Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Monday, May 29, 2023

Sunday, May 28, 2023

SMFS Members Published in Black Cat Weekly #91

SMFS list members are now published in Black Cat Weekly #91. Published by Wildside Press, the issue is available here in digital format. The SMFS members in the issue are:


Jacqueline Freimor with “Everything We Need to Know.”


Kathleen Marple Kalb with “The Custodian of the Body.”


Website Description:

Our 91st issue features 3 original tales—mysteries by Jacqueline Freimor (thanks to Acquiring Editor Michael Bracken) and Kathleen Marple Kalb (thanks to Acquiring Editor Barb Goffman), and a science fiction story by M. Christian (thanks to Acquiring Editor Cynthia Ward). Plus a classic SF novel by Harrison, the first of his Stainless Steel Rat series. Plus a classic detective collection from Dick Donovan. Plus a lot more! So much more that you may have trouble finishing it all before the next issue appears.


Mysteries / Suspense / Adventure:

  • “Everything We Need to Know,” by Jacqueline Freimor [Michael Bracken Presents short story]
  • “The Case of the Larcenous Leprechaun,” by Hal Charles [Solve-It-Yourself Mystery]
  • “The Custodian of the Body,” by Kathleen Marple Kalb [Barb Goffman Presents short story]
  • “The Case of the Forged Letter,” by Harvey J. O’Higgins [short story]
  • From Clue to Capture, by Dick Donovan [short story collection] 

Science Fiction & Fantasy:

  • “Shine Your Eye,” by M. Christian [Cynthia Ward Presents]
  • “Parking, Unlimited,” by Noel Loomis [short story]
  • Sekenre: The Book of the Sorcerer (part 3), by Darrell Schweitzer [4-part serial]
  • “The Black Alarm,” by George O. Smith [novella]
  • The Stainless Steel Rat, by Harry Harrison [novel]

Saturday, May 27, 2023

SMFS Member Publishing News: Last Day at the Jackrabbit by John Floyd


SMFS list member John Floyd’s short story, Last Day at the Jackrabbit, appears in the just released Strand Magazine #69. The issue is available at the website and by other vendors.



Issue 69 of The Strand Magazine features a previously unpublished short story by James M. Cain, Jacqueline Winspear on writing, an exclusive interview with J.T. Ellison, and fiction by John Floyd, Adam Hamdy, and Vaseem Khan

We’re very proud to feature in our 69th issue an unpublished short story by James M. Cain. Set in the aftermath of the Korean War, the story takes a hard look at, greed, sacrifice, friendship, and redemption between three damaged and fallible characters. In just over 3000 words, Cain offers up all the noir elements we’ve come to expect from him complete with gritty dialogue and a cunning antagonist but puts in an unexpected twist that turns the tale on its head, offering a surprisingly nuanced take on these supposedly hard characters. It’s sure to thrill fans of neo noir such as Breaking BadNightmare Alley, and Blade Runner.

From post-war America, we go to post-independence India, where Vaseem Khan pits the country’s first female police officer against prejudice, corruption, and murder in “Ace of Spades.” Moving to modern-day neo-noir, Adam Hamdy lays out “Tarot,” in which a New York City psychiatrist’s world is upended after an eerie session with his new patient. John Floyd takes us back to small-town America in “Last Day at the Jackrabbit,” where a small-time crook and his moll get more than they bargained for. And we round out our short stories this issue with Mike Adamson’s “The Affair of the Russian Violinist,” a locked-room mystery that has Holmes and Watson racing against time to avert a diplomatic crisis.

Pivoting to nonfiction, we are thrilled to share firsthand insight from one of today’s best-selling mystery writers in “Quest for Gold.” For fans of the Maisie Dobbs series—and stellar storytelling in general—Jacqueline Winspear’s insights into the heart of great writing amount to a master class on what it takes to bring a story to life.

We also have an exclusive interview with the incomparable J.T. Ellison.

Our team of reviewers has worked hard to provide a timely and interesting mix of the latest mysteries and thrillers out there. Fans of the Batman franchise should not miss Chris Chan’s review of the Blu-ray Batman: The Long Halloween.

The Strand Magazine continues to bring our readers the best in fiction, interviews with authors, as well as insightful book and audiobook reviews. In addition featuring this unpublished short story by James M. Cain, we’ve featured unpublished works by other legendary authors including  Shirley Jackson, Ernest HemingwayRaymond Chandler, H.G. WellsAgatha ChristieDashiell Hammett, Tennessee WilliamsLouisa May Alcott  and Ray Bradbury.

This is the second time we’ve released an unpublished short story by James M. Cain, the first lost gem we released was in 2012 with  “Mommy is a Bar Fly.”

For more back issues with works by literary legends, follow this link!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

SMFS Members Published in Weren't Another Other Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Waylon Jennings

Several SMFS list members have short stories in the new anthology, Weren't Another Other Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Waylon Jennings. Edited by SMFS list member Alec Cizak and published by Gutter Books, this anthology is the latest read in their in Gutter Books Rock Anthology Series. The SMFS list members that reported their presence in the book are:


Michael Bracken with "When Sin Ends."


John M. Floyd with “The Devil’s Right Hand.”


Joseph S. Walker with "Wrong Road to Nashville."


Amazon Description:

As he observed the commercialized and soulless country music scene, Waylon Jennings famously sang, “Where do we take it from here?” He answered that question by leaving Nashville and heading home to Texas, to help create what came to be known as outlaw country.

Today, looking at the crime fiction world, we find ourselves asking the same question. The grittiest, harshest, most disturbing fiction form is being cut off from its roots, sanitized, made “safe.”

In this volume, like Waylon did with the country genre in those bygone days, we’re looking to rock the boat. We asked for stories that aren't contorted to conform to commercial, or political, agendas.

We asked for outlaw fiction.

And we got it.


SMFS Members Published in Murder at Sea: A Destination Murders Short Story Collection


Several SMFS list members have published short stories in the new anthology, Murder at Sea: A Destination Murders Short Story Collection. This is the third book in the series that began with Murder on the Beach followed by Murder in the Mountains. The SMFS members that reported being in the anthology are:


Meri Allen with "Last Chapter at Sea."


Leslie Budewitz with "Seafood Rub: A Spice Shop Short Mystery."


Karen Cantwell with "Pie Co."


Eleanor Cawood Jones with “Bon Bon Voyage: Gone With the Tide.”


Cathy Wiley with "Cruise to Helheim."


Amazon Description:

Fear naut, the next Destinations Murder collection is here: Murder at Sea.
Third in this well-reviewed series, Murder at Sea reels in readers with these craft-y short stories from eight of your favorite award-winning and bestselling cozy authors.
If you've been cruising for some deadly fun entertainment, drop anchor here. We don't want to be too stern, but it's a-boat time you succumb to pier pressure and buy this collection with its ferry-tale endings.
Order it schooner rather than later!

CRUISE FROM HELHEIMCathy Wiley, a new short story in the Food Festival Fatalities series. Former celebrity chef Jackie Norwood sets sail on a budget, Norse-themed cruise line to judge a seafood festival. With high stakes and cutthroat competitors, it doesn’t take very long until things get fishy.
PIE-COKaren Cantwell, another short story in the Barbara Marr series. Barbara Marr and her friends plan a girls' getaway in Key West to lift Peggy's spirits after her book is rejected, but their history of encountering dead bodies in Florida makes Barb reluctant to go. And for good reason, it seems.
DOUBLE DEEPGretchen Archer, a Bellisimo Casino series short story. Double Deep finds pregnant Davis Way Cole solving the mystery of a jewelry heiress’s untimely death just as the old girl was about to set sail to Africa on her own cruise ship.
LAST CHAPTER AT SEAMeri Allen, an Ice Cream Shop mystery. Riley Rhodes' trip aboard the elegant White Rose of York from New York City to Southampton is interrupted when the star of their Author Cruise is murdered.
SEAFOOD RUBLeslie Budewitz, a Spice Shop short story. Pepper and Nate take a long weekend getaway to the San Juan Islands, only to find that trouble caught the same ferry—and that killer whales aren’t the only deadly threat circling their prey.
TWO IF BY SEAShawn Reilly SimmonsAfter their first attempt at a honeymoon goes downhill fast, Caroline and Ross Cabot try again for a romantic getaway on a luxury cruise to the Amalfi Coast. But all is not smooth sailing when a passenger ends up dead, another goes missing, and the entire crew seems to be hiding a dark secret below decks.
A SAIL OF TWO CONTINENTSTina Kashian, a short story in the Kebab Kitchen series. When the murder of a Greek tycoon mars a sail on a luxury yacht on the way to Greece, amateur sleuth, Lucy Berberian, has to solve the crime before all the evidence washes out to sea.
BON BON VOYAGE: GONE WITH THE TIDEEleanor Cawood Jones, Lorrie George and friends love to vacation together. When they all go on a Cruise to Nowhere, they soon discover, that murder can happen ANYWHERE.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

SMFS Member Award News: The Refuge by James Patrick Focarile

SMFS list member James Patrick Focarile’s short story, The Refuge, won 2nd place in the 2023 Idaho Writers Guild writing contest. The full list of winners in the various categories can be found here.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

SMFS Member Publishing News: The Garden by Jeffrey James Higgins


SMFS list member Jeffrey James Higgins’ short story, The Garden, is published in Black Cat Weekly #90. Published by Wildside Press, the issue is available here in digital format.

SMFS Member Guest Post: Three Simple Tips For Tightening Your Prose by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Please welcome back Andrew Welsh-Huggins back to the blog today….


Three Simple Tips For Tightening Your Prose 

by Andrew Welsh-Huggins


Tackling a piece of mystery fiction, from short story to novel, can be a daunting task, for novice and veteran writers alike. The good news is there’s never been more help available for the process, whether it’s tips on craft, advice on editing,  suggestions for getting published, the inside scoop on marketing, and more.


But this embarrassment of writing riches also comes with a downside: how to keep track of it all. It’s a problem I encountered even while writing my eleventh book, a crime novel titled The End of the Road. Pantsing vs. plotting. Third-person limited vs. third-person omniscient. Show, don’t tell. Some days, trying to juggle all these writing recommendations, you end up feeling like Prince Humperdinck in the film Princess Bride: “I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan. My wedding to arrange. My wife to murder. And Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped.”


With that kind of pressure, it pays to keep it simple. In that spirit, I offer three easy things you can do beginning today to streamline your prose—and lower your wordcount, at least a bit—with hardly any heavy lifting:


_ Reduce attribution. After years of waging this battle with my own writing, I will hazard that at a minimum, half of every use of “he said” or “she said” can be eliminated. Not only are their appearances unneeded, they often bog down dialogue, which should pull a reader forward, not push her back. If the individual tics and tones of speakers are well-established, readers can follow along just fine. Still, if a scene goes on for a while, it’s all right to occasionally provide a reminder of who’s talking and while you’re at it, flavor the text with a description of some sort, a la: “… she said, remembering how long ago breakfast was and wondering when this conversation would end.” But those interjections can usually be the exception, not the rule.


_ Stop starting. So many times, we read that a character “…. started walking across the room.” Or “… started to interrupt.” Or “ … started to open the door.” Really? What about just: “John walked across the room.” “Polly interrupted.” “Corrine opened the door.” I’m guilty a hundred times over of this foible, but I’m not alone. It pervades fiction, including that of some of our finest writers. It’s starting to drive me batty.


_ Have it with “had.” Tenses can be confusing and make you tense as well. But without question, an easy way to simplify your writing is to stop casting every action in the pluperfect. Take this made-up example: “I remember the first time I’d met Jack. I’d seen him at Donovan’s one Saturday night. He’d walked the length of the bar to offer a woman a fresh martini olive to replace the one she’d just eaten.”


Let’s try again.


 “I remember the first time I met Jack. I saw him at Donovan’s one Saturday night. He walked the length of the bar to offer a woman a fresh martini olive to replace the one she just ate.”


I’m not sure what’s driving the overuse of the pluperfect but I know I’m not alone in wanting—for the most part—to show it the door. Marvin Kaye, the late fiction editor of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, went so far as to remove unnecessary “had’s” in stories, as he explained on his submission page. “Boiled down, here is what’s wrong with some (not all) compound past tenses—except for fiction written in present tense, our convention is to put things in the simple past.”


So there you have it. Deep six “said.” Skip “started.” Halve your “had’s.” You’re already ahead of the game, and have nothing else to worry about other than story arcs, back stories, loglines, synopses, and whether to prologue. Happy writing!


Andrew Welsh-Huggins ©2023 

Writer, reader, veteran pet feeder. Shamus, Derringer and International Thriller Writers award-nominated. Find my work and sign up for my newsletter at

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

SMFS Member Publishing News: Bump in the Evening by Abe Margel

SMFS list member Abe Margel’s short story, Bump in the Evening, was published yesterday at Half Hour To Kill. You can read the flash fiction story online for free here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

SMFS Members Published in Blood on the Tracks: Mystery, Crime, and Mayhem #14


Several SMFS list members are published in Blood on the Tracks: Mystery, Crime, and Mayhem #14. Published by Knotted Road Press, the read is available in digital and print formats at Amazon and other vendors. The SMFS list members in the issue are:


K.L. Abrahamson with "Saint Christopher and the Snake."


Diana Deverell with "Dead Stop."


David H. Hendrickson with "Only One Remains." 


Amazon Description:

Readers always romanticize train travel, even if it’s just a quick commute into the city.


Trains are packed full of people with their own agendas, their own stories, their own need for revenge or escape.

Frequently in these traveling conveyances, crime occurs. Either in the trains themselves, or on the tracks.

What sort of crimes?

The MCM Syndicate of writers answers this question with fascinating stories that are historic, semi-historic, as well as set in modern day.

Come enjoy new tales of mysteries that occur on or near trains.

So criminal, it's good.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

SMFS Members Published in Black Cat Weekly #89


SMFS list members are now published in Black Cat Weekly #89. Published by Wildside Press, the issue is available here in digital format. The SMFS members in the issue are:


Steve Liskow with “Nose for News.”


Andrew Welsh-Huggins with “Supply Chains.”



Website Description:

In our 89th issue, Michael Bracken pulls double duty to bring a pair of original mysteires to readers: great tales by Steve Liskow and Welsh-Huggins. Plus we have a crime novel by Johnston McCulley (who also created Zorro—but he tried his hand at a bunch of other heroes and antiheroes, among them The Scarlet Scourge, The Avenging Twins, and a ton of others). There’s also a novel by Western author B.M. Bower. Plus a solve-it-yourself mystery by Hal Charles.

On the science fiction & fantasy side, we have classic tales by Randall Garrett and Murray Leinster, two favorites. Robert E. Howard (much on my mind since returning from our trip to Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains, Texas) has a Solomon Kane adventure. And last (but far from least) we begin the serialization of Darrell Schweitzer’s amazing Sekenre: The Book of the Sorcerer, a series of linked short stories that come together to form a novel…though each tale also manages to stand on its own. The first 3 stories are in this issue.


 Here’s this issue’s complete lineup:


Mysteries / Suspense / Adventure:

“Nose for News,” by Steve Liskow [Michael Bracken Presents short story]

“The Case of the Burgled Bushels,” by Hal Charles [Solve-It-Yourself Mystery]

“Supply Chains,” by Andrew Welsh-Huggins [Michael Bracken Presents short story]

The Voice at Johnnywater, by B.M. Bower [novel]

The Scarlet Scourge, by Johnston McCulley [novel]


Science Fiction & Fantasy: 

“Needler,” by Randall Garrett [novella]

“Rattle of Bones,” by Robert E. Howard [short story]

“Ribbon in the Sky,” by Murray Leinster [novella]

Sekenre: The Book of the Sorcerer, by Darrell Schwetizer [serial book, part 1 of 4]

SMFS Member Publishing News: Assassin's Bad Day by William Burton McCormick


SMFS list member William Burton McCormick’s short story, Assassin's Bad Day, is published today at Guilty Crime Story Magazine: Flash!  You can read the flash fiction story online for free here.

SMFS Member Guest Post: A Tale of Three Agents by Paul A. Barra


Please welcome SMFS list member Paul A. Barra to the blog today with his perspective on an interesting topic…



A Tale of Three Agents

Paul A. Barra


After Mikhail Baryshnikov had been living in this country for a few years in the late eighties, he was asked what he thought was the main difference between the USA and the Soviet Union. The famed dancer replied: "A hard job in Russia is to buy something; a hard job in America is to sell something."


I agree with the second half of his contrast, and I don't want anything to do with sales. Leave that up to the experts has always been my motto, so I've been hunting for a literary agent to represent my work ever since I began writing fiction seriously. I need someone else to do the selling.


When I sold a novel manuscript to Black Opal Books seven years ago, I asked the editor/publisher to recommend me to a literary agent. Lauri Wellington did that and I signed with a Dallas-based agency, recognizing my inadequacies in the business world of publishing and hoping that having an agent in my corner would assist me in getting my next project in front of acquisition editors of more prestigious houses as I continued to write.


After all, agents are known now as the primary screening apparatus for publishers, with many functioning as valued editors in their own right. An agent may represent the adversary in contract negotiations with a publisher, but she is also a tool in the difficult task of acquiring projects for publishers. Not so my first agent.


I was assigned to a new agent at the agency, something I expected and accepted. I was a new author. The young agent was, and is, an excellent communicator, muti-talented as a cover artist and marketer, and now a publisher of her own marque. At the time, however, she was new and disliked the sales aspect of agenting almost as much as I did. She was also badly treated and mentored by the senior agent at her firm. Not only did she not sell my next script, she never read it. Her boss told me to wait in the queue like everyone else seeking representation, even though she had already signed me and was receiving her cut of my royalties from the first book (meager as they were). My relationship with the agency ended badly—luckily for me, as it turned out, since that agency is now charging reading fees—and my young agent left the fold. 

I published another book with BOB and then lucked out with "Westfarrow Island," signing with my independent publisher of choice, The Permanent Press. The product was beautifully done and got a dynamite review in Publishers Weekly when it dropped in 2019. A year later I sent them my next work, a mystery at a horse racing venue. The protagonist was a fallen priest. Co-publisher Marty Shepard called me to say he didn't like priests, in fact he "couldn't stomach the idea of a man dressed in black;" would I turn the man into a former priest? Since a main theme of the novel was redemption, I told Marty that wouldn't work if the man had already abandoned his vocation. We agreed to disagree, and I was out one publisher.


So I went hunting another literary agent. I found one in New York who liked the Westfarrow sequel I had written. I recognized the name of her agency even if I didn't know her by reputation, but she was smart and easy to get along with. It was the time of Covid, so she had emigrated back to her home in the Bay Area, but our work together was not affected. We talked about changing the characters, possibly even using a pen name, but the agent eventually decided to put the revised script out on submission as a sequel called "Sheepshead Bay Commission." Predictably (I can say that now but wasn't nearly so certain then), no one would touch it. One editor from a major house told my agent that he would get fired if he ever took on a sequel of a novel owned by another publisher. Bad blunder, but we could recover.


The trouble was, my agent had lost heart. She gradually got slower and slower answering my emails, didn't have anything definitive to say about my second major rewrite of Sheepshead Bay, wasn't enthusiastic about the other works I had written. By now it was 2021 and I had not published anything but few short stories in two years. She became my literary agent in name only.


Another New York agent, this one an academic with a terminal degree in Black Studies from a prestigious university, liked a children's historical adventure I wrote called "Samson and the Charleston Spy." My second agent was gracious in releasing me from our contract, and I was off with Agent #3. This was in early 2022.


I learned a lot about middle grade readers. How, for instance, one could not write in first person if another, third person, POV was going to have a say later in the book. We can do that sort of thing in adult novels, but ten-year-olds can get confused with the change. Since the novel takes place in and around the bombardment of Ft. Sumter and is told from a Southern perspective, and contains the themes of slavery, nativism and zealotry for the Cause, my new agent and I worked hard getting the script in shape. She even sent it to a "sensitivity reader" for input. When it was finally ready, she submitted it to eight editors at NYC publishers. Result: eight rejections.


Three wanted only contemporary novels, no historicals; three offered no comments as to why they passed on the novel. Agent #2 had an excuse for every rejection but one: One editor had the effrontery to suggest to my agent, on the phone, that the script would be more palatable to NYC editors if the protagonist himself turned out to be the spy. A native South Carolinian son of the Confederacy becomes a Yankee spy! If I had agreed to that, I would have had to move out of the South. Under cover of darkness. The children's book world is a fearsome jungle indeed.


Agent #3 wanted to wait before she tried submitting Samson again, and she wasn't interested in the adult manuscripts that were beginning to pile up on my desktop. The same thing happened as happened with Agent #2: she gave up after one round of submissions. Late last year, she called to tell me she was leaving her agency for another and would not be taking me with her. She was as kind and gracious as always. I think of her—and Agent #2— as a friend, although I cannot imagine a situation in which I would ask for her advice again.


Meanwhile, a story of mine had been selected for a Mystery Writers of America anthology ("When a Stranger Comes To Town"). The MWA was represented by Alec Shane of Writers House. Although my only contact with him was when he sent me my share of the book's advance ($549) and author copies of the hard and soft-covered products, I wrote to him suggesting that since he already represented some of my work, he might as well represent all of it. He did not agree, so I am again unrepresented.


My writing buddy is suggesting that I go self-publishing this time. Writers are making money by doing the publishing houses' work themselves—and there are many artists and editors and producers who can assist, for a fee. I'm not taking him seriously because the very thought of the time and effort necessary to be successful, truly successful, as a self-published author drains away all my energy. I don't think I'm strong enough to put in the work that writing requires, plus the work into marketing and promoting my book that would be necessary to make money. That's sales, and sales is not the work of a writer.


A writer ought to be able to support his family by writing alone. I did it for many years as a freelancer, writing feature stories in a niche press market and in magazines. Fiction shouldn't be impossible. So, I'm starting over again. I'm going to query small presses and work my way up, gradually. And, if I ever do attract an agent again, I'm going to talk to her about her thoughts on trying out more than one submission blitz before giving up on a project. I understand sales is difficult, I will tell her, but that's why I want you to represent me. I do the writing; you do the selling. Can that still work in 2023?


Paul Barra ©2023 

Paul A. Barra's latest novel, Full of Eyes: A Rebel Bishop Mystery, is a historical mystery.  

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

2023 SMFS Member Anthony Award Nominees


Earlier this week, several SMFS list members were nominated for the 2023 Anthony Awards in various categories. The winners will be announced at Bouchercon: San Diego on Saturday evening, September 2, 2023. The full list of nominees and more information can be found at the official website. The nominated books and short stories by SMFS list members are:


Best Anthology


Land of 10,000 Thrills: Bouchercon Anthology 2022. Edited by SMFS list member Greg Herren (Down & Out Books).


Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Warren Devon. Edited by SMFS list members by Libby Cudmore and Art Taylor (Down & Out Books).


Low Down Dirty Vote Volume 3: The Color of My Vote. Edited by SMFS list member Mysti Berry (Berry Content Corporation).


Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon. Edited by SMFS list member Josh Pachter            (Down & Out Books).


Best Short Story


Barb Goffman for "Beauty and the Beyotch." (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #29)


Bruce Robert Coffin for "The Impediment." (Deadly Nightshade: Best New England Crime Stories 2022,  Crime Spell Books).


Curtis Ippolito for "The Estate Sale." (Vautrin - Volume 4, Issue 1, Summer 2022)


Best Children’s/ Young Adult Novel


Fleur Bradley for Daybreak on Raven Island. (Viking Books for Young Readers) 


Best Paperback/eBook/Audiobook


James L’Etoile for Dead Drop: A Detective Nathan Parker Novel (Level Best Books)

Monday, May 8, 2023

SMFS Member Guest Post: What the Wattpad? by Judy Penz Sheluk

Please welcome back fellow SMFS list member Judy Penz Sheluk to our blog today


                      What the Wattpad? 

                  by Judy Penz Sheluk

A couple of years ago I led a workshop at my regional library on writing short stories. Titled “The Long & the Short of It,” the participants dissected a short story into its essential elements, plot, characters, setting, opening and closing sentences, etc. They were then given 20 minutes to rewrite a portion of the same story from a different point of view (third to first) or different tense (present to past or future), after which each willing participant would read what they’d come up with. I’d never done anything like that before, but the engagement was electric, and some of the rewrites were really clever.

I’d left time for a Q&A at the end of the workshop. I expected the usual questions on where or how to get published (and always recommended SMFS for mystery writers), but this time one of the “regulars” (a man who attended all my workshops and presentations—let’s call him Steve) asked me what I thought about Wattpad.

Wattpad? I’d heard of it, but I didn’t know anything about it beyond that it was a place you could publish your work for others to read for free. I figured it might be a fad, some sort of flash in the night. Besides, I’m all for accepting that I’ll never get Stephen King rich, but the whole starving artist thing only sounds romantic. Publishing my work with the intention of never getting paid didn’t seem like anything I wanted to do.

Of course, I couldn’t actually say any of that out loud. Instead, I admitted that I wasn’t well versed in Wattpad, and asked Steve for his take on it. Apparently, he was happily publishing short stories on there to get critiques and gain a following. The money part, to him, wasn’t important, at least not at this stage.

I couldn’t fault Steve for his reasoning, but even so, I didn’t give Wattpad another thought once the workshop was over. In fact, it wasn’t until I was writing Finding Your Path to Publication that it occurred to me that I should include social publishing, not just blogs, but serialized storytelling platforms. In other words, it was time to research Wattpad.

I learned that while are several alternatives to Wattpad available today, that certainly wasn’t the case when Canadian co-founders Allen Lau, an entrepreneur, and Ivan Yuen, a computer engineer, launched Wattpad in 2006. A self-defined “social storytelling platform where new voices write and share,” Wattpad provides an online portal for writers to upload and share their work with readers. Wattpad currently boasts a community of 93 million users—and counting—who collectively spend 23 billion minutes on Wattpad each month, with stories available in 50 different languages. And here I’d been dismissing it as a fad.

But I realized something else as well. Wattpad (or its biggest rival, Inkitt) may not be for me, but this book was about readers find their path to publication. As a result, I’ve included a fairly in-depth look at storytelling platforms and serialized publishing (including Kindle Vella) in Finding Your Path to Publication, something I may never have considered if it hadn’t been for Steve.

I’ve since moved about 8 hours north of that regional library, and I doubt even a loyal follower like Steve would make that trek to attend another one of my workshops. Last I heard he was working on a book about training horses.

Maybe I’ll try to find him on Wattpad…


About the book: The road to publishing is paved with good intentions…and horror stories of authors who had to learn the hard way.

For the emerging author, the publishing world can be overwhelming. You’ve written the book, and you’re ready to share it with the world, but don’t know where to start. Traditional, independent press, hybrid, self-publishing, and online social platforms—all are valid publishing paths. The question is, which one is right for you?

Finding Your Path to Publication is an introduction to an industry that remains a mystery to those on the outside. Learn how each publishing option works, what to expect from the process start to finish, how to identify red flags, and avoid common pitfalls. With statistics, examples, and helpful resources compiled by an industry insider who’s been down a few of these paths, this is your roadmap to decide which path you’d like to explore, and where to begin your author journey.

Available in trade paperback, large print, hardcover, and e-book. Universal buy link:


Judy Penz Sheluk ©2023

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and Marketville Mysteries, both of which have been published in multiple languages. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited. Judy is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served on the Board of Directors for five years, the final two as Chair. She lives in Northern Ontario. Find her at

Sunday, May 7, 2023

SMFS Member Publishing News: Short-Term Murder by N.M. Cedeño

SMFS list member N.M. Cedeño’s short story, Short-Term Murder, was published yesterday in Black Cat Weekly #88. Published by Wildside Press, the issue is available here in digital format.


Website Description:

As our 88th issue was coming together, I noticed that we have a pair of jungle adventure novels—the first Bomba the Jungle Boy story, as well as Tarzan and the Lost Empire. So I’m going to bill it as a “Special Jungle Warrior Issue” and just add that it’s a fun one. #88 also includes two original mysteries (Mark Thielman, N.M. Cedeño) plus a bunch of other great modern and classic stories (Fritz Leiber! Day Keene! George O. Smith!). I would have gladly bought Anna Tambour’s story for Weird Tales when I was editing WT—don’t forget to check it out. (It falls somewhere between fantasy, crime, and Rod Serling’s the Twilight Zone.

And we are super happy to welcome back Acquiring Editor Cynthia Ward, who brings us the Walter Jon Williams tale this time. We look forward to many more selections from her.


Here’s the complete lineup:

Mysteries / Suspense / Adventure:

“License to Kill,” by Mark Thielman [Michael Bracken Presents short story]

“The Case of the Burgled Bushels,” by Hal Charles. [Solve-It-Yourself Mystery]

“Short-Term Murder,” by N.M. Cedeño [Michael Bracken Presents short story]

“Dead Men Do Tell Tales,” by Day Keene [short story]

Bomba the Jungle Boy, by Roy Rockwood [novel]


Science Fiction & Fantasy: 

“Lethe,” by Walter Jon Williams [Cynthia Ward Presents short story]

“I Killed for a Lucky Strike,” by Anna Tambour [short story]

“Atomic Bonanza,” by George O. Smith

“Martians Keep Out!” by Fritz Leiber [short novel]

Tarzan and the Lost Empire, by Edgar Rice Burroughs [novel]

Saturday, May 6, 2023