Columns > Published on May 26th, 2015

LitReactor Community Spotlight: May 2015

Normally I like to write some clever introduction, but you and I both know that you're probably at the theater watching Mad Max for the third or so time. Getting your attention is going to be tough. You're likely already drifting off, with another tab open to Craigslist, seeing how much it would cost to hire a guy to stand on the roof of your car playing guitar.

I know. Life is hard sometimes. But stay with me. This column has some great content from some great writers and LitReactor members, and you owe it to yourself to check out what's going on around here. I promise it won't take long. They'll still be in a car chase when you get back.

In the Forums

Book Club: 'The Only Ones' by Carola Dibbell

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. Discussion on The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell has already begun, so if you've read it, chime in. If you didn't make it this time around, don't worry. Next month we'll be discussing One Kick by Chelsea Cain. Check it out! The Book Club is a great place to get to know our members and get involved in the community.

Return of the Thunderdome

For a bunch of shut-in introverted writers, we are a competitive bunch. LitReactor has hosted multiple tiers of competition throughout its lifetime, but contests are a lot of work to plan and build, so some of our more enterprising members have resurrected the Thunderdome to keep us all sharp in the meantime. The rules are simple: you challenge another member, or state your willingness to be challenged. The two of you agree on terms, and then you begin writing. When the deadline comes up, both of your stories are posted in a forum poll, with names removed, and the forum members vote on which story they like best. It's a great way to stay in form with a little friendly interaction, and I want to thank Sound and Strange Photon for showing us all how it's done. Remember, the only way to earn street cred is to beat up the biggest guy around, so pick your opponent and get to it.

Writing in British English

I wanted to point this thread out because it addresses an issue I see come up every now and then in the LitReactor Workshop. If you're writing a character from a country that uses a different terminology and slang than you, how deeply should you let that affect your narrative? Should you limit it to dialogue, or should the entire book seem to be written by the same nationality as the character being followed? Should your terminology change if the perspective changes to a different character? If so, how do you make it seem authentic? Luckily for you, LitReactor's membership is international, and we have an impressive number of countries and cultures represented in the forums, so give us your thoughts and, if you're willing, perhaps offer your help.

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!

"Bear Traps" by Emily Slaney

I owe two apologies for this one. First, to Emily, as she sent this to me back in March, and it somehow got lost in the shuffle of daily emails, and that's terrible. The second apology I owe is to you, LitReactor people, because you really needed to hear about this awesome collection of short stories as soon as humanly possible. Emily's story "Bear Traps" is featured in Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up to No Good, brushing elbows with work by Joyce Carol Oates and Aimee Bender. As Emily puts it, all the stories feature bad women and "good women" who haven't yet been caught. It sounds fantastic, so help me apologize to Emily by buying this collection and telling her how awesome her story is, okay? Thanks.

[amazon 193779444X inline]

Emily Slaney writes nihilistic emotional satire because she likes to make you laugh before she pulls it all away. Should you want to, you can find her stories at Menacing Hedge, Revolt Daily, Cease Cows, Solarcide and in the forth coming Pantheon: Gaia Anthology. She lives in England with her husband and kids.

'Disintegration' by Richard Thomas

Ah yes, Richard makes another appearance in the Spotlight, to the glee of fanboys and fangirls everywhere. This time, we're looking at his second novel, the first in the new Windy City Dark Mystery series. As if you needed any reason to read Disintegration, check out some of these blurbs.

“A dark existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him. A stunning and vital piece of work.”
—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and Filth

“Sweet hot hell, Richard Thomas writes like a man possessed, a man on fire, a guy with a gun to his head. And you’ll read Disintegration like there’s a gun to yours, too. A twisted masterpiece.”
—Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and Double Dead

“This novel is so hard-hitting it should come with its own ice-pack. Richard Thomas is the wild child of Raymond Chandler and Chuck Palahniuk, a neo-noirist who brings to life a gritty, shadow-soaked, bullet-pocked Chicago as the stage for this compulsively readable crime drama.”
—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding

“Thomas builds his universe and its population with terse prose and dynamic, often horrifyingly visceral imagery that unspools with grand weirdness and intensity. Then he rips that universe apart, brick by bloody brick. Disintegration is provocative. It’s also damned fine noir.”
—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and The Croning

Yeah, I'm not as important as any of those people, so do what they say and go buy the book.

[amazon B00N6PEWFA inline]

Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books: Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots, Staring Into the Abyss, Tribulations and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2, and Shivers VI. Visit for more information.

A Look Forward to June

Well, I honestly feel refreshed. After two months of not having any submissions, I got to do two awesome Spotlight segments today. Keep them coming, seriously. I don't get out of bed unless I see an email from you asking me to brag about you. Truly.

In the meantime, show us what you've got in the Thunderdome. Emily's story from the Spotlight was originally from a writing battle, and now it's Big News. LitReactor might be a place for you to practice, or it might be a place for you to get made. Either way, we're here for you, and we'll give you back as much as you put in. Stretch your writing muscles, and I'll 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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