13 Fun Monster Resources and Websites for Business and Pleasure

By Sarina Dorie

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I write about monsters in my speculative fiction and I love to read about monsters. One of my favorite fairytales has always been Beauty and the Beast and it has had a profound influence on my fantasy and romance writing. Of course, I could say the same thing about Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, but those also are their own kind of Beauty and the Beast stories.

When a friend and I were discussing my beauty and the beast influence, most recently seen in A Monster and a Gentleman which came out in Hot Dish this year with my pseudonym, I wondered what that meant about my mindset and mentality toward men and women and gender roles. Did my repetition of the beauty and beast trope mean I was casting myself as a helpless maiden needing to be saved by a man who was a monster? What did this say about my dating history and my relationships? My friend, Corinna, said that actually she thought I thought I was the monster, not the beauty. That gave me a different perspective. I think this really came out in Cassia in Silent Moon. I identified with the struggle for acceptance and self-acceptance of being a monster/flawed/an outcast. Silent Moon, a Gothic romance with werewolves, ghosts and fairies is currently available as an ebook but should be out in print in November and available on Amazon.

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There are resources I turn to when I write fantasy beasts and monsters. Below is list of places I go when I want to learn more.

Therianthropes United
Shifter mythology, stories and theories. I write stories about shape shifters, not just werewolves, though they do make an appearance in Silent Moon.
The home page looks like a barren sitemap, but rest assured, there is a wealth of information on any kind of monster imaginable, with links to external sites as well as internal.
Here is a longer list of better known monsters and useful info about them from the Monstrous.com website.
Paranormal Haze
This is a good starting point for goblin information. It gives brief descriptions of the various kinds. Since I write about the bogyman in Wrath of the Tooth Fairy, it gave me a good way to see the relationships between him and other goblins.
Grendel and Beowulf
I am especially interested in all the mistranslations and the potential changes from the original text that may depict Grendel’s mother as a monster rather than a warrior.
Ten Monsters from Mythology You Do Not Want to Meet
Many of these I have never heard of which made it a fun read.
Multicultural Monsters
Sometimes I need a quick reference to multicultural monsters and this is succinctly stated and easily organized, probably because it is for kids. My story, the Osiris Paradox used the Egyptian gods and mythology as a basis for an ancient Egyptian science fiction story in Sword and Laser.
Celtic Monsters
Maybe because I am part Irish and Scottish I enjoy the folklore of my ancestors. I am always wanting to learn more.
Japanese Monsters
During my time of living in Japan, going to museums, looking at the art, and talking to my Japanese coworkers I became more aware of and inspired by the rich culture, traditions and history that influences modern Japanese horror and pop culture. My Dear Jezzy series of love advice for monsters in Daily Science Fiction was in part inspired by Japanese oni in the column, “Oni You.”
Monster Myths
This is a funny take on monster myths with some great history thrown in.
Monster Classification
Obviously if you are going to write a scientific report about monsters you have to know what genus and kingdom it comes from.
Modern Monster Mythology
I have a feeling more modern monsters are going to make it into my Wrath of the Tooth Fairy series and other stories as a result of this website.
Rare World Monsters
Sometimes I am looking for something unusual and I don’t even know what I am looking for. This is one place to start if you want to feature something exotic.
North American Monsters
This is the stuff urban legends are made of.

What Monster resource do you use?

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Five Common Mistakes Among Writers



By Sarina Dorie

When we go to a job interview, we wear our best suit, come with a list of references, and might even remember to put on deodorant. At least, we do if we want the job. When we format a manuscript, self-edit a novel, or polish a book before sending it off to an agent or editor, we strive to present it as though we are professional writers who know what we are doing. At least, we do if we want to be published. Whether a seasoned writer, or someone just starting out in the writing process, there are weaknesses we don’t always recognize in our skills. We get into ruts with grammar, formatting or stylistic “rules” we learned early on in high school writing classes that are bad practices in professional writing. Learn the common mistakes so you can recognize when you make these in your writing so you can avoid them.


Five Common Mistakes


  1. The manuscript isn’t in manuscript format

Short stories have a particular format and novels have different requirements. Additionally, some publishers have very specific variations from the standards that a submitter must be aware of. The number one cause listed on editor, agent and magazine websites for writing to be rejected is not reading the guidelines.


  1. Grammar errors and inconsistencies

Sometimes a simple spell check will suffice. Other times, one needs to look up rules that are unfamiliar. Some rules of grammar are meant to be broken, but it is important to start with foundational knowledge and break a rule consistently if one chooses to do so. Classes, critique groups, peers and beta readers can help.


  1. The mechanics of the story are broken

Sentence structure is unvaried, past and present tense rules are not consistently followed, or there are various typos not covered under grammatical errors that make the manuscript a chore to read. It is common to find long sections of dialogue without dialogue tags, setting information lumped together, chunks of unbroken interior monologue or sensory information in one section, and long expanses of exposition in others. The story might be all, or large sections of, telling.


  1. The story itself is broken

The premise is unbelievable, the idea is trite or overdone, or the plot has no story arc. Maybe the characters are so unsympathetic the reader can’t get into the story or the writer has gotten a vital piece of information wrong that affects the story. This can be pretty important if an author is writing a paranormal romance with werewolves and the characters and plot don’t reflect accurate, wolf-like traits.


  1. The story is boring

This usually means it lacks conflict. It might also be because there is no hook in the beginning, or it could be because the reader doesn’t understand or care about the characters’ motivations, feelings or situation. The reader needs to be emotionally invested. Sure, it might just be because the reader isn’t the author’s target market, but even romance readers can be persuaded to read a mystery if they care about the characters or a mystery reader can read a romance if they are invested in the plot.

The Art of Writing Short Fiction

By Sarina Dorie

If a short story falls under a thousand words (1500 words in some markets), it is considered “flash fiction” or “micro fiction.” With a number of new markets out there publishing flash fiction: Penumbra, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online being a few among many, it is a plentiful market to send to. Because writing short, succinct stories is a skill I wanted to develop, there is a high demand for flash fiction, and it takes less time to write flash fiction than a long story (in theory) I decided I wanted to take a stab at it. When Daily Science Fiction opened about three years ago, Wordos, my speculative fiction writing critique group in Eugene, Oregon decided we wanted to dissect flash fiction in order to hone our skills and see what makes a short, short story work. It isn’t surprising that because of our critiques and dissections, quite a few writers from our critique group went on to sell flash to Daily Science Fiction.

What we noticed about these stories is that they were tightly written, with limited details, often had an interesting idea, a twist or punch line at the end, and were emotionally powerful or shocking or funny. The format these stories had been written in ranged from someone telling a story to a friend, in the form of a letter or letters in an epistolary fashion, were written like a fable, joke or essay, or used some other unusual writing device to tell a story. Many of these stories weren’t even traditional stories in the sense that there was a character arc, plot or conflict. Still, there was something that happened in each “story” that made it catchy, edgy or worthwhile. These are just my observations, as well as some that I remember from members of Wordos. My advice to someone genuinely interested in breaking into the flash fiction market is to read and analyze lots of flash fiction and decide what it is about each piece that made the editor choose it.

As a result of studying the market and trying to think in the “short” mindset, I wrote about twenty flash fiction stories in a few months. Some of them I submitted to my critique group and got feedback on, some of them I later turned into slightly longer short stories, and some of them I left unfinished because there wasn’t enough there to create a story—but I didn’t feel guilty about not finishing because they were so short and I considered them experiments. Though I had been submitting stories to magazines for several years, it was my flash fiction stories that first sold. The four pieces I first sold in 2011 were “Zombie Psychology” to Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, “A Ghost’s Guide to Haunting Human’s” (which won the Whidbey student choice award, “Losing One’s Appetite” to Daily Science Fiction and “Worse than a Devil” to Crossed Genres. From there, I went on to sell slightly longer short stories as well as more flash. After building up my resume with short stories, I sold my novel, Silent Moon and then my novella, Dawn of the Morning Star.

Sarina Dorie

Sarina Dorie