Tag Archives: reading

#HookonWiHM: Focus on Author Gwendolyn Kiste Via Calvin Demmer

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, make an effort to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. Watch for those spread throughout the month, and if you want in, contact me! Find more info HERE.

Now, without further wait, I’d like to introduce Calvin Demmer who has enthusiastically interviewed the amazing author Gwendolyn Kiste! I am more than pleased to say that I share a TOC with them in the Unnerving anthology Hardened Hearts and very much enjoyed both their stories. Further, I was excited to recently find out that Gwendolyn is originally from Ohio, where I currently live!

Take it away, Calvin – enjoy!

INTERVIEW WITH HORROR AUTHOR GWENDOLYN KISTE –

Gwendolyn Kiste_Black and White Headshot

Was it difficult to select which stories to include in your debut collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe (Published by Journalstone)?

Overall, it wasn’t too terribly difficult, though it was so important to me not only to select the right stories but also to curate them in the absolute best order. This definitely took some time, and I was lucky to have my editor Jess Landry there to help me. All fourteen of the stories that I submitted to her for the collection made the cut for the book, but she helped with the order, opening with the avian horror story, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” and closing with the darkly romantic body horror tale, “The Lazarus Bride.” She felt both of those pieces focused similarly on themes of death and rebirth, and worked well in conversation with each other, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

As for other considerations in putting together the collection, several of the previously published stories are available for free online, so I felt it was important to offer readers something completely new. That’s what led me to including five stories original to the collection. Now that’s it been almost a year since publication, it’s interesting to take stock of the table of contents again and realize that I can’t imagine a different order or different stories.

These fourteen tales definitely cover all of my favorite themes: body horror, fairy tales, sisterhood, twisted romantic relationships, and of course, otherness and the role of the outsider in pushing back against the confines of society. I’m so grateful every day to Jess and JournalStone for releasing this book. It’s completely changed my career and brought me to so many more readers, which is the only thing that a writer can ever truly want for their career.

And-Her-Smile-Will-Untether-the-Universe

How did you find the process from writing short stories to writing your novella Pretty Marys All in a Row (Broken Eye Books)?

It was a really wonderful—as well as daunting—experience to make the leap from short fiction to a longer form. In some ways, my approach to short fiction is a bit more free-flow: because the projects are shorter by design, I let them evolve much more naturally and then go back and edit the stories if I find that I ultimately didn’t need certain details or subplots. However, with a novella or any longer fiction, that free-flow approach can become more problematic. What’s easy to edit when it’s only 5,000 words can quickly become a nightmare for a 30,000-word story.

So I would say the main difference for me is how much more planning goes into my longer works. For example, prior to even starting the first draft of my novel, The Rust Maidens, I wrote out an 11,000-word outline. Almost none of those words ended up directly in the novel, but I knew every single direction the book was going to take. Every character, every setting, every scene. There were no surprises at all, which made drafting the book much smoother.

I took a similar approach with Pretty Marys All in a Row, though the outline was a little more informal with a page or two of notes for each chapter that included locations, character goals, and specific starting and ending points for all the scenes. Part of me really loves the spontaneity of letting a story evolve like I do with my short fiction, but when the moment comes midway through a longer project that it starts to become a bit of a struggle, I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve planned ahead. It’s definitely what’s helped to keep me going so far with my longer works.

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You collaborated with Emily Cataneo for the novella In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire (which will appear in Chiral Mad 4). How was the experience working with another writer?

I’d never collaborated with another writer before, especially on such a big project, so I had no idea what to expect when we started. Fortunately, Emily and I quickly worked out a good system for how to make the collaboration dovetail with both our visions. Once we had the basic elements for the story—ballet, sisters, witchcraft, turn-of-the-century Europe—we each crafted a point-of-view character, and wrote our alternating sections from our character’s perspective. Then we came together and worked to smooth out any inconsistencies and create a cohesive whole. Ultimately, In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire ended up in novella-length territory, and we were both very excited with how it turned out. When editors Michael Bailey and Lucy A. Snyder accepted it for Chiral Mad 4, I imagine you could hear Emily and I both squealing for joy for a several-mile radius.

Your debut novel, The Rust Maidens, will be published this year. Can you tell us a little about it?

Well, first off, I’m insanely excited and a little nervous about it! Obviously, it’s a big moment for every author to have a novel, but it’s so wonderfully terrifying too. And of course, you want to be sure that it’s the right book for your debut. Fortunately, I think I found a good balance with The Rust Maidens, since it at once includes elements from my short fiction while expanding upon my work in a number of ways that I hope readers will enjoy.

Based primarily in 1980, the book follows one Cleveland, Ohio neighborhood as the economy starts to unravel at the same time that the local girls begin transforming into something otherworldly. I’ve been describing it as David Cronenberg’s The Fly meets The Virgin Suicides. Lots of body horror, gruesome transformations, and coming-of-age themes in the Midwest, which is where I grew up. I never thought I’d “go back home,” so to speak, in my fiction, but once I came up with the concept for this book, I knew it was definitely a direction I was always meant to take. I wanted to write something about the economic losses so many people in the region have dealt with over the years, as well as the ecological disasters that have plagued Lake Erie for decades. To be honest, once I started writing about the Rust Belt, I realized just how much horror haunts the everyday recesses of the area, so it seems very naturally situated for a darkly supernatural novel.

We don’t have an official release scheduled yet for The Rust Maidens, but that date should be coming very soon, so definitely watch my website and the Trepidatio Publishing social media pages for those details!

Who are some of the female horror authors you believe people should be reading?

Honestly, there are way too many to list here, but I will do my best. I’m a huge fan of Farah Rose Smith, Brooke Warra, and Eden Royce in particular. We already mentioned Emily B. Cataneo, but her name certainly deserves to be repeated as well. My editor at JournalStone/Trepidatio, Jess Landry, is also a writer and a fantastic one at that.

Of course, I could go on and on: Lori Titus, Anya Martin, Nadia Bulkin, S.P. Miskowski, Denise Tapscott, Sumiko Saulson, Catherine Grant, Scarlett R. Algee, Rebecca Allred, Carrie Laben, Kenya Moss-Dyme. I usually focus on fiction, but in terms of horror poets, Christina Sng and Saba Razvi are two names everyone should definitely seek out. Truly, there are so many wonderful female horror authors working today, and it’s such an honor to be among their contemporaries

Gwendolyn Kiste_Black and White Headshot

Gwendolyn Kiste, Biography –

Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, her debut fiction collection from JournalStone, as well as the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare MagazineShimmerBlack StaticDaily Science FictionInterzoneLampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye as well as Flame Tree Publishing’s Chilling Horror Short Stories anthology, among others. A native of Ohio, she spends her days hanging out on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh where she lives with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. You can find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.

Book Purchase Links –

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe

Pretty Marys All in a Row

Thanks so much to Calvin Demmer for highlighting Gwendolyn!

CalvinDemmer

Calvin Demmer, Biography –

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His work has appeared in Broadswords and Blasters, Empyreome Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Ravenwood Quarterly, Switchblade, and others. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com.

WiHM8-Website-Logo-Retina

Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read Across America/Dr. Seuss Day, March 2 + Favorite Quotes

Today was Read Across America Day AND Dr. Seuss Day in honor of his birthday! I’ve always loved Dr. Seuss. I fondly remember having a subscription to the books..you know, where once a month a couple appeared in the mail? It was always such a thrill. I still have my collection and now my children have read them!! His creative spirit is admirable as well as his huge heart for humanity and the environment.

I’m glad he still is enjoyed by each generation. My 7 year old found some pencils, erasers, and bookmarks with Dr. Seuss characters on them at the store on Friday night, so she was more than prepared to celebrate for the entire year, not just the day!

What Dr. Seuss book inspired you? Which books do you love? 

Dr. Seuss never gets old in our hearts!! Here are some fave quotes, perfect for anyone:

“Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.

“It is better to know how to learn than to know.

“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

MARCH-2nd-Read-Across-America-Day-dr-seuss

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Merry Christmas and Joyous Season to Everyone: What Books Did You Get?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (which includes if you are having a holiday such as a vacation)! I hope you have been enjoying the magic and love of the season, no matter what you have going on in your life, how you celebrate, or if you have to work.  Whatever you case is in life at the moment, I hope you have had or get to enjoy some time to relax. It’s the small moments that count and the memories that last.

Merry Christmas sign

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my kids while they are on break from school. We had a wonderful Christmas and we are enjoying our holiday time connecting with each other. To me, this is the most important thing in my life, so I’ve not blogged, put most work and writing aside, and limited my time to them. It’s why my holiday message to you, readers and friends, is somewhat delayed! I’ve been busy baking, reading, cuddling, making bracelets, coloring with Sharpies, and playing with Monster High dolls.

I do wish all of you much joy, happiness, and love during the hustle and bustle of this end of the year time. I hope you are taking precious moments to enjoy your kids or grandkids, give to those less fortunate, count your blessings and think on your positives. I hope you embrace the feelings that come from having a heart two sizes too big.

We have some special traditions that I look forward to every year. The kids and I have been busy baking sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. The latter we make from my great-grandma Emma Bryan’s recipe, which is hundreds of years old. We talked about our ancestors and connected to our past as we rolled the dough. We talked of our past and of our futures together. We made wonderful memories. We recorded our cooking baking process on Instagram (Erin Al-Mehairi) and Twitter (@ErinAlMehairi). The pictures are really cute if you want to check them out.

We also have watched our Christmas favorites on Netflix and on DVD, such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rise of the Guardians, Peanuts All I Want for Christmas is a Dog to name a few, and some other movies for fun as well. We made homemade hot chocolate that simmered all day and then drank it while we watched The Polar Express. We’ve cooked together our favorite foods, decorated our tree and remembered each memory from almost each ornament we pulled out, and read books such as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Nassem read to his sisters and me in his best Grinch voice), The Nutcracker, and Madeline’s Christmas. We read of the birth of Jesus and set-up our Nativity scenes under the tree.

And not to be forgotten, we are excited each year to write letters to Santa and put them in the red Macy’s mailbox under the BELIEVE meter, pick out a Yes, Virginia ornament to hang on the tree, then hang our past Virginia ornaments while watching the Yes, Virginia animated story. Happily, Netflix streams this favorite version. Next year, I think I’ll splurge for the picture book.

We’ve had a great time carving out special minutes together. I know when they are older this will be what they will remember, not any high-priced gift that quits working or goes obsolete in a year. Listening to the Nutcracker Ballet while hanging ornaments and eating homemade cookies will be what they tell their own kids that they did each Christmas. I hope they even pass down our traditions to their families.

I hope that you are having a wonderful holiday as well. What are your Christmas traditions? Have you made time for reading like us? Did you get any good books for Christmas? Feel free to leave your comments below! I’d love to hear.

In the meantime, I’ll be reading and working on catching up on all the Fall reviews I owe (I really own a huge backlog), some great new ones for January, and some super interviews I have coming up!

Love to you and yours! And I’ll be back with more posts soon!

Kids making cookies

Baking and Frosting Gingerbread People!

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Does Hook of a Book Sound a Little Seuss-y? Happy birthday Dr. Seuss!

It’s March 2 and not only is it National Read Across America day but is also the 107th birthday of the late Theodore Geisel, more lovingly addressed and remembered as Dr. Seuss. I remember as a child waiting for the mail to come every month and getting a new Dr. Seuss classic. My mom had signed me up for some mail order subscription and I was estatic to get them. Today, my kids are still enjoying my hand me down Dr. Seuss books of Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, The Foot Book and many more, but also the new titles featuring the Cat in the Hat teaching numerous non-fiction subjects such as maps, birds, oceans, and even cooking (at least he has amazing clean-up techniques!).

Today I caught a bad case of the flu or a cold. I’ve been feeling terrible and was afraid I’d miss our plans of going to our local library’s “Seussabration” after school. I did miss it unfortunately, but the kids did go. My son helped the two girls to make Fox puppets out of lunch bags, Seuss posters, and they listened to Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? read by the local librarians.

Here’s a photo taken by my son with his camera phone of my daughter coloring at the event:

Some school classes had parties today with birthday cake and hats as well as many libraries having events. Whatever your children did to celebrate, remember that the most important thing is to encourage reading in your children every day.

  • What can you do to commemorate National Read Across America day?
  1. *Make your child a book nook where they can retreat to read books daily.
  2. *Schedule time to read a book to your child at least several times a week.
  3. *Make special bookmarks they can use in their book nook.
  4. *Have your child draw a photo of what a story was about after you read it.
  5. *Ask questions and talk about what you read.
  6. *Have a party and invite your children’s friends over to read books and make tote bags for their trips to the library.
  7. *Buy your child a new book for March, to celebrate reading.
  8. *Take a trip to the library to participate in story time or crafts.

Purchasing your child books, reading to them, and encouraging them to use the library is a lasting gift! Leave your children with a legacy of reading, just like Dr. Seuss has left us with a legacy of silly, funny, awesome, unforgettable books.

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Reality bites – fiction rules!

Great post from Tim Busbey (www.timbusbey.wordpress.com) about fiction writing in response to a recent writing by Brad Meltzer. Reality bites – fiction rules!

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I’m taking the 2011 Stephen King Challenge, You?

It’s a new year and time for goals!! Though I generally do read a lot of Stephen King, I am going to take this challenge offered by Book Chick City. You can see more information here: http://www.bookchickcity.com/2010/12/sign-up-2011-stephen-king-challenge.html.  You have to read 6 to 12 books by him in 2011 and I’m sure 6 is what I’ll do just for the mere fact that many of his books are sooo long. I read Under the Dome last year and that was a huge book with over 1,000 pages!   I have a few new ones to read, like his newly published short story compilation called Full Dark, No Stars, but I have some I may re-read that I read in my early years also such as Dead Zone.

I’m supposed to put the button and link to the Stephen King Challenge (scary little IT clown picture…yikes!) on my sidebar, you can either go above to the link I provided to learn how to sign-up or click on the sidebar button. You can look for my reviews here on my new book blog!

My favorite Stephen King book is one from more recent years, Duma Key, that I read last year. I LOVE how he made the art really come to life in such a gripping way.   I also really like Rose Madder, which hit home with me when a woman runs away from her abusive cop husband and starts a new life.  However, a painting she buys lures her in to another world. Again, art taking life.  What is your favorite Stephen King book? 

In the meantime, while I am reading, be sure to also check out my other blog at www.breathebeautyartandphotography.wordpress.com, if you like photography, art, doing things with your kids, baking, and musing on life.

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