Podcast Review: The Black Tapes

Everyone's been talking my ear off about this podcast but I've been avoiding it, not really being an audio drama kind of way. The journalistic dress-up helps with that, I guess, since I'm now a convert.

The black tapes referenced in the title are a collection of cases (and sometimes actual VHS tapes) that a skeptic paranormal investigator (Dr Strand) has gathered over the years. Cases that he couldn't debunk or prove either way. The journalist (Alex) meets him while recording a podcast about people with interesting, or different, jobs. This changes the nature of the podcast and leads to them investigating these unsolved cases, of sorts.

Production values, voice acting are absolutely top notch. If you're tired of lazily recorded podcasts of dudes around their living room talking about the Avengers movies or whatever, this podcast is a salve. Probably a good entry point for podcasts of this type too. 

The writing is fairly good. The only thing I've had issue with was the overall plot progression and format of the show. The writing itself, episode to episode, scene to scene is solid throughout. So what's my issue?

At least as far as I've listened of it (season 2 episode 4), the show is frustrating in that it often presents cases, features a couple of interviews and then closes without any kind of resolution. While it's true that most cases end up showing up again, slowly progressing and revealing their secrets, I'd argue it's fairly frustrating to follow a case throughout 14 episodes and there's still no end in sight.

It doesn't help that some of them are really vague or plain goofy, like the episode about a ''hard rock'' band that "wants to become the new Soundgarden or Nirvana," whose lead singer "hammered a butter knife into his chest with a mallet." 

Others are surprisingly effective and will probably creep you out. The one about the talking boards was a good one.

Perhaps most interesting is the overarching plot about Dr Strand  and the disappearance of his wife. Alas, just like every other case, it moves slow as molasses, with morsel bites thrown at the audience every other episode or two. 

I feel like I'm being too hard on this show. Before I started getting frustrated with the pacing, I was enjoying it immensely and it's such a well produced show that it's hard to not recommend it.

Worth a look.

4 out of 5 VHS Tapes

Elsewhere: The Long Walk is Stephen King's Best Novel

Over at LitReactor, I made my case for The Long Walk. Probably not my favorite King novel, but objectively the best. Come argue with me.


Stephen King has 54 novels under his belt. I'm here to tell you which one is the hands down, no doubt, absolute best.
The Long Walk is a novel King released under his pseudonym Richard Bachman in 1979. It was the first novel he wrote (Carrie was the first one to be published), which is impressive, considering how good it is. He was still in college at the time. I'm not suggesting that King was never able to match his first effort; he wrote other masterpieces after this one. It's just that this one inches over the finish line first. 
Before I get into my thesis, let me introduce the book to anybody who might not have read it (that's warning number one).

Short Story Markets & Submission Calls: 2017

New year, new stories, new short story markets.


Retro Future  Science FictionPays SWFA+ Theme: Love Deadline: February 1st

Retro Future Science FictionPays SWFA+ Theme: GamesDeadline: March 1st

Liminal Stories 6 c/wordDeadline: January 15th

Helios Quarterly 2 c/word+Commercial Cosmonauts & Hired GunsDeadline: January 15th

Nightscript  $20 Lit Horror Deadline: January 31st.

Tales to Terrify (Audio) $50  Deadline: January 31st.

A Breath from the Sky 3c/word Deadline: January 31st.       

Hyperion & Theia 1c/wordSaturnaliaDeadline: January 31st.

Gaslandia 1c/wordDieselpunkDeadline: March 1st

Ride the Star Wind 8c/wordCthulhu Space OperaDeadline: January 31st.

Triangulation: Appetites 2c/wordDeadline: February 28th.

Would But Time Await $75Folk HorrorDeadline: April

Pantheon 1c/wordMonstersDeadline: March 31st

Tales from the Lake 3c/wordHorrorDeadline: February 1st.

No Deadline/Ongoing Submissions

Scout 8 c/word. Social Science Fiction.

Sycamore Review $50

Lovecraft Zine $50

Sockdolager 2 CENT + REPRINTS

Red Sun $100

Syntax and Salt Magical Realism $10

Grendel Song 3 CENTS Folklore

Black Girls Are Magic $50

Bracken 2 cents/word

WOLVES $5-30

New Work December 2016

Just wanted to point out all the new, kinda sorta different stuff I have on my pre-made cover store.

Check it out.

Two for one Spooktacular Book Cover Deal

Thought I'd write something up and offer some details on the promo I'm currently running all through October.

Because Squarespace doesn't really support this kind of promo, all you got to do is email me through the Contact page or straight to northerain@gmail.com and tell me which 2 covers you'd like. 

You can also purchase one cover (the more expensive one!) and email me and tell me what your 2nd pick is.

October 2016 Spooktacular Movie Marathon

It's that time of the year again! Haven't made a list like this since 2013, but since I got time this October, I plan to watch a horror flick every night.

This year it's mostly classics that I've missed. Either I haven't watched them, or it's been so long I don't even remember them. How many of these have you watched? Which ones have you always wondered about?

I've always wanted to watch Soavi's other movie (besides Cemetery Man, a solid favorite), The Church. Not sure why I never got around to it.

House I'm sure I've watched, back in the VHS days, but I barely remember it.

The Changeling I'm ashamed to say I've never watched despite all the good things I've been told about it. Same goes for Cronos.

Halloween 3 I've never seen and I honestly don't know why. It sounds fun as heck.

The rest are various bits and pieces I want to check out and some rewatches, like Tenebre and Shivers.

What are you up to this October?

New Short Story Markets for October

October is upon us. You're gonna be busy carving pumpkins and watching spooky flicks, so now's the time to send out some submissions before it's too late.

I only have a hanful available to submit, but I sent out what I had. What about you?



Here's what's new.

Markets with Deadlines

Young Explorer's Adventure Guide. Middle Grade. 6 cents a word. Deadline:  January 31, 2017

Skelos Journal. Spec fic. 1 cent a word. Deadline: September 30.

Mythic. Spec fic. $40. Deadline: September 30, opens again December 1st.

Gods and Monsters. 6 cents a word. Deadline: December 31st.

World Unknown Review. $15. Deadline: October 31st.


...and here's what's old, but still current.


Magazines I like, no deadline

http://giganotosaurus.org/submission-guidelines/ 100$

Sycamore Review $50

Milkfist $10

Lovecraft Zine $50

Sockdolager 2 CENT + REPRINTS

https://gallerycurious.com/submissions/ 1.5 CENTS STEAMPUNK RETROFUTURE

http://www.slicemagazine.org/submit-your-work/#.VKWPiIqsVHi $250

Red Sun $100

Syntax and Salt Magical Realism $10

Grendel Song 3 CENTS Folklore

Black Girls Are Magic $50

Bracken 2 cents/word

http://www.whethermagazine.com/write-for-us/ $50

Far Strider

Vastarian Journal 1 CENT

http://www.norwegianamerican.com/contribute/ $50

https://authorbobfreeman.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/occult-detective-quarterly/ 1 CENT

https://persistentvisionsmag.com/guidelines 7 CENTS

WOLVES $5-30


Markets with Deadlines.

http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-binge-watching-cure/ $250-500 Dec 31st

http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-worlds-of-science-fiction-fantasy-and-horror-vol-ii/ $100 Oct 15th

https://orfordparishbooks.com/2016/06/21/call-for-submissions-for-new-england-folk-horror-anthology/ New England $75 2017

http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-dark-toronto/ 3 CENTS Jan 31st

http://www.tacituspublishing.com/call_for_submissions.html 1 CENT Oct 31st

http://martianmigrainepress.com/submission-call-for-the-2017-mmp-anthology/ 3 CENTS Jan 31

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1962286285/humans-wanted-a-sf-anthology/posts/1645766 $250 Dec 31

http://www.amurderofstorytellers.com/submissions/ $15 Oct 31st

https://manchesterspeculativefiction.org/2016/08/09/revolutions-2/ Dec 31st $15

Short Story Markets

List of short story I have my eye on. All are paying, not all of them are pro. 


Magazines, no deadline

http://giganotosaurus.org/submission-guidelines/ 100$

https://sycamorereview.com/submissions/ $50

http://www.milkfist.com/submission_guidelines $10

https://lovecraftzine.com/submissions/ $50

http://www.sockdolager.net/submission-guidelines/ 2 CENT + REPRINTS

https://gallerycurious.com/submissions/ 1.5 CENTS STEAMPUNK RETROFUTURE

http://www.slicemagazine.org/submit-your-work/#.VKWPiIqsVHi $250

https://redsunmagazine.wordpress.com/guidelines/ $100

http://syntaxandsalt.com/submit/ Magical Realism $10

https://grendel-song.com/submit/ 3 CENTS Folklore

http://www.blackgirlmagicmag.com/submit/ $50

http://www.brackenmagazine.com/ 2 CENTS

http://www.whethermagazine.com/write-for-us/ $50


https://vastarien-journal.com/submission-guidelines/ 1 CENT

http://www.norwegianamerican.com/contribute/ $50

https://authorbobfreeman.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/occult-detective-quarterly/ 1 CENT

https://persistentvisionsmag.com/guidelines 7 CENTS

http://www.wolvesmagazine.com/#!submissions/c24vq $5-30


Anthologies, Themed Issues 

http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-binge-watching-cure/ $250-500 Dec 31st

http://www.worldweaverpress.com/submit-anthologies.html Krampus Aug 31st $10

http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-worlds-of-science-fiction-fantasy-and-horror-vol-ii/ $100 Oct 15th

https://orfordparishbooks.com/2016/06/21/call-for-submissions-for-new-england-folk-horror-anthology/ New England $75 2017

http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-dark-toronto/ 3 CENTS Jan 31st

http://www.farolightpublishing.com/submissions/ 3 CENTS Sep 15th

http://frithbooks.com/restless/ $250 Aug 31st

http://poletopolepublishing.com/submissions/ 2 CENTS Aug 30th

http://www.tacituspublishing.com/call_for_submissions.html 1 CENT Oct 31st

http://martianmigrainepress.com/submission-call-for-the-2017-mmp-anthology/ 3 CENTS Jan 31

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1962286285/humans-wanted-a-sf-anthology/posts/1645766 $250 Dec 31

http://www.amurderofstorytellers.com/submissions/ $15 Oct 31st

\https://manchesterspeculativefiction.org/2016/08/09/revolutions-2/ Dec 31st $15


30 Day Challenge - 30 Days, 30 Covers


A late start, but for the entire month of July I'll be doing a book cover a day, every day. Yes, while all of you are enjoying the phantasmagorical beaches of some tropical island, I'll be here working hard with the sun beating down on me.

Or not, because up here it's raining right now and it's cold as hell.

So, ride along with me as I post a new cover each day, along with a few words and maybe a photo of two of my office. 


Why are you doing this?

I've been feeling lazy and want to increase my output and be more creative.

What do I get out of it?

You can look at it with your eyeballs. You can purchase the book covers created. 

Are these covers available for sale?

Yes, yes they are. While this is going on, everything in my store will be discounted by 30%. 

How can I support you?

I'm glad you asked. If you'd like to get first dibs on the covers produced while I'm doing this, you can purchase a gift card from my online shop. The covers will be up for sale a day after they're posted, so you have first crack at it by emailing me and telling me you want it. 

You can also support me on Patreon. You get a non-exclusive cover each month, but most importantly, you're doing the best deed: putting money in my pockets.

Sharing this on social media is also super useful and something that cool kids do. You should too!

Okay so now what?

First cover drops July 3rd. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter.