Marvel’s Secret Empire Review

Well – Marvels latest event story Secret Empire: written by Nic Spencer has come, and gone, and left me utterly disappointed.

I’m not going to get into the politics or cultural implications of this story, partly because I just don’t have to time to get worked up about it. But at the end of the day, Secret Empire undelivered for me.

What makes Secret Empire frustrating is that it started out so well, and even as recently as two issues ago still showed signs that it would ultimately live up to its promise.

To recap for those that don’t know what this event was all about- Captain America, secretly a true believer in the cause of Hydra, has turned his back on the Super Hero community. Using the trust and respect he has gained over the years he has ascended to a position where he can enact Hydra’s ideals. The death of Jack Flag, the trial of Maria Hill, the second Civil War, the alien Chitauri Queen. All of the domino’s of Captain America’s plan have been laid out — and it will take only the slightest push to set them into action! 

While some got fired up about Cap- I was somewhat intrigued with the idea and premise. What if your greatest ally was secretly your greatest enemy? 

I think this story had so much potential. The ability to show that heroes can fall. That evil can influence and even manipulate the minds of those we look to for hope and follow. I longed for the redemptive story where Steve Rogers would be woken from this mind control caused by a cosmic cube and rise to be the hero we needed… But no, what I got was a confusing mess and a mediocre climax.

In the end the memory of the real Steve Rogers we all love and adore is pulled out of this cosmic cube to fight the evil Hydra Steve in a fight that under-delivers and feels, Cheap. Leaving us with even more questions than answers. Which is the real Steve? The memory, or the Hydra version.

All things aside (Including Spencer’s personal political agenda which is evident) the world building on this story was incredible. And I appreciate how much work has been put into building this story from the beginning. But issue after issue I got character reactions to what was happening and little driven story. This thing could have been told in about half of the issues it was. But hey, it’s Marvel, and they continue to find ways to sink their ship with event stories that leave us disappointed and confused.

I think it’s time to get back to the basic of comic books- At least in my mind. Basic character stories of heroes rising up to fight evil. But hey- I’ve only been reading comics for 30 years- What do I know.

50 Short Fiction Markets

50 Short Fiction Markets, I honestly didn’t think I would find that many. But you’d be surprised how many there are out there, and how many are willing to pay some decent amounts.

I was first introduced to science fiction through the short works of Ray Bradbury. The Fireman, which later was expanded from a short story to become Fahrenheit 451, was one of the first by the legend I ever read. The Illustrated Man, the Martian Chronicles, The Rocket, Bradbury knew the art form better than most. So naturally, when I started writing that’s where I started.

I would write like fire, submit, then get rejected. This cycle continued and continued until eventually I got a few sales, but very little money rolled in. However, you’d be surprised how many authors write short fiction and walk away with $1,200 or more through out the year by selling three or four stories a year.

For some- That could be a trip to Realm Makers or your favorite con. Pay for editing, cover design, or just a nice vacation.

I love the art form- And in my mind it’s worth the effort. Especially if you make a couple hundred bucks. So here are 50 Short Fiction Markets I’ve learned about.

Note: This list was first given to me by H.A. Titus: Over the past two years I’ve added to it off and on as I come across a new market. Also- please read each markets guidelines- They can change from time to time. So I hope you enjoy.

Analog: Science fiction: 2,000-7,000 for short stories; 10,000-20,000 for novelettes, and 40,000-80,000 for serials. NO REPRINTS. Pays 7-9 cents/word up to 7,500 words, $525-675 between 7,500-10,000 words, 7-7,5 cents/word for longer material, and 5 cents/word for serials.


Aliterate: science fiction, fantasy, westerns, pulps, thrillers, horror and romance. Has a sci-fi/fantasy lean. 2,500 and 8,000 words pays 6 cents per word.


Asimov’s: Science fiction up to 20,000 words. NO REPRINTS. First English Language serial rights plus non-exclusive rights. 8-10 cents/word up to 7,500 words and 8-8.5 cents/word for longer material.


Aurealis: Science fiction, fantasy, and horror between 2,000-8,000 words. NO REPRINTS. Buys First Electronic Rights and non-exclusive anthology rights. Rights revert back to the author 1 year after publication. Pays $20-$60/1,000 words.


Apex Magazine: Science Fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine. Up to 7,500 words. Pay $0.06 per word.


Beneath Ceaseless Skies: accepts fantasy with a strong emphasis on the literary feel of a piece. NO REPRINTS. First World Serial rights, First World Electronic rights, non-exclusive World Audio rights, and an option to purchase non-exclusive World Anthology rights, up to 180 days after publication. Pays 6 cents/word.


Betwixt Magazine: Speculative fiction. NO REPRINTS. 1,000-30,000 words range, but preferred length is 4-7,000. 3 cents/word up to $225. Reading periods: Oct 1–Nov 30; January 1-Feb 28; April 1-May 31; July 1-Aug 31. (Not sure if this Mag is coming back)


BuzzyMag: Science fiction and fantasy up to 10,000 words. ACCEPTS REPRINTS. 10 cents/word for first rights, 2 cents/word for non-exclusive reprint rights.


Castlepod: fantasy. ACCEPTS REPRINTS. Audio and electronic rights, and a Creative Commons license. 0.05/0.03 cents per word.


Canadian Science Fiction Review: science fiction between 500-3,000 words. NO REPRINTS. Buys First Serial, First Electronic, and non-exclusive audio rights, and a Creative Commons license. Pays 6 cents/word.


Cicada: A YA lit/comics magazine fascinated with lyric and strange and committed to work that speaks to teens’ truths. Flash fic to novellas; up to 9,000 words – pays up to 25 cents a word.


Clarkesworld: Science fiction and fantasy between 1,000-8,000 words (preferred is 4,000). NO REPRINTS. First world electronic rights (text and audio), first print rights, and non-exclusive anthology rights. 10 cents/word for the first 4,000 words, 7 cents/word after.


Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores: Science fiction, fantasy, etc, 1,000 words and up though shorter works will be preferred. 6 cents/word for original fiction, 2 cents/word for reprints.


Crossed Genres: Science fiction and fantasy following a theme, between 1,000-6,000 words. NO REPRINTS. First World e-book and print rights as well as non-exclusive anthology and online rights. Pays  6 cents/word.


Compelling Science Fiction: Publishes Science Fiction between 1,000 – 10,000 words. Pays up 6 cents a word.


Daily Science Fiction: Science fiction and fantasy up to 1,500 words. Accepts flash fiction series. NO REPRINTS. First worldwide rights and nonexclusive reprint rights with an option to be included in an anthology. 8 cents/word with additional payment if included in an anthology.


Diabolical Plots: A sci-fi/fantasy zine – 3500 words or less- 8 cents per word (more than the minimum professional rate as deemed by SFWA)


Deep Magic: Accepts clean fantasy and science fiction stories. Pays 8 cents a word for up to 5,000 words and 6 cents per word from 5,001 – 16,000.


Escape Pod: science fiction. ACCEPTS REPRINTS. 2,000-6,000 words. Audio and electronic rights and a Creative Commons license. 0.05/0.03 cents per word.


Everyday Fiction: All genres up to 1,000 words. NO REPRINTS. First rights with an option for First Anthology rights. $3/story with an additional dollar if chosen for an anthology.


Fantastic Stories of the Imagination: fantasy and sci-fi up to 3,000 words. REPRINTS ACCEPTED. Pays 15 cents/word for original stories, and 1 cent/word for reprints, min of $25 and max of $100. Licenses rights for web, print, and anthologies.


Fantasy and Science Fiction: Fantasy and science fiction up to 25,000 words. NO REPRINTS. First North American and foreign serial rights, and an option for anthology rights. 7-12 cents per word.


Far Fetched Fables: pays $50 flat rate per story. Fantasy stories.


Fireside Fiction: We accept flash fiction of up to 1,000 words, and short stories from 1,000 to 4,000 words. pays 12.5 cents per word


Farstrider Magazine: accepts fantasy with a sense of humor. NO REPRINTS. 500-4,000 words. 3 cents/word. First electronic rights as well as inclusive in an annual anthology.


Flash Fiction Online: Any genre between 500-1,000 words. REPRINTS ACCEPTED. $60/story, 2 cents/word for reprints. First electronic rights, including audio. Non-exlcusive one-time anthology rights.


Flame Tree Publishing anthology calls: Flame Tree Publishing anthology calls- only accept short stories for specific anthologies which are announced on our website, our blog and through Facebook, Twitter and Google.


Gamut: An online magazine of neo-noir, spec fic with a literary bent. word range is about 500-5,000 with the sweet spot being 3,000. Pays 10 cents per word.


GrimDark: GrimDark fantasy and science fiction between 1,500-4,000 words. Serials are accepted but must be completed before acceptance. NO REPRINTS. First World rights, reverted 1 year after the contract is signed, after which they maintain non-exclusive distribution rights. Pays 6 cents/word.


Havok: Science fiction and fantasy between 500-1,000 words. NO REPRINTS. First rights for six months and reprint rights for perpetuity. Small stipend for payment depending on length of story. Issues are themed.


Heroic Fantasy Quarterly: epic/sword and sorcery fantasy up to 10,000 words, though willing to serialize a max of 50,000 over four issues. NO REPRINTS. First World English electronic rights, exclusive electronic rights for 90 days, archival rights for 12 months, and excerpt rights. Submission periods are: March, June, September, December. Pays $100 for stories.


Inscription Magazine: speculative fiction for teenagers 500-9,000 words in length. 6 cents/word. First worldwide rights and exclsuive reprint rights. ACCEPTS REPRINTS.


Intergalactic Medicine Show: Science fiction and fantasy of any length. ACCEPTS REPRINTS if obscure. All rights exclusive for one year, nonexclusive rights in perpetuity, as well as non-exclusive print and audio rights for anthologies. Pays 6 cents/word, with advances and royalties if included in an anthology.


Kasma Magazine: speculative fiction. 1,000-5,000 words in length, though consider longer stories (and shorter in very rare cases).2 cents/word. REPRINTS ACCEPTED. Non-exclusive digital rights.


Lamplight Magazine: A literary magazine of dark fiction, both short stories and flash fiction. Accepts originals and reprints up to 7,000 words and pays 3 cents per word or $150 max.


Lightspeed: science fiction and fantasy between 1,500-7,500 words, stories under 5,000 preferred. ACCEPTS REPRINTS, but only if not online in any form. Pays 8 cents/word for first rights, 2 cents/word for reprints.


Liminal Stories: An online literary magazine publishing the beautiful, heartbreaking and strange. Will consider up to 10,000 words, and pays 6 cents a word.


Metaphorosis Magazine: science fiction and fantasy. 1,000-6,000 words is the sweet spot. NO REPRINTS. 1 cent/word.


Mothership Zeta: speculative fiction stories, emphasis on fun/funny stories. Flash fiction length to 6,000 words, though there will be only one flash fiction story per issue. payment is 6 cents/word. NO REPRINTS (reprints only from Podcastle, Escapepod, and Pseudopod).


New Myths: all speculative fiction exept graphic horror up to 10,000 words. NO REPRINTS. First publication rights. $50/story. Reading periods: June 1-July 31st; January 1-Feb 28th.


Nightmare: a horror and dark fantasy magazine edited by John Joseph Adams. We are open to stories of 1500-7500 words. Stories of 5000 words or less are preferred. Pays 6 cents per word.


Penumbra: Science fiction and fantasy of 3,500 words or less. NO REPRINTS. Pays 5 cents/word. Has issue themes—check website for open themes.


Shimmer: science fiction and fantasy, but more drawn to things like contemporary fantasy, up to 7,500 words, with 4,000 being preferred. NO REPRINTS. First Print and Electronic Rights, with rights reverting back to the author after 4 months, though rights to sell back issues of the magazine/have the story online remain. 5 cents/word.


StarShipSofa: Science Fiction. From soft, social science fiction to weird pulpy stuff to vigorous hard SF and YA. Pays $50 flat rate per story


Strange Horizons: Science fiction and fantasy under 9,000 words, under 5,000 preferred. NO REPRINTS. Buys First English rights, including audio rights. Pays 8 cents/word.


Strange Constellations: speculative fiction between 3,000-7,500 words. Non-execlusive electronic and anthology rights, distributed under a Creative Commons license. REPRINTS ACCEPTED. Flat rate of $30. Reading periods: July 1-Aug 31; Jan 1-Feb 28th.


Superversivepress: Has open calls for anthology shorts- Check their blog. accepts all science fiction and fantasy under 17,500 words—under 12,000 preferred. NO REPRINTS. First electronic, translation, audio, and anthology rights, exclusive for one year, non-exclusive after that. 25 cents/word for the first 5,000 words, 15 cents/word for the next 5,000, and 10 cents/word after that. Additional royalties if chosen for an anthology.

(Very Challenging to get into)


Uncanny Magazine: Science fiction and fantasy between 750-6,000 words. NO UNSOLICITED REPRINTS. First rights including first audio rights. 8 cents/word. Responds within 30 days.


Universe Annex: A section of the Grantville Gazette that publishes general science fiction and fantasy short stories. prefer stories under 15,000 words, with a strong preference for under 10,000 words. Pays 6 cents per word.


Why I Write Dark Fiction: Or Horror

I’m taking a short break from writing. We’re moving in a few weeks and between repairs to our current home that need to be done, and packing, time isn’t all on my side. So I actually may be blogging a lot more over the next few weeks. (Don’t ask how I have time to blog but not write fiction: I may punch you)

Last week I had someone message me after reading my novella “My Friend Louie” with the question- How can Christian’s write horror…? Interesting question- and one that has been explored by a number of folks. But first let me explain…

My Friend Louie is the story of a young boy who has just witnessed his mother leaving him and his father, who has very few friends, and is trying to survive a bully down the street. Through out the course of the story he finds a Baseball bat, who he named Louie, and who he believes is alive and able to speak to him, through his sub-conscious.

It’s Louie who convinces him to use Louie (the bat) on his father and smack him on the head, it’s Louie who tells him to use (Louie the bat) on the bully down the street and go beat that crap out of him.

Told in a raw memoir style, I can say it’s not my best writing by any stretch. There are several that like it and other that don’t. And that’s okay… But that got me thinking about the question asked to me- Why do you write horror?

It’s weird, because I don’t think I do, and I certainly don’t set out to write horror. That’s not my end goal. And I certainly don’t believe I write horrifying things. But I do admit, I may write Dark Things.

Why…? Because I think it’s necessary. I think it’s honest.

Let’s get real. Life doesn’t always end in a happy ending. Bad things happen to good people.

G.K. Chesterton has been quoted dozens of times for having said that- “Fairy tales are more than true… Not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

This is so true- But yet not entirely true. Because the reality of the world we live in is this-

Sometimes the dragon wins…

That’s is a difficult truth to live with. But it’s reality all the same. Evil exist- Evil wins.

But for those of us who know Christ, we know there is hope.

We live in a broken, dark, dying world, that is full of sin. That’s reality. And there are so many in life that don’t see any sort of light or hope at the end. It’s just an empty void.

You see: My life is a life that has been spent living in the darkness of the shadows. I know what it feels like to not have hope. I know what it feels like to not see a way out. I understand the pain of brokenness and despair. I’ve lived that life.

Today I live free. Oh I still live in the shadows, only now I live in the shadow of the cross. It covers me and provides me with the hope I need.

I write not to explore the monsters, but to expose the fact that there are monsters everywhere, and we have to face them. Win, lose, draw… Life isn’t easy. Sometimes the story isn’t about defeating the dragon, but surviving and holding on to the light in the aftermath of the dragon winning a small battle.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that a part of me is the young boy in that story. I would be also lying to you if I didn’t say that a part of me is Louie as well.

So my stories from time to time may be a bit dark with some horrifying elements. They may not end in a happy ending. They may not even be all that Christian in the Christian sense because, there won’t be a solid redemptive story. But I promise you this…

They will be personal. And they will end with hope. And sometimes hope is all we need to get us through to the end.


Theological science fiction recommendations?

Following the discussion on Redit today concerning Theological Science Fiction Recommendations. Amazing how so many people don’t know of the great authors out there who may explore this topic. Anyway – The link is below for anyone interested.


Theological science fiction recommendations? from printSF

Will the Best Troll Stand Up

Social Media is becoming an unbearable world of non-sense.

I don’t care if it’s some nut head filling my feed with their loose weight now solutions, a new author who took bad advice and is blasting the “Buy my book” tweets 100 times in an hour, or if the President creates a new word:  covfefe

Lately Social Media is just utter Crap.

There I said. But why…? I mean when you stop and think about it, what is the purpose of social media? To socialize with a virtual presence? To have fun? To make a difference?

I pretty much ignore everyone’s advice on social media strategies partly because I think most of them are crap and fail to touch on the most important thing: Just be yourself.

We live in a world right now where everyone has an Opinion, everyone has an idea, everyone wants and needs to be heard.

The problem is: Most don’t know jack crap about what they are talking about. As a result arguments are started and people get offended and / or bullied. Yes- the number one source of Fake News is people talking on Facebook.

I tend to (TRY) and stay away from most discussions on politics, social justice, and / or culture in general. But that’s me… I think it’s complete non-sense to try to change the world behind an A.I. social system.

But where do you fit…? Maybe you see things differently. Maybe you think this world needs more loud mouths acting like a bunch of clowns. That’s cool. Have at it. Maybe I’m in the minority and wrong. So be it… And yes I know there is a difference between standing for principles and being an utter jerk. So chill out before you get to hot.

You see, I once had a dream that their was a serial killer that had a group of seven people held hostage in a basement. Unfortunately only one of the seven could survive. How did he determine this- He gave them each an iphone equipped with all the best social media apps they needed and he said, “Go Troll.” Then he smiled, and said. “May the best troll win.”

Part of me wonders if that’s not somewhat true. After all- Would you type that comment, that tweet, if someone weren’t holding a gun to your head? The ironic thing is. Sometimes it’s our own worst half holding the gun, whispering- “You deserve to be heard.”

Hmmm. I don’t think it’s a question of if you deserve to be heard, but in the moment, while angry, or emotional- Do people really need to hear from you. Because to be honest: There isn’t much of a difference between trolling, and having an emotional overloaded social presence.

So the next time you’re online- Be something different: Be real, be you… Not the worst part of you.