Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Uncovering a true jewel....steampunk, science fiction, and futuristic prose...oh my!

Every once and a while as an editor, you come across a story that not only fits the title, but are taken so completely aback at how well its written that you are sure its from a well known author ghosting as a newbie. But then after you read it, you realize that it was one of the most heavy, thought provoking stories you've read in a while.

So instilling and so insightful that hours after you read it, you're still thinking about it and talking about it. It's a 'Finally, thank God' kind of moment. When I get them, and thankfully I've gotten them a few times with the short time Bete Noire has been open.

The last time I read a story like that was when we read, "Kids," Grey Freeman. (And if you're reading Grey, please, resubmit it...we LOVED it!)

But tonight's story was just...wow. I can't even sum it up in a few sentences because to do that would be to detract from the depth of the story, and take away the humanism that is just dripping from the peice. But its more than that. Because this author, whom I can't name yet since we don't  have her acceptance letter back, wrote her prolific and stunning prose in such a way that I can't, in all justice, take away from the beauty of her work by giving a general summation.

Yes, its that bloody good.

Aside from her work, there were others of the steampunk and futuristic nature that makes me want to reread Isaac Asimov and Ursula K. LeGuin.

And the science fiction combined with the technological based angles kind of creep me out, making me wonder who is exactly watching us, and why.....

I love it when authors make me wonder what the hell is going bump in the night...keep it up, because this cat loves being scared to death, and I still have a few lives left....

Avoir for now...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Guidelines, people....

This is going to be short, because I can't say it enough.

Please, read the guidelines before submitting your work not only to us, but to others.

At Bete Noire Magazine, we do NOT condone, or encourage violence against children. Again, we've had a few stories this time out with graphic descriptions surrounding the topic of child killing, child predators, Munchausen Syndrome, etc. Stories like that have, in this humble editor and writers opinion, no merit. It shows a last, desperate attempt of the author to seek out that shock value taboo in hopes to get put into print.

So please, read our guidelines. Not just ours, but anywhere you submit your work.

Remember....be yourself, everyone else is taken.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ending the Chaos, Open Season (of a sort), Interviews, and comfy things...

It's been a while. But as writers ourselves, we've been busy with NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. The tag? 50,000 words in 30 days. (Whoever thought of this is both brilliant and cruel, as there is a major U.S. holiday in there, and its not even a month with the full 31 days)....but I digress.

If you want to friend on us NaNo, we are michgirl, and awgifford. That being said, I encourage everyone to at least try it. It's a great way to challenge the writer in you to an all out duel with your internal editor. Sound easy? Guess again, mes amis. It's extremely difficult to turn off my internal editor and just delve head first into the creative writing process. I blame my O.C.D. and caffeine (and my neighbors creepy garden gnome) for my idle distractions. But once the internal editor is off, the prose start to flow, and some of my best stories and work come forth from this challenge.

I have finished my first full length novel this year with NaNo. Now onto NaNoEdBaYoHeMo...or National Novel Editing Bang Your Head Month in December...this process (at least for me) involves alcoholic beverages and broken pencils.

Your fearless editors, in the midst of  our creative endevours this month, have also been busy doing interviews and questionaires for Bete Noire. We're impressed with the amount of feedback we've been getting (all good, knock on skulls), and have been humbled to be interviewed by W.C. Roberts for his blog (link to follow once the article is written), and for 6 Questions for.blogspot.com. We'll be posting more on that later.

And now.....its OPEN READING PERIOD!

Get thee fingers moving, put pen to paper, and scribble scribble scribble your little hearts out!  Type, type, type like a fat little pigeon! (Throw Mama From the Train).We love the poetry and artwork, so keep it coming.

So as we wait for the submissions to roll in, I'm going to surround myself with my favorite things....Macintosh and vanilla candles, vanilla tea from Harney and Sons, my clicky pen and red leather notebook, and write myself. This rainy weather is too good to waste....

Friday, October 8, 2010

The first issue...and little gold stars...

Final editing, last minute galley proof approvals, and a final edit as a whole and the first issue will be put to bed. Totally amazed at the quality of submissions we received, in every area.

The poetry this time just blew us away, and we can't wait to showcase it and bring it to you....

Artwork and photography was equally brilliant. I mean, wood carvings so intricate that you think that they were photoshopped...just awesome. And for the record...love the creepy cemetary pics and keep them coming! The more gothic, the better. Think old school meets old world, with a new age twist...yeah, that's what we're craving...

So the first issue should be available for purchase next weekend. Judging by the great feedback we've gotten from our contributors, it appears we're on the right track. That's good for us, because as writers ourselves, we never want to be part of snobby elite group who feel that just because they edit, they have to the right to ridicule and belittle. We parted ways with some folks awhile back because of that. We've always said our job as editors is threefold: one, to promote quality work in the genres we like. Two, to give awareness to the struggling genres we promote (horror, science-fiction, mystery, and crime) and its new writers...because the mass market media often overlooks these areas unless there's a big name attached to the works. Three, to edit the works from contributors offering suggestions (note we say suggestions, not changes), to make them more polished. Dean Koontz didn't start off writing his polished prose like that, neither did King, Lisa Gardener, Kipling, etc. They got that way through a few good editors who were willing to praise what was great, offer suggestions on how to make the good better, and to omit bad adverbs. From our feedback, we've done that, and its been appreciated, which for us means little gold stars, and possibly a cookie!

Keep the submissions coming...December 1st is the new reading period...and oh, be sure to check back for a surprise abouth an upcoming Bete Noire Anthology...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Artwork...snapshots of darker realms

We've been so impressed with the submissions and quality of artwork and photography coming out way. We have photographs of actual wood carvings, some lovely ancient cemetery photos, a few black and white still life photos, as well as computer and ink generated originals.

So much so, that Bete Noire Magazine is seriously going to consider doing a special issue of nothing but artwork in addition to the four issues done yearly. We've gotten a lot of awesome, inspiring submissions and it would be a shame to pass them up simply because there isn't room.

If you're wondering what we like in terms of art, the answer is everything. Oftentimes the art we select not only strikes a note with us, but also because it resonates a story that's currently been selected.

....creepy Gothic statues, shadowy silhouettes, please...keep them all coming...we like our art like we like our coffee..dark....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Guidelines and Common Sense...

All too often as editors, A.W. and I are asked why we don't like Anne Rice (for the record, we've never said we didn't like her work, we just prefer our vampires with less angst, less cry-baby drama not wearing last century's formal wear), why don't we like Twilight, etc, etc. We're always happy to explain why, just as we are happy to explain why we like what we like. We share a combined 10 years experience as editors, Bete Noire is our second magazine, and we still love to get asked questions as to 'why'.

But rarely do we ever get pressed by submitters as to why not on certain subjects. Until this weekend. If you've read our guidelines, you'll see we've posted that we will we not accept any story that involve gratuitous and or violence against children or animals, especially those that are sexual in nature. That statement should, SHOULD, be pretty self explanatory.

Yet we were questioned by a submitter when we pointed this out and rejected their story. After their second query and vain attempt to rationalize his submission (which by the way was extremely well written except that it dealt with child killers and the above for mentioned no-no for submitting to Bete Noire), we told the submitter why, and I feel compelled to mention it here, as well as on our facebook and twitter page.

We know that these horrible things occur in real life, and we don't want to be a part of that in any way. There is no story that needs to have violence or sexual deviance against children or animals as a central part to their story. We went on to explain further.

You see, A.W. and I grew up in a county in rural Michigan where, for a time in the late seventies, parents were afraid let their children outside because of the Oakland County Child Killer. We grew up in a heightened state of fear because we knew that the monster in our community was far more disturbing than the ones under our beds. Four children were killed in a year's time frame. No one was ever caught, no one was charged. Some speculate the killer or killers moved to another state, some suspected he/she/they went to prison. No one knew. No one still does.

In high school, I knew a girl who was abducted and killed by serial killer Leslie Allen Williams. Hell doesn't have a fire hot enough to roast this demented f*cker. So yes, A.W. and I will not condone or promote child killing or animal torture of any kind, in any form, in any way.

I hope that this sheds some light on things. Sometimes you have stand for something, even if it means standing alone.

I hope there is now understanding,  and I hope you to read each of your submissions soon...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Links, gossip, and literal meanings...

Recently at Bete Noire we received an email that a link about us from duotrope appeared on Rue Morgue forums asking what we are like, and hoping that we aren't "bitter or contemptuous" because of our guidelines and website.

Not at all. In actuality, our editors are quite quirky and humorous, with a deep love for Weird Al, Star Wars, good wine, obsession with favorite movies, and heavy metal of the 80's rock persuasion. So let me further elaborate on our guidelines.

We don't want Stephanie Meyer's sparkling, angst ridden teenage romance vampires. We'd like a unique twist, not the old cliches. Cemetery Dance, Apex Magazine, Suedopod are the same: they want uniqueness.

We like all dark speculative fiction, from poetry to short stories and artwork. Splatterpunk: not so much and we'll tell you why. If we get rid of all the gross details of blood, guts, entrails and ookiness, if there isn't a story there, then its gore for gore's sake. It's one thing to write a story simply to gross people out, and that's fine. I like Rob Zombie's remakes, and the we love the Saw series (first three). But to just have guts and gore for the sake of describing it without a tight story underneath, well, we're going to pass.

At Bete Noire, we know what we're looking for in speculative fiction. While we aren't favorites of Lovecraftian stories and poems, we will and do, publish them.

The story's central idea is the probably the most important thing that is going to sell us. The descriptions of people, their conversations, the beautiful prose that it entails are just gravy for us if there's a good story there. We're simple like that; we like our meat (story) and potatoes (prose and descriptions).

What do we do for those authors and artists that submit? If we accept you, we let you know as soon as possible. We like our quick response time because we're writers ourselves and know what it's like to wait to hear about submissions. If we don't accept it, we give you a reason why. It might be something simple like, "too many grammatical errors and run-on sentences make for a choppy read, but please polish and resubmit", to the detailed like, "you had a character Jane come in with a bloody axe on page two, but there's no other mention of her."

We're far from snobbish, and we certainly aren't bitter towards our submitters. Do we like Edwardian and Victorian horror, and crave Hitchcockian type stories: sure. But like all editors, while we have our favorites, we by no means play favorites and do not insult our submitters.

For us, we find joy in reading new authors and their work. It's as simple as that.

So in the future, before bending an ear to subjectual gossip, drop us a line with your questions, concerns, dirty limericks; we won't bite. Girl Scouts honor.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Stalk Us...

Just a few more places you can stalk us...



......and our Cafepress store is coming along and will be open soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Submissions, submissions, submissions...

As an editor, you get a first hand glimpse into the masterpieces that writers crank out with gitty excitement as they submit in hopeful, wanton pleading that this one will get picked up. Over the years, as editors, we've read our share of some truly great pieces, and our share of crap. Yes, its okay to say that because some of those horrid lines still stick out in our minds even to this day. That is probably the truest sense of horror: when bad fiction or lines stick in your brain, taking up valuable space for better prose.

However, we have to say that for submissions for this reading period, we have been both impressed and amazed at the quality of work coming in. Seriously, this humbles us that we are able to read the next Bran Stoker winners, the next Michael Laimo, even the next Stephen King perhaps.

So with that said, please keep them coming, especially the artwork.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grey Freeman....where are you?

Are you that author who impressed us all those months back with your story, "Kids"? Are you Grey Freeman? If so, please contact BeteNoireMagazine. We loved your story and would love to put it into the priemere issue of Bete Noire Magazine.

....A.W. and I were really impressed with this story, and have tried a number of things to contact the author. It was one of those stories that just really dug in deep into your psyche and spooked you...I, personally loved it, and loved the creep factor of it...A.W. did as well...

Be sure to get your submissions in September 1st!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This is just a reminder that a call for submissions starts Wednesday, September 1st through September 30th. Bring us your darker sides of everything...horror, mystery, science fiction, poetry, artwork...

for submission guidelines please visit our site at http://www.betenoiremagazine.com/

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Face of Stone and Light...

The first cover for the premier issue of Bete Noire Magazine is done. On a recent trip to lovely and historic Paris, France, A.W. and I spent several hours slowing creeping through the beautiful monuments of an old church undergoing restoration. The Eglise Saint Jean de Montmartre, notable for being the first example of reinforced concrete construction, sits in Paris on the Rue des Abbesses.  Seeing the face of one statue in particular, her angelic face caressed by the new morning sun, we couldn't resist in capturing a small part of her soul.

I love cemeteries and old churches,(in truth old dilapidated buildings in general), reading the epitaphs of the long forgotten and the never-were's. Tragic and beautiful; it oddly makes me appreciate my own mortality.

So, the cover is done.

And in better news, A.W. sold several photographs to House of Horror. They'll appear in issue #15, due out August 30th. A perfect way to celebrate the first open reading period of Bete Noire Magazine.

Open Season, Website, and hold the Sparkles

Thank you all for stopping by the new blog for Bete Noire Magazine, brought to you by CharmNoirOmnimedia. Bete Noire Magazine is the brainchild of A.W. Gifford and Jennifer L. Gifford, writers and editors. Bete Noire will contain the best in dark, speculative ficiton bringing the world's best up and coming writers to the mainstream.

The new website is finally up, and its pretty sweet if I don't say so myself. Check it out at: http://www.betenoiremagazine.com/

We've been busy making new guidelines and creating writing periods. After much speculation, we've been encouraged to make the magazine a quarterly publication, rather than simply three times a year. It's refreshing to know the magazine already has such a following and its not even in print yet, which brings me to my next topic: reading periods.

The new reading period starts in a few weeks, September 1st, and ends September 30th. So, put pen to paper, quill to ink, or fingers to the laptop and get cracking. We love the off beat, the odd. We like dark humor as well. We like vampires, as long as they don't sparkle. If you think Stephanie Meyer's vampires are original, you may not want to send us your vampire story. Give us the unique approach. Victorian horror and Alfred Hitchcockian stories will be given a second glance. We don't care if your Stephen Jerkowitz or Stephen King; we are NOT a magazine that only publishes based on name. Bete Noire wants stories of merit, not just namesakes. Any other questions, please feel free to contact us.