LitReactor Community Spotlight: September 2015

Aww, it's good to see you guys again. Sorry for having been away for so long. I'm ready to return as the hero you deserve, so long as you don't need me to leave the couch here.

Somehow, LitReactor's boards muddled along without me, and you guys were up to all sorts of things this summer. I have a bit of a backlog to address in the Spotlight portion of this column, and I have enough exciting things to talk about without rambling up here, so let's get started.

New Feature: Spotlight Submission Button

The Spotlight section of these columns has been pretty good, but I've noticed a trend wherein I see a lot of the same names come through my inbox. That's great, because it means that some people out there are achieving some real successes. I want to continue to see those names. However, I also want to see some new blood, and wondered if part of the problem was that only a few members knew where to find the link.

Kirk was kind enough to help me out, so now the submission button is much easier to find. Simply click any thread in the forums, and you'll see the pathway to your future glory prominently displayed. It looks like this. So click it and tell the world how great you are.

New Feature: Community Wisdom

The Spotlight is designed to showcase the accomplishments of our members, but what about your day-to-day thoughts about writing? There's always something new to learn, and useful knowledge can come from surprising places. The forums are a wealth of information in the form of conversations and debates, but if you have a short thought to share with the world, then the Community Wisdom section might be interested in displaying your words of, well, wisdom.

The thread I created details how it works. Here's an example from yours truly:

Today, I remembered how important it is to read as a writer. It seems like common sense, but maybe it's too obvious for us to remember all the time. I've been making time to read short stories again, and all of a sudden, I am back in writing mode. It really was that easy for me.

-Nathan Scalia

And from our first brave participant:

...I was talking with someone about exposition, telling not showing, and all that. And to make a point I brought up a first draft of my WIP from over a year ago. And it was so bad. And I mean. So. Bad. I cringed, couldn't read it all. But the WIP is doing so well now.

So first drafts, especially for discovery writers, I think should be allowed to suck. Get the idea down. Revision is what will make it good.


Want to give it a try? Post your submissions in the thread. Depending on the number, I may post all of them, or may be forced to choose, but either way, I'm hoping you'll find this new feature to be a fun and interesting addition to your LitReactor experience.

In the Forums

Book Club: 'A Head Full of Ghosts' by Paul Tremblay

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 A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay has already begun, so if you've read it, chime in. If you didn't make it this time around, don't worry; October's selection has already been announced. It is Gun, Needle, Spoon by Patrick O'Neil. Check it out! The Book Club is a great place to get to know our members and become involved in the community.

What's your view on point of view?

First person, third person, or some variation? Point of view can very much dictate not only how the plot is revealed, but how we as the readers can relate to the characters in the story. Sometimes rewriting a difficult story from a different perspective can make all the difference in the world. Is there anything we need to watch out for when choosing to write in one perspective or another? This thread has gotten quite a bit of good conversation, so add your voice.

Let's Talk Navel Gazing

Navel-gazing in this thread refers to a character's reflection on his or her own internal struggle. When we try to display a character's issues by "showing" rather than "telling," it requires an artful hand to avoid something too cliche. How do you show that a character's got problems to deal without an obvious narration?

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!

Episode I: The Rise of Joshua Chaplinsky

So before my summer hiatus, I had an inbox full of emails about Josh's accomplishments. When I came back from hiatus, there were even more. In fact, I would say that this summer has been an explosion of Chaplinksy that would make Michael Bay cower in terror. As Managing Editor, Joshua "Turgid Lovespear" Chaplinsky* is well-known around the site, but since May, he has gone from publishing his first piece of short fiction to... well, you probably saw the story.

I'm fairly certain the text on this page will burst from all the Josh here like so many unfortunate trouser zippers, but let's give it a shot.

1) Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry published Josh's very first piece of paid fiction, "Twice-Amputated Foot." If you want to see the birth of history yourself, you're in luck: you can read it for free.

2) His second published fiction, "Homunculoid," was published only a few days after his first, this time by Motherboard. Again, it's available to read for free. Can social satire be explored through an MMORPG guide? Yes, yes it can.

3) A third story for the month of June, this time published in L'Allure des Mots, Issue XVII. There, you can read "Wisdom of the Father," which Josh describes as a modern retelling of the Biblical story of Job.

4) A fourth June story was published by Fabula Argentea. It's called "The Black Hole," and yep, you can read it right here for free.

5) Before the month was over, Josh not only was able to publish his story "Black Work" in Cracked the Spine, but also landed himself in an interview. With this much attention, we're admittedly starting to get a little jealous. Seriously, world, back off. We had him first.

6) This last story is the one that makes me push up my glasses and say, "Well, I knew him before he was famous." Yeah, it's that kind of big. To the horror of Kanye West and Lovecraft fans everywhere, Josh is coming out with the amazing rewrite of a classic Lovecraft tale. We wrote a big thing about it already, but seriously, I cannot give Josh enough high fives for this. Seriously, just look at the cover.

And hey, what's this? A link that will let you purchase this RIGHT NOW? The world can be such a swell place!

Give Josh a huge congratulations, the guy deserves it.

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor. He has also written for TwitchFilm and He is the author of Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has/will appear in Zetetic, Motherboard, Dark Moon Digest, L’allure des Mots, Pantheon Magazine, Fabula Argentea, and Crack the Spine. More info at

[*Contrary to rumors, my nickname is NOT "Turgid Lovespear." —Ed.]

Rob Hart's Audiobook and Other Authorly Adventures

Rob is one of the Bigger Cheeses around the site, and currently is working as the class director. You can tell by the types of classes we're able to line up that he's pretty damn good at his job, but he's also made room for other pursuits in his life, which isn't even accounting for the fact he just had a baby. He was positively glowing in all of his pregnancy pictures, but don't let him know I said anything.

As you may have heard through the numerous columns he's posted on the experience, he's also come out with a novel, titled New Yorked. He live-columned the whole adventure in one of our more successful LitReactor series, and now, he's bringing you the audiobook.

The New Yorked audiobook is narrated by Alexander Cendese, who has some pretty impressive authors he's narrated for, including Neil Gaiman, W.E.B. Griffin, and Danielle Steele. It's available through Audible right now, so if you're looking for some high-quality storytelling, you should check it out.

But wait, there's more!

Are you in the New York area and want to see Rob in all his New Yorky grittiness? Go see him on September 10th at the Staten Island ferry terminal. He'll be doing a reading and signing there, as well as just generally being Rob Hart, and the event is absolutely free. Go support one of LitReactor's biggest supporters, take pictures with him, have him sign your chest, whatever. He's a pretty open-minded fellow.

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor, as well as the associate publisher for, where he handles both editorial and marketing content. Previously, he worked as a political reporter, the communications director for a politician, and a commissioner for the city of New York. He's the author of The Last Safe Place: A Zombie Novella, and his short stories have appeared in publications like Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, Crime Factory, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir. His debut novel, New Yorked, is available now from Polis Books. The sequel, City of Rose, will be released in early 2016.

'Across the Universe' by Raine Winters

Raine, who goes by Anna Gutmann around LitReactor, has published a YA fantasy novel, and even better, it's one that many of our workshop members may recognize. That's right, this is yet another work that got cooked in the fire of the LitReactor workshop, and wow, it looks right up my alley.

In The House, where all known universes are stored in glass orbs, an anonymous enemy threatens to destroy whole worlds and with it, the institution that has vowed to keep them safe.

17-year-old Amara witnesses this personally when she is made Watcher of the first universe to ever exist—the one that contains Earth. As soon as she is handed her duties and flies into our world, she finds it impossible not to interact with the life there. She is particularly drawn to Noah, a boy who has a family and a life … something she would give anything to experience. Their unique connection is threatened when evil beings called harbingers come to wreak havoc on Earth, other members of The House are stripped of their immortality, and universes begin to implode.

In order to save The House, keep Noah safe, and save the universe she is bound to protect, Amara must find who is behind all the destruction. Little does she know that her investigation will unveil a tale of corruption in the very place she calls home. Along her journey Amara learns the difference between gods and men, and the basis for her troubling connection with Noah.

Hey, don't worry, you don't have to wait to get this one. Just download it to your Kindle and off you go! Leave some reviews and help put Raine on the map. I'm personally looking forward to this one.

Raine lives in Ohio and works as a freelance writer. From an early age she has harbored a love of reading and writing, and is lucky enough to incorporate both into her daily work routine. Raine is a lover of all things fantasy and horror related, has a soft spot in her heart for middle grade and young adult fiction, and spends most of her free time running, wakesurfing, or wrangling in her husband and three cats while they perpetrate a massive amount of mischief around the house.

Emily Slaney Publishes Two New Short Stories

As we stroll through a viewing of our most prolific members, we see that Emily has returned to the Spotlight with two new short stories for us to enjoy. That's right, that's twice the Emily that you got last time! First up, we have the deliciously-named story "Lady Pincushion and the Circus of the Dead," which can be found in Gaia: Shadow & Breath, volume II, published by Pantheon Magazine. If you're ever looking to find a bunch of familiar names, we have quite a few members who enjoy publishing in Pantheon, and Emily wanted us to know that a portion of the proceeds go to the Nature Conservancy. As if you needed another reason to buy this awesome collection.

We can thank Pantheon again for bringing us another story by Emily, which is published in their number 8 issue, Nyx. This story is called, "The Epiphany of Cool," which she describes as a "nihilistic satire of high school clique initiations and torch-light scary stories." True to Pantheon's style, it's featured alongside several other stories inspired by Nyx, the goddess of the night. Hey, you can pick this one up right now, too!

Emily Slaney writes nihilistic emotional satire, because she likes to make you laugh before she pulls it all away. You can find her short stories online in such publications as: Menacing Hedge, Cease Cows, Revolt Daily, Solarcide and Thunderdome magazine. She lives in England with her husband and kids.

Emily Lathrop Earns Her Actor's Equity Card

You know, we have a lot of writing achievements in the Spotlight because, yes, we are a writing site. However, I think many of you would agree that we are not writers so much as we are artists. We have ideas and experiences we want to share with the world, and while many of us do so through writing, some of us expand into other mediums as well.

Emily Lathrop is our social media guru, and in addition to writing, she's very much into the theater scene. Now, for those of you who don't know, getting serious acting gigs requires a bit of a catch-22; to land most jobs, you need a card showing you as a member of the Actor's Equity association. However, to get the card, you need to have proven yourself on the stage. It's not easy, is what I'm saying.

So I'd like to offer Emily a big congratulations on recently earning herself an Actor's Equity card. This is going to open up a lot of doors for her, and we're happy to see our members succeed in their artistic pursuits. I very much enjoy live theater, and am happy to see that those in the field are still excited to bring us live performances. Keep us updated, Emily.

Emily has a Master's degree in early modern literature and drama from King's College London and a Bachelor's in English from the University of Iowa. In addition to being a social media manager, she is a writer and theatre practitioner.

Matt Garcia Brings Us Another Issue of Pantheon

Hey, remember Pantheon, that magazine I was talking about in Emily Slaney's section? It should sound familiar; tons/tonnes of our members have been featured there, so it makes a consistent showing here in the Spotlight. Longtime LitReactor member Matt Garcia is the man behind the cover, and he's bringing us another issue, Nyx.

In case you don't remember how it works, Pantheon typically features a theme based in mythology. Nyx was the goddess of the night, so this issue should cause a tingle in the blackest of hearts around here. LitReactor members always make a good showing in Pantheon, so it's a good investment. There are lots of ways to support Matt, but picking up the latest copy of Pantheon is more socially acceptable than going all Kathy Bates on him. Like I did.

Matthew Brockmeyer Wins First Place in a Creepypasta Contest

Matthew is a new member, but not an inexperienced one. He just won first place in the Creepypasta Wikia contest. The game was to write a horror story inspired by a random song. Matthew took the Khanate song "Under Rotting Sky" and turned it into something frightening enough to beat out the other contestants for the gold medal and cash prize. If you're looking to test your nerve, the story can be read at the Creepypasta Wikia here.

Welcome to LitReactor, Matthew. You've made quite an entrance.

When Matthew Brockmeyer isn't writing tales about relationships and the intricacies of the human heart, he is penning extreme horror under the pseudonym Humboldt Lycanthrope. He is dangerous on the full moon. So, beware, his stories will melt your mind and devastate your sleep.

A Look Forward to October

Jeezum Crowe, that was the longest Spotlight article I've written to date, and it's glorious. So many people are doing so many cool things, it's hard to keep up with it all. But that's why I do this; I want celebrate our members' accomplishments, and hopefully inspire those who are still early on in their writing career. Everyone starts out unknown. LitReactor is the place to get made.

And with that, I'm looking forward to seeing what you bring me for October. I know I'll be recharging my batteries by the light of the full moon and practicing my snarling face in time for the holidays. Hopefully you're doing something more productive.

Thanks for waiting for me to come back. You know I can never leave you for long.


Nathan Scalia

Column by Nathan Scalia

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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cshultz81's picture
cshultz81 from Oklahoma is reading Best Horror of the Year Volume 8 September 4, 2015 - 8:30pm

Big congrats to everyone! Awesome news all around.

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