Month: October 2014

Permuted No More

Just a quick note of a post today.

In light of recent events surrounding Permuted Press (if you don’t know what I’m talking about try searching a few social media sites), I have decided to terminate my contract with them. While everything you’ll find isn’t true, neither is it all false. They offered authors a way out. I took it. As of today, the rights to The Black Gate Trilogy have returned back to me. I couldn’t stay locked into a contract and work for people I no longer believed in, or trusted. For me, the issue was about much more than Print On Demand. It was about business in general, the mishandling of day to day operations. I’m not going to get any more specific than that. Just know I did what I thought was best for my career, the same thing I would expect any author to do. I look forward to the challenge of finding Mitsuko a new home and making her an even bigger success than anyone thought possible. Here’s to a bigger, and better, future!



A Free Story, A New Story, and A Sale!

You can read a new short story of mine right now over on Pen & Muse’s website. I wrote it as part of this year’s Pen & Muse Haunt, where various different authors submitted their take on haunted house stories. Mine is called NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. Follow this link to read it for free:

In other news, a different short story of mine about werewolves has been accepted for publication. Expect more details as they become available. I’m excited to find another of my stories a new home.

SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror is on sale the entire month of October, and has been discounted a dollar. If you haven’t picked it up yet, now’s your chance. Featuring my story, COVERT GENESIS, and stories by authors like Jonathan Maberry, Weston Ochse, and Greig Beck, just to name a few, you can’t go wrong. Grab it before the sale is over and get your scare on for Halloween! Get it for you Kindle here:

Rejection Never Leaves


As an author who regularly submits short stories to editors and presses, I can tell you that rejection will never leave any writer. Yep, even an agented author who is in the middle of a three book contract with a publisher, still gets rejected. And guess what? I understand and accept those rejections.

Let’s take a look at some of the different forms of rejections you may come across during your submission adventures.

It’s not you, it’s me. Maybe my stories don’t quite fit with the editor’s vision. I once had a very nice rejection (yes, rejections can be nice!) from an editor who explained that while my story was of a high quality, it didn’t fit in with what they were trying to accomplish with their anthology. The same editor went on to encourage me to submit more stories in the future. In this scenario, the editor liked my story but felt it wouldn’t fit in well with the theme of their anthology. Yay, me. I don’t totally suck as a writer and have to drown my sorrow in whiskey!

WTF am I reading? I once received a rejection letting forty five minutes after submitting a short story. The editor explained they weren’t sure what they had just read, but it wasn’t right for them. In essence, my story failed to connect with this particular editor. This scenario would be the exact opposite of the first. The editor basically said they found nothing to like about my story. I’ll never forget this rejection because it’s my fastest ever. This particular editor will usually reject a story in 2-3 days. I guess mine was particularly awful. Hey, it happens. No need to drown my sorrows in whiskey, right? Nope. I would submit another story to this person and get the standard three day rejection letter at a later date. This time I didn’t get the WTF am I reading response. Instead, I got the “This story isn’t right for me,” rejection. It’s all good. I’ll try again. I’m stubborn like that. Challenge accepted, editor! I will amaze you…eventually.

It’s not me, it’s you. This one means exactly what you’d think it does. The editor simply didn’t connect with your story on some level, or the writer failed with the asked for theme of their story. Basically, the writing was good but there was something holding the editor back from accepting your story. There are a multitude of reasons for this type of rejection. Hopefully the editor enlightens you as to why, specifically, they passed. If not, don’t sweat it. Editors are busy folks. Don’t send a follow up email asking them why they passed. You’ll probably either be ignored or looked at like a psycho. Like Frozen says, “Let it go!”

It’s not you, it’s not me, it’s a thing called subjectivity. Subjectivity. I bet some of you cringed after reading that word. Well, don’t. It’s a real thing, a thing you should understand if you submit anything to anyone. Editors have a vision for what they’re looking for when they place a call for submissions. They usually make themselves clear. However, us creative types like to think outside the box sometimes. Either that or there’s something in the way we presented our piece that the editor just can’t wrap their brain around. This is where you may see editors explain they had sixty submissions. Maybe they had fifteen submissions they liked, but only ten slots available in their book. They’ll go on to say that while they may have liked all fifteen, only ten could fit in the anthology and those extra five simply wouldn’t fit. What held those extra five back? Only the editor knows for sure. Maybe they didn’t quite connect with the characters as much as those other ten acceptances, maybe they were looking for a more literary bent, or the list goes on. This scenario is very similar to the first, but not quite the same. I spent six months as a literary agent’s assistant. I would open my inbox to find a submission that another assistant loved, only to scratch my head and wonder what they loved about it. It’s the nature of the business folks. As the saying goes…One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. There is absolutely nothing you can do about this type of rejection other than move on. Try submitting that same story somewhere else and see what happens elsewhere.

The silent treatment. On rare occasions, you’ll submit something and never hear back from the editor. Perhaps your submission was eaten by the spam monster and never reached the editor. Maybe that call for submissions was redacted and the editor failed to rely that information. Whatever the case may be, you should politely nudge the editor and inform them of who you are and when you submitted to them. If they still don’t get back to you, never submit to them again. No exceptions. If they can’t take the time to act in a professional manner, you don’t need to waste your time on them.

As submitting writers, and authors, we must remember to always act in a professional manner. Many of these editors and presses are meeting us for the first time through our submission correspondences. Presentation matters. You only get one shot at making a good first impression. Always take your time and read over every submission guideline BEFORE writing a single word. Some editors don’t want you tabbing at the beginning of a paragraph, others want only Times New Roman font. Make sure you read each and every word of each and every submission guideline. You’ll save yourself a headache or two in the long run if you do. We should also be understanding. Most editors are busy people. Sometimes they get a ton more submissions than they anticipated, resulting in longer response times. As long as they keep you in the know, don’t sweat it. My editor for the first SNAFU anthology received over one thousand submissions for the nine open spots in his anthology. He let everyone know that due to the overwhelming amount of submissions, his response times would be longer. Again, this goes back to professionalism. As long as the editor acts in a professional manner, and we understand that sometimes things happen, we should be okay with waiting a little longer. A little understanding can go a long way.

Always research the press, and/or editor before submitting. Not every press has your best intentions in mind. Always trust your instincts. If you think a press is shady, they probably are. On the other hand, if you’re well treated by a press, make a note of it. Those are the people you want to work with. I once subbed to a newer press who claimed they would publish the best submitted short stories in an anthology. One of my friend’s stories, and one of mine were noted for being two of the best. Imagine my surprise when they announced the list of accepted authors and it was filled mostly with writers who were either in the process of signing, or have since signed with them. I’m talking multiple stories by the same authors in the same anthology, some even by writers who now work for that same press. They used that call for submissions to look for unagented writers to sign to their press with no intention of using the best stories for their anthology. I wouldn’t have had a problem with that if they would have been upfront about their intentions. It was dishonest, highly unprofessional, and, in my opinion, unethical. On top of that, the same press wanted to publish the stories they liked, but wouldn’t publish, on their website, for free. Meaning the author would give up their first publication rights for a limited amount of exposure on that press’ website. No, just no. I’ll never submit to them again and I advise everyone I know to steer clear of them too. Be careful where you send your work and always stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.

While rejection is never what any writer wants to experience, the truth of the matter is each of us has, and will, get to know it fairly well. How each of us looks at rejection speaks volumes. We can either hide under the covers dreading our impending rejection, or we can understand that rejection is a part of the submission process. It’s all in how we look at it. And, besides, without knowing the sting of rejection we’d never be able to appreciate how good those acceptances feel, right?

Dark Carnival Book Blitz: Interview With the Incomparable, Jolene Haley


Hi, all!

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of the brilliant and twisted minds behind the Dark Carnival, and Pen & Muse. If you aren’t familiar with the Dark Carnival, go here. Since this is Jolene’s first interview, I thought we’d go for a more casual mood and share answers between the two of us. You know, sort of like the internet getting to listen in on two friends having a conversation.

Without further adieu, let’s begin the interrogation…er…interview!

BWT: Welcome to Slushland, Jolene. I’m excited you dropped by. Ready to get your question on? Let’s go!

Jolene: Okay, I’m ready. *cracks fingers*

Question number one: When did you first know you had a thing for horror?

Jolene: As early as I can remember. My parents love horror and I can remember watching movies like Halloween as early as five-years-old. My parents would tell me to close my eyes during the scary parts, but my brother and I never did.

BWT: Yeah, I got into horror pretty early on too, I’d say around seven or eight. My father and grandmother used to watch horror movies…a lot. My siblings and I would watch when we could.

Question number two: What is your earliest horror memory?

Jolene: Growing up, my dad was really into putting on a haunted house in front of our house for Halloween or at my elementary school. There were black lights, smog machines, and my brother and I got to scare the crap out of people. I guess I was a horror-lovin’ jerk child. And I regret nothing! *throws fist in air*

BWT: Oh, geez, there are so many. One of my earliest horror memories would have to be watching the 1979 version of Salem’s Lot on TV. The little kid scratching at the window because he wanted to be invited in to feast on his friend scared the crap out of me as a kid.

Jolene: Ohhh, good answer Brian. That version of Salem’s Lot is so good. I have a lot of those memories too.

Question number three: What draws you to horror in literature?

BWT: I think I’m going to go first on this one. My answer is the unknown. Each of us has our own unique fears. The best horror can take any situation and put a scary spin on it. That’s what I love about writing horror too.

Jolene: Brian’s knocking it out of the park on this one. YES. The unknown. If you try and break down fear into the simplest elements, one of the main contributors of fear is the unknown. Not knowing what dwells in the dark. Not knowing if what you THINK you saw was real. Not knowing if you will make it out alive. I love horror because we get to see people face the unknown and face their fears. And on a darker level, it’s sometimes nice to watch people totally get what they have coming. Did that sound evil? Good.

BWT: *inches his chair away from Jolene*

Question number four: In your opinion, what makes good horror?

Jolene: In my opinion, good horror must have several elements. It must be funny (at the right times to offset the serious), involve the unknown, play with the audience’s own fears, have a body count (usually), and just make your skin crawl. Also, the main characters must be relatable. I need to be able to put myself in the character’s shoes.

BWT: See answers to question three and what Jolene said.

Question number five: How did the Dark Carnival come to be?

Jolene: I’ve always loved carnivals and hated clowns. I’ve always loved the fall and all the dark and wonderful things that come with Halloween. I kind of associate all of these things with each other. It could be because of Ray Bradbury’s, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. There really wasn’t anything out there like that. So I figured, I could make it happen through Pen and Muse. What better way to have a creepyfest than to invite all of the talented people I know? I was expecting maybe ten people to sign up. To my surprise, almost one hundred people signed up to showcase their artwork or short stories. It’s been a wonderful thing. Turns out, you’re all even more twisted than I am, which was a joy to read and see.

BWT: Aww, thanks, Jolene! You’re twisted and disturbed too! #HorrorLove

Question number six: What has publishing the Dark Carnival taught you?

Jolene: Publishing is HHHAARRDDD work! I’ve worked for publishers before. I’m a writer. I thought, “How hard could this be?” But it’s a completely different game when you’re collaborating with forty different contributors and you’re babysitting the book through edits to cover to overall concept to marketing to settling disputes. It’s been very hard but SO rewarding. I’m lucky to be working with the best of the best. Everyone contributing and the Pen and Muse team has been so fantastic. I really am very lucky.

Question number seven: What projects are you currently working on? What’s next for you?

Jolene: Well, I’m finishing up the Dark Carnival anthology for sure, which will be a free anthology. On Pen and Muse, we’re running our 2nd annual October showcase. This year’s theme is Haunted House. It’s different from the Dark Carnival but I have high hopes for creepiness. My other blog, The Midnight Society is putting on a HUGE Halloween event all of October for writers, readers, and everyone in between. There will be fun, costumes, and lots of prizes. Even a reading club read-along. Check it out at

In November, my super secret pen name alter ego is releasing a romantic thriller that involves a serial killer, a love triangle, and a body count. I can’t say more beyond that. I also have one of my novels on submission with literary agents. I’m playing the waiting game right now. Hopefully soon, I will have exciting news. Until then, you can find me on my couch watching Halloween. *pats seat next to me* Come on over, Brian. I’ve got plenty of room. And mallows.

BWT: Holy Halloween, you’re one busy woman! *eyes Jolene sideways* You’ve got books with serial killers and body counts, AND mallows. *shrugs, sits next to Jolene* Okay, I’m sold!


Here comes the Lightning Round!

1) Scariest book you’ve ever read?

BWT: Only one book every sacred me: HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL, by Dr. Malachi Martin.

Jolene: There are a lot of books that I love for their creepy or macabre vibe, or moments, but I admit that I’ve never really had one scare me. Well, there was this one about this kid who was being haunted. This one scene stands out to me. He’s alone in his bunk bed and something crawls in with him, under the covers. The author did such a fantastic job making it scary and suspenseful. I can’t remember where I read it or what the title was. Really wish I could. Looks like I need to read Brian’s suggestion. If you’re looking for awesome dark stuff, check out SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE, or Brian’s recent release, SNAFU: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MILITARY HORROR. Oh, and when it’s out, THE DARK CARNIVAL.

2) Scariest movie you’ve ever seen?

Jolene: When a Stranger Calls (2006) and The Strangers (2009). I used to babysit and I had some creepy things happen to me. For me, when things could REALLY happen in real life, that’s what really scares me. Humans are the scariest kinds of monsters.

BWT: Only three movies ever scared me: The Exorcist, Salem’s Lot (1979), and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973). Sadly, that was when I was a kid. Nowadays, nothing scares me. I think I’m numb to horror movies.

3) Favorite horror character of all-time?

BWT: Michael Myers. There’s something about that bleached mask. *shudders*

Jolene: *Cheers* Michael Myers he’s our man, if he can’t kill you, no one–Wait. You’re dead.

4) Favorite Halloween costume? Adult, or child, doesn’t matter.

Jolene: Little Red Riding Hood!

BWT: Dracula. Yeah, go figure. 😉

5) Favorite Halloween candy?

Jolene: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

BWT: Mallow Cups.

6) Favorite thing to do at a carnival?

Jolene: ALL OF THE THINGS. From face paint to bad food to rides to side shows. I want it all. *cues Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop.”*

BWT: I’m going to have to say everything. Rides, games, and food, I want to do it all!

7) I have it on good authority that you like hockey. Who will win the Stanley Cup this year? Yep, I totally just put you on the spot.

BWT: Montreal Canadians over the Dallas Stars in five games. Boom! Sadly, neither of those teams is the NJ Devils, whom I am a fan of.

Jolene: Oh, Brian, I think you misspelled the Anaheim Ducks. 😛 I think it’s going to be an explosive year this year. We have a lot of great chemistry going into the season. I’m also super psyched about Kesler joining us.

Final question: I’m a big music fan. What is your favorite horror themed, or Halloween inspired song?

Brian, you kill me. How can I pick just one? Here are some of my faves.

Favorite Halloween music and band (other than Blink-182): The Room Where You Sleep, by Dead Man’s Bones

Music for writing a slasher scene: Want, by The Soft Moon

Jolene: Thank you so much, Brian, for having me today. I had so much fun with you! You are fantastic. ❤

BWT: Thanks for dropping by today, Jolene! You’re welcome back anytime. Just make sure you wipe your feet. Don’t want bloody footprints ruining the carpet. 😉

Jolene-HaleyBio: Jolene Haley loves five things: coffee, books, Harry Potter, fluffy puppies, and anything horror. In addition to her day job, she is the founder of YA & NA horror blog The Midnight Society. She co-founded writer’s haven Pen & Muse and Pen & Muse Press. She also contributes to Pub Hub, an online community for writers.

Her back ground is in English Literature and Composition, with accolades from California State University of Fullerton.

Follow Jolene on social media:

Twitter / Facebook / Blog / Pen & Muse / The Midnight Society / Pinterest / Google +