#HookedOnPoetry: Shane Douglas Keene Shares His Original, Powerful Poetry #poetry @shanedkeene

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Today I’m very pleased to introduce some original poetry from my longtime friend Shane Douglas Keene. Shane is a book reviewer, columnist, co-creator and editor of the site Ink Heist as well as a host of the podcast of same name. Not only has he given so much back to the horror and writing communities, but he’s a fiction writer and poet too.

Most recently Shane was part of Josh Malerman’s Carpenter’s Farm serial book, a project in which Shane wrote companion poems inspired by the book to each chapter. They were very good and such a special thing to read along with it!

He writes some heartfelt poetry here that tugs at the heart of loss and love and the storms that are people’s emotions. I can’t wait for you to read them, furthermore, for us all to be able to read even more of Shane’s work.

Thank you for following our features this week for the #HookedOnPoetry project and please join us back next week for three or four more features as we continue on.

Enjoy,

Erin

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Forces
by Shane Douglas Keene 

 

you can never resist a tsunami

or a determined woman, both will

forge their paths, hindered as you

will, but if you cross in front of them,

hope the earth will take you, plow you

under like so much compost;

you won’t have changed a thing,

but woman and wave

are, and will have changed, everything;

a man will storm and rage and

demand his right to draw first

blood, an ineffective quaking of

empty hubris;

she will abide, biding her time,

a quiet demon, no victim, seething,

straining against bonds not properly

designed to constrain her;

she the maelstrom, a proper storm,

barely slowed before,

like cheap rubber bands, restraints

snap and she surges forth, earning

brand new scars;

creating them

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Effigy
by Shane Douglas Keene 

 

I think of you a lot,

the way you threw me down the well,

the way you dragged me back, threw

me down again and again and still the

damage insufficient to your

needs, you burned

me down to ash, scoured me from

the universe as if I’d never

been

never will and if I rise it

will in effigy be,

petrified in Vesuvian flames,

standing in worship in a

trophy cabinet somewhere,

stuck in rigor and

holding my ruined heart

in frozen fingers,

and what I’m really

trying to get across is,

I think about you night and

day

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Shane Douglas Keene, Biography –

shaneShane is a poet, columnist, podcaster, and professional curser living in Portland, Oregon, where he was born and periodically raised. He is the co-founder and editor of Ink Heist and one of three hosts on the Ink Heist podcast. He hates long walks on the beach, playing with puppies, and romantic candlelit dinners, but he does love a good glass of scotch, a good book, and good music playing in the background.

When he’s not bumbling his way along pretending like he knows where he is, he plays a pretty decent guitar and sings with the dulcet tones of a sick bullfrog.

You can find his various meanderings, podcasts, and poems at Ink Heist, and you can find and follow him on Twitter @shanedkeene. You can find links to his companion poetry penned to Josh Malerman’s serial novel Carpenter’s Farm at this link.

NOTE: Content is sometimes, okay pretty much always, quite explicit, NSFW but good for teaching your kids new words.

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If you missed yesterday post at Kendall Reviews, it was a lovely poem by Christina Sng. You can read it HERE. Stay tuned for more poetry next week! Thanks for sharing and supporting the #HookedOnPoetry project.

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#HookedOnPoetry: Erik Hofstatter Brings Us Original Soul-Searching MicroPoetry #poetry #micropoetry @erikhofstatter

Welcome to another week of the #HookedOnPoetry project! We’re in our third week and today is the first of a four day feature run this week here and on Kendall Reviews. Thank you so very much to those who are supporting it and sharing the features! It’s all in support of these amazing poets and authors… and to bring awareness to the art of poetry.

HookedOnPoetry

Today I’m featuring Erik Hofstatter, who is a published author. Erik’s words and worlds have always taken on a emotional, deep, fantastical feel that’s lyrical and smooth, poetic amid the prose. When he reached out to me to submit his micropoems for the project, I immediately fell in love with them. They are so beautiful. I hope you agree. And I believe these are Erik’s first published poems and I’m so proud to bring you his original micro work below.

If you aren’t familiar with micropoems, micropoetry is a genre of poetic verse which is characterized by its extreme brevity. Micropoetry is described by micropoetry.com as a collective term for a variety of different forms of short poetry. As a poetic artform, it doesn’t really have any rules. Although it does consists of certain forms of short poetry with fixed rules such as haiku, tanka, senryu and gogyohka.

There are also no real character length limitations either. The limits are set by the medium with which they are being shared, and also that invisible line where micropoetry becomes a regular length poem.

So now that we have that lesson out of the way, I’ll let Erik have the floor! My only recommendation is read them slowly taking a moment in between to capture their full flavor.

Erin

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Micropoems by Erik Hofstatter

a chameleon dressed
in your eyelashes
gave birth to a
red star

_____________________

singing pale
breaths to
a drowning
anchor
he sank
like martyred
daughters

______________________

she wrote
ruby-clad
scars
on the
torn
parchment
of
his skin

_______________________

a jellyfish spurned
and floating
in hidden tears
below
lamenting lost
lovers
like he did

_______________________

Red stone
skimming across
the rust-kissed
surface of
my soul

_______________________

Mist of lost
orphans
veiled her
abandoned
eyes

________________________

She was a heart
note in
the
perfume
of swan
tears

_________________________

Leviathan’s tongue
skewered
by a broken
rib
her eyes
like wet scales
in a sea of
eternity

__________________________

Tumbling emotions
in an iris of blue
changing
fading
ghosts of you

___________________________

A febrile crow
and unspoken oaths
lonesome
nights
a vortex of delirious
memories

___________________________

I slept on a raft of snakes
echoes of obstinate words
barring me
from the warm blue waters
of your eyes
my haven

____________________________

Your lips
coloured like
morganite
welcoming alcohol
with
mad urgency

____________________________

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Stray raindrops
tap against
my cold window
pleading

____________________________

Pale tears
and broken
heartstrings when
she sang

____________________________

Eskimo kisses
in
a porcelain
glow

____________________________

Like a rogue tribe
of fire-tinged stones
she rolled down
my heart

_____________________________

her eyes
smudged with seduction
and
enigmatic
blue

____________________________

frost gods
whispered perversions
thawed
by
time

____________________________

the sleeping sun
below
his feet
dreamed of black
rain

______________________________

stillborn firestars
burned
like choleric
sinners

______________________________

lyrics of violent death
painted scarlet
letters into
the
midnight
sky

_______________________________

Weren’t they beautiful?

Erik Hofstatter, Biography –

Erik Hof

Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer, born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic. He roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry.
His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Manor House Show, and The Black Room Manuscripts Volume IV. Other works include Katerina, Rare Breeds, The Crabian Heart, and Toroa.
Contact – 
Twitter: @ErikHofstatter
Instagram: @ErikHofstatter
Erik’s latest story is from Sharp Shock books –
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To read the poetry and essays on writing poetry from last week, head HERE. Stay tuned tomorrow for another poet and poem I’ve chosen to feature over at Kendall Reviews.

Don’t forget to follow and share using #HookedOnPoetry hashtag!

Photography Credit for Raindrop photo: Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

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#HookedOnPoetry: “This Was Supposed to be About Poetry” by Bram Stoker Award Nominated Poet Donna Lynch @geeklioness #poetry #writing

Donna is fast becoming one of my favorite people and poets. She has an honest way about her I really like and, whether she knows it or not, she’s taught me a lot about letting things go and being easy on self. She’s super funny, creative, and kind. She has some stellar work out there in the music, writing, and poetry world. Her last two collections Witches and Choking Back the Devil earned Bram Stoker nominations and both were worthy of wins even among the highly exceptional field of poetry in horror. She’s a beautiful lyricist and her words flow so smoothly and with such passion.

I asked Donna for a poem or a reprint and then…. in true Donna form, she writes this instead and asks me what I want to do with it. Ha! I just felt in this moment, that it was perfect. It explained exactly how I’ve been feeling about writing myself, even poetry, which sometimes breaks through when I’m blocked otherwise. These days I’m too stressed and tired. I want to clean too. It’s a weird thing. I don’t know if any of you other writers can relate to this, but I hope you can. We will all rise from this with some major emotional dumps onto the page eventually.

Thanks for the piece, Donna…. and readers, feel free to discuss in the comments!

HookedOnPoetry

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This Was Supposed to Be About Poetry
by Donna Lynch, author/musician/poet

Are we tired of talking about the pandemic yet?

Yes, of course not.

“I’m so glad we’re doing this tonight because I really need a break from all the COVID-19 talk,” we say to our loved ones via the video chat platform of our choosing, then immediately start talking about COVID-19. Maybe not the virus, itself, but about our futures and our right nows.

I’ve probably told twenty people no less than thirty times how happy I am that my husband and I finally cleaned up our porch. The weather will be nice soon and now it’s like I have a whole extra room in the house, I say. I keep saying it. When people ask me how I’m doing, I tell them about the porch. I don’t feel like saying much else about how I feel. I’ve had a couple episodes of word vomit in regard to my feelings, which I immediately regretted, so now I’m just really fucking happy about the porch. That’s what I say.

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Photo by Avi Werde on Unsplash

This piece is supposed to be about poetry. I write horror poetry, and I’ve written a couple novels, a novella, and so on and so on. It bugs me that anytime I talk about being a poet, I can’t help but mention the novels, as though the poetry isn’t enough. That is, of course, bullshit. I’m a horror writer. That should be enough, right there. But right now, nothing feels like enough.

I’m envious of the 100+ writers I follow on Twitter, because they all seem to be making the most of this situation. For a horror writer, how much more firsthand material could you ever get access to than the realities of a world-wide, modern-day plague? I feel like they’re reading and writing and thinking and observing and taking advantage of this sudden, threatening, and unsolicited gift of time, meanwhile I’m staring blankly at a huge to-do list and an empty Word document each day, calling up friends around the country at 2am, while busting into yet another box of wine that smells like Lysol.

I don’t begrudge them their productivity. I’m happy for them. And I’m jealous.

The thing is, though, there’s nothing about me that makes me unique or exempt. There’s nothing about them that’s superhuman. They’re making themselves work through the stress and anxiety, I’m sure, just as I could be doing. But it’s harder than I thought, and I’m using my pre-existing hurdles as excuses. No sense in lying about it. Writers tell the truth, except when they’re lying their asses off and kidding themselves. Or maybe I’m projecting.

Here’s an issue that I can’t decide if it’s me kidding myself or not: Two of my most prevalent topics in the horror genre are body horror and existential dread, and a pandemic does a fantastic job of creating both, which has left me feeling paralyzed. Could Stephen King write The Stand right now? Could Josh Malerman write Bird Box?

Probably, because neither strike me as the type to make a lot of excuses, but maybe I need to hold on to the idea that, for me, Fear in the Time of Corona would be easier to bang out once we get a vaccine. So, I guess my workaround is to revisit my ghosts and witches and vengeful creatures, because I’m not afraid of them when I go to the store.

And there’s the punchline. I’m not having Imposter Syndrome about being a writer. I’m having it about being a horror writer, because now that we’re here, staring directly into the void I attempt to toss readers into through my poems—you know, to really make them face the things they fear the most—I’m suddenly speechless. I feel like I talked a lot of shit, and now I have to put my money where my mouth is.

Poetry. This was supposed to be about poetry, so I’ll share a tiny poem that I managed to write the other day inside of someone else’s journal.

 

Karma resigned / Do crime / But be kind

 

I don’t know what to say about it. It’s what was there in my hands when I picked up the pen. It was honest.

One bright light is that artists are truly being appreciated throughout this. I thanked a front-liner recently and they thanked me back, saying that if it wasn’t for books and music and Netflix series, they’d lose their mind. That was humbling to hear. The gratitude this past month has been the shiniest silver lining I’ve seen in a very long time, and with that I think about how that gratitude will be the thing that will make me sit down and face my fear. I will write. I will make music. I will use the gifts this monster inadvertently gives me and I won’t let it consume me. I will try to give back hope, or maybe just some distractions.

The truth is, I really have no choice. I don’t have another porch to clean.

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Donna Lynch, Biography –

AUTHORS-DonnaLynchDonna Lynch is a dark fiction writer and the co-founder—along with her husband–artist, and musician Steven Archer—of the dark electro-rock band Ego Likeness (Metropolis Records).

Her written works include Isabel Burning, Red Horses, Driving Through the Desert, Ladies and Other Vicious Creatures,, Daughters of Lilith, In My Mouth, and her Bram Stoker nominated Choking Back the Devil and Witches poetry collections. She and her husband live in Maryland.

 

About Choking Back the Devil (2019) –

BOOK-chokingDonna Lynch’s poetry explores the horror of losing control of mind, body, and autonomy. Whether it be through death, hauntings, violation, mental illness, violence, or the demons in our brains that terrorize and tempt us all, no one is immune to the nasty surprises of life. Yet somehow we must go on. Choking Back the Devil documents the attempt to get through the worst of what life can through at us.

Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.

You see, these poems are small drownings, all those subtle suffocations that live in that place between our ribs that swells with panic, incubates fear. Lynch shows her readers that sometimes our shadow selves—our secrets—are our sharpest weapons, the knives that rip through flesh, suture pacts with demons, cut deals with entities looking for more than a homecoming, something better, more intimate than family.

It’s about the masks we wear and the reflections we choose not to look at, and what’s most terrifying about the spells is these incantations show that we are the possessed, that we are our greatest monster, and if we look out of the corner of our eyes, sometimes—if we’ve damned ourselves enough—we can catch a glimpse of our own burnings, what monstrosities and mockeries we’re to become.

So cross yourselves and say your prayers. Because in this world, you are the witch and the hunter, the girl and the wolf.

Praise for Choking Back the Devil

“Lynch mixes in childhood fables with waking nightmares, the result is electrifying; sometimes in a few razor sharp words; sometimes in longer numbered verses counting down the cycle of a damaged life. The silent cries of souls tormented to healthiness by pills and poultices, force fed by imperfect humans, echo in the silhouette of these poems. I smiled at the shadows unexpectedly delivered by her words, as will you.”

—Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“This collection is not for the chronically disturbed, as fear is doled out in terse, potent portions. I got the shivers reading these unsettling poems.”

—Marge Simon, Bram Stoker Award winner, SFPA Grand Master Poet

Cover Artwork: Steven Archer

Find Choking Back the Devil, and her other works, HERE.

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Enjoy yesterday’s poetry by Joseph Van Buren over at Kendall Reviews, then stop back by there again tomorrow for another poetry piece. That one will be by Stephanie Evelyn. Next week we’ll host more poetry on both sites, starting back here on Tuesday.

Keep sharing and spreading the word, please!

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#HookedOnPoetry: Award-Winning Latina Author Cina Pelayo Brings Us a New, Original Poem, “Scrying.” #poetry #latinxbookmonth @gjkendall

To start off the features for the #HookedOnPoetry project this week, I’d like to share a poem by someone who in many circles needs no introduction. She’s a powerhouse of smarts, wit, and kindness. I love Cina to pieces. If you DO happen to need an intro, she is an International Latina Book Award winning author and writes novels, short stories, poetry collections, and more. Her poetry collection, Poems of My Night, is published by Raw Dog Screaming Press.

She’s sharing with us a little about her poetry and writing below, and then we’re giving an original publish on a new poem by her, which will hopefully grace the pages of an upcoming collection of hers.  I absolutely loved it!

Take it away, Cina…

HookedOnPoetry

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I like to think of myself as both a poet and a fiction writer. I enjoy writing horror because I enjoy exploring this dance between good and evil. I also very much enjoy mystery writing because I enjoy working with puzzles and logic and clues. Then there is poetry where I feel I can be most creative in a short space of time. Writing poetry to me feels almost musical. I’m not a musician, but there’s something about a great poem and a great piece of music that seems so similar because I just physically feel both.

I have been focusing on some fiction projects lately, but I’m slowly plugging away at another poetry collection. Below is one of those poems.

I hope you enjoy.

Cina

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Photo by David Boca on Unsplash

Scrying

She searches for her futures in a smooth glass

Cobbled together by onyx and obsidian

The pendulum swings above her misfortune

Settling on those crumpled petition papers, black ink

The secrets in the candle wax are obscured by

Herbs, and bark, and the desperate bits of angelica root

Muddied tea leaves give no clarification

Tossed bones jumbled together and fail her as well

The runes laugh at her, the celestial bodies above remain silent

And the cards, how hopeless they are? The Empress is still

The Hierophant turns his head and ignores all earthly pleas

The Wheel of Fortune reversed, and the tarot card of the great

World slips into burning charcoal, erupts, and with that she has her answer

– Cina Pelayo

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Cina Pelayo, Biography –

Cina PelayoCynthia (Cina) Pelayo is an International Latino Book Award winning author. She has written LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, POEMS OF MY NIGHT, and multiple short stories, poems and articles.

Her upcoming novel, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO, will be published by Agora.

For more information or to contact or follow –

Website: cinapelayo.com

On Twitter where I’m most active: @cinapelayo

On Instagram: @cinapelayoauthor

Poems of My Night Poetry Collection

BOOKS-poemsofmynightCynthia Pelayo constructs a narrative in her poetry in response to the work of Jorge Luis Borges that examines the themes and subsequent consequences of insomnia, death, and blindness. There’s a visionary quality to her work that dances along the line between the present world that we inhabit and the other world that lingers beyond the veil. Her poetry folds back this blanket of darkness, and shows readers the quiet violence and beauty that hides beneath waiting to be exposed, experienced, and encompassed.

Pelayo showcases this scream of silence through an urban and metaphysical night as she reflects on the spiritual, the occult, and the everyday happenings that become extraordinary in their own rights. Her poems are sermons, prayers to the voices that surround us in the dark, and comforts to those who watch over us as we sleep. Her style is honest, raw, and her voice will leave readers asking questions about what waits for them in the beyond, and whether or not their sins and frustrations are trapping them in the here and now.

She shows us that all too often, there is nothing to be scared of when the sun goes down, but that sometimes, we have every reason to be afraid, especially as we enter her world of blackness and decay, of smudged fingerprints and burnt pictures. These poems are cautionary tales for those who choose not to cover their eyes, warnings for those who refuse to find the light. And when our dreams come to roost, when our sleep eases us in, Pelayo shows us what nightmares are made of, and why there are some stories we can never escape.

Order direct at Raw Dog Screaming Press

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Take a peek at the last posting here and be sure to check out tomorrow’s poetry by Joseph VanBuren over at Kendall Reviews. You can see all of them in the series and from the past projects here as well. We’ll be sharing poems each week in May, or as long as they last, in celebration and awarness of poetry! Please share and spread the word!

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#HookedOnPoetry: Thought-Provoking Poems by Madison McSweeney #poetry @MMcSw13 @gjkendall

Today as part of the #HookedOnPoetry project, I want to introduce you to Canadian poet Madison McSweeney. Madison submitted her work to me in an open call for this project and I’m delighted she did so because it allowed me to get to know her and her work. Her poems are ethereal and rhythmical. She’s very talented and I hope you all will appreciate her work as much as I do.

Below is an original poem first published here with Hook of a Book as well as two reprints, all which will give you an idea of her wonderful style. Of course, I’m not only excited as my great-grandparent’s name last name was Sweeney (haha), but because I really enjoy featuring new-to-me poets (and therefore maybe new to you as well). Madison, however, has been published in some cool magazines and anthologies so you can check out more of her work there.

If you’re new to the project as a whole, you can read all about it here in this introductory essay or here on this page. It was started to celebrate National Poetry Month in April, but will carry throughout May too.

Enjoy!

HookedOnPoetry

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Holy War

He did not have the heart        to burn down his favourite building

but he was curious to see        how the alcohol

would mix with the flame       this

tempting isolation, with a lighter and a bottle

and the stench

of burning plastic panic          in the distance

burning dreams

why should this castle stand

when a thousand fantasies of wonder and lust

turned to dust              on a parking lot pyre

why should his persecutor

have a place to call home

and why must this distant smoke        be permitted

to drive me mad?

no sense to blame the bricks   for the man

nor the windows                        for the fog

nor the turrets                            for the bullets

let it stand.

may this place be a prison for you.

A companion piece to The Forest Dreams With Teeth, a sword-and-sorcery/folk horror story set during the heavy metal panic of the 1980s.

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 Cemetery Way

 Walk with me

along cemetery way

where one day we may rest

securely locked away and topped

with white marble

(white like orchids, white like bone) lest

we stir in our sleep and seek

to claw our way towards the

sun   is so lovely today

as we walk along cemetery way

where we may rest

for a moment, on the wrought-iron

bench erected in honour

of a fine local citizen

long lost

what bliss is this

your hand

so warm in mine

your eyes shine

like marble

(like funeral orchids, like bone)

“darling,” you say

“your hand”

(in yours)

“it’s so cold”

(like marble)

like bone

 Originally published in Truly U Review, Halloween 2019

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The Last Poem

 Keep the books from the children –

They may want to read them

the Librarian said, with the world-fearing concern

she had learned

in her years on the job

watching far too many minds

erupting with horrible thoughts, borrowed

from those tomes;

Shut the windows –

There’s darkness outside.

 

Lock the cabinets

Hide the folk tales with the poisons and the fetal pigs

our dears will know a world

with no fear.

they will know flowers

and fairies – the good kind;

and boyish adventures controlled and quickly resolved

with a minimum of risk.

Lock the doors –

A stranger may knock.

 

We will do all we can

To restrain the world from them

they will not know pain,

or death,

until it comes for them

in the flower garden

and they will blink, for they do not recognize a skull and scythe

and try to hand the Reaper a rose.

Disperse, darkness!

Until such time as you are too deep to see through.

Originally published in Truly U Review, Halloween 2019

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Madison McSweeney –

Author Photo1Madison McSweeney is a Canadian author and poet interested in the macabre and fantastic. Her poems have appeared in Rhythm & Bones, Pussy Magic, Cockroach Conservatory and the Twin Peaks themed anthology These Poems Are Not What They Seem. She has also published horror and fantasy stories in outlets such as American GothicCabinet of Curiosities, Unnerving Magazine, and Zombie Punks F*ck Off. 

She lives in Ottawa, Ontario and graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Political Science and Communications. She was an arts and culture contributor to The Fulcrum campus newspaper, and has written music-related articles for Bravewords, Music Vice, Hellbound and Ginger Nuts of Horror.

 She blogs about genre fiction and the local music scene at www.madisonmcsweeney.com and tweets from @MMcSw13.

Instagram: madisonmcsweeney.13

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Check out yesterday’s poem from the amazing Ashley Dioses over at Kendall Reviews and join us back next week on both sites for some more poetry celebration!

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#HookedOnPoetry: Poems with Award-Winning Poet Marge Simon #NationalPoetryMonth #Poetry

Yesterday I announced in an essay the start of my HOOKED ON POETRY project, in celebration of National Poetry Month. It was posted here on my site and at Kendall Reviews, who is partnering with me to host and share pieces I’ve accepted and curated. If you missed it, you can find it here. This will be running now and throughout May, which will also allow us to participate in Mental Health Awareness Month with some poetry. Please join me in sharing things on social media with the hashtag #HookedonPoetry. We have outstanding reprint poems from collections, original poetry, review and articles on poetry, and more coming everyone’s way throughout May.

HookedOnPoetry

I’m excited to start off the HOOKED ON POETRY project with poems by Marge Simon. These are two wonderful poems featured in some of her collections. Marge serves on the HWA Board of Trustees and the Speculative Literary Foundation.  She was the second woman to be acknowledged by the SF & F Poetry Association with a Grand Master Award.

She has won three Bram Stoker Awards, Rhysling Awards for Best Long and Best Short Poetry, the Elgin Award for Poetry Collection, the Dwarf Stars Award, and Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Asimov’s SF, Silver Blade, Bete Noire, Grievous Angel, Daily Science Fiction, and in the anthologies, You, Human, Chiral Mad, and The Beauty of Death, to name a few.

Enjoy!

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Daddy’s Little Girl

It’s a 4th of July evening

sundown coming slow,

lawnmowers drone distant,

& crickets’ choruses rise and fall

between the spaces of human noise.

 

Someone is cooking on the grill,

delicious smells waft through the trees,

down the block to your back yard.

 

Convertibles pass, radios blasting

the rhythms of the holiday,

teens high on being young,

 

but not you, plain and shy,

doomed to spend this magic night

alone with your books & a silly doll

that Daddy bought for you.

 

Your special gift from him today,

to defray the teenaged tears you cry;

you are his darling one and only —

though you’re much too old for dolls.

 

As for Mommy, she left long ago.

Daddy says she went to hell, but he is wrong.

She visits you in murky dreams,

whispering what to do while Daddy sleeps,

 

something about her old meat cleaver,

in the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet.

Your pretty doll agrees with her,

for after all, Daddy doesn’t understand,

you’re not his little girl.

– Marge Simon

crescent moon

Small Spirits
This poem is from the collection SMALL SPIRITS.
Small Spirits is another of the poems-for-art duets by Bram Stoker® Award winning poet Marge Simon and artist Sandy DeLuca. These unusual poems involve dolls of many sorts, including legends from countries all over the world. You will find small spirits of the wicked, the damned and the beloved. Be prepared for the mystical, magical and often misanthropic dolls in this colorful collection

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The Southern Lady

With death, there should be dignity but there is none here,

the men in dusty blue uniforms continue to pass by,

my precious roses trampled, bleed their perfume into the soil,

and those half dead are brought to my parlor,

soaking my fine couches with their Yankee blood.

 

Cow and calf alike they shot for practice up in Charleston,

by the time they got to ours, they wanted bread and butter,

with pitchers of fresh milk to wash it down;

some seem surprised there’s none.

They’d burned our fields, there was no feed,

did they think our livestock lived on love?

 

I dreamed I was a giant cat,

sitting on a wounded soldier’s chest

watching him quietly while he slept,

then I leapt on his face and clawed out his eyes.

 

But he rose up, playing “Aura Lee” on his harmonica.

One by one, his companions joined in singing,

and we danced all around the room.

Beyond the window it was raining blood.

– Marge Simon

crescent moon

War

This poem is from the collection WAR with Alessandro Manzetti
(Elgin Award Winner, 2019).

Look in my eyes. My bronze skin reflects the flames of the battles.

I feed on bullets and shrapnel.

I have trenches instead of veins and a bombardier’s whirring plays my favorite symphony inside my big head. This is my story, with some of my best camouflages and disguises, and you should expect your peace plans to fail. Because that’s what I do for living.

Look at my million golden teeth necklace. Ring any bells? Maybe you’re too young. I probably should have mentioned the fireworks over the Baghdad night sky, my new friend, or the live broadcast of two great skyscrapers disintegrating. You know what I’m talking about, right? So, you can call me by one of my many names: Great General, Lock-box of the Powerful, Red Rain, Lord of Steel or, more simply, WAR.

I appear as strife of many kinds, from Stalingrad to Scotland. Africa to Afghanistan, the civil war of Italy and the War Between the States, ghostly wars, drug wars, the battle of the sexes, World Wars I, II and visions of a holocaust yet to come. It’s all herein and more, with poems both collaborative and individual.

Amazon

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Marge Simon, Biography –

Simonphoto-208x258Marge Simon lives in Ocala, FL. She edits a column for the HWA Newsletter, “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side,” and serves on the HWA Board of Trustees.  She is the second woman to be acknowledged by the SF & F Poetry Association with a Grand Master Award.

She has won three Bram Stoker Awards, Rhysling Awards for Best Long and Best Short Poetry, the Elgin Award for Poetry Collection, the Dwarf Stars Award, and Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Asimov’s SF, Silver Blade, Bete Noire, Grievous Angel, Daily Science Fiction, and in the anthologies, You, Human, Chiral Mad, and The Beauty of Death, to name a few. She attends the ICFA annually as a guest poet/writer and is on the board of the Speculative Literary Foundation.

She has a daughter, Melle Tillison Broaderick, and two lovely granddaughters. She married a longtime friend and colleague, Bruce Boston, in 2001. Besides being a fantastic conversationalist and the love of her life, he has taught her a great deal about writing top notch poetry and fiction, for which she is grateful.

In addition to her solo work, she has written collaborative poetry and fiction with Bruce Boston, the late Charlee Jacob, Mary Turzillo, Alessandro Manzetti and Bryan Dietrich.

You can view Marge’s fiction, poetry, and art, and contact her for freelance art assignments on her website.

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Thank you, Marge!

I look forward to readers joining us for many more posts and poems here on my site and at Kendall Reviews. Watch my Twitter feed (@ErinAlMehairi) for updates and posts or follow my site by subscribing in the box at the right!

– Erin

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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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Happy Dr. Suess, Read Across America, and Reading Month! Reading Lists, Memories, and More. #NationalReadAcrossAmerica #NationalReadingMonth #HappyBirthdayDrSuess

Today is the National Dr. Suess and National Read Across America Day in honor of his birthday! Nine years ago on this blog I was talking about remembering how much Dr. Suess inspired me as a child and the activities to promote reading I was doing with  my own kids (and what you could do with yours!). It’s amazing how much my kids have grown just in the last decade to be their own functioning adult (my son is 20), teen (my daughter is 16), and almost teen (my daughter is 12) now. How did this happen?

march-2nd-read-across-america-day-dr-seuss

I can only safely assume that lessons learned from the books and the Cat in the Hat show created lifelong mottos for them, and as well, the time I spent reading and taking them to the library is what created in all of them a life of loving books (and still loving libraries where they go – “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”  – and my son went off to D.C. where he frequently can be found in the greatest libraries ever like Library of Congress, Folgers Shakespeare Library, and Mount Vernon. My son recently told me, “I’m only in college here for one major reason other than you, and that’s growing up at the library.” AWWWW!! That’s a huge win for libraries.

Thank you, Dr. Suess for making reading fun and thank you to one of local libraries (Ashland Public Library) for hosting so many well-loved activities for my children when they were young! Happy birthday and may  your legacy live on in so many other homes and childhoods.

This weekend, instead of going to Dr. Suess activities for young children at the library or bookstore, and have people stare at me for being the only adult there without kids (reliving my memories people!!), I instead enjoyed on Sunday a “Sam-I-Am” special latte which was white chocolate and peanut butter. Shout out to Medina’s Cool Beans Café, whose whole special coffee menu was named with a Dr. Suess theme! Oh, and on the foodie critic side, it was delish as was their homemade tomato soup.

Cool Beans Suess

And on a writing note, Dr. Suess really paved the way for some of us who are poets, at  least me, with his use of language! To this day, I make up words too. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. haha! I remember one day when my middle daughter was young (second grade maybe) and she was reading “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” She told me that it was the first one he wrote and it was rejected at twenty-seven publishers until one took a chance on him. Wise then, to never give up on your dreams!

So many good Dr. Suess books to name but I love The Lorax. What is your favorite Dr. Suess book or character? Leave comments below!

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Dr-Seuss-800-x-400-1

March also is National Reach Across America Month? Here, in our home and in my work and online word, we read all the time, as I’m sure you do too. But we can never miss a chance to celebrate reading. Whether you’re reading this now with small children or your children are grown and you have grandchildren or other small children in your lives, I hope you continue to offer children’s literatures to whomever you can. One of my best loved jobs was being a reference librarian for a time. Though it was adult reference, we often had to help children in the evenings. I loved recommending them books and seeing the joy and wonderment on their faces. Opening doors through reading is one of the best things you can do for child.

If you have children, here are some links that might help some of you enjoy the month with activities and some reading lists. Enjoy!

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First of all, go to Suessville. It’s the website for Dr. Suess and loads of fun!

My post from 2011 about Dr. Suess’ birthday and activities to do HERE.

Read Across America Main Site – Make sure you go the bottom of first page for reading lists for various parts of the month!

Multiples and More Site – Read Across America Activity Ideas

17 Easy Ways to Enjoy NRM – E-Book Friendly Website

ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) Lists!

For MA or YA horror selections, find some at Ladies of Horror Fiction HERE.

From We Are Teachers website: 32 Inspiring Books for Women’s History Month

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And now, enjoy some photos of my kids celebrating Dr. Suess way back when. I’m sure there are many more (and didn’t quickly find any of my son, my oldest) but these are the ones came up in my social media memories today. I’m also sure my daughters will want to ring my neck for sharing them. haha!

Oh the places Suess

Addie Suess

My youngest was 4 here, I think!

Emma Suess

My middle daughter. Not sure how old she was here, but I think 2nd grade. Now she’s a sophomore in high school!

Addie Suess 2

My youngest again. When she was the last one not in school and I took her to the library for the programming during the week. Look at that face and the hands ARE on her hips. Ha!

Happy reading this month everyone! March is a busy month for reading dates so I’m sure you’ll hear much more from me. Stay tuned!

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Interview: Haunting and Horror Writer Pamela Morris Talks Books, Women in Horror, and Historical Locations #WIHM #womeninhorror #historicalhorror

Tomorrow is the last day of February and the closing of Women in Horror Month, but I know that I for one won’t stop celebrating women all year long. Stay tuned in March for a little announcement on how I will do that even more on schedule than I have before on this site, even though a majority of people featured here has always been predominately women.

Today, join me for a last segment in my mini women in horror month series. Pamela is a cool horror writer I met online years ago through our mutual friendship with horror author Hunter Shea. She likes her ghouls and haunts and history and so this will be a fun and interesting interview to read. Enjoy!

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Hi Pamela, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you could join us. I have strong coffee or tea, whichever you’d prefer, or stiff drink. Take your pick, and if the former, tell me how you take it.

Pamela: Hey, Erin. It’s nice to be here. *checks the time* Coffee sounds great, with a double shot of Jameson and some whipped cream sounds about right after that chilly walk over here.

Erin: That sounds incredibly wonderful! Let’s carry them into the dining room and begin our chat!

I’ve known you for quite a few years, meeting you online from Hunter Shea. I know you are a fan of the paranormal and write many books in that vein. Can you tell my readers a bit about that and what you write?

Pamela: I have always been interested in all things occult and paranormal. It was something I grew up being very curious about and was never discourage away from learning. I’ve also been an avid reader all my life, so I guess the two just went hand-in-hand. First you read it. Then, in my case, you start writing about it. My first paranormal story was a three-page tale titled “The Strange Well” that I wrote when I was ten.

As I grew older, the stories got longer until now, I focus mainly on novels. My first two supernatural novels also happened to be murder-mysteries and are set in Barnesville, the fictionalized version of the small town I grew up in. Barnesville is home to a secret coven of witches who keep an eye on things. Currently I have four books set in Barnesville and there will be more eventually. These books lean towards the YA crowd.

In addition to The Barnesville Chronicles, I have a psychological horror that is very dark and deals with some taboo subject matter: abuse, rape, incest, murder, etc. Not YA in the least. Lastly, I wrote ghost story where a lot of the story is told from the perspective of the three ghosts involved. You don’t just see or hear what they are doing, but you get to know them as they were in life and why they are doing what they are doing, not just to the living but to their fellow trapped spirits.

Erin: What is your newest book and what’s that about? What did you find the most fun about writing that one and why?

Pamela: Last year I released a novel and a short story. The novel was the second part and conclusion to “The Witch’s Backbone” one of my Barnesville books. It’s very much a coming-of-age type tale. Five kids living in a small town decide to find out the truth about their local urban legend. The legend involves a witch named Rebekkah Hodak who is rumored to haunt a narrow ravine just outside town. It’s said that if you go to where her body was found, see her, and meet her gaze, you’re cursed to die an early, and possibly gruesome, death. One of the kids, twelve-year-old Tara Fielding, accidently sees what she believes to be this witch. Her panic and belief in the legend are what spawns the organization of a camping trip into the nearby woods. Horror ensues.

The short story is all about my personal fear of spiders, “Because, Spiders.” It’s about a nine-year-old girl whose fear is even greater than my own. She’s convinced there’s a giant spider hiding in the shed behind her house and she’s pretty sure it caught and ate the neighbor’s dog, too.

Erin: Do you feature any strong female in starring or supporting roles in your novels and stories? Tell us about a few and what their traits are?

Pamela: Most of my lead characters are women. In The Barnesville Chronicles, that would be Nell Miller. She’s the local small town librarian, who also happens to be a member of the coven mentioned earlier. She’s very out about being Pagan and confident in her magic abilities. She’s a bit of an instigator, always wanting to know more, do more, take action. She’s no Nervous Nellie, that’s for sure. She’s not one to turn down a challenge and will often drag her reluctant friends into helping her out.

In “Dark Hollow Road”, the psychological horror, one of the lead female characters is Mary Alice Brown. She’s the eldest of four and after the death of their mother, she’s the one responsible for taking care of all the rest. She struggles a lot with all that entails, including dealing with their abusive, alcoholic father. She does her best to protect them from him, even if that means she gets hurt in the process. She’s very shy, not well educated, and the victim of a lot of bullying both at home and around town, but she retains her sense of what is right and wrong, she has her hopes and dreams. She’s a fighter.

Erin: I love mysteries and historical research as well. How do those two loves of yours factor into your work?

Pamela: Every year for many, many years I’d get at least four Nancy Drew books for Christmas. I’d have them read by the end of January and craving more. That’s where my love of mysteries started and what greatly influenced what I write. Later I’d graduate to Agatha Christie and Wilkie Collins, but Nancy Drew was really the one that taught me that a mystery doesn’t always have to involve a murder.

My maternal grandmother was really interested in family genealogy so I think that may be where my love of history started. She liked antiques and all that. From 2004-2011, I was an American Civil War reenactor. That required a lot of research to know what the heck I was doing or talking to others about as my living history persona. The two main ghosts in “No Rest For The Wicked” are from that time period. I like to keep things as historically accurate as I can so all the research I did for my reenacting, was poured into them. The witches of Barnesville are descendants of the people accused of witchcraft in Connecticut from 1647 to 1663. No Salem witches for me – too typical. I wanted to be different, at last a little bit anyway. So, yeah, lots of real history worked in to everything I write – including that secret Barnesville coven that allegedly existed in my real hometown when I was a teenager!

Erin: What is one piece or location of history you’d like to explore of have explored for your writing or just for general interest? What interesting things have you found?

Pamela: Probably the Salem Witch Trials. I wrote my final high school English paper on the possible causes of the events that took place there. At the time, my mom was working at the main research library at Cornell University and that gave me magical access to the collection of documents housed there on the topic. I got to sit in a locked room with nothing but a pencil, paper, and some of the original document from which I took notes. With those and a few other books I owned at the time, I put together my paper. In 1989 my first husband and I went to New England for our honeymoon and decided we needed to spend the day in Salem. It was a rather whirlwind tour of the place, but still pretty neat. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I’d learn one of the women accused was a distant relative! It was also much later while doing some genealogy research for a friend that I learned about the Connecticut Witch Trials that preceded Salem by about thirty years. It was from this research that I drew the founders, and first coven members, of fictional Barnesville.

Erin: That’s so cool!! How hard do you feel it is to write mysteries and tie up all the points? How do you do so? Outline? What are the challenges and what are the rewards?

Pamela: Only my first two books were murder-mysteries and it was a lot more difficult than I’d initially thought. I’m normally a pantster (meaning I don’t outline … at all), I just write and kind of know where I’m headed or want to head. The mysteries wouldn’t allow that much freedom. Not only do you have to know who committed the murder, why, and how – but you have to come up with believable alibis for all the suspects, the reasons they might have committed the crime, and a secret they have that would cause them to lie about their whereabouts or motivations. Good grief! Plus, if you’re going to touch on police procedures that’s another layer of research to look into. All this is a bit more restricting than I like being, but … the reward of pulling it off, for misdirecting successfully, and it all still making sense in the end feels great.

Erin: You grew up watching horror, I believe. What are some of your great influences and what do you prefer to watch now? Same then with the reading, let us know reads you’ve loved and those who influence your work.

Pamela: Yes, I’ve been watching Horror since I was a wee thing. It started with the local Saturday afternoon horror show, “Monster Movie Matinee’. With the cartoons over, it was time to sit on the floor with a little tray of lunch and take in the creature feature. They showed mostly Universal movies – Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Abbot and Costello Meet The Wolfman, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken – family friendly horror, I guess. I grew into the Friday and Saturday night programming after that, darker stuff that started after the 11 o’clock news. Hammer Pictures, a lot of Christopher Lee. I love me them vampires! “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death”, “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Haunting of Hill House”, and “The Legend of Hell House”, “The Other” and “Dark Secret of Harvest Home” are the most memorable ones. Once in a while they’d have a great Made-For-TV movies on. “Night of the Scarecrow” was terrifying to me and my novel “Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon” was directly inspired by it. Elements of “The Other” also come into play in my book. Lastly, being from Rod Serling Country in Upstate New York, I adored both Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.

Oddly, I have a harder time coming up with books that influenced my writing. The style of certain authors inspired me, but maybe not so much the stories themselves. Tanith Lee, a British author, had a collection of kind of Horror\Sci-fi stuff that involved twisted fairy tales. Before her, I’d never heard of doing such a thing. I thought it was super cool and tried my hand at it with varied success. The fine art of short stories eludes me, though I keep trying. I liked Stephen Kings whole ‘small town – weird secret’ theme, too. That can be found in the Barnesville books. Of course, there’s good old Nancy Drew, again. I really enjoy books that make me think more about what’s going on, stories that misdirect the reader and have a lot of unexpected twists, endings that make me sit there and go, “Huh. I never saw that coming at all.” That’s what I try to do.

Erin: I’m a history buff too, and I know you were a Civil War re-enactor for a decade. What role(s) did you play? What was exciting about it? What type of horror or haunts did you learn? Have you used any of your time doing this in your writing?

Pamela: I played the wife of a field embalmer – aka an undertaker. It was very uncommon at the time, but not unheard of. It was also a very lucrative business. A lot like selling life insurance. My job was to gather the personal items of the deceased, write the letter home to his family, and mourn the poor soul appropriately. That involved sitting next to the coffin while dressed in black, wearing a black veil, and weeping (or pretending to weep). Those Victorians viewed death a lot differently than we do, mourning and a proper Christian burial was paramount. Embalming was a new science – formaldehyde hadn’t been invented yet so there was a variety of embalming fluid recipes. All very morbid to a lot of people. A lot of visitors wouldn’t even stop at our display. As I mentioned earlier, the two main ghosts in “No Rest For The Wicked” are from this time period and the man, Beauregard Addams, was the owner of a funeral parlor as well as having been a field embalmer and surgeon during the war.

Erin: That’s so interesting! Also, a mutual fan of road trips, do you take any to historical or haunted locations?

Pamela: No, we have not intentionally sought out haunted or historical locations. My husband isn’t into the whole paranormal or horror thing as much as I am, though I did manage to drag him to Granger, Texas to see the house used in the 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s not far from where his mom lives. So, that was cool. I also dragged him out to Terligua in West Texas for the Day of the Dead in the cemetery there. He humors me in all my ghostly, cemetery, haunted weirdness ways.

This summer we are hoping to make a delayed trip out to Boston Harbor to see the USS Constitution, might swing by Salem, but I want to go to Danvers, Massachusetts to see the homestead of Rebecca Towne Nurse who was one of the woman accused and hung for witchcraft back in 1692. She was also my 7x great aunt so I’m kinda curious about all that. We also plan on swinging over to Plimoth Plantation followed by Fall River to see Lizzie Borden’s old stomping grounds then west to wander through Sleepy Hollow for a bit before heading home.

Other road trips are much shorter, day trips or a weekend long adventure on the motorcycle. Anything beyond a four hour ride gets a bit sore on the old bottom!

Erin: Oh nice! That came in once near where son is in DC (the USS Constitution and other tall ships) and he loved it. He’s huge on that stuff (me too). That sounds like some amazing road trip stuff! I want to do all of that too. haha!

What are you working on now and what are your plans for the near future in terms of your writing?

Pamela: I am just finishing up the 4th draft of what I’m calling a Texas Gothic Horror titled “The Inheritance”. It should be ready this summer. I’m a big fan of the classic Gothic genre, old stuff, like Bram Stoker, Poe, and Wilkie Collins and really wanted to write something along those lines. But, I also wanted it to be contemporary, so I set it in the West Texas desert, added some bad ass bikers, and a band of really pissed off Apache spirits. Good times! This was great fun to write! And using the traditional plotting schemes of a Gothic novel really made things zip along. The most fun maybe was doing the research for this – ya know, actually being in the West Texas desert and taking notes, soaking it all in. Creating the biker gang was a blast, too.

Erin: What tips do you have for other women in horror in support of each other or sharing work?

Pamela: I’m really happy that I’m seeing more and more female writers in the Horror genre. There were so few that I knew of as a kids and for as much as I loved King, it would have been every nicer to have had more women to look up to.

I’ve always written what I loved to read and that’s the first thing you need to do, male or female. If you love monsters and freaky creatures, write about them. If you love vampires, write about them. If you love ghosts facing off against bad ass biker chicks, write about them! Your personal passion will come through in your writing. Start there and run with it. Read other female Horror authors. I’ve found their work so much more relatable. Where the men tend to go for the more violent, blood-slinging slasher, women, at least in my readings, tend to be more subtle and devious. But, hey – if you’re a lady and enjoy wielding that machete or ax, swing away!

Enjoy yourself and with any luck at all, those who read your work will enjoy reading it as much as you did writing it. It’s all about having fun after all, right?

Erin: Thanks so much for joining us today, Pamela! You’re welcome anytime, especially if you’ve got a good haunting story. Haha! Let us know where readers can find you, please.

Pamela: It was great chatting with you, Erin. All my titles can be found on Amazon and everything is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. I also have a website, pamelamorrisbooks.com. There are a few free short stories there and a blog where I babble about crows and other random weirdness, sometimes Horror-related, sometimes not. On Facebook, I can be found at Facebook. Folks are welcome to Like an Follow me there, of course. I’m pretty active on Twitter if folks want to follow me there, @pamelamorris65.

Thank you for having me over and letting me babble on about my work. I must say, you make a mean Irish coffee. And with that, in the words of Morticia Addams, “Have a delightfully dreary day!”

Erin: HAHA!! Anytime. It’s rather snowy here so I shall have a freezing night for sure. 😀

Pamela Morris Biography –

PamelaMorris_2019_2Raised in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, but forever longing for the white sands of her birthplace in New Mexico, Pamela has always loved mysteries and the macabre. In high school she quickly found herself labeled ‘That Witchy Chic.’ And school dances? Forget about it! You’d be far more likely to find her at the local small town library on a Friday night or listening to a Horror movie soundtrack in her darkened bedroom.

When her nose wasn’t buried in a vampire novel or any number of books penned by her favorite authors such as Poe, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, Tanith Lee, Shirley Jackson, and Wilkie Collins, Pamela was probably watching ‘Monster Movie Matinee,’ ‘Twilight Zone,’ ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” and a myriad of Hammer Films that further fed her growing obsession with Horror.

All grown up now, Pamela has raised two children and enjoys drawing and painting, watching bad B-Movies, remaining ever vigilant to the possibility of encountering a UFO or Bigfoot, an taking road trips with her husband on the Harley. She feeds the local murder of crows in her back yard and still hasn’t quite figured out how she became the Cvlt Leader for The Final Guys Podcast.

TWB1_Curse_CoverFrontThe Witch’s Backbone – Part 1: The Curse

It’s 1980 and the dog days of summer have settled over the small farming community of Meyer’s Knob. Five friends have spent their time at the local creek swimming and gathering crayfish, riding bikes, and mostly just trying to avoid boredom.

When tomboy Tara Fielding reports she’s spotted what she believes to be the witch of their local urban legend, and is now subject to that legend’s deadly curse, her friends rally ‘round and decide they’re going to prove there’s no such thing. After lying to their parents about where they’ll be, the friends head out to The Witch’s Backbone where, the legend claims, the witch waits for foolish travelers who dare pass that way at night.

What the group witnesses during this late summer field trip and what they find out after they return to civilization, does little to put anyone’s mind at ease, least of all Tara’s. Not only do they now believe this long-dead 19th century witch is real, but that she has friends who are still practicing the Black Arts, friends that will see to it that the legend’s curse is carried out.

Are there evil witches stalking the woods and sun-starved ravines between Meyer’s Knob and the neighboring town of Barnesville? Or have the kids just let boredom, the oppressive summer heat, and their own imaginations get the better of them?

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NRFTWfront_coverNo Rest For The Wicked

 Theirs was a hatred that lived beyond the grave.

A powerless domestic who searches for escape. Naked and screaming, the ghost of Sadie Price wants nothing more than to strike terror into all who dare enter Greenbrier Plantation.

A murderous wife who seeks justice. Lucy thought shooting her philandering husband and his mistress would bring her peace, but her subsequent suicide only creates a more hellish existence for her in the afterlife.

A sadistic doctor who refuses to relinquish control. Dr. Addams stalks the house and grounds of Greenbrier Plantation using his dark powers to control his Earth-bound spirits and anyone living who dares get in his way.

Can peace ever come to these tortured souls or are they eternally damned to walk the earth as proof that there really is no rest for the wicked?

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DarkHollowRoad-FrontOnlyDark Hollow Road

 A past filled with terror.

On Dark Hollow Road, Mary Alice Brown and her siblings know little more than poverty and abuse at the hands of their father. Getting rid of their tormentor seemed the answer to bringing joy back into their lives. But when that doesn’t work, Mary takes it upon herself to see that justice is served.

A present full of dread.

After an unusual visit from an elderly woman looking to borrow sugar, the theft of his coloring book, and complaints about other kids bothering him in the middle of the night, six-year-old Brandon Evenson, who lives within sight of the house on Dark Hollow Road, goes missing.

A future obsessed with revenge.

Desperate, Brandon’s parents seek answers from Lee Yagar, a local who’s warned people time and again of the dangers lurking at the old Brown place. But, Lee’s suggestion that Mary is involved in Brandon’s abduction makes little sense.

Mary is presumed dead, as she’s not been seen in decades, but is she? And is the house truly as empty and abandoned as it appears to be?

A psychological horror driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare.

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Guest Article: Seeing Doubles by Gothic Fiction Author Tracy Fahey #WiHM #womeninhorror #gothic

Welcome back to another segment in the small Women in Horror (WiHM) Series I’m running as we prepare to usher out February. Today, I have a guest article from Irish Gothic writer Tracy Fahey. I think most of you know how I myself feel about Gothic work, both in my own reading, writing, and study. I’m all in, so I’m pleased to present this to readers on my site today.

In 2017, Tracy’s debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. In 2019, her short story, ‘That Thing I Did’ received an Honourable Mention by Ellen Datlow in her The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11, with five stories on Datlow’s Recommended Reading list for 2019. Her short fiction is published in over twenty-five Irish, US, and UK anthologies. She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing has been published in edited collections and journals.

Today, she talks about the lastest installment of her work and her infatuation with doubles. That’s right, check this out twice if you find that uncanny. Join us!

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Unheimlich Manoeuvres: Doubling Up On The Uncanny
by Tracy Fahey, author of Unheimlich Manoeuvres

I’m obsessed with doubles. They fascinate me. Doppelgängers. Twins. Fetches. Reflections. Mirror images. In a world where so much is made of the virtue of individuality, what is more terrifying than the idea that you exist elsewhere? Or the notion that you are somehow (even worse) divided within yourself? This is something that’s been a recurrent theme in my writing. In March 2020 my publishers, the Sinister Horror Company are releasing two collections, the third, deluxe edition of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre and the chapbook Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both of which explore the idea of the uncanny double. But why this fascination? It’s been a long-running obsession.

As a child I followed Alice through the looking glass into the shadow-world beyond, and consequently spent hours in front of my own bathroom mirror, watching my image closely for signs of tell-tale deviation. As a teenager I devoured Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde and savoured the queer thrill that came from contemplating a truly double life; one where the very self was sundered and broken, one where the self was plunged in a morass of unease, unable to even remember what the divided self had done. Later I would become absorbed in Ira Levin’s tales of replaced women (Stepford Wives) and clones (The Boys From Brazil). Movies fed and continue to feed this obsession with uncanny doubles: Invasion of the Body Snatchers with its narratives of paranoia and pod-people, Coraline, the sublimely uncanny tale of a doubled, ‘other’ world. More recently, there’s been It Follows, a clever, twisted movie where contagion rages and no-one is what they seem, and of course, Jordan Peele’s Us, the horror of which is almost entirely premised on otherness and doppelgangers. Us doesn’t entirely work—it suffers from an excess of ideas—but when it does, it is magnificent. Who can forget that superlative, long shot of the shadow-family standing silently at the foot of the driveway? Those unmoving, dark silhouettes that equate exactly to the panic-stricken five looking at them—it’s a marvellous, and utterly uncanny moment.

US JP

But why is the double such a terrifying figure? Well, firstly because embodies the very definition of the uncanny – Freud’s 1919 essay on ‘The Uncanny’ refers to ‘Schelling’s definition of the uncanny as something which ought to have been kept concealed but which has nevertheless come to light.’ He also discusses specifically the idea of the double, and Otto Rank’s ‘Der Doppelgänger’ which outlines the various modes of double from mirror-image to shadows, souls and to Egyptian sculpture as funerary repository of ka, or spirit. Freud points out that the double profoundly upsets our sense of self—it becomes an object of terror.

In both the new edition of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, and in the accompanying chapbook Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, I want to thoroughly explore the different dimensions of the uncanny, using the unifying trope of the Gothic home. A significant part of this was exploring the double. In doing this, I was not only drawn by Rank, Jentsch and Freud’s writings on the doppelgänger, but on the uncanny double that haunts Irish folklore, the fetch a double that appears at the moment of death to fetch the soul away. And so, images of the dark, mirrored self flow through the stories. There’s the theme of the self divided by illness in ‘Coming Back’ and ‘Something Nasty In The Woodshed.’ There’s a doppelgänger that flits through the pages of ‘Ghost Estate, Phase II.’ There’s an examination of twin as uncanny double in ‘I Look Like You, I Speak Like You, I Walk Like You.’ In both chapbook and new edition, there’s also an additional story, ‘The Wrong House’; a tale populated by troubling doubles of the protagonist, his wife and his daughter, and a previously unpublished story, ‘Possession,’ where the main character feels her sense of self erode in the anxiety that arises from that most terrifying of all possibilities—that she no longer knows who exactly she is.

So, welcome to my nightmares. I invite you into my world where nothing is as it seems, a world where every mirror image is charged with a dark power, a world where we may (or may not) exist in multiple, fractured forms. For me, the double continues to be a haunting and compelling evocation of the uncanny. Given that our sense of self, how we perceive ourselves, is a corner-stone of our mental health, the idea of the uncanny double is one of the most terrifying concepts in horror literature.

As the protagonist of one of my unheimlich stories puts it:

“I look like you. I speak like you. I walk like you.

But I’m not you”

The Unehimlich Manoevure –

The Unheimlih Manoeuvre Deluxe EditionIn 2020, the deluxe edition of The Unehimlich Manoevure will be released together with a companion chapbook of new material, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both published by the Sinister Horror Company. Both contain a new essay, ‘Creative Evocations of Uncanny Domestic Space,’ five new stories, a print and piece entitled ‘Remembering Wildgoose Lodge,’ and complete story notes on all nineteen stories in this new edition.

The Unheimlich Manoeuvre explores the psychological horror that occurs when home is subverted as a place of safety, when it becomes surreal, changes and even disappears…

In these stories, a coma patient wakes to find herself replaced by a doppelgänger, a ghost state reflects doubles of both houses and inhabitants, a suburban enclave takes control of its trespassers, and a beaten woman exacts revenge.

Unheimlich Manoeuvres in the DarkJust as the Heimlich Manoeuvre restores order, health and well-being, The Unheimlich Manoeuvre does quite the opposite.

This new edition contains revised versions of the original stories and a brand new tale, “Something Nasty In The Woodshed.”

Praise –

“A modern-day gothic whose Kafkaesque otherworldly stories are beautifully disturbing.” – Lol Tolhurst, The Cure

“It is, quite simply, pure art, and we can only wonder what works this writer will produce in the coming years.” – This Is Horror

“This a very assured first collection…. Although there are twists, Tracy Fahey never plays for cheap shocks.” – Priya Sharma, Shirley Jackson Award winner

Tracy Fahey, Biography –

Tracy Fahey photoTracy 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. In 2019, her short story, ‘That Thing I Did’ received an Honourable Mention by Ellen Datlow in her The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11, with five stories on Datlow’s Recommended Reading list for 2019. Her short fiction is published in over twenty-five Irish, US and UK anthologies.

She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing has been published in edited collections and journals. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland and Greece. Her first novel, The Girl in the Fort, was released in 2017. Her second collection, New Music For Old Rituals, collects together her folk horror stories and was released in 2018 by Black Shuck Books.

In 2020, the deluxe edition of The Unehimlich Manoevure will be released together with a companion chapbook of new material, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both published by the Sinister Horror Company. Both contain a new essay, ‘Creative Evocations of Uncanny Domestic Space,’ five new stories, a print and piece entitled ‘Remembering Wildgoose Lodge,’ and complete story notes on all nineteen stories in this new edition.

More information at her website www.tracyfahey.com

Thanks to Tracy for this wonderful article and to all of you for reading along in this #wihm series. Stay tuned for one or two more and then I’ll announce something I’ll be doing for women in horror all year round.

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