Columns > Published on September 2nd, 2014

LitReactor Community Spotlight: August 2014

Ah, August. Otherwise known as the Month Where Nothing Happens, Unless You're a Fan of Wiggling Your Toes. The month where summer vacation ends, students must return to school, and people with real jobs think, "Huh, it's August already, I guess."

While the rest of the world twiddled its thumbs and wondered why August always reminds them of the color orange, LitReactor had some pretty exciting announcements to make. Our crime fiction contest Arrest Us! ended, and I had the pleasure of announcing some of the winners. If you haven't already, go congratulate our top reviewers and those writers who won a celebrity critique.

As you probably remember, the three grand prize winners will be printed in the crime magazine Thuglit. As of this post, submissions are currently being evaluated. When we sent Todd (the managing editor) the top stories earlier this month, he was in the process of finishing up the latest edition of Thuglit, so the grand prize winners will be chosen and published in the next edition of the magazine.

The LitReactor team is working hard to get all the other prizes finalized as soon as possible—August is a tough month to peg people down. Right now, some of the prizes have gone out, while we're waiting on others. We will keep you updated every step of the way.

In the Forums

Book Club: Noir: A Love Story by edward j rathke

Have you checked out the LitReactor book club yet? Every month, we start discussion on a new book, often by authors and publishers that have some affiliation with LitReactor. Starting today, we're beginning discussion on Noir: A Love Story by edward j rathke. If you don't think you'll be able to make it this time around, don't worry. We typically post each discussion thread a month in advance, so you'll have plenty of time to prepare for the next one. Check it out! The book club is a great place to get to know our members, and since we have so many new people here from the contest, this is a great chance to get involved in the community.

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On Mothers Seeing the Darkest Parts of Their Children's Minds

Though the title may read a bit like a My Chemical Romance song title (sorry, Tim,) the question is surely one that has come up in the thoughts of many writers here. How do you prepare yourself and your loved ones for reading the sextastic murder spree you just wrote about? How do you explain to your sweet ole' ma that yes, you know what a butt plug is and, wait, how does she know what it is, anyway? Check out this thread and let us know how you manage to look your children in the eye after they read your BDSM transvestite tentacle noir novelette.

Authors Who Give Back to the Writing Community

If you haven't done your fair bit of wandering yet, you may not notice that we have quite a few minor celebrities (and even a couple of straight-up literary rock stars) hanging around. Most of them are pretty humble and won't come right out and tell you they have a couple of books under their belt, but you might be surprised by the credentials of the advice-givers around here. Shannon started this thread to thank authors Max Booth III and Richard Thomas, two accomplished authors and LitReactor staffers, for their help. If you'd like to call out anyone, member or not, for helping you out on your writing journey, feel free to drop by.

Fun fact: this thread was heavily spammed before I did gaze upon it and with great wrath swing my banhammer, so if you're wondering why everyone starts freaking out in the middle for no reason, that's why. Our users are eccentric, but less than 20% of them have self-reported hallucinations.

Community Spotlight

Every month, I will compile a list of those who sent me their accomplishments through the form submission page and post the results. If you want in, then do something amazing and tell me about it. You get the free publicity, and I get to brag about how awesome our community members are. The order of the list is decided by which submissions I get first, so get on it!

Live Reading with Brandon Tietz and Richard Thomas

Man, some of these faces are getting familiar in these spotlight posts, aren't they? That's what happens when you do a lot of writing and don't go out and buy a bundle pack of Assassin's Creed games like I just did. Staffers Brandon Tietz and Richard Thomas are guests on award-winning podcast Booked, and their episode is going to be recorded live in Chicago on September 6th (this Saturday). They'll be doing readings alongside authors Jac Jemc and Brandon Tanzer. I haven't gotten to see Richard read yet, but I did see Brandon in St. Louis a year or so ago at the live recording of Books and Booze, and it was a real treat. If you can make it out there, you won't be disappointed. Brandon will be reading from his novel Good Sex, Great Prayers.

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Brandon Tietz is the author of Out of Touch and Good Sex, Great Prayers. His short stories have been widely published, appearing in such print works as Warmed & Bound, Spark (vol. II), Solarcidal Tendencies, and most recently, the Burnt Tongues anthology, which was co-edited by Richard Thomas and Chuck Palahniuk. Visit him at

"Batting a Thousand" by Eddie McNamara

There's something kind of romantic about the free short story, isn't there? I love advertising them here, and Eddie McNamara is here to satisfy. If you're a fan of subversive love stories, then you should head over to the website of Stoned Crow Press and check out Eddie's story "Batting a Thousand." Nobody writes noir quite like former cops, and before you ask, yes, the chest hair flows plentifully here. He claims it's not for everyone, but perhaps he's underestimated the LitReactor community's stomach for good fiction, eh?

Eddie McNamara writes healthy vegetarian recipes and unhealthy fiction in NYC. He's had stories published in Penthouse, Thuglit, All Due Respect, Shotgun Honey and a bunch of other places. He likes heavy metal, overripe bananas, and professional wrestling in an unironic way.

The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan H. Jordan

Despite our introverted nature and terribly overwritten pickup lines, some writers have actually managed to reproduce and have children. If you're one of those few, Alan H. Jordan has written a book that your offspring are sure to enjoy. The Monster on Top of the Bed follows little Suzy and a monster called Karrit as they work to overcome their fear of each other. I have a special place in my heart for children's literature, especially anything that involves monsters and reversed tropes. Make sure you thank Alan and buy his book; after all, he's helping kids develop coping strategies for the nightmares you all write about, isn't he?

Alan H. Jordan is a hybrid author with over twenty books to his credit. This is his first illustrated children's picture book. It is illustrated by Manuela Pentangelo. Both Alan and Manuela are members of the Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators. Alan resides in Nevada. Manuela lives in Sardinia, Italy.

Jo by Leah Rhyne

As anyone who has attempted to write a book knows well, getting a novel past the finish line is far more difficult than it seems. It's one of the biggest accomplishments I get to write about here in the spotlight, and it's my honor to announce that LitReactor columnist Leah Rhyne has put out a new novel, titled Jo. If you've read her previous work, you know she's got a talent for writing zombie fiction, and Jo looks like another take on the traditional zombie with some interesting twists on the genre. Check out the synopsis, and then buy it using the link below.


Jolene Hall is dead – sort of. She can walk, think and talk, but her heart doesn't beat and her lungs stopped breathing ages ago. Her body’s a mosaic of jagged wounds and stapled flesh. Jolene Hall has a choice: turn herself in to the authorities, led by a suspiciously handsome police officer, or team up with her roommate Lucy and her boyfriend Eli to find a way to save herself. To Jo, the choice is clear. She’d like to know who turned her into a monster, and she’d like to live to see another sunrise. But that choice has drastic repercussions. On a trip deep into the snowy White Mountains, to a hidden laboratory filled with danger and cadavers, Jo and Lucy find more reanimated girls. Part body, part machine, run by batteries and electricity, these girls are killers, created by a shadowy Order with a penchant for chaos…and murder. To make matters worse, a photo on a wall of victims reveals Lucy is next in line to be "recruited” into this army of beautiful, walking corpses. When Jo’s physical condition takes a turn for the irreparable, and the Order kidnaps those she loves most, she must sacrifice herself to save them all.

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Leah Rhyne is a Jersey girl who's lived in the South so long she's lost her accent...but never her attitude. After spending most of her childhood watching movies like Star Wars, Alien(s), and A Nightmare On Elm Street, as well as reading books like Stephen King's The Shining and It, Leah now writes tales of horror and science fiction. Her first novel, Undead America Volume 1: Zombie Days, Campfire Nights, released in the fall of 2012, and it’s sequel, No Angels, released in the fall of 2013. The final book in the trilogy is coming in 2014. She writes for, The Charleston City Paper, and for herself at Leah lives with her husband, daughter, and a small menagerie of pets. In her barely-there spare time, she loves running and yoga.

Rob Hart is back with a new book deal and a new Path to Publication column

Back in June, Rob Hart, our class director, got some pretty bad news: His publisher was closing its doors and canceling his book deal. It was a huge bummer—Rob had been sharing his experiences in his monthly Path to Publication column. Luckily, things turned around pretty quickly. He recently broke the news that Polis Books has picked up his debut novel, New Yorked, in print and digital, to be released in June 2015. They've also bought the follow-up, City of Rose

To mark the occasion, he revived the Path to Publication, where he talked about what it was like to lose a book deal, and the process of finding a new publisher. He'll be back every month, talking about bringing his first novel over the finish line.  

A Look Forward to September

Sheesh, so much for nothing happening in August, right? While I continue working on getting the Featured Workshop Story up and running, remember to keep feeding me ideas for things you would like to see or revise on the site. I am open to absolutely any new ideas, and as many users can testify, I'm pretty good about responding to each and every suggestion sent to me in PMs, email, comments, and in the forums. Keep up the good work, and see you next month.

About the author

Nathan Scalia earned a BA degree in psychology and considered medical school long enough to realize that he missed reading real books. He then went on to earn a Master's in Library Science and is currently working in a school library. He has written several new articles and columns for LitReactor, served for a time as the site's Community Manager, and can be found in the Writer's Workshop with some frequency.

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