s so varied with a real mix of old English and more fruity swearing as well as her ability to write evocative fight scenes.

As part of their celebration for Women in Horror Month, Mental Floss created a list of 11 Female Horror Writers and I”m ashamed to admit that I’ve not read any of them. Have you? Who’s you’re favourite?