Friday, January 15, 2021


REVIEWED: The Bone Clocks
WRITTEN BY: David Mitchell
PUBLISHED: September, 2015 by Sceptre (Hachette)

Book Review: Caveat* “listened to” on audiobook.

I prefer reading books in print, but I also listen to audiobooks as a way of coping sitting in traffic during commuting hours for work. So I had this book slated for audio, and then quarantine hit, so I didn’t have to commute, but still listened in the car when I drove “errands,” which means it took over five months to listen to this immense (658-page, or, 22-disk) tome!

First and foremost, this is an amazing book. The complexity and depth of the story is astounding. The literary prowess of David Mitchell is remarkable. It’s a rich, satisfying venture of the imagination. At the same time, there are sections which are mind-numbingly dull, tedious, and often filled with the question of “where is this going?” Those questions were always, ultimately, answered however, so the patient reader is rewarded.

THE BONE CLOCKS is constructed as six related stories (from five different points of view), revolving around the central protagonist, Irish-born Holly Sykes. The book spans her life, beginning during her early teenage years in 1984 and ending in the future of 2043, when she is an elderly woman, during an apocalyptic collapse of Earth’s resources.

Over the course of the book it is slowly revealed that Holly has unwittingly, and inadvertently, become involved in a battle between two warring factions of immortals: one group who reincarnate “naturally” and try to protect humans, and the other faction, which must murder gifted youths and “drink their souls” as a vampiric way to maintain immortality. As horrific and substantial as this central idea may be, it plays very little part for most of the book, appearing only in offsetting “glances” during the course of individuals’ otherwise normal lives. Whenever a human has interaction with one of the immortals, their mind is wiped clean of the event, and they carry on afterward.

This book is certainly a treasure to the right kind of reader, although it may not appeal to everyone. It belongs on the shelves of literary classics that explore the meaning, diversity, and philosophy of life, yet it also contains the supernatural and horror elements that are often so at-odds with literature classics. Author David Mitchell himself includes a humorous anecdote in the book, in which downward-spiraling literary author Crispin Hershey desperately pitches a new book idea to his publicist and talks about adding some mythology to it, and the agent is absolutely horrified that his author may be dipping into the realm of “fantasy,” surely the last vestige of the failed writer.

It’s a somewhat-tragic, somewhat heart-warming ending (without giving anything away), which is more in line with the acceptance of mortality and our own impending doom, when time runs out of our lives on our “Bone Clocks”.

As an aside, there is a spin-off book, written after this, called SLADE HOUSE, which I read first. Having no idea that SLADE HOUSE was a tie-in to THE BONE CLOCKS, I liked SLADE HOUSE slightly better, mostly as it was a quicker read, about 1/3 the size of BONE CLOCKS, so included faster pacing, while still exploring the complexity and interrelation of various lives, although—in comparison—SLADE HOUSE certainly lacked the complexity and richness of THE BONE CLOCKS.

Four-and-three-quarter out of Five stars (4.75 out of 5)

Full review on Goodreads, here:

Monday, December 21, 2020

December, 2020 Dark Fiction Short Story Markets

HWA L.A.: December, 2020
New or Reopening Market Listings/ Notes
At Minimum Pro-Paying Rates (5 cents+ per word)

Departure Mirror Quarterly
Payment: 10 cents a word (payment capped at 3,000 words)
Story Length: up to 20,000 words (preferred less than 12,000)
Deadline: Open between January 2–January 31, 2021
Reprints?: No
Response Time: 3 months
Description: Original fiction and poetry, all of which must be broadly “speculative fiction” (science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, magical realism, slipstream, or in some other way altered reality).

Midnight from Beyond the Stars (Silver Shamrock Publishing, ed. Kenneth Cain)
Payment: 6 cents a word
Story Length: 2,500–6,000 words
Deadline: April 30, 2021
Reprints?: No
Response Time: unknown
Description: Space Monster horror! original alien horror stories with a The Thing/Alien/The Blob/Critters/Night of the Creeps kind of vibe.

Diabolical Plots ezine
Payment: 10 cents a word
Story Length: 3,500 or less
Open between January 1–January 31, 2021
Reprints?: No
Response Time: One month
Description: Science fiction, fantasy, and horror (everything must have speculative element, even horror), including mixed-genres. (This is the same founders of the market submission tracker, ‘The Grinder’.)

Daily Science Fiction
Payment: 8 cents a word
Story Length: to 1,500 words (prefer less than 1,000)
Deadline: Continually open (EXCEPT during December 24, 2020
January 2, 2021)
Reprints?: No
Response Time: 1 month
Description: Speculative fiction, such as science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, etc. Daily publications.

Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness (Neon Hemlock Press)
Payment: 8 cents a word
Story Length: 1,000–6,000 words (less than 4,000 words preferred)
Deadline: January 15, 2021
Reprints?: No
Response Time: unknown
Description: Speculative stories of witchery with queer narratives; Tales that explores the boundaries between queer witches, the profane, and infinite darkness.

Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Payment: 8–10 cents a word (9 cents a word for non-fiction)
Story Length: up to 20,000 words
Deadline: ongoing
Reprints?: No
Response: 2–3 months
Description: Science fiction stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so integral to the plot that, if that aspect were removed, the story would collapse.

***Non-PRO-Paying Market, but Eric J. Guignard’s “Pick of the Month”

Three-Lobed Burning Eye
Payment: $100 flat
Story Length: 1,000–7,500 words
Deadline: Continually open
Reprints?: No
Response Time: within 3 months
Description: Non-themed, original speculative fiction: horror, fantasy, and science fiction.

Extraordinary Visions: Stories Inspired by Jules Verne
Payment: 2 cents a word ($30 for reprints)
Story Length: 3,000–5,000 words
Deadline: Open between January 1–April 30, 2021 (or until filled)
Reprints?: Yes
Response Time: unknown
Description: Short stories inspired by the writings of Jules Verne. Your story may be set in any time or place. You may use characters from Verne’s novels (they’re all in the public domain) or make up your own. You need not write in Verne’s style. The connection between your story and at least one of Verne’s works must be obvious and significant.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Submissions Review for Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World

Just got off a Zoom meeting with co-editor CharlatanBardot, beginning the laborious process of reviewing and responding to 350+ open call submissions. What an honor to work with Professor Bardot! Good insights, he knows his paranormal. And the submissions are stellar… heartbreaking to have to send rejection letters for great stories, but there’s only room for a small percentage that align with the flow of the book. This anthology will be THE GREATEST EVER (from me), coming from Dark Moon Books late 2021 or early 2022!


The world carries on!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday, October 2, 2020

Cover Reveal for: Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World (2021 edition)


Submissions Accepted: November 15–December 15, 2020