Category Archives: Feature Articles

International Women’s Day 2022: Supporting and Fighting for a Gender Equal World #BreakTheBias #IWD2022


It’s #InternationalWomensDay, or #IWD2022, and people around the world are celebrating women and the unique and important gifts they give this world. I’ve been proud to promote this day for about fifteen years in some shape or form, and each year builds momentum as it’s utilized as a catalyst for change year round instead of only awareness. However, I’ve been a supporter of women’s issues in various ways for even longer.

In essence, International Women’s Day is the marker to honor the Women’s Rights Movement and all those who came before us who were spit on, jailed, starved, ridiculed, and more as they fought for women to have the rights to vote, own land, have a bank account, and not be locked away in asylums. I was humbled and astounded when I was able to experience the “Rightfully Hers” 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage Movement exhibit at the National Archives in Washington D.C. in 2019 before the pandemic truly hit. It was wonderfully done and you can find information about it here and even see some exhibits virtually!

Just as women did then, I’m happy to see women banding together now too, with help from male allies, and continuing to make progress on so many issues.

The theme this year for IWD is #BreakTheBias, and they ask us: ”Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”

I can imagine that, and if not for myself, for my two daughters at least, who are now 18 and 14! As my daughter makes choices in the next couple months or so on what university she’ll attend for marine biology, I hope for the end of gender bias in STEM, tech, and science-related careers! I want my daughters to know their work is as valuable as any man’s and be able to earn appropriate respect for their hard work no matter their gender or race.

As I am a creative, I hope for more inclusion of all women in this field, especially in certain genres. As always, I will work myself to raise female voices and elevate women in the publishing field of all races, ethnicities, and orientation.

Above: Me and my daughters hiking together.

On my site here, you’ll find many great articles on women in history and making history, both on the page dedicated to that series, as March is also Women in History Month, but in interviews and book reviews as well. I’m currently taking articles about women in history or women making history, and as it’s now women in horror month, women in that category as well! Please contact me to arrange! I would love to learn about some amazing women.

In the past, I’ve also often interviewed and reviewed books by women on this site and you’ll easily see that if you take a quick perusal through the archives. In fact, in 2020, 2021, and so far in 2022, I’ve read all women as far as books go (with one exception in 2020 for a book I pre-read for a male friend, some short stories or stories by men and in anthologies edited by men, and books of my wonderful male editing clients). I didn’t really do this on purpose either, so I’m not boycotting men, and I am sure I will read a man’s book again soon, but this only goes to show the increasingly stellar offerings from women of all backgrounds! In my editing career, I’ve worked with many women and I try to elevate them by offering yearly discounts and promoting their work and voices. This year, women who schedule with me in March 2022 for editing work anytime of the year I’m available will receive 35% off.

Outside of publishing, I’ve spent decades fighting for women’s causes, from when I was senior news editor at my college paper and I fought against campus rape and it not being reported properly only to be quieted from the higher powers, to when I worked in healthcare public relations and became the Young Careerist representative for Ohio at the national Business and Professional Women’s organization’s annual conference where I spoke about making strides for heart health in women. I’ve sat on a sub-committee for women’s health education, primarily in regards to those underprivileged, of the board of the Ohio Governor’s Office for Women’s Initiatives (a much needed department and program that Republican Governor Kasich did away with when he took office) and assisted with statewide events to empower women. I’ve raised funds through events I’ve put on for women’s health, women’s shelters, and those battling cancer. I was the chair of the board for several years at our local mental health center which also oversees our local rape crisis and domestic violence shelter. In all of these situations, I battled men in the workplace who wanted to keep me down, lower my voice, halt my efforts, and belittle my achievements even to the point of threatening me. I even battled other women who preferred patriarchy. All while battling and/or healing as a domestic violence survivor. But I persevered.

In my writing, I fight against domestic violence, rape, assault, healthcare bias, and confinement with my words. My poetry and short story collection Breathe. Breathe., my short story within the anthology Hardened Hearts, and my short story in We Are Wolves have all tackled these themes. In fact, the entire We Are Wolves anthology tackles this theme of women fighting back and proceeds have gone and still go to women’s organizations in the UK and US.

There is always more to do. I’ll keep doing it. I’ll make time to write more essays so my own voice is heard. I’ll keep those women in history alive, those marginalized, those without a platform. I’ll keep serving those crying out in need and the disadvantaged who need our support. I’ll share news for women, cheer them on, hear their voices, read their words. I’ll keep helping women out however I can.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” – Gloria Steinem

Join me? Let’s break the bias for good.

– Erin

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Welcome 2022 – How does it find YOU?

Happy New Year 2022, readers and writers! Did I just type 2022? Seems unreal. How is this new year, this fresh start, finding you? I’d love to hear in comments below or send me an e-mail.

Here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book!, which is the site and blog surrounding Hook of a Book as a whole, we’ve been lax with posts in 2021 due to heavy work load, and simply, heavy life in a pandemic, to update as much as I wanted. It’s enough keeping up with multiple social media! But I am determined to spend more time here with essays, thoughts, updates, and reviews and interviews in 2022 as time permits so watch your inboxes (and sign-up to receive via e-mail if you haven’t yet).

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Also, today is the eleventh anniversary of this site as well! Eleven years!! It started out a place to host updates on my writing projects and feature books as a side thing to my regular PR work. It turned into so much more. Still going strong too, because no matter how much I post any given year, the content here has staying power and some of it seems forever evergreen, which means my links are clicked on time and again either from authors who’ve linked here on their websites or due to great SEO. The site is still garnering views, mostly via Google searches. I am really happy so many fellow authors have been helped via this site over the years and I hope it continues. More on that to come as I celebrate.

So my goals for 2022?

I hope in 2022 to better balance work (my editing and PR business) and busy home life to make time for being here more as well as back to more reading and my OWN writing! I have some poetry collections to finally put together (a couple written that I want to publish), more submissions of poetry and fiction to do, and a novel to write.

At the Ladies of Horror Fiction site today I was featured with some really excellent fellow authors talking about our resolutions. In addition to the above, I also said most importantly I wanted to be sure to be a good role model to my daughters. For me, whatever I accomplish is for all three of my kids, but I want my daughters especially to see how a woman reaches for the stars, even through adversity. You can read the article on LOHF, and all the resolutions, here.

And to put a bug in your ear, yes… I’ll be doing a little in February for black creator month, I am switching women in horror to March with women in history, and the national poetry project in April again.

On the work side, I have some great editing deals off and on, including a substantial couple at beginning of this first quarter, so be sure to check out my editing page.

As I continue to work on myself, I’m finding more balance but I admit I am rather scared lately of the world. Pandemic life is taking its toll. Let’s all be kind and generous and compassionate to each other. Patience and gratitude is key.

Yours in friendship,

Erin

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Guest Article: Tracy Fahey Discusses Contemporary Body Horror in Literature and Her Collection, I Spit Myself Out. #WiHM #HookonWiHM #womeninhorror @TracyFahey

Author and gothic expert Tracy Fahey is a woman in horror who always interests me. I suppose it’s because my first love in horror myself is the gothic sub-genre, but also Tracy always has intelligent and thought-provoking things to say. It’s why, besides wanting to support her, I invited her to write another article for this site during the time frame of her latest release, a collection of female body horror. I knew she’d discuss something that would be make me want to think a bit harder, challenge me. She didn’t disappoint, but extended my thoughts of the pre-conceived boundaries of body horror I had in my mind. And she’s cited one of my favorite stories, and biggest influences, in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman Perkins!

I hope you enjoy it and check out Tracy’s collection too!

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I Spit Myself Out: Contemporary Female Body Horror
by Tracy Fahey, Author of I Spit Myself Out

My new collection, I Spit Myself Out, is yet another addition to the rich tradition of writing the female body in horror. Earlier seminal work includes Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ masterful short story of 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” perhaps the finest portrait of patriarchal repression of post-partum depression ever written. Similarly, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) telegraphed anxieties about female autonomy, while Madge Piercy’s 1976 speculative feminist classic, Woman on the Edge of Time, contrasted the wretched life of protagonist Connie Ramos inside and outside the asylum she is confined to with the utopia of Mattapoisett.

In recent years, there has been a renaissance of work on the theme of female body horror. This can be viewed as a direct response to the increasing anxiety surrounding women’s rights. Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was recently adapted for TV. This powerful series, with its contemporary setting, speaks to real, current fears about female reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and control. Since 2018, female protestors against the erosion of body rights under the Trump regime have worn the iconic Handmaids’ garb of white bonnets and red robes to signal their visceral fear of a new Gilead made reality. Atwood was spurred on by the march of current events to write a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale thiety years later, The Testaments (2019). In an interview with Laura Lynch, Atwood said of writing this sequel:

I was no, no, no, no, no for a while, but then No. 1: history changed. Instead of going away from Gilead, we turned around and started coming back towards Gilead.

This vision is echoed in Christina Dalcher’s Vox (2016) where women are literally silenced, forbidden to read, and their conversation limited to under a hundred words a day. In Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens (2018) girls begin to transform and to disintegrate, in tandem with the decline of their hometown. Similarly, Georgina Bruce’s magnificent collection, This House Of Wounds (2019), presents a series of visions of the female psyche as riddled with pain, both physical and mental.

In writing I Spit Myself Out, I was conscious of this tradition. There are definite influences that permeate it (there are shades of “The Yellow Wallpaper” in the titular story, and an Atwoodeque fear of the subjugation of the female body in the perimenopausal story ‘Becoming’). However, in this collection, I wanted to find new ways to articulate these concerns. My first influence was Julia Kristeva’s essay ‘The Powers of Horror,’ and in particular by the way she explores the notion of the abject; that which is of us, but which the body casts off.

 “I” do not want to listen, “I” do not assimilate it. “I” expel it. But since the food is not an “other” for “me,” who am only in their desire, I expel myself, I spit myself out, I abject myself with the same motion through which “I” claim to establish myself. That detail, perhaps an insignificant one, but one that they ferret out, emphasize, evaluate, that trifle turns me inside out, guts sprawling; it is thus that they see the “I” am in the process of becoming an other at the expense of my own death.

Justin Park’s wonderful cover design of I Spit Myself Out perfectly captures Kristeva’s idea of the difficulties that arise when we separate ourselves from what we abject. In this collection I wanted to look at these liminal areas of the female body – the skin as membrane, abraded and permeated, eating disorders that purge the body, and, of course, blood rituals that mark the passage of the body from puberty to menopause.

Ancillary to this was my own cultural background of Irish Catholicism and its problematic attitudes to the female body. So this collection is also rife with images of miraculous cures, stigmata, statues, stained glass, and shrines. It also betrays my interest in both forensics (explored in the story ‘The Wrong Ones’) and morbid anatomy (as featured in ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’). The final font of inspiration for this collection was the troubled relationship between the body and the mind. Characters in I Spit Myself Out inhabit an uneasy world where their bodies become theatres of pain, places that play out the tension between the expectations of society, the desire to conform, and the rebellious refusal to do so.

Like Connie Ramos, like Offred, like the unnamed narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the women of I Spit Myself Out face their anxieties about what it is to be female, they find their voices, and, ultimately, they spit their stories out.

I Spit Myself Out, About –

Eighteen unsettling narratives map the female experience from puberty to menopause.

I Spit Myself Out is a collection of female-voiced stories exploring the terror that lurks beneath the surface of the skin. In this collection, an Anatomical Venus opens to display her organs, clients of a mysterious clinic disappear one by one, a police investigation reveals family secrets, revenge is inked in the skin, and bodies pulsate in the throes of illness, childbirth and religious ritual.

Disturbing and provoking in equal turns, I Spit Myself Out reinvents the body as a breeding ground of terrors that resurface inexorably in the present.

You can order it at hyperurl.co/ezgri7, or you can order directly from the Sinister Horror Company

Tracy Fahey, Biography –

Tracy Fahey is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction.  In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Her short fiction is published in over thirty American, British, Australian and Irish anthologies.

She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing is published in edited collections and journals. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland and Greece. She has written two collections, New Music For Old Rituals and The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, the mini-collection, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, and the novel, The Girl In The Fort.  

Her new collection, I Spit Myself Out is published by the Sinister Horror Company in February 2021.

You can read another article by Tracy, about Doppelgangers, which she wrote for this site last year, HERE.

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I’ll be celebrating #WomeninHorror and #BlackHistoryMonth in both February and March specifically here, but also still promoting #WomeninHistory month which is March as well. But you know me, I promote women and diversity all year long anyway. But feel free to follow along on my page for Women in Horror for this special honorary time.

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Guest Article: Indie Horror Fundraiser and Scholarship for Women in Horror by Andrew Fowlow, The Book Dad #HookonWiHM #WiHM

I have some exciting news and a really cool announcement for my fellow women in horror! There is an exciting project, headed by horror reviewer and freelance writer Andrew Fowlow, in which you can buy some super cool women in horror merchandise all for a great cause, in order to offer a scholarship and in-kind editing and marketing gifts to help a woman in horror pursue her writing and publication efforts, and beyond that, to help spread the word about the mighty power that is indie horror!

Andrew is here at Hook of a Book to introduce himself to us and explain the fundraiser and scholarship. Those of you who know me know that after my ten years in the genre as an editor, author, PR professional, and more in the horror genre that I wouldn’t be partnering with Andrew if I didn’t believe in his energy, enthusiasm, and heart for the community as well as his skills, drive, and desire to help others. As well, of course, I believe in his professional skills he’s honing not only as a freelance writer, but someone who is learning and excelling in the ropes of marketing. Andrew writes for various publications such as Lit Reactor and HorrorDNA, among others. The horror newsletter he’s recently started for the genre is amazing and sign-up MUST for anyone (you’ll find that link below).

And finally, I am really happy to see in the last few years the amount of men who are stepping up in horror to support women in horror. When we all support and respect one another, the community flourishes.

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Now that I’ve introduced Andrew, I’ll let him have the floor…..

Indie Horror Fundraiser and Scholarship for Women in Horror
by Andrew Fowlow, The Book Dad

If you don’t know me, my name is Andrew, otherwise known as ‘The Book Dad,’ and I am a reviewer of horror fiction. It is my intent to support those in the #HorrorCommunity anyway I can while on my literary journey to reading all things terrifying and suspenseful!

As you know, it’s #WiHM (Women in Horror Month) and I wanted to do something special for our ladies of the macabre! I created a RedBubble store with a few designs for folks to show off their love for HORROR FICTION! There are stickers, to be read (tbr) cart magnets, mugs, t-shirts, you name it.

Find it all at:

thebookdad.redbubble.com

Cool, right?

So, where does the money go?

Scholarship for a Woman in Horror!!

ALL MONEY EARNED IN FEBRUARY AND MARCH WILL GO TOWARDS A FEMALE HORROR WRITER TO HELP FUND THEIR NEXT PROJECT!!

I want to help a woman in horror get their book in readers’ hands. That could mean splurging on a fancy cover, getting a Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) membership, funding an audiobook, WHATEVER THEY WANT!

In addition, FREE EDITING PACKAGE:

The lovely Erin Al-Mehairi from Hook of a Book Media has graciously offered a free developmental and copy editing of a book 100k words or less (over is negotiable) for the chosen writer (with minor guidelines such as when the editing is negotiated for would be based on her current client schedule). This is a huge savings and you will receive an edit from a known and established editor in the genre.

In addition, also, FREE MARKETING PACKAGE:

I, The Book Dad, will also offer up my time to assist with the following:

✅ Marketing Strategies

✅ Full Media Kit

✅ Press Releases

✅ Newsletter

✅ Website/Landing Page

✅ Social Media Campaigns

I invite any female horror writer to email me: Andrewfowlow@gmail.com with their details and a brief pitch telling me what they are working on. Please, don’t be shy. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Throughout the next two months, I will run a social media campaign to decide on a winner so keep watch. This will be a fun opportunity and I’m excited to connect with you all!

Again, if you don’t know me, that’s ok, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Goodreads or sign-up for my horror fiction newsletter for more content from those in the #HorrorCommunity.

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Thank you so much to Andrew for running with this idea to help a woman a horror. I’m happy to be a part of it and good luck! Get those pitches in to Andrew for consideration and watch social media for more about the giveaway.

Remember to showcase those women in horror you love each and every day!

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Guest Article: Mark Matthews Talks About His Choice of Title for His Book The Hobgoblin of Little Minds @matthews_mark

I have the distinct pleasure of hosting a guest article from Mark Matthews on the occasion of the release of his new novel, The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, a psychological horror novel. Mark is always and often advocating for mental health awareness, whether in working in the field, talking about it in articles or social media, or intricately so, in his writing of books and stories or editing of anthologies. I admire Mark for his dedication and thoughts to the human condition and believe he’s a fabulous writer who has important things to say through his words. Pick up a copy of his work, or an anthology with one of his stories, and you’ll see what I mean. Or to get first glimpse, read the article below and pick up a copy of his newest book.

“I Was Told There Would Be Hobgoblins”
by Mark Matthews, author of The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

Yesterday, January 28, 2021, was the first full moon of the year! With that, I’m very excited for the release of my new psychological horror novel, The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, to coincide with this lunar activity.

The novel has received some great reviews from early readers, but I do fear some elements might disappoint. For example, I imagine eavesdropping on readers and hearing things like:

“I was told there would be Hobgoblins. Where are the Hobgoblins?”

Sorry, there are no Hobgoblins inside.

 “No Hobgoblins!? But there are at least Werewolves, right?”

Well, sort of. But you’ll not find the word ‘Werewolf’ inside, not even once.

No Hobgoblins. Never mentions Werewolves, What the hell?

Let me explain:

The title of the book comes from the phrase “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” For those who’ve read the transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, the phrase strikes a chord immediately.

The concept is a theme throughout the book. This idea that repeating things as they’ve always been done out of mindless repetition stops creativity and ingenuity. The quote is heralded, and ultimately twisted, by a psychiatrist, Doctor Zita. Zita is the villain in the story, to a degree, but certainly a sympathetic character.

Doctor Zita grew up witness to her mom struggling with mental illness. After one of her mom’s many suicide attempts, her dad abandons the family, saying “you fix her” as he leaves out the door. This becomes her driving principle and obsession— to ‘fix’ bipolar disorder, and not repeat the foolish mistakes of ineffective mental health treatment of the past.

“She was going to find a way to fix bipolar disorder. To siphon out the worst parts, and make the best parts boil to the top. She had to try something new, because ‘foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.’ The same efforts bring same results.”

According to the Doctor, the symptoms of bipolar do not need to be blunted and minimized the way psychiatry has tried for years, but rather, magnified and harnessed. The boundless energy of mania, the primal passions, acute senses, and savage strength are resilient traits that have helped humans persist.

This is not a belief that I subscribe to, but through the viewpoint of Doctor Zita, I do hope to show empathy for family members who rely on mental health treatment, and have so often been let down by a science that is far from perfect, and at times causes more harm than it does cure. This book shines the light on some dark challenges of mental illness, and portrays it with humanity.

The werewolves inside are definitely beasts, but they are not monsters. They love. They have hopes and dreams. They speak as much as howl. They visit their churches and their childhood homes, mimicking much of their human behavior. They do not grow hair, but they do grow stronger as a predator when the moon is full, and have explosive and vengeful rage, often with the best of intentions but worst of results. They are propelled by boundless energy and amazing powers of perception. All of this is what happens, in a sense, in bipolar mania.

As noted, the word werewolf is never mentioned in the novel, much in the way the word zombie is never mentioned in The Walking Dead. In a sense I did this because there is no such thing as werewolves, right? And I want this story to ring true. It even occurs in a true setting, the abandoned Northville Psychiatric Hospital.  

So, no, there are no Hobgoblins inside, nor any little minds being eaten, but I do think you’ll find that there is so much more.

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, About –

Kori Persephone Driscoe suffered through her dad’s mental illness. All she wanted was for him to get better, but instead he disappeared. Kori trespasses into the abandoned Northville Psychiatric Hospital, the last place her dad was treated, seeking solace and traces of his memory. What she finds instead is something no longer human living deep in the underground tunnels.

During the last days of the hospital, a rogue psychiatrist had been manipulating the mood swings of the mentally ill, transforming patients into savage, manic creatures who seek justice by the light of the full moon. When the creatures hunt for prey, only an escaped patient and her beloved child can help Kori survive. But they better act fast, because the creatures want blood, Kori wants to save her dad, and the whole hospital is about to be blown to pieces and bury Kori alive. 

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds is available at:

Kindle for Amazon – Cover above is Kindle Cover!

Amazon paperback – full wrap cover above!

Or…

Barnes and Noble

Indiebound

Powell’s

Mark Matthews, Biography –

Mark Matthews is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a licensed professional counselor who has worked in behavioral health for over 20 years. He is the author of On the Lips of Children, All Smoke Rises, and Milk-Blood, as well as the editor of the anthology Lullabies for Suffering and Garden of Fiends. His newest work, The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, is available as of January, 2021. Reach him at WickedRunPress@gmail.com.

Follow Mark Matthews on Twitter.

Author’s Webpage

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Final Day of Breathe. Breathe. In This Format: Its Journey and My Thoughts

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re enjoying your weekend. We are pumpkin carving, eating candy and fun foods, and going to a drive thru pumpkin glow tonight!

I’ve been writing since I was in junior high, maybe before, and pretty seriously since high school/college. That’s over 25 years! It was such a dream come true to have my debut collection of dark fiction and poetry called Breathe. Breathe. come to life with Unnerving publishers three years ago – but they flew by!

I’ve written so much more since then, much published already in various places, but a good bulk of it you’ll see starting next year. Having this published really gave me the catalyst to go further and stop putting my writing last. I will forever be grateful to the words on these pages for helping to heal me and allow me to grow as a person and a writer. Don’t be fooled by this cover for inside it’s dark, sometimes dreary, sprinkled with light and life, but also loss and darkness. The cover art is an ode to my story within “Dandelion Yellow,” which as I’m told, broke many a heart.

Photo Credit: Erin Al-Mehairi
Bookmark: A Stranger Thing
Art direction & plant: Emma Al-Mehairi

Until the end of the day Saturday (Oct 31) it’s marked down to .99c in e-book and just $6 paperback, and after that, this debut version will be gone from purchase. I’m not sure when I’ll bring it back! If you order a paperback and want it signed let me know and I’ll send you a signed insert.

I want to thank everyone who has supported my writing and this book, and those who keep doing it. Trust me you’re going to see BIG things from me in 2021! Publishing has given me some punches lately, but don’t think I was knocked down. Nothing is better for what life is in 2020 than some of the words on these pages – dark, deep, but with hope. And also, I’m proud it’s closing this chapter of its journey during domestic violence awareness month, since this book holds that issue close to it. I’d be honored if you’d breathe with me and buy a copy or share the word!

Thank you for being on this writing and reading journey with me!

To purchase on sale today only (Edit: looks like a few of the print only still available though e-book is gone), head to AMAZON and get it print.

You’ll also find a copy at several Barnes and Noble locations in Ohio and Florida (can be shipped from there or picked up if local) and Macs Backs on Coventry (independent bookstore near Cleveland, Ohio) if you’d like a print copy but can’t buy it today. Ask me for more info when interested.

Erin

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RDSP and Artist Steven Archer to Publish Illustrated “The Masque of the Red Death” #Poe #Art

A few days ago we celebrated national dark poetry day, which is also the anniversary of the day of Edgar Allan Poe’s death. I posted about Poe and my trip to Baltimore to see his home and grave. He’s been such an inspiration to me as a writer. But he’s been an inspiration to so many hasn’t he? Writers, authors, screenwriters for film and tv, artists… they all are inspired by his storytelling.

One of his most famous works, “The Masque of the Red Death,” is a short story about a kingdom and the plague, and how the rich folly during times of great distress and the poverty caused. It sounds parallel in some ways to today and the world, and leaders, we are living with as the Coronovirus rages on.

Because of that, and this announcement I’m about to tell you about coinciding with it, I’m writing this post to inform all book and art fans and collectors of something very exciting!

Raw Dog Screaming Press announced yesterday that they will be releasing an e-book and print version of an illustrated “The Masque of the Red Death” created by Steven Archer.

Artist Steven Archer, who studied art at the Cochran School of Art in Washington D.C., has his own sense of style when it comes to his work. His work is becoming so iconic, I can usually look at a piece and suggest it might be his. It’s hauntingly fluid and rich in color.

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From their announcement:

“Edgar Allan Poe wrote “The Masque of the Red Death” nearly 180 years ago, yet its narrative and characters continue to mystify and captivate. The short story is driven by Prince Prospero’s attempt to evade the “Red Death” a fatal plague infecting his kingdom, by hiding in his abbey, where he indulges in pleasures and delights with other nobles. He soon finds out that no one can escape their end.

Steven Archer has recast the characters of The Masque and illuminated the narrative in a novel and perhaps more visceral light, that remains true to the raw darkness and decadence of the tale. His modern take on the classic story brings it into our new infected world. Perhaps it was prescience that drove him to create the illustrations in 2018 only to have them see the plague-filled light of day in 2020. Even now in our enlightened and modern world, “Darkness and Decay and the Red Death holds illimitable dominion over all.”

With a foreword by John Langan (The Wide Carnivorous Sky), this is an immersive visual feast that breathes new life into this classic memento mori tale of disease, decadence, and inevitable mortality.”

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RDSP bring such unique publications to the horror, fantasy, and sci-fi genres, and are always looking for the inspired and unique. They breathe life into the ideas of artists and authors alike. Huge kudos for Jennifer Barnes, the editor and co-owner of RDSP, for working with Archer to bring his beautiful representation of Poe’s work to light.

Order Info –

ebook coming December 9 • paperback January 13

Pre-order price includes a $2 discount, all copies shipped in the US will come SIGNED! Pre-order HERE direct from RDSP.

Illustration Sample from Steven Archer’s artwork in “The Masque of the Red Death”

Praise –

Steven Archer is an aspiring artist of great talent and skill.”—Neil Gaiman, New York Times Best Selling Author of American Gods

“Ravishing illustrations, seductive and scarlet; a hideous bit of morbidity: exactly what I look for every time I look. Archer is on fire here. A classic reborn.”Josh Malerman, New York Times Best Selling Author of Bird Box and Malorie

“Beautiful horrors! Archer’s expressionist ironies breath new life into Poe’s schoolbook tale. It’s like experiencing a plague for the very first time!”Nick Mamatas, author of Move Under Ground and Sabbath

“I can think of no better combination than Poe and Archer. A vibrant, temporal, visceral re-imagining. To die for.” —Lee Murray, author of Grotesque: Monster Stories

“This is The Masque of the Red Death for our times. Faithful to Poe’s vision, Archer’s artwork expands and enriches the text with surreal elements of lust and debauchery only hinted at in the original. Thanks to Archer, ‘Darkness and Decay and the Red Death will continue to hold illimitable dominion over all.’”— Chris Semtner, Curator Edgar Allan Poe Museum

“Steven Archer’s style has the perfect sense of dreamlike chaos for The Masque of the Red Death. A refreshing take on a tale that in many ways is very relevant for the world today.”Abigail Larson, Artist, DC/ Dark Horse

About Artist Steven Archer –

Steven Archer is an artist and musician living in Baltimore, MD. When not recording, DJing, or producing art, he and his wife, author Donna Lynch, tour with their dark electronic rock band Ego Likeness. He has a BFA from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC and has shown his work at galleries and other venues throughout the east coast.  His work has also been shown internationally in the form of album art and magazine illustrations. Luna Maris is his first book. He has also collaborated as illustrator on two books of poems by Donna Lynch; Witches and Daughters of Lilith.

For more information about Ego Likeness, please visit www.egolikeness.com. Stevens solo electronic project can be found at www.hopefulmachines.net

To learn more about this title or other RDSP titles, visit their website. Often, ordering direct from RDSP will ensure you get the books much faster. As always please consider also shopping through your local indie bookstores, ask them to carry, and also don’t forget to tell your librarians about it too!

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Dark Poet’s Day, Trip Down Poe Lane in Baltimore, and Writer’s Inspiration

On October 7, 1849 Edgar Allan Poe died in Baltimore, Maryland at the hospital. Poe is one of the most well-known American writers to have lived: writer, poet, editor, critic. And yet, though he was financially unstable, he is still said to have given birth to the detective novel with his cultivation of mystery and horror storytelling. We all know his two most famous poems, but his poetry is certainly underrated.

Portrait of Poe by William Abbot Pratt from September 1849, a month before his death / Credit Wiki Commons

A few years ago, the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) declared October 7 as Dark Poetry Day in memory of his death and to honor all dark poets (thank you!) like myself.

Poe started my general interest in the macabre at a young age. I wasn’t allowed to read much horror, but Poe’s short stories were on the list since many times they were a school requirement. I devoured stories like “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the poem “The Raven,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” The Black Cat,” and many more. I don’t think I ever stopped thinking about them, even to this day, as they helped me learn and decipher a dark side of humantity and loss and gave me the bug for suspense and thrills.

In fact, Poe (along with few others) gave me the inspiration to write poetry; he, of course, the main inspiration for the dark ones later in life. I still tended to write lighter poetry in my early years overall, but his art with cadence and flow was still in my mind, as well as his emotional presence with words and imagery. His true catalyst in my writing was his short stories and I love them to this day. He was my first foray into the art of the short story and for which I’ll forever be grateful. Often times you’ll see some of my short stories and poetry still show shards of him today.

I know that writers these day tell fellow writers and readers to quit talking about the classics and old, dead writers. I won’t. I talk up new and diverse groups of writers every day. If I want to talk about Poe and how he influenced me, well… it’s my truth, so I’ll keep telling it. I’m a history fanatic and somehow liking these forebearers keeps their candle lit to me. From reading him, I forged a love for more classic, gothic lit. Furthermore, to appreciate writing and reading horror at all.

You can see why I was estatic when my son surprised me with a trip to one of Poe’s homes. We were taking my son back to school in January 2020 (I had to double check that because seems like two million years ago since Covid hit!) and took a diffent route so we could visit Baltimore, then head the hour into D.C. and George Washington University.

Photo credit: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Jan 2020

We went to visit the small home where Poe lived with his young wife and her mother for a time, which was turned into an even smaller museum. It was cool to see where his bedroom was – though it was such a tiny space, and the stairs so tight, I barely made it back down. We saw his telescope and writing desk and learned about his time there. We went to the library in Baltimore too, hoping to see their Poe Room, but it seems no one knew what we were talking about or that it had a tuft of his hair locked inside it! We found it upstairs and I peered in the window while the conference attendees glared back. They probably thought I wanted their donuts.

Photo Credit: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Jan 2020

We headed down to visit his gravesite, which was a really neat experience. He’s buried at Westminster Hall and Burial Ground, as is his wife and mother-in-law with him (well… now they are) and his grandfather before him. No one is still sure what he died of even to this day, just that he was found delirious and taken to the hospital. He died at age 40. It felt so surreal to me to walk around his grave and I had a chuckle that even in death for him or his wife, there was drama!

Photo Credit Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Jan 2020

We also visited a really cool statue of Poe outside of a law school, but it sure does need some care. I feel sad that so much memorializing Poe is damaged or decaying in Baltimore. However, it was still really fun to make this trip (and maybe I’ll share more about it in the future) and I hope to go to museums and statues in Philadelphia, Richmond, and places in NYC and Boston too. Plus next time I have to go to the tavern!

Photo Credit Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Jan 2020

Not all, but some of the work in my debut dark poetry and short story collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., is inspired by him. One of those is my story “The Madness of the Woodpecker” which is its own ode to a portion of “A Tell-Tale Heart.” Some of my poetry is reminiscent of his style as well.

This collection, published three years ago by Unnerving Press, is going out of print for a bit at the end of October 2020. It’s a sad day, especially as I feel I was just announcing its publication! But that’s sometimes how it works in publishing; the revolving door. I will endeavor to have it re-published in coming years with a new cover as well as several more publications. Stay tuned for more poetry and short story work from me.

If you’d like to get Breathe. Breathe. in print format in this edition, there are less than a handful left in print. I would like to thank everyone over the years who has supported all my poetry and writing, as well as this particular collection, in which I bear my soul and surround it with fantastical as well as real.

Also something that’s a must-have for Poe collectors, is an illustrated “The Mask of the Red Death” by the stellar artist Steven Archer! It was Bran Stoker Award nominated last year. You can order now from Raw Dog Screaming Press!

Share with me in the comments your favorite Poe anything or some of your favorite dark poets, classic or current. Let’s spread poetry!

Happy Dark Poet’s Day and RIP Edgar Allan Poe!

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway for Halloween Season by Lucy A. Snyder. Trick-or-Treat with Us for Cool Gifts! RT pls. #halloween #halloweenseason #RDSP

trick or treat banner4

Every Day is Halloween

Halloween decor is in select stores, and though we are still “enjoying” summer, October is just around the corner. Today I have a cool cover reveal of a new Halloween story collection and giveaway as part of Trick-or-Treating adventure, which means some of you may be dropping by from social media or another site, but let me give a little background for my subscribers as well.

Raw Dog Screaming Press (RDSP) is an award-winning indie press of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, crime, and more that I’ve worked with in regards to PR and publicity for several years via my business Hook of a Book. One of the exciting authors I get to work with published by them is a fellow Ohio author, the multi award-winning Lucy A. Snyder. On Oct. 5, 2020 we are excited to say that RDSP is releasing a collection of stories by Snyder for Halloween called…. you guessed it, Halloween Season!

Whether Halloween in person festivities are canceled this year due to Covid (so do your duty so we can all have fun this Fall, will you?) or not, you can always partake in some online escapades. For instance, let’s start a bit early with RDSP in a digital rounds of trick-or- treating to celebrate the reveal of the seasonal cover created by artist Lynne Hansen of Halloween Season!

How Trick-or-Treating Works – 

There are five houses to visit on this block: author Lucy A. Snyder, cover designer Lynne Hansen, mine here at Hook of a Book, co-owner of RDSP and author John Edward Lawson, and Raw Dog Screaming Press. Visit any of them first and feast your eyes on the amazing cover created by Hansen, then pick up a different “treat” (or giveaway) from each post also featuring the cover reveal. Keep reading to check out my giveaway and the other stops below…. after we meet the artist and see the cool cover.

But first….

Meet the artist, Lynne Hansen – 

RDSP was looking for a cover that captured all things Halloween and turned to artist Lynne Hansen. “I have over fifteen years of experience in marketing and promotions including art and design,” Hansen said. “I started creating book covers when my husband Jeff Strand decided to make his humorous horror novel The Sinister Mr. Corpse available as an e-book. Once people saw Jeff’s next e-book Wolf Hunt, I started to receive requests to design covers for other authors. Now I get to tell other people’s stories through the art of the book cover and I love every minute of it.” For more info about Lynne head over to LynneHansenArt.com and make sure to browse her gallery.

So without further ado, here’s the cover!

HalloweenSeasonByLucyASnyderlowres

Cool and festive, right? Excited as much as I am now?

Halloween Season launches October 5th but you can preorder now!

Order from RDSPOrder from Barnes & NobleOrder from Amazon

Media Requests – 

If you are a member of the media or reviewer, I’m also happy to put you on the list for e-arcs or print copies, just let me know! I’ll also be sending requests, but do feel free to let me know also either in the comments or to my e-mail. Also, I’m scheduling Lucy for select interviews as well.

Now look at this FULL SPREAD! 

Adobe Photoshop PDF

About Halloween Season – 

Halloween is the most wonderful part of the year for many of us. For dedicated fans, the season begins when the leaves start turning autumn colors and doesn’t finish until Hallowtide ends in November. With it comes a whole lot of fun: scary movies and stories, haunted houses, seasonal sweets, spooky decorations, costume parties, and of course trick or treat. But Halloween is also a deeply spiritual time for some; it’s an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed on.

Master storyteller Lucy A. Snyder has filled her cauldron with everything that Halloween means to her and distilled it into a spell-binding volume of stories. Within these pages you’ll find thrills and chills, hilarity and horrors, the sweet and the naughty.

One of the best things about Halloween is you don’t have to be yourself. So go ahead and try on a new mask or two … you may discover hidden talents as a witch, a pirate, a space voyager, a zombie fighter, or even an elf. This is the perfect collection to celebrate the season of the dead or to summon those heady autumn vibes whenever you like. You may even find a couple of tales that evoke a certain winter holiday that keeps trying to crowd in on the fun.

In the worlds within this book, every day is Halloween!

Trick or Treat Giveaways – 

Now for the goodies! Thanks for participating in our trick-or-treat cover reveal!

My Giveaway –

1) I’m offering to one (1) US winner a copy of one of my favorite autumn poems I’ve written, previously published online at Spillwords Press, BUT this would be a hand-lettered original, probably with a little original art on the border to follow the theme. It will be signed. This is one of a kind! Please leave a comment below or e-mail me (hookofabook at hotmail dot com) to be entered.

2) For both US and international, if you e-mail me, I will send all who contact me a .pdf for you to download that you can print of the original mentioned above. It will have my digital signature.

This giveaway I open from July 23 to July 31, 2020. Entries after that won’t be considered but feel free to comment anytime.

Head to ALL the Stops –

Visit all the houses on the block to collect all the treats. Here are the current stops and treats:

  • Stop #1 Lucy A. Snyder (excerpt from Halloween Season)
  • Stop #2 Cover artist Lynne Hansen (printable bookmark)
  • Stop #3 Raw Dog Screaming Press (postcard promo pack)
  • Stop #4 Hook of Book publicist Erin Sweet Al Mehairi (that’s me! You’re here. See above about a signed, hand-lettered Halloween poem)
  • Stop #5 John Edward Lawson (Halloween card and story)

Lucy A. Snyder, Biography –

Lucy3Lucy A. Snyder is the five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of over 100 published short stories and 14 books. Chaosium will release her novel The Girl With the Star-Stained Soulsometime in 2021. She also wrote the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, and Switchblade Goddess, the nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, and the collections Garden of Eldritch Delights, While the Black Stars Burn, Soft Apocalypses, Orchid Carousals, Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, and Best Horror of the Year.

With Michael Bailey, Lucy also co-edited the critically-acclaimed collaborative dark fiction anthology Chiral Mad 4. When she’s not writing, she’s faculty in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction and also works as a freelance developmental editor in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.

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Thanks for stopping! Did you say TRICK-OR-TREAT!? Don’t forget to enter to win.

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Hooked on Poetry: How We’re Celebrating Poetry Month #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry

Hooked on Poetry Project Announcement: Join Us to Celebrate –

Erin Al-Mehairi PhotoApril is National Poetry Month, and for several years now I’ve been featuring and publishing poetry as well as various posts from the world of poets and poetry, such as reviews of collections, articles about poets or writing poetry, and interviews with poets. I love that more and more people are reading and appreciating it.

Firstly, why do I write, love, and feature poetry? Do you think it’s something you can’t enjoy or relate to? Many people find, especially with dark poetry, that they can enjoy the raw emotions and like the references to fairytales, mythology, feminism, spirituality (whatever that means to the person), exploration of life and death, or deep and dark ponderings. I’ve had many people tell me with my own work that they had never read poetry till they took a chance on mine and found it relatable and understandable. I know several other dark poets that has happened for as well. I write poetry and feature it because it’s really the most emotional part of the writing process. It’s the truest and most visceral form of writing scenes and emotional snippets of life. Poetry can say so much with little words. We talk through our writing, share our experiences, and learn and connect to each other.

There are all sorts of styles represented just in dark or horror poetry alone, and with it, and often fantasy and science fiction mixes in. However, some of us write other poetry as well: for loved ones, about milestones in life, nature, or love.

Seeing me struggle during this time, Gavin at Kendall Reviews kindly stepped up to help me with shares and hosting for this project, so between his site at Kendall Reviews and mine at Hook of a Book, I’m partnering with him to publish some of the poetry project, called HOOKED ON POETRY. I’m so very thankful to him not only for stepping up to help, but his kindness in reaching out to me. You’ll find mostly both horror and dark poetry in this project but some of the other aforementioned as well. You’ll most likely only find the dark poetry on Kendall Reviews though, to keep with his theme. At Hook of a Book, I feature all types of poetry and genres of books. It’s a great partnership.

HookedOnPoetry

I would have liked it to have been the entire month of April, but as you know the world has been a fly trapped in a tube lately, meaning things have been chaotic and no matter how hard we flap our wings, it’s hard to get anywhere. I like to beat myself up, but I have decided I will not! I work full-time in various facets of publishing, am seemingly on-call from that work at all hours, am a writer myself, and have a busy household without a pandemic (which isn’t in the best of times always conducive to me getting a lot of writing, reviewing, or volunteer projects done after work), but throw in a pandemic and a world gone mad over it, and some days I’m wondering if I’m just treading water… or knock knock… if my brain is still working properly. I’ve not been well mentally or physically lately either so I’m doing the best I can.

I worked during early April asking poets I know and love for submissions, and also did an open call on Twitter from which I’ve had great response and many submissions sent to me. There is some outstanding work here by both established and award-winning poets and also those just getting started. I’m thrilled with the talent that has come my way. I’m excited to publish this poetry and feel that it’s so important poetry still have its voice and time to shine, and so nothing will stop me, even if I must take this throughout part of May. I often already publish poetry for mental health awareness month so I think this will fit in just fine as poetry not only often deal with these issues but can be used to heal and mend. This is a voluntary project, poetry is awesome anytime, and I’m attempting to not worry over timing. So, let’s just celebrate art and those who make it. To those that couldn’t contribute this year, we will miss you and hope to see you back. To new people who are being featured, welcome! To readers, new and old, thanks for joining us.

Starting this week, watch for poetry, reviews of poetry, and articles on poetry to appear on both our sites. I won’t give myself the headache of putting together a schedule to release beforehand, so watch for the posts and learn who is featured via social media. I’m still waiting for a few to turn theirs in as well and I’m cool with people popping up and taking part (just message me). A full schedule with links will be posted afterwards on the poetry page on my site – Oh, for the Hook of a Book – where you can also view poetry from the previous years.

I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of beauty.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Thanks for joining us! Thanks to Gavin and Kendall Reviews for partnering with me. Your support of poetry means so much.

Erin Al-Mehairi
Hooked on Poetry Project
Editor/PR Professional/Owner Hook of Book Media
Twitter: @ErinAlMehairi

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