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: Tuesday Team Ups

Welcome back to my Daily Challenge for Women In Horror Month. How are you enjoying it to far? Today we’re looking at ‘team ups’. I’ll be honest, when I thought of this prompt, I was in the midst of a ‘Supernatural’ rewatch and had planned to post assorted photos of the Winchester brothers (as an aside, are you Team Dean, Team Sam or Team Castiel?).

For some reason, women in genre often fall into different categories: the slut, the geek, the survivor, the frenemy, the bitch, stereotypes lampooned somewhat in ‘Cabin in the Woods’. I get frustrated that so few movies reflect the friendships I have and see all around me. We’re not all the bitchy, underwear flaunting, ditzy, serial killer fodder were portrayed. In my experience, my girlfriends are supportive, funny and I know they have my back. Having worked on the collective project ‘Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse’ I also know that we can work together to create something fantastic without resorting to bitchiness or pillow fights in our undies.

However, I got thinking: whilst I could name half a dozen male ‘teams’ in horror, sci fi or fantasy, I struggled to name a team of women who joined together to beat the big bad so my focus shifted and here we are, celebrating women’s friendship in the midst of terror!

It’s not an exhaustive list, so feel free to add your favourites below.

Sidney Prescott, and Tatum Riley (Scream). Poor Sidney has been going through a tough time since the murder of her mother but her trusty friend Tatum has been at her side, fiercely protecting her whilst also giving her a shoulder to cry on.

Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). One of the most formidable teams on my list, a Slayer and a witch but these two girls were firmly bound by friendship. What I also love is that twenty years later Sarah Michelle Geller and Alyson Hannigan are still friends!

Julie James and Helen Shivers (I Know What You Did Last Summer). First they work together tocover up their involvement in a hit and run, then join together to find the serial killer targeting their group. What else are girlfriends for?

Hongryeon and Jangwan (A Tale of Two Sisters). I love this movie as you can see from my review. Sisters don’t always get on, but when joined in a battle against an evil step mother, they do well.

Katniss Everdeen and Rue (The Hunger Games). Many in the Capitol grew uncomfortable when Katniss volunteered to take her sisters place in The Hunger Games but it was when she teamed up with Rue that the seeds of revolution were firmly sown. Fans of Suzanne Collins book and the film will celebrate this poignant but beautiful friendship.

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (assorted, most recently DC Comics).  These are two of my favourite femmes, even if they have been criminally underused in the assorted Batman franchises. I really enjoyed the juxposition of the unstable Harley with the studious and serious Ivy I’m the most recent comic release. That these two are now a couple is definite trouble for our favourite Bat, but brilliant for readers  I can’t wait to catch up on their adventures!

I’m sure I’ve missed loads of great female team ups so sound off in the comments below. And because I can’t help myself, here’s a picture of the Winchester brothers….

Make It Monday: Pipe Cleaner Monsters for Women In Horror Month

We love our arts and crafts here at Beagle HQ and as I’m celebrating Women In Horror Month, I was keen to get the toddler involved. We had painted a lot of ghosts for Halloween and I though it would be fun to do something a little more 3D.

Regular readers may remember the tissue box monster we made for Halloween and I was keen to use some of the materials again as I felt they gave a ‘monsterous’ look. Opening up her box of craft supplies we selected pipe cleaners, lolly sticks, feathers (because what monster isn’t scary when covered in feathers?), googly eyes and glue. I chose glue dots because nothing is more horrific (Sorry for the pun!) than trying to get PVA glue off the carpet (trust me on this. Also, acrylic paint which somehow made it UNDER the protective sheeting I had lain down).

Getting Monstrous

The toddler and I did a quick google for ‘pipe cleaner monsters’ and there are some great monsters out there! We were slightly stunned at others creativity (honestly, I never knew pipe cleaners could make such intricate and detailed creations!), but we weren’t intimidated. Drawing inspiration from her tiger and triceratops toys we got bendy, sticky and more than a little fluffy due to a feather explosion!

And here are our monsters! What do you think? There are no real instructions, we just folded, stuck, twisted and poked feathers in! I think they look really fun and the toddler was very engaged, happily sticking more feathers on to her tiger-monster. We looked at colours and had a little chat about how many eyes a monster needs, plus the important topic of what colour they should be! (The toddler sensibly opted for green, very monstrous, whilst I had a mix).

But still feeling ghostly….

I’ve also been desperate to try marking Pom Poms as I have fond memories of making them as a child. I was excited when I found ‘blue bear wood’s blog featuring these adorable Pom Pom monsters. There were loads of photos and the instructions were very clear. We”ve been feeling quite ghostly so I thought we’d try to make a ghost. Pom Pom duly wound, the toddler was in charge of cutting the wool, which she loved but rapidly lost interest when it came to tying and adding the eyes, although she did like the finished ‘ghost’.

So that’s it for this weeks craft. What are you working on?

I hope you liked our project and if so, check out our other Make It Monday posts.

Women in Horror Month: First Scares

We all remember our firsts: first kiss, first holiday, first best friend, first home but do you remember the first thing which truly scared you?

Image of Phantom Raspberry Blower from Two Ronnies

When I was introducing Women In Horror Month I said that Horror was a very personal genre, and what may scare one person will cause another to laugh out loud (much like when hubby laughs at the end of Titanic when Leo slips into the water whilst I’m reaching for my third box of tissues!). The monsters, serial killers, things that go bump in the night, we all have our own triggers and effectively tapping in to those is what ultimately links writer and reader.

Phantom Raspberry Blower logo

My First Monster

Many UK readers will remember a comedy duo called ‘The Two Ronnies’. Their long-running skit show was a stable of weekend TV during the 80’s and I remember they had a long-running sketch featuring ‘The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London Town’. I remember between the chatting farmers and endless stories from Ronnie Corbett there was a very dark sketch, loosely based on Jack the Ripper. The sketches followed the misadventures of a police officer trying to catch a killer who would ‘Raspberry’ his victims. It was all very tongue-in-cheek but I remember watching these skits through my fingers (much the same as others watched Dr Who from behind the sofa!). For years, the face of the ‘Raspberry Blower’ haunted me and doing a google search to find a picture for this piece, the terror returned. He reminds me a lot of the Babadook. What do you think?

My First Alien Encounter

I dontvremember the first time I saw ‘Alien’ or the sequels, although I did love Sigourney Weaver in all of them so I can’t say if I saw them before or after a movie which still gives me shivers today: Event Horizon.

Event Horizon movie poster

This is a family site so I won’t share any of the gorier images from the film but the synopsis is that a rescue mission is launched when the space ship ‘Event Horizon’ reappears after going missing. Turns out it wasn’t caught in a black hole, but rather somewhere far more demon-filled. It’s not soon before the evil crew decide decide to remind the rescue team of their own inner demons, slowly driving  team to madness. It’s gory, blood-filled and showcases a range of human emotions from guilt, despair and friendship. I remember being too terrified after watching this film I couldn’t drive home and I t’s still one of my favourite movies.

My First Serial Killer

I’d seen copies of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Halloween’ at friends houses and whilst they had creeped me out, none freaked me out the same way Scream did. I’m not a huge fan of serial killer movies, mostly because they follow the same format: a killer out for revenge slowly murders his victims one-by-one in ever more ridiculous ways until the sprightly protagonist overcomes him (and it’s usually a him) in the last act. However, Scream brought something new to the genre, highlighting the silliness of the genre as well as giving a number of Easter eggs for fans of horror. Yes, people die is impressive manners but I remember not being disapppointed when the credits started rolling and worse, I couldn’t answer the phone for weeks!

So, those are my most memorable ‘firsts’. Do you remember the first horror movie you saw? Do they still scare you now?

Welcome to Women In Horror Month

Women in Horror Month Logo

And hello to you! Welcome to Day One of my Women In Horror Month Challenge. Today I’m introducing what Women In Horror Month is all about, and why it’s important to me.

Women in Horror Month

There are a lot of people who believe horror is not for women and I think that Women In Horror Month seeks to address that by highlighting the directors, movies, make up artists, writers, artists and more who love this genre. An international  initiative, WiHM showcases the assorted works of women in Horror, with movie screenings, blog features and  well-worth checking out their Facebook page to see if there are any events near you, but also to discover new authors and filmmakers and more.

What Women In Horror Month Means to Me

I’ve frequently been told that I’m ‘too nice’, ‘too funny’ or gods forbid ‘too normal’ to write horror, as if it’s the preserve of the twisted or depraved in society, those who don’t really belong. The fact is I’ve loved horror since I was a child and ghostly bedtime stories were a prerequisite for a spooky nights sleep.

I still love horror, from assorted movies, many of which I review on my site, as well as reading horror shorts and novels. However, there are still so many artists and creators I’m eager to discover, which is why I love Women In Horror Month.

I also want to subvert some of the stereotypes surrounding women in horror. Joss Whedon is often quoted as saying that his career has been about subverting stereotypes and I think the horror genre is one of the few where women can frequently ‘best’ the demons, be they serial killers, aliens, monsters or even school bullies.

I believe that to make somebody scared, to understand their deepest fears and truly terrify them is a highly personal thing. There’s a level of trust that you’ll take your reader on a scary journey, and deliver them safely home for hot coco at bedtime, having battled all the demons and survived with minor scratches. A lot of my short stories feature creatures, spectral entities and things that go bump in the night. And it would seem that you lovely readers would agree that women can write horror  with my collection of spooky tales ‘Weird Wild’ having 4.5* on Amazon.

I hope you’ll enjoy my collection of Women In Horror Month Daily Challenges and I’d love to hear what makes you scared.


‘My Wandering Uterus’ Wandering onto your bookshelf soon!

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

I’m very excited to announce that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ will be published in an anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’, edited by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard with the stunning cover by SL Johnson.

My Wandering Uterus

The history of the wandering uterus is very long, starting in the Greek period. It relates to ‘women’s maladies’ whereby any illness or ‘hysteria’ experienced by a woman would be linked to her uterus. Greek physicians, including Hippocrates, believed that the uterus was a free-floating creature, an ‘animal within an animal‘, which would cause different symptoms depending on where it was in the body. Indeed, the term ‘hysteria‘ was coined to describe the action and symptoms of women, and comes from the Greek word for uterus ‘hysterika’. This paper by Terri Kapsalis on the Literary Hub looks at the history of the Wandering Uterus and how belief in women’s hysteria has perpetuated to the modern day. Kapsalis argues that the idea is so ingrained in our collective psyche that it will frequently be used to dismiss women’s role in society, undermine their skills and negate their freedoms. It’s a very interesting article and I recommend you take a few minutes to read it.

In Search of Sorrow

‘In Search of Sorrow’ is a short story, featuring my new leading lady, Sorrowful Jones. I’m really excited to explore her world more fully and am planning a series of short, interconnected stories which I’ll publish later this year (hopefully!). I don’t reveal too much of Sorrowful’s back story here, but she’s a traveller who is searching for women in need of her help. I’ve drawn a lot on our own travels when building the world of Sorrowful Jones, from her poncho which is woven with animals like those I saw in Peru, to some of the more supernatural ideas from Japan and South East Asia which I’ll explore more in the book.

I’ll keep you updated as to when ‘My Wandering Uterus’ will be published and also my progress with the rest of the book. I can’t wait for you to join Sorrowful Jones and me on the road.


Movie review: Savageland

Director: Phil Guidry, Simon Herbert and David Whelan

Starring: Patrick Pedraza, Monica Davis, Edward L. Green

Review: I’m not normally a fan of ‘found footage’ movies, as they frequently seem an excuse for poor quality filmmaking but I enjoyed Savageland and have watched it a few times now. The film is a ‘documentary’ assessing the evidence around the trial of a Mexican immigrant, accused of going on a rampage and killing everyone in an Arizona town. People are convinced of his guilt until a roll of photographic film which seems to correspond with the strange tale told by ‘Diego’ (Pedraza) of a wave of crazed, zombie-style monsters sweeping through the town.

The movie cuts between interviews with family, the sheriff and a photojournalist, footage of Diego in jail and analysis of the photographs. It’s well edited with no lingering shots and has a strong ‘made for TV’ supernatural documentary feel. But that shouldn’t put viewers off because whilst there is no CGI or loud action sequences the story is allowed to unfold at its own pace, introducing characters and monsters at a pace you can feel sympathy for Diego, whilst also wondering, did he do it?

Because none of the scenes lingers for too long on any one character, and most people are playing survivors being interviewed, there are no real ‘weak’ performances, nor are there any characters you feel particular dislike for. Our sympathy for Diego fluctuates as we learn more and see footage of him in jail. The movie is good because it raises the issue of illegal immigrants, which is timely given the current climate but doesn’t really provide any answers or dissuade people from their prejudices.

The idea of monsters being caught on film has been used in the film for years but I like the twist that these grainy images form the defence of a man accused of murder. However, it also left me somewhat dissatisfied because there was no clear explanation as to what the creatures were or even a clear shot of them – were they aliens, zombies, something unclassified in cryptozoology?

However, I found this a fresh take on a genre which I have long avoided and would recommend others to grab their cameras for a night out if you dare!

Movie review: Lost Creek (2016)

Director: Colin Adams-Toomey

Starring: Oliver Stockman, Henry Stockman, Brynna Bartoo and Lisa Coruzzi

Review: I always like to give independent movies a try because you do frequently find a hidden gem with original stories and genuine jumps. Sadly, that’s not quite the case with Lost Creek. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, just a bit, well, Lost.

Stockman plays ‘Peter’, the new boy in town, struggling to make friends and deal with the fall out of his parents divorce with his only friend ‘Bill’ played by Stockman. One night he goes for a walk by the creek and meets ‘Maggie’ played by Bartoo who warns him about creatures in the woods. It’s not long before the creatures are no longer confined to the woods and people around town begin to disappear.

Elements of ‘Stranger Things’ and Stephen King novels have obviously influenced the writers but unfortunately a number of factors mean ‘Lost Creek’ does not live up to expectations. The young cast do pretty well but do not have the polish of other child actors (it should be noted that this is their first feature film and I hope they all go on to great things as all show good potential which is sadly not achieved here). However, it’s the adult actors who let the movie down and I actually cringed when Peter’s mother, played by Coruzzi was on screen.

The story itself is a little all over the place and I think this is due to the number of ‘monsters’ they want to use – from school bullies, ghosts, monsters in the woods, who are the audience supposed to be afraid of? It’s this lack of unfocus, along with lingering on shots for too long, plus the ‘twist’ being obvious from the beginning which leaves Lost Creek wallowing in a damp bog. There is good stuff here, which with some tighter editing, the removal of Coruzzi and more focus on the ‘monster’ it could be a classic, but as it is, it’s sadly easy to get lost in the muddled stories of Lost Creek.