Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book review: Zombie Haiku

Okay, so I finally got around to reading Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum. I've had the book (suggested to me by Don Wentworth) for many months now, and last week I wrestled it out of my growing pile of unread books.

As a fan of both zombie poetry and haiku, I was really looking forward to reading this book. The idea is unique -- the book chronicles the life and times of a zombie, in haiku form. HOW Books did a great job producing the book; it's very professionally printed, with a full-color cover and interior photos and illustrations. There is even a whole website set up to promote the book (ZombieHaiku.com), complete with a three-minute YouTube trailer and zombie haiku written by famous people like Billy Collins and Doug Benson.

But the book itself didn't lived up to the hype. I was expecting more from the author -- from what I've read by him on the Internet, he has a great sense of humor and a talent for writing.

Zombie Haiku isn't bad, it just isn't as good as I thought it would be. The haiku are all written in 5-7-5, which seems arbitrary and unnecessary to me. Very few poets can put together a good haiku using that strict syllable count.

There were certainly some haiku that stood out from the others
little old ladies
speed away in their wheelchairs,
frightened meals on wheels.
and made me either laugh or cringe
Blood is really warm.
It's like drinking hot chocolate
but with more screaming.
but for the most part, the haiku were more narrative than anything else. The same joke (which was funny the first time)
He tends not to flinch,
though I'm yelling in his ear,
which is in my hand.
was repeated twice more with different body parts.

The book is 140 pages long, which is a lot of haiku to write about the same subject. I give Mr. Mecum kudos for writing the book, but if he had developed the poems more as haiku (drop the syllable count, focus on things like juxtaposition and the haiku moment) rather than just as a vehicle to tell the story, I would have liked the book a lot more.

As a whole, I sort of liked the book. It takes a pretty cool idea and presents it in an interesting way, but the majority of the haiku would not stand so well on their own. I would recommend this book for fans of horror poetry, but not for fans of haiku. If you love zombie poems, then you'll probably want to pick up a copy of Zombie Haiku, regardless of what I say. And you'll probably enjoy reading it.

You can get the book from HOW Books, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or the F+W Publications Bookstore for $9.99.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some non-paying flash fiction markets

Yeah, yeah, I know... we all want to get paid for our writing. But sometimes you see a magazine that you think would be cool to write for, or sometimes you just recognize it as a good chance for exposure. Either way, here are a few non-paying markets for flash fiction:

- Eclectic Flash: Wants submissions of just about anything, "regardless of style or genre," under 1000 words. Prefers unpublished submissions but will consider reprints. Only accepts submissions by email.

- Flashes in the Dark: Wants horror fiction under 1000 words. Is nonpaying now, but hopes to be able to pay in the future. Accepts simultaneous submissions and reprints.

- MicroHorror: Aims to be "the Web's premier free repository for horror microfiction." Accepts simultaneous submissions and reprints under 666 words. Will provide a bio and link to contributors' sites.

- Twisted Dreams Magazine: Wants horror and dark fiction under 1500 words. Pays one PDF copy. Currently closed to submissions, but reopens October 2nd.

For those looking for paying markets, NewMyths.com has just raised their pay rates. They now pay $15-40 for fiction, $15 for poetry, and $40 for nonfiction and artwork. On acceptance.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

two fiction anthologies

Autumn always seems to be anthology season for some reason, and this year is no exception. Here are two fiction anthologies, both of which will accept speculative stories:

- The Midnight Diner: This anthology, now in its third year, is "a hardboiled genre anthology with a Christian slant." That doesn't mean preachy bible stories, however -- one of their past topics was "Jesus vs. Cthulhu." Only submit unpublished stories (10,000 words or fewer). Simultaneous submissions are accepted. Payment is a contributor's copy, but three stories will receive Editor's Choice awards, which appear to be $100 each. (The wording is vague, and it could be taken to mean that all three winners will split the $100.) The deadline for submissions is December 1st.

- Terror Tales from Crib to Crypt: This Lilley Press anthology will focus on novella-length horror stories (20,000 to 25,000 words) that "incorporate or mirror the cover design in an obvious way." (The cover design was posted on the website, but appears to have been temporarily taken down.) Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Payment is not specified, but the guidelines say that royalties will be split between the writers. The deadline for this one is also December 1st.

Monday, September 14, 2009

market news

Inch, a journal "devoted to tiny poems and tiny fiction," will be temporarily closing to submissions on October 15th. If you've got short poems (under 10 lines) or microfiction (no more than 750 words) you want to submit, make sure to do it before then. Their online submission manager makes it easy to submit. Payment is in contributor's copies, but you'll enjoy them.

Entries are currently being read for the Mona Schreiber Prize for Humorous Fiction and Nonfiction. There is a $5 entry fee, but if your story's funny enough, you could win one of the three prizes of $500, $250, or $100. The deadline is December 1st, and you can read some of the previous winning stories on the website.

For your haiku reading pleasure, there is a new issue of Shamrock online now (#11). And for your horror reading pleasure, the September issue of Niteblade is also live, including two haiku by yours truly. (Niteblade is still open to submissions for its annual print anthology, which pays $10 and a PDF copy.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

some featured markets

There are many haiku and horror markets out there, so I thought every now and then I'd spotlight a few of the paying ones. Here are two horror markets and one haiku market:

- Three Crow Press: Looking for dark fantasy and horror fiction 500-3000 words long. Pays 1 cent/word for fiction. Only accepts unpublished email submissions. Replies within three weeks.

- Necrography: Buys horror fiction and poetry. Pays $10-30 for fiction (500-6000 words) and $1-10 for poetry (3-1000 lines, up to 5 poems per submission). Pays on acceptance. Contributors also receive a copy of the issue their work appears in. (Necrography is currently closed to subs, but will hopefully reopen soon.)

- Wisteria: A small-format journal publishing haiku, senryu, and tanka. Pays $1 to contributors who submitted by mail. No simultaneous submissions or reprints. Usually responds within two weeks.

The new issue of Barbaric Yawp is out now, and editor John Berbrich was kind enough to review my chapbook, Bits and Pieces. This issue contains poetry by some well-known names, including Gary Every and Michael Kriesel. There is an excellent haiku-like poem, "Ruins," by William Michaelian. I've never heard of him before, but he obviously has a knack for writing short poetry.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Delirium Books opens to submissions

Yup, you read that right. Delirium Books (which hasn't been open to unsolicited submissions in seven years) is now reading for its HorrorWired series. Submit only unpublished horror stories, short story length (5000 words) to novella length (20,000 words). Payment is five cents per word, and they won't read simultaneous submissions. Get your stories in by December 15th.

New issues of Roadrunner and The Heron's Nest are both up, so check them out when you're in the mood for some good haiku. (Horror fans will enjoy Lenard D. Moore's haiku on page 7 of The Heron's Nest.)