Tag Archives: women in horror

Interview: Hauntings with Writer Janine Pipe #WIHM #womeninhorror

Thanks for following along here this month and joining me to meet these fabulous women in horror! As a goal, I try to not only feature accomplished and established women of horror (the top names) ONLY, especially being around myself with this site for nine years, but also to support those upcoming writers of all backgrounds who are working hard at their craft and visibility. It’s not about views for me, but about supporting others.

Today, I would like you to meet Janine, just as I did recently. This is the first year she’s heard of women in horror month, which makes it clear we still need to promote it, and she, as well as I, met women in horror we didn’t know before through the awareness campaigns. I have every year. This year, I met Janine. She picked up the ball and ran with a whole month of features on her own blog with women in horror. I very much appreciate her interview with me. Now, I’d like to introduce you to her.

Stay tuned for a few segment in the #WIHM series to come.

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Hi Janine, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m glad you could join us as part of women in horror month. Please let me know your choice of coffee, tea, or drink, and if the former, how you take it? I’m hoping you pick tea as I have English Breakfast tea brewing and shortbread. But whatever you like is fine, you’re the guest!

Janine: Thank you so much Erin for inviting me. I’m a latte lady, but since I am British I would love a cup of tea. And shortbread sounds delightful.

Erin: Great, I love lattes too! Next time we’ll have those. Let’s carry this all into the library and have a seat to chat.

When do you first discover you wanted to write horror? What type of horror do you write?

Janine: I think that because horror has always been my favourite genre to read, it was just a natural progression to writing it too. I started with shorts and poems in my teens. Life sort of took over and writing fiction went on the back-burner, but over the last year I have started again in earnest. I write both supernatural and classic horror, often with a twist. I also like lore, urban legends and creepy pasta.

Erin: What are some of the first goals you have for yourself as a writer?

Janine: To be published in print. To see my name on Amazon or when I walk into Waterstones. To know people are reading my work. But I also know this isn’t an easy game and it will take some time. I mainly write short stories so I tend to submit to anthologies. I have the semblance of an idea for a full novel though, once I get the time to do it.

Erin: You have some of your stories read on podcasts or radio? How did that come about? Were they stories you already had written, or did you write stories specifically to be read on air? 

What was it like the first time you heard your stories being read out loud like that? 

Janine: The first story, “The Boy,” which was featured on Ghost Stories the Podcast, was also the first short I had written for many years. I submitted it and just hoped they might like it. Same for my second, “Adam,” which was read aloud on Tales to Terrify. The third, “The Christmas Ghost,” I wrote specifically for audio and that was on a Patreon episode of Graveyard Tales. I have become friendly with Tyler, the host of Ghost Stories the Podcast, and recently had a second story used. That was based on fact and again was written specifically for the show. Almost an origin story for my writing.

The radio interview with BBC Somerset came about as I saw the presenter tweet out that he was looking for spooky tales about Somerset for a Halloween radio special. We got to chatting and he thought it would give the show an extra boost to have an actual ghost writer come on and talk about local legends.

I won’t lie, the first time I heard my work read aloud, I cried a little. It was pride. A sense of, wow, I wrote that? It felt great.

Erin: From reading a little of your blog, I see you like ghost stories – reading, writing, and real ghost stories? What do you love about ghosts the most in any of those areas or all?

Janine: I will let you in on a little secret – I am terrified of ghosts. That sounds crazy for someone who is fascinated with them and writes about them I am sure, but it actually helps me. I can spook myself sometimes with my stories. What I like most about them is that they are (often) believable. Which is equally why they scare me so much. I am 99.9% sure that I will never meet a vampire, but I have actually witnessed paranormal activity…

Erin: Yes, that’s what scares me about it too! Are you from the UK or America? I’m just prefacing that because I want to ask who you feel has the better ghost stories and why? (I’m originally from England – personally I think the UK stories are better just because the ghosts have had many more years to percolate in their haunting there haha!)

Janine: I am UK born and bred. I suppose due to the history, we are bound to have more stories here and there are some good ones, But because I love the US, I actually prefer American stories. Boston is one of my most favourite places in the entire world, and we did a fantastic graveyard and ghost trail there. NYC also has a plethora of hauntings, and the deep south. I find these fascinating, especially around the Carolinas.

Erin: I love Boston too and all the hauntings in the older and historic cities we have. But the US is only about 250 years old and these stories come from these time frames. I suppose that’s why I like the First People’s legends and stories. I love the stories that come from England and Ireland, seeped in such deep, deep lore. I suppose it’s all intriguing!

What’s the best haunting story you’ve come across reading?

Janine: I suppose it has to be the Enfield hauntings, and 50 Berkley Square in London. Mainly as I fist read about them as a child as it terrified me haha.

Erin: I’ll have to look those up now.

Do you like other types of horror for reading and/or writing?

Janine: Oh yes, I like most types of horror, especially what I refer to as classic horror (monsters, lore etc.) and slasher/serial killer stuff. I like vampire and werewolf stories, and early King books.

Who are your writing influences and why?

Janine: As I just mentioned, Stephen King is my main writing influence, especially his earlier work and books like It. I love nostalgia and varying time-lines. Part of that stems from being an 80’s child myself.

Erin: Who’s books inspire you today and why?

Janine: My latest literary hero is the fantastic C J Tudor. I have read all three of her books, and they are phenomenal, and have been likened to King again. Her writing style reminds me of the way I write, and I can only hope and pray that one day, I might be even half as good as she is at creating a masterpiece.

Erin: I love CJ  and her books too. She an excellent dark thriller writer. I don’t think she is too much like Stephen King myself, because I think she writes tighter, which is a compliment. haha! I love many of his works though too. CJ is one I know will also give us a good read, and beyond that, a humble and cool person. Keep aspiring! It happened to her almost overnight so you never know.

What is the biggest current challenge you’re finding as you start your writing career?

Janine: Time and rejections. Time as with a lot of people starting out, because I have a job, a family, a house to run. And rejections just suck. I know they are part of a writer’s life and I need a thicker skin pronto, but it still burns to hear – no thank you time and time again.

Erin: Yes that’s true. I think it’s time for any of us no matter how long we’ve been writing especially if we have other work and a family. It’s the same for me. Rejections will always suck, but also it’s not always about you or your writing, but what an editor is looking for as a whole and the puzzle of an anthology or their yearly calendar. There are so many writers out there, and with the publishing market not being profitable, it just makes it hard for them to take on too many. That’s why so many are going to self-publishing these days and it works. Keep that positive thinking going and persevere.

What has been the best part to you about being a writer? Have you had any help whether schooling, writing help books, websites, people?

Janine: The best part is seeing a story come together, and people actually enjoying it. I have had some help via other writers. I am very lucky to have met another horror writer and publisher in my own home town, Graeme Reynolds. He is my unofficial mentor, and will edit and check through work for me.

Erin: What’s next for you with your writing. Your big plans for 2020?

Janine: To continue the blog, keep submitting to anthologies and hopefully, see my name in print.

Erin: I realize you are also a huge Disney fan. It’s amazing how diverse the interests are in those who write horror. What do you like most about Disney and your favorite movies? Do their stories or characters ever inspire your writing?

Janine: Oh I LOVE Disney!!! I have been writing for Florida based blogs and websites for years. Our house is like a Disney Store. What do I like most? That’s a tough one. For me, it is not just about the movies, or the rides at WDW. I love to know about the history of the parks. I love the trivia. Actually, my daughter is the first published author of the family. She is one of the reviewers in The Unofficial Guide to WDW for Kids haha! I guess my most favourite thing about Disney is kind of cringy. But it is how I feel when I am there, in the parks. I feel happy, relaxed and like I am Home.

My favourite movies are The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog and Fantasia. My favourite rides are The Haunted Mansion and The Tower of Terror.

Thus far, I have steered clear of anything Disney related in my work. Another reason why I like CJ Tudor so much? Another huge Disney fan. As is Brian Moreland!

Erin: That’s so cool! I like Disney so much too as do all three of my kids, even my son, who is now in college loves The Lion King. They do have a way of making you feel wonderful. Though I live in the states I’ve never been to Disneyworld though!

How long have you known about women in horror and how has the month, or social media, allowed you to meet more women in horror? How has it been?

Janine: I will be 100% honest, this is the first year I had heard of it. I think it is a fantastic thing. I have met some fabulous people I might not have interacted with via social media had it not have been for this. I think that it is an amazing way to help promote women who’d for some reason remain underrepresented in horror.

Erin: That’s so good to hear. So many question if we should still have it and this is a good reason why!

You have a great site where you post stories, reviews, and interviews with other horror authors, primarily women this month! Were can readers find that? Where else should they follow you?

Janine: Thank you! I try my very best to post daily, you can find me at Janine’s Ghost Stories.

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/disneynine and Facebook.

Erin: Thanks so much for coming by Janine. Stop by anytime. I’ll be rooting for your writing success!

Janine: Thank YOU Erin, it has been my absolute pleasure.

Janine Pipe, Biography – 

Janine PipeJanine has loved to write spooky stories and tales with a twist since she was at school. She is a huge fan of Stephen King, first devouring Salem’s Lot at the tender age of just nine. Her work is heavily influenced by this. She also loves C J Tudor and credits fellow Swindon horror writer Graeme Reynolds as an unofficial mentor.

You can find her stories on Ghost Stories the Podcast, Graveyard Tales and Tales to Terrify. She shares some of her original shorts and flash fiction on her blog, Janine’s Ghost Stories, where she also reviews and interviews authors of horror.

She loves to chat about all things horror and Disney related over at @Disneynine on Twitter.

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Guest Article: Witch and Spirit Bottles by Pamela K. Kinney #WiHM #witches

I love to read historical articles online and recently I came across an article, I believe in Smithsonian online magazine, about witch bottles being uncovered. Then I saw them talking about it on the site for College of William and Mary: Civil War Era Jug Rare Witch Bottle. The photo here is from this find/article. A few days later I saw a writer friend I knew posting about witch bottles being found as well and I was intrigued. I know Pamela to be very much a knowledge of the haunted and supernatural in Virginia, so I asked her if she might write an article for my site which I’d post for women in horror month.

witchbottle475

From article at above link: Witch bottle:  Given the artifact’s contents and context, William & Mary archaeologists believe this Civil War-era jug is likely a rare ritual item known as a “witch bottle.” Witch bottles served as a kind of talisman to ward off evil spirits.  Photo by Robert Hunter

Thanks very much to Pamela for her time in this. Voila – enjoy!

Witch Bottles and Spirit Bottles
by Pamela K. Kinney

Witch Bottles:

In 2016, archeologists unearthed a blue bottle filled with nails near the hearth of a Civil War fort, Redoubt 9, which today is known as exits 238 to 242 of I-64 in York County. They conducted the dig, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation, and it took place before VDOT’s planned interstate widening project. What is left of Redoubt 9 now rests in the median of Interstate I-64. Although constructed by Confederates, Union troops occupied it after the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862. The fortification was one of 14 mini forts around Fort Magruder, built along a line between the James and York rivers to counter the threat of a Federal assault on Richmond via the Peninsula.

Records suggested that Redoubt 9 was occupied by the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry alternately between May 1862 and August 1863. This Calvary was the same regiment held responsible for the burning of the Wren building (College of William and Mary). They likely occupied Redoubt 9 only during periods of strife, such as Confederate raids, when the Union hold on Williamsburg was at risk. Union soldiers occupied enemy territory most of the war, and no doubt, felt threatened by and needed to ward off malevolent spirits and energy. And witch bottles were the type of things people used during times of famine, political strife, or feeling under threat (which the Union soldiers were feeling). It may not be the men but an officer who did this, using folk traditions from his community back in Pennsylvania as they determined that the bottle was created in Pennsylvania between 1840 and 1860.

At first, the archeologists thought it was used by Union soldiers to collect nails, as they were building up that fortification. But then, they figured out it was a “witch bottle,” one of less than a dozen found in the United States (unlike 200 discovered in the British Isles), according to William and Mary. Of course, as the top of the bottle was broken, causing any urine in it to have dried, there’s no telling if this is an actual witch’s bottle. But Joe Jones, director of the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research, believes the vessel to be one.

An afflicted person who believed ‘witches’ were causing his/her problem or sickness, buried the nail-filled bottle under or near their hearth, with the idea that the heat from the hearth would energize the nails into breaking a witch’s spell. Besides nails, one would place the sick or attacked person’s urine in the bottle with brass pins, locks of hair, nail clippings, and a piece of lead, too. The belief back then was that the witches would be grievously tormented, unable to make their water with great difficulty. The theory was that the witch created a magical link with his/her victim and doing the witch’s bottle reversed it back to the witch, using the victim’s body products. The witch had to break the link to save herself, and the victim recovered.

In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, witch bottles would also be filled with rosemary and red wine besides needles and pins, and the individual would bury the bottle at the farthest corner of their property, beneath the house hearth, or placed in an inconspicuous spot in the house. It was believed that these specific bottles would capture the evil, which would then be impaled on the pins and needles, drowned by the wine, and sent away by the rosemary. Some witch’s bottles were thrown into a fire, and when they exploded, that broke the spell, or the witch supposedly killed.

The recipe was still known in a Norfolk village in England in 1939: Take a stone bottle, make water in it, and fill it with one’s toenails and fingernails, iron nails, and anything which belongs to you. Hang the bottle over the fire and keep stirring it. It must be dark in the room, and you can’t speak or make any noise. Then the witch is supposed to come to your door and beg you to open the door and let her in. If you keep silent and ignore her, the witch will burst. Folklore says that the strain on the mind of the person when the witch begs to be allowed in is usually so great that the person breaks down and speaks. Then the witch is set free.

In London, England, seventeenth-century pottery jugs of the kind called ‘greybeards’ .or ‘bellarmines’ were found buried in ditches or streams. They contained bent nails and felt hearts stuck with pins. In Essex and Suffolk, others had been discovered, underneath the hearths or thresholds of houses. Later, cheap glass bottles would be used in the same way.

Also, put into witch bottles were fishing hooks, human teeth, and glass shards–like in the one found in an English pub’s chimney November of 2019. Others have contained things like brimstone (sulfur), and even belly button lint. In some bottles, the pins are inside loose, but in others, they are carefully arranged in felt or cloth hearts. The inclusion of sulfur was thought to be particularly damning to the witch and was reserved for those that the afflicted wanted not just gone, but dead. Other bottles were carried as amulets meant to ward off disease and illness.

A good author friend of mine, Deborah Painter, let me take a picture of the witch bottle she had that her archeologist father had found. Besides hers, when I took a tour of Ferry Plantation in Pungo, Virginia (an area of Virginia Beach), I viewed the witch bottle on display in the house. Both Debbie’s and Ferry Plantation’s were found in Pungo.

Debbie Painters Witch Bottle (1)

Debbie Painter’s witch bottle. Photo used with permission by Pamela K. Kinney.

Other ways that Virginians protected themselves against witches. The first three were a mixture of Celtic and African American lore.

  1. Leave a bowl of salt outside your door, as they claimed that witches love to count the grains. A witch will sit down and count each grain. By the time she/he finishes, it will be morning, and you will be safe. (Ditto with a broom, for the witch, will count the broom straws.) Strangely enough, this is mentioned in myths about vampires too.
  2. Hang a used horseshoe above your door. Before a witch enters the house, she must go down every road the horse traveled when he wore that shoe. By the time she finishes, the dawn will be on its way, and you’ll be safe.
  3. Witches hated blue because it was the color of heaven. African Americans, especially in South Carolina and Georgia, painted the trim of their homes blue for protection.

Witches are as much a part of Virginia’s history and folklore as anywhere else. There are historic homes in Virginia with witch doors—crosses carved on the paneled doors to keep the witches away. There is even a rumor of a witch that lets off a green light as he/she flies through the trees in the Old House Woods in Mathews, Virginia. In Stafford, there is a trail off Telegraph Road that leads to a place called Witches Pond. There is supposed to be a sacrifice table there used in the 1700s with letters in Latin carved on it, with numerous sightings of a woman seen near it. I found online that someone posted that there was a witch’s creek where Aquia Harbor is now. And real people were accused of witchcraft, one of them, Grace Sherwood, was pardoned by Governor Kaine in 2006. Of course, to avoid a debacle like Salem, they passed laws to stop people from accusing someone of witchcraft, by being fined. It appeared to work, as only one witch was proven hung in Virginia and that on a ship off the shore from Jamestown in the 1600s Not just in Hampton Roads area were witch bottles used, but in the Appalachians, which one can count in western and particularly, southwestern section of Virginia.

How to Make Your Own Witch Bottle:

I found on one website how one can make a witch bottle today. You put the pins/sharp objects and personal effects into the bottle. Add urine over the pins and personal effects and close the jar/bottle with the lid. Burn the black candle on top of the jar (be careful! Don’t leave the candle unattended. Allow the wax to spill onto the top of the jar, as this will seal your intentions. Burn the candle all the way down.) Or the Optional Step: you can “heat” the bottle by holding it over an open bonfire (this adds more oomph but isn’t required). Dig a hole on your property a foot or so deep. Its best by the front door OR by your bedroom window. Bury your witch bottle with candle remnants. The whole time you’re visualizing any evil being sucked into the witch bottle and trapped for eternity, leave the witch bottle, and never dig it back up.

Spirit Bottles:

Another reason that blue bottles were used was due to the African traditions brought to the South with the slaves. It is close to what witch bottles were used for—capturing a spirit attacking the person. The belief and use of spirit bottles go back to the 9th and 10th century Congo, where colorful bottles, traditionally cobalt blue, were placed on the ends of tree branches to catch the sunlight. The thought being an evil spirit would see the sunshine dazzling from the beautiful bottles and growing enamored, enter the bottle. Like a fly, the ghost becomes trapped within the bottle, dazzled by the play of light, trapped for all eternity. Well, unless the bottle gets broken. This practice was taken to Europe and North America by African slaves of the 17th and 18th centuries. While Europeans adapted them into hollow glass spheres known as “witch balls,” the practice of hanging bottles in trees became widespread in the Southern states of North America, where they continue to be used today as colorful garden ornaments. For a long time, the use of spirit bottles, even spells due to them, could be found among the African American people. In the New World, the bottle-as-talisman took on different forms.

Like witch bottles traced as far back to the 1600s, these spirit bottles were used in spellwork. All colors, shapes, and sizes filled with herbs and other items of significance, for protection, repelling evil, or attracting luck. Eventually, the bottle spell became a fundamental element of Hoodoo magic.

Today, all sorts of people have these bottle trees in their yard. Usually, in the United States, they could be seen in the country or along the bayous of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama, though nowadays they are all over, not just these four states. And not just blue bottles, either!

Getting spirits into bottles and even jars exist in many places of the world. There are jars and bottles for housing the spirits of dead babies in Thailand and called Guman Thong. There’s the lamp holding the genie in Aladdin. The Djinn have also been captured in rings and bottles, too. There’s even “The Spirit in the Bottle,” a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. You can read a horror short story of mine, “Bottled Spirits,” published at Buzzymag.com. I was researching bottle trees, and I thought it would make a great ghost story. It made runner up in the WSFA Small Press Award in 2013 and is considered one of seven best genre stories for that year.

Making Your Own Bottle Tree:

Find a sturdy tree or stump with branches, like traditionally used crepe myrtles and cedars trees, but pretty much any kind of tree will work. Trim all of the foliage off and cut the branches down until you have as many bare branches as you have bottles. Then slid your bottles onto the branches.

A variation is to take a fallen branch and prune it the same fashion, making a portable tree. Plant it outside of your home. Like near the entrance, in the garden, or wherever you want it in your yard. Slip the bottles onto the branches. A third way is finding a large branch or stump, tying two bottles at a time with shoelaces over the branches, so they hang from the tree. And here’s a tip: If you put a little oil on the bottlenecks, the spirits will slip easily into the bottles and become trapped that much quicker.

Witch bottles are one interesting facet of witches, showing us how ordinary people used to protect themselves against them. And with the latest one found in a Civil War fort and even places online showing how to make one today, or also put together a bottle tree to capture spirits, the folklore of our ancestors still haunts us, even in this modern technological 21st Century!

Pamela K. Kinney, Info –

Pamela KinneyPamela K. Kinney is an award-winning published author of horror, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and a ghost wrangler of non-fiction ghost books published by Schiffer Publishing. Among others two of her non-fiction ghost books were nominated for Library of Virginia Awards.

She’s a member of the Horror Writers Association and the local Virginia chapter.

She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house, husband, and even the cat sometimes suffer for it!

Find out about Pamela K. Kinney’s books (horror, fantasy, and science fiction fiction and nonfiction ghost books), short stories, and anthologies she has stories included in at her Website, plus at her AMAZON page.

Facebook Twitter

Haunted VA

You can find out more about witches of Virginia, witch bottles, and more in a chapter in Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales, available from Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales.

WiHM11-GrrrlBlack

 

 

 

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News Hooked: Rosson’s Cover Reveal, New Way to Link to Books, HWA Summer Scares, Women in Horror Month #booknews #hookofabook

New News Reeled In!

I have a variety of book news to share with you all, so I thought that instead of spreading it out over the week, I’d do an all-in-one news post because I have some other exciting things coming up later in the week. I think I might start to do these – as a mini-news newsletter (News Hooked? Should I call it that?). This one seems to be mostly horror news related, besides the third notice, but it will be in the future for news in any genre or in the book publishing field. Let me know if it’s something  you like or you have anything to contribute.

In this edition:

  •  Keith Rosson Cover Reveal and Info from Meerkat Press
  •  Horror Writer’s Association Summer Scares Library Program
  •  New Way to Buy Books and Support Libraries
  •  Women in Horror Month Underway

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Author Keith Rosson Cover Reveal –

Meerkat is revealing this beautiful cover for Keith Rosson’s next book, coming out next year. It’s so amazing. He’s a brilliant artist! I can’t wait to sink into his work. Meerkat keeps repeatedly impressing me.

Title: Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons: Stories

Author: Keith Rosson, author of The Mercy of the Tide and Smoke City

Pub Date: February 2021

More Info:  Meerkat Press

Twitter: @meerkatpress and @Keith_Rosson

From Meerkat Press –

“We are excited to reveal the cover for Keith Rosson’s new collection: FOLK SONGS FOR TRAUMA SURGEONS. The cover design was done by Keith and we think it fits the collection perfectly! The book will be published in February 2021.”

Description

With the Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson delves into notions of family, grief, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels.

In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and in “High Tide,” a grieving man ruminates on his brother’s life as a monster terrorizes their coastal town.

With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes a number of Rosson’s unpublished stories, as well as award-winning favorites.

Now, readers, isn’t this one of the most beautiful covers you’ve seen!!?

9781946154521

 

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HWA Summer Scares Library Announcement – 

In celebration of National Library Lover’s Day, the Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, is delighted to announce the second annual Summer Scares Reading List, which includes titles selected by a panel of authors and librarians and is designed to promote horror as a great reading option for all ages, during any time of the year.

Each year, three titles will be chosen in the Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade categories, and for 2020 they are:

ADULT

In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson (Skyhorse, 2017)

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Tor.Com, 2016)

She Said Destroy: Stories by Nadia Bulkin (Word Horde, 2017)

YOUNG ADULT

The Agony House by Cherie Priest, Illustrated by Tara O’Connor (Scholastic 2018)

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (Sourcebooks Fire, 2017)

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics (Harlequin Teen, 2015)

MIDDLE GRADE

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh (HaperCollins, 2017)

Case Files 13: Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage (HarperCollins, 2012)

Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith (Clarion Books, 2015)

The goal of the Summer Scares program is to introduce horror titles to school and public library workers in order to help them start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come. Along with the annual list of recommended titles for readers of all ages, the Summer Scares committee will also release themed lists of even more “read-alike” titles for libraries to use when suggesting books to readers this summer and all year long.

And, in order to help libraries forge stronger connections between books and readers, the Summer Scares committee will be working with both the recommended list authors and horror authors from all over the country, to provide free programming to libraries. From author visits (both in person and virtual) to book discussions to horror themed events, Summer Scares is focused on connecting horror creators with libraries and readers all year long.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) will also be hosting a Library Day special stand alone program May 7, 2020 at the Naperville, IL Public Library. Authors from the Summer Scares reading list, as well as the committee members, will be in attendance. Authors and committee members will also be available throughout the year for on-site and/or remote appearances to libraries and schools to promote the Summer Scares program and discuss the use of horror fiction as a tool to increase readership and nurture a love of reading.

The Summer Scares program committee consists of award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones (Mongrels, The Only Good Indians, Night of the Mannequins), Becky Spratford (library consultant, author of The Readers Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd Ed.), Carolyn Ciesla (library director, academic dean, book reviewer), Kiera Parrott (reviews director for Library Journal and School Library Journal), Kelly Jensen (editor, Book Riot, author of [Don’t] Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health), and JG Faherty (HWA Library Program director, author of Sins of the Father, The Cure, and Ghosts of Coronado Bay).

The HWA is a non-profit organization of writers and publishing professionals, and the oldest organization dedicated to the horror/dark fiction genre. One of the HWA’s missions is to foster an appreciation of reading through extensive programming and partnerships with libraries, schools, and literacy-based organizations.

For more information about the Summer Scares reading program, including how to obtain promotional materials and schedule events with the authors/committee members, visit the HWA’s Libraries web page (www.horror.org/libraries), Becky Spratford’s Reader’s Advisory Horror Blog RA for All: Horror (http://raforallhorror.blogspot.com/p/summer-scares.html), or the Book Riot, School Library Journal, Library Journal, or United for Libraries websites and social media sites.

You can also contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Program Director (libraries [at] horror [dot] org) or Becky Spratford, HWA Secretary (bspratford [at] hotmail [dot] com).HWA-Summer-Scares-1-large(1)

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New Alternative to Amazon Buy Links to Help Indie Bookstores –

On Friday I posted a list of ten books of obsession just in time for Valentine’s Day. One of the books is published by Poisoned Pen Press and the Poisoned Pen bookstore pointed out to me that I can use a certain website to help support indie bookstores like theirs. I had never heard of it but meant to look it up. Yesterday, I saw a Forbes.com article go by that had to do with it so I read it. Wow! What a great idea. I think authors and anyone else out there, especially book reviewers and supporters, need to try to use this link for books. Not all indie bookstores carry indie books, but any indie book supported on Ingram can be found on this website and local stores still profit from that! It’s a win-win.

The article states, in short:

Bookshop.org, a website that went live at the end of January and is still in beta mode, is designed to be an alternative to Amazon, and to generate income for independent bookstores. And, perhaps more importantly, it seeks to give book reviewers, bloggers and publications who rely on affiliate income from “Buy now” links to Amazon a different option.

Profit from books sold through Bookshop will be split three ways, with 10% of the sale price going into a pool that will be divided among participating bookstores, 10% going to the publication that triggered the sale by linking to Bookshop.org, and 10% going to Bookshop.org to support its operations.”

Will you join me in this movement to support bricks and mortar stores?

Here is the full article that was on Forbes.com.

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February is Women in Horror Month – 

One of my favorite months of the year being a woman in horror is celebrating February as Women in Horror Month. It’s a grassroots initiative to celebrate and inform about women working in the genre whether writing books, filmmaking, to many of the other roles. I really enjoy not only writing horror, but being an editor, publicist, and so much more in the genre. And I love supporting others, especially my fellow horror sisters. Horror is so many different things from quiet, psychological horror to escapism gore, and the ladies can bring it all.

I’ve been making my rounds online this month with a couple interviews and articles, and I’ll wrap those up for you at the end of the month, but coming up here on my own site I’ll be featuring three or four interviews and a guest article with some exciting women in horror, I’ll offer some reviews of women’s horror books I’ve read, and possibly something else interesting. All within the last couple weeks left so stay tuned.

Don’t forget ladies, free month of SHUDDER with code WIHM2020.

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Filed under Book Announcements, Cover Reveals, Feature Articles, News Hooked: Book News, women in horror

10 Books of Obsession and Tragic Love for Valentine’s Weekend! #thrillers #horror #valentinesday #bookstoread

Happy Valentine’s and Galentine’s Day! Many people tread on Valentine’s Day but it’s one of my favorite days. I don’t think of it as a Hallmark holiday at all. I think of it as a day to tell those I love what they mean to me, whether my significant other, my kids, my friends. It’s all about showing love. Plus I just really adore the color red, hearts, flowers, and…..CHOCOLATE. So get in the spirit gang, whether you have a lovey dovey for a date or not, make it fun. Spoil yourself if you have to!

As a writer of speculative, horror, thriller, suspense… you name it… I also love digging into the dark side of romance and relationships. I think I’ve loved this ever since I watched the film “Single, White Female” when I was a teen. Ha!

single white

Last year I wrote a post all about various ways I’ve explored bad relationships in my writing and gave some ideas for fantastic love day fiction. There is a flash fiction also to read I wrote last year, a tale of revenge and witches, available free at The Horror Tree site called “Sinking Hearts.” I don’t want to re-hash all that again in a post, but feel free to peruse HERE if you like tales of revenge or love gone wrong.

This year, I’m suggesting some novels of obsession and troubled marriage perfect for a Valentine’s weekend cuddled up with a new, plush heart-shaped pillow and some raspberry truffles. You might not need a box of Kleenexes for most, but maybe a few stiff drinks.

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Providence by Caroline Kepnes

ProvidenceProvidence is a supernatural thriller that is the re-telling partly of Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and part Beauty and the Beast, essentially wrapped into a mystery. It’s an over arching love story in which two characters are kept apart no fault of their own but due to his new found “powers.” It’s one of the most heart-wrenching novels I’ve read and I was devastated by the end. So not a novel of obsession in the normal, evil sense, and the love gone wrong is defined differently, but still a love story that’s dark, tender, and thought-provoking. Once you read it, you won’t forget it. This might be the one time over the weekend you need a Kleenex.

About the book…

Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share an intense, near-mystical bond. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, and his plans for a normal life are permanently dashed. Four years later, Jon reappears. He is different now: bigger, stronger, and with no memory of the time he was gone. Jon wants to pick up where he and Chloe left off—until the horrifying instant he realizes he possesses strange powers that pose a grave threat to everyone he cares for. Afraid of hurting Chloe, Jon runs away, embarking on a journey for answers.

Meanwhile, in Providence, Rhode Island, healthy college students and townies with no connection to one another are inexplicably dropping dead. A troubled detective prone to unexplainable hunches, Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus suspects there’s a serial killer at work. But when he starts asking questions, Eggs is plunged into a shocking whodunit he never could have predicted.

With an intense, mesmerizing voice, Caroline Kepnes makes keen and powerful observations about human connection and how love and identity can dangerously blur together.

Buy Link 

Or Find on Bookshop.org

Perfume: The Story of  Murderer by Patrick Suskind

PerfumeThis book is one I haven’t read but is on my TBR pile because it was recommended to me by a special friend whose taste I implicitly trust. Also, I’ve always heard that Kurt Cobain, and Nirvana being one of my favorite bands of all time, said this book was the inspiration for the song “Scentless Apprentice.” I found a copy unsuspectingly at a thrift store a few weeks ago and was very excited. I’m also really into perfumery and I’ve always been intrigued by how people can smell various scents and be influenced by them. As well I love 18th century France and I read that Suskind, a German author, writes this time period with such flair and pens with deep character and mood development.

About the book…

An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift—an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.

Translated from the German by John E. Woods.

Buy Link 

Or Find on Bookshop.org

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore 

Poison ArtistThe Poison Artist is one of my favorite books of all time. This book is obsession-based but in the smooth style of the best liquor and 1920’s glam. I will never stop thinking of this book so in some ways I guess my obsession is with it! Stephen King said it was the scariest thing he read since Red Dragon, and I think that’s because the darkness is so sinister yet in plain sight. This book held me hostage as Caleb searched for Emmeline… and Emmeline mesmerized me as much as she did the protagonist. You can read the full review I wrote five years or so about it HERE.

About the book…

A gripping tale of obsession and deadly mystery, where the secrets of salvation and the most devastating desires are all written in blood

Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he’s out drinking whiskey when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial-murder investigation. The police have been fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One of the victims vanished from the bar the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information, nor does he tell them he’s been secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, study the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. The search for the killer soon entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

From the first pages up to the haunting, unforgettable denouement, The Poison Artist is a gripping thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape.

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

POO HWAWho doesn’t like Phantom of the Opera? You can find the book in many forms and take your pick, or watch the movie if you prefer, but this is the ultimate story of love and obsession. It’s been my wish for three decades to see this performed professionally on the stage!

I’d like to highlight a particular copy available as of January 2020, and that’s the Haunted Library Horror Classics series presented by the Horror Writers Association and published with Poisoned Pen Press.

It’s an unabridged edition of the novel that inspired the famous Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. I have no idea how it’s formatted or printed or what it looks like in real format, but I hope it’s a nice addition to anyone’s library. The cover here is this edition. At any rate, I collect it in different forms with variant covers whenever I see it!

About the book…

Deep beneath the Paris Opera House, a masked man lives in silence…

Every night at the Palais Garnier, hundreds of guests sit on the edge of velvet-covered seats, waiting for prima donna La Carlotta to take the stage. But when her voice fails her, La Carlotta is replaced with unknown understudy Christine Daaé, a young soprano whose vibrant singing fills every corner of the house and wins her a slew of admirers, including an old childhood friend who soon professes his love for her. But unknown to Christine is another man, who lurks out of sight behind the heavy curtains of the opera, who can move about the building undetected, who will do anything to make sure Christine will keep singing just for him…

This curated edition of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the original 1911 English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, brings an iconic story of love and obsession to today’s readers and illuminates the timeless appeal of Leroux’s masterpiece.

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

The Method by Duncan Ralston

methodThis is another favorite thriller of mine where a couple who is struggling with their marriage goes on a marriage retreat but soon things get crazy. I love when things get suspenseful, and you, along with the characters, wonder if they are being watched. Though not really a tale of one person’s obsession, it does fall under the obsessed to survive mantra.  It’s action-packed, full of relationship struggles, torturous, and a page turner. Definitely for fans of thriller that don’t mind the horror notched up a bit more than usual.

About the book…

How hard will you fight for the one you love?

Frank and Linda’s marriage is falling apart. When old friends tell them about an “unconventional therapy retreat” called The Method, they jump at the chance to attend.

Dr. Kaspar’s Lone Loon Lodge is a secluded resort deep in the Montana wilds. The staff is friendly. The other couple joining them is intense. But when a death occurs events quickly spiral out of control, leaving Linda and Frank unable to trust anyone but each other.

Nothing is what it seems, and only one thing is certain: Love Is Pain.

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

The Tunnel Ernesto Sabato

the tunnelThis is definitely a novel of obsession and paranoia, and a dark and spiraling one at that about a painter who’s murdered a woman he had become obsessed with in a painting (not a spoiler as in synopsis and beginning of novel). I’m definitely all for eating up any novel in this vein no matter how dark it is and I’m a huge fan of any foreign writer doing them. I’ve always felt that they get the psychological components down so well whether for books or TV and film. It won’t be for everyone’s tastes but it’s definitely one to consider if you like the dark aspects of the obsessive brain.

About the book…

An unforgettable psychological novel of obsessive love, The Tunnel was championed by Albert Camus, Thomas Mann, and Graham Greene upon its publication in 1948 and went on to become an international bestseller. At its center is an artist named Juan Pablo Castel, who recounts from his prison cell his murder of a woman named María Iribarne. Obsessed from the moment he sees her examining one of his paintings, Castel fantasizes for months about how they might meet again. When he happens upon her one day, a relationship develops that convinces him of their mutual love. But Castel’s growing paranoia leads him to destroy the one thing he truly cares about.

One of the great short novels of the twentieth century—this cover and link here is to an edition marking the 100th anniversary of the author’s birth. Ernesto Sabato (June 24, 1911 – April 30, 2011) was an Argentine novelist, essayist, painter and physicist. According to the BBC he “won some of the most prestigious prizes in Hispanic literature” and “became very influential in the literary world throughout Latin America.”

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 

WHHow much do I really need to say about this novel? If you haven’t read it, DO. And if you have, curl up and be drawn into it again. This gothic novel of passion that’s almost bordering on obsession, will make you want to tear your heart out.

About the book…

Emily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights remains one of literature’s most disturbing explorations into the dark side of romantic passion. Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.

You can take your pick of many different formats and covers. I always see copies when I’m thrift shopping as well and own several versions. Just make sure it isn’t marked up by college students or buy your own new lovely version.

Buy Link

Or find on bookshop.org

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed DoorsI read this thriller when it came out because I love the sub-genre of thrillers called domestic thrillers. I love to hate characters like Jack and I’m always rooting for redemption at the end for the one on the receiving end of the drama/trauma. This definitely is a tale that qualifies as obsession because any man that is an abuser in this way is to me in some regards obsessed not only with the other person but with control. This was an engrossing read that I devoured. You will too.

About the book…

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.

Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.

Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.

From bestselling author B. A. Paris comes the gripping thriller and international phenomenon Behind Closed Doors.

Buy Link

Or find on bookshop.org

Thomas’s Want by Latashia Figueroa

ThomassWantFromLHFull disclosure on this one, Latashia is my editing client. But I felt I could override that because it so fits under the umbrella of novel of obsession. It is book two in her series, but it’s a perfect representation of a man going mad, and the lengths he will go to in order to keep control of his obsession. It’s a thriller but with definite horror tones by the end. Told in the second person as with Kepnes’ YOU (which is another great tale of obsession I didn’t include since I chose another by Kepnes instead), this is a tale of love gone wrong that you’ll read in one sitting.

About the book…

Thomas has haunting memories of his childhood: his obsessive, paranoid father and beautiful, loving mother. And he cannot forget the lovely face covered in blood, the lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs. All the love and beauty stolen from his life, forever.

Now, as an adult, Thomas struggles with relationships and is not sure if he is capable of love. Perhaps it is because he has tried hard not to become like his father. Until Thomas meets Deana, and all he can do is think of her, and only her. As their relationship grows, Thomas begins to understand his father and the disease that plagued him. The disease that took away Thomas’ mother, and nearly drove his father to madness. Thomas has inherited the disease of Want. A disease that has deadly side effects.

Buy Link

Or find on bookshop.org

Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

Follow MEFollow Me publishes on February 25, 2020 and I appreciated receiving an advanced reading copy from Gallery Books. It was such a fun read that I breezed through in two nights. Drawing on the modern age of Instagrammers and likes and the letting of everyone in on our every move through this social media platform, this is absolutely a tale of obsession. The book transports us through the story via the protagonist, Instagrammer Audrey, juxtaposed with her friend, Cat, but as well we also have snippets of chapters by “HIM.” We don’t know who he is until the big reveal at the end, but we get a glimpse into just how far, and how scary, his obsession with her goes. Plus trust me there is more twist than that but I’ll let you discover for yourself. I loved it! I highly recommend for your reading list this year.

About the book…

From the author of Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping)—now an Apple TV series of the same name—comes a cautionary tale of oversharing in the social media age for fans of Jessica Knoll and Caroline Kepnes’s You.

Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.

Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.

But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.

With “compelling, suspenseful” (Liz Nugent) prose, Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.

Pre-Order Now / Available Feb. 25, 2020 

Pick up at local indie store on release day or go to bookshop.org

Red ribbon in heart shape at wooden background

That’s a wrap! As for me, I’ve been stuck inside working for a week and I’m heading OUT for Valentine’s Day weekend, even if I end up staying in Friday night. I’m going to spend the rest of it taking in some live women’s basketball, do some book shopping, go to the movies, eat yummy food, and hopefully get chocolates. If I get a big, fluffy Valentine pillow, I’ll make time to read a book with it soon.

Whatever you do enjoy your weekend. If you have books of obsession you really liked, please leave recommendations in the comments below.

Now, go eat chocolates and tell someone you love them!

– Erin

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Cover Reveal and News: The Cipher by Kathe Koja in Print from @MeerkatPress #TheCipher #WomeninHorror

Cover Reveal and Info on The Cipher by Kathe Koja –

Many longtime horror fans, especially those who’ve always loved the mass market horror of the 80s and early 90s, probably know what The Cipher by Kathe Koja is all about or they’ve at least heard of it. The first Dell/Abyss copies from the early 90s are highly sought after and can be expensive online (and a cause for celebration if one is found thrift shopping). Kathe is one of the best-known old-school women in horror in my opinion of that time period, if not of entirety of writers, and she’s still to be admired to this day. Especially in the Midwest, rust belt, great lakes areas, as she’s from Michigan, I know Kathe is held in high regard as an author, director, producer, but I think it’s safe to say it extends farther as her work has been translated multiple times.

And she’s cool as all get out. Few handfuls of women rose to the ranks of being allowed to publish horror back then (yes, back then haha), let alone continued their creative careers. If you never heard of her, I’m sorry and please change that! If anything, if not from me, some of you have heard of her now that you’re listening, reading, and watching Josh Malerman rise in popularity. He will praise Kathe Koja any day.

So now that you’re nodding your head as you already know and like Kathe or her work, or you’ve gathered a touch of why this print release is important to the genre, I’d like to help present the cover reveal from Meerkat Press for the anticipated print release of The Cipher! What it’s all about, I’ll give a snippet of below, but it’s for serious horror fans, and all of them should read and decide for themselves on this book. Please know it’s in the body horror sub-genre (which is a growing genre only getting some traction now – imagine Kathe writing it decades ago!). It may make some of you queasy, some of you will love that, and some of you will be unsettled. It’s not for all my readers who follow me. But if you do read it, you’ll not be able to turn away from Kathe’s beautiful writing style. It will be available for pre-order at the link below and publish later in September 2020.

Take a look at this great cover and then read on below it for a little more information on the book and Kathe. Thanks for learning about books with me. Comments are always welcome.

– Erin Al-Mehairi

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Haven’t heard of The Cipher?

The Cipher in print was long sought out and searched for after for years and only available in e-book starting in 2012, after it first made its appearance from Dell’s new Abyss imprint. Now, it finally becomes available again from Meerkat Press!

THE CIPHER by KATHE KOJA

PUBLISH DATE: 9/15/20

COVER ARTIST: KEITH ROSSON

PUBLISHER: MEERKAT PRESS

Kathe Koja’s classic novel of fear, obsession, creation, and destruction, The Cipher, which reopens the door on the Funhole with this brand new and long-awaited print edition. It is the winner of the Bram Stoker Award, Locus Award, and a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.

Prior Praise for The Cipher

“An ethereal rollercoaster ride from start to finish.” – The Detroit Free Press

“This powerful first novel is as thought-provoking as it is horrifying.” – Publishers Weekly

“Unforgettable … [THE CIPHER] takes you into the lives of the dark dreamers that crawl on the underbelly of art and culture. Seldom has language been so visceral and so right.” – Locus

“[THE CIPHER] is a book that makes you sit up, pay attention, and jettison your moldy preconceptions about the genre … Utterly original … [An} imaginative debut.” – Fangoria

More info –> https://www.meerkatpress.com/kathe-kojas-thecipher-coverreveal/

Meerkat Press Website

Twitter – @meerkatpress

From Booklist circa around 2012 at e-book release {Portion removed for spoiler} –

“Winner of both a Bram Stoker Award and a Locus Award in 1991, Koja’s debut has yet to lose one iota of impact. It’s a marvel of bleak economy: Nicholas, going nowhere in his video-store-clerk job, discovers a foot-wide black vortex in an old storage room of his apartment building. His caustic sometime-lover, Nakota, christens it “the Funhole” and begins inserting experimental items. Seemingly influenced equally by Clive Barker, David Cronenberg, and a particularly distasteful nightmare, this entry into the body-horror canon carries with it the kind of fatalism horror readers prize—it’s going to end badly, for sure, but just how badly? Currently available in an e-book version from multiple sources, this is well worth rediscovering, if you’ve got the guts.” – Daniel Kraus, Booklist (and we all know who Daniel Kraus is now!)

The portion I took out explained a bit was they insert and what happens. But I’ll let Meerkat Press supply a synopsis when ready or at pre-order, which you may find a link to above!

Kathe Koja, Biography –

Kathe-Koja-credit-Rick-LiederKathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists.

Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been multiply translated, and optioned for film and performance.

She is based in Detroit and thinks globally. She can be found at kathekoja.com.

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Review/Interview: Jennifer Loring on Conduits, Japanese Folklore, and Writing Mental Illness with Empathy #horror #mentalillness #womeninhorror

In mid-November, I read a short book that I had meant to finish as an October read. I’m glad I didn’t give up on getting it read. Conduits by Jennifer Loring wouldn’t stop demanding my time. It’s categorized, so I thought, as a horror novel, but it deals more with the horror inside your own mind. So psychological suspense mostly with some Japanese folklore and it’s a brain trip for sure. I’m glad I checked it out. You’ll be able to read my full review below, then join me for an interview with Jennifer.

As many of you know, since in my life I’ve dealt with some pretty heavy and emotional topics, so do I write stories with these themes as well as read them. Some people who go through trauma and then have triggers so badly they can’t write, read, or watch about them. That’s just not me. But I understand if it’s you. So if suicide or mental illness is a trigger for you even in an otherwise amazing read, then you might consider that before reading the below interview or the book. They deal with some dark subjects. However, I hope you’ll read them both and be moved or maybe heal. It’s categorized as horror, but it’s due to the mental illness component and the horrors of our own minds. It’s really more psychological suspense.

Conduits

Conduits, Review –

The book was touching and heart-wrenching all at the same time. I like books that make me feel to this level. This little novella Conduits was first published by another publisher and then re-published by Lycan Valley in Spring 2019. I was drawn to it as I love Japanese literature and horror and it was in shorter form (love short form horror). I initially was unsure when it started about some of how the words were catching instead of rolling off my tongue (and flowing in my head) but quickly that was put to rest as I learned her cadence and the content (protagonist) sent my mind into circles. A literary dreamscape of a piece not unlike horror you’d watch in a episodic tv  show. It’s its own shard of glass (you’ll know what I mean when you read it) in an otherwise cookie cutter world. It’s so original and free-flowing and truly showcases the art our mind can create when allowed to roam freely. I found this truly beautiful even though some of the content was sad, as we get down on mental illness so many times, and yet, people who struggle with it sometimes have the most amazing ability to see things we cannot otherwise see in this blinded world. The emotional weight this tiny book carries is huge, and I’m relating and scared all at the same time. It was touching my deepest recesses of pain. It will touch all the pain you have too.

I loved how she interwove Japenese folklore into the book and I think she did an extremely good job of showcasing the inside of mental health facilities. By the end, you don’t know who to believe or what is going on, except for in the protagonist’s heart. Which is really all that matters that in terms of people, isn’t it?

It may need a second read to fully grasp every component and nuance but it certainly has the feels if you like your horror emotionally-driven, ambiguous, and thought-provoking. Read this one and enjoy every word. Loring truly does have her own writing voice. I’d be interested to see how others interpret the ending. It’s suspenseful, psychological, dreamy in an Alice down the rabbit hole sort of way. It’s a quick read but I’d read it when you have a little of time on hand to think it through and ponder on it.

Join me for an interview with Jennifer about Japanese folklore, research, mental illness, and the future of horror! Enjoy.

___________________________

Hi Jennifer! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I recently read your book, Conduits, and was intrigued by it so I wanted to ask you a few questions. I’m very happy you’ve dropped by. You can head and have a seat at the dining table, those chairs have comfy seats, and I’ll bring in some hot tea. Or if you chose something else, say the word!

Jennifer: Hi, Erin, and thanks! I’m glad to be here.

Erin: There is some cream and sugar on the tray too if you need it. And I’ve brought in some ginger scones. I’ve been trying out new holiday recipes!

Jennifer: Sounds yummy! Thanks for reminding me that I still need to bake ginger cookies!

Erin: Let me ask you a few things about your book – which I suppose readers could get a jest of from my review. How did you become interested in Japanese literature and folklore?

Jennifer: It was because of Japanese horror movies and video games that I started researching Japanese mythology. In the early 2000s, Asian horror was the big trend. I’d also begun playing games like the Fatal Frame series, Kuon, and so forth, which rely heavily on Japanese folklore and myth. The yūrei—the ghosts we all know and love with the long black hair and white clothing—are such striking figures that I knew I had to incorporate them into a story at some point. It was many years before I actually did, but that’s where the seed for Conduits was planted.

Japaneseyokai-yufurei-meijiera

A yūrei / From Wiki

Erin: Did you research or utilize any particular customs or legends for Conduits or was it all fiction?

Jennifer: I used actual Shinto customs as well as the concept of the miko (shrine maiden) in her original form as a shamanistic figure. Shrine maidens used to perform spirit possession and takusen (dream revelation), so this was the ideal figure for me to use as the antagonist in Conduits. I made up the part about the miko carving into herself with glass in her function as an intermediary between the shrine’s god and the villagers, but most of the other stuff was taken from real Shinto rituals.

Erin: Did the legend of the suicide forest in Japan inspire any of your story?

Jennifer: Not directly, no. But I’m very familiar with the legend, so it may end up in future work. 😊

Erin: I only asked that question because a part of it reminded me of that. Mmmm…well, I suppose the over theme is there in terms of this. Suicide is a difficult topic and hard for people to read. I’ve had it hit close to home for me and I’ve written about it in some of my work, but for others they shy from it. I’ve been having a debate about that for a few years online in terms of trigger warnings. How do you feel about writing about topics that push people’s sensory boundaries and how do you feel about warnings?

Jennifer: Suicide hits close to home for me too, which is one of the reasons I’ve written about it a few times now. I understand why some people want warnings, but I also think that some use them as an excuse not to have to think critically about or be challenged by things they don’t like. Everyone has triggers, but it’s not realistic to expect that the world can be sanitized so that no one gets offended by or exposed to difficult topics. We learn to deal with them by confronting them, not by pretending they aren’t there. In horror especially, I think there should be a reasonable expectation that characters will encounter a lot of unpleasantness. Besides, a good blurb will generally indicate the type of content you can anticipate.

Erin: I agree. Mental illness and cutting also play a big role in your story. How did you bring this to the page in such a humane way? Did you research them and/or asylums?

Jennifer: Mental illness is a running thread in a lot of my work because of its impact on various family members and myself (having dysthymia as well as generalized and social anxiety disorders). When you’re dealing with it first-hand, it’s easier to approach it in a more humane way, I think. You know how you’ve been treated and how others treat you. I’ve had family members in psych wards too, so I have had the opportunity to see that world in person. A lot of Mara’s time there came from my sister’s experience both as a patient and as a psychiatric nurse.

Erin: How did you intertwine the themes of mental illness with legend and paranormal so that the reader is never quite sure what’s the truth? Was it plotted out and you created each link, or did it simply spill out of you stream of conscious? It certainly felt like we were in her confused mind.

Jennifer: I honestly didn’t make a conscious effort to create an unreliable narrator in Mara, so it was a happy accident that it all turned out the way it did. Once I realized what was happening, I just tried to get out of my own way and not overthink it. I’ve never been much of a plotter, so it was fun to discover ways I could link the paranormal with both mental illness and quantum mechanics as I was writing.

Erin: I am a pantser too, not a plotter. I love to see where the mind takes us as wrtiers. Your imagery was unique and unnerving. Was it your intent to make the reader as uncomfortable and confused as your protagonist? Why?

Jennifer: Yes. (Laughs.) I love the idea that we never truly know the nature of reality, which is unnerving in itself. A lot of the imagery from Shinto can be pretty unsettling to Western audiences, so I used that as much as possible to set the scene. I researched some of Japan’s paranormal hotspots and incorporated imagery from those as well, like the ruins of Nakagusuku Hotel on Okinawa.

Nakagusuku_Kogen_Hotel_ruins

Nakagusuki Hotel Abandoned / Wiki

Erin: You don’t particularly write HEA endings, but do you feel this ending, without spoilers, was full of sadness and gloom or calming in its own way? For some reason I sort of felt the latter. How do you feel overall about writing endings in horror?

Jennifer: I think of it as calming, too. I like to imagine that Mara is existing as happily as she can in that state of being. In general, I feel that “unhappy” endings are more realistic, especially in horror, but as with Conduits, the definition of that is open to interpretation.

Erin: You’ve described yourself as a more literary writer (I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere), what does that mean to you and to readers? What is the difference in literary horror from other labels?

Jennifer: For me, it means that I love playing with language and exploring the human condition. I think the latter is fairly common in horror, but I remember Gary Braunbeck once talking about his dislike of “pedestrian” writing, and it’s the same for me. How you tell a good story is as important as the story itself. Anyone can tell a story, but not everyone can do it with craft.

Erin: Gary has a lot of good thoughts like this! That’s VERY true and something most people just don’t understand. I also read you think that horror lends itself well to shorter works. I love that because I feel the same way. I love to write and read shorter horror works. But can you explain why?

Jennifer: It can be hard to maintain the kind of tension horror requires over the length of a novel, without a lot of it feeling like filler. I’ve read—and you probably have, too—quite a few novels where you can tell the author was padding it to reach a certain word count. And that just saps the tension for me. I think Thomas Hobbes’ concept of life as “nasty, brutish and short” really applies well to horror fiction, too.

Erin: What’s next for you in terms of writing? What are you working on now?

Jennifer: A lot of new short fiction (of course!), and I’ll be starting my PhD work in Creative Writing next September, so I’ll finally be working on a new novel. I’m already contracted to appear in four anthologies next year—hopefully more on the way! And maybe another novella…

Erin: How do you feel about the market and the genre currently?

Jennifer: I think it’s a great time to be a horror writer, and I hope this boom continues. There are so many talented writers finally getting the recognition they deserve (like Nathan Ballingrud, who deserves it more than just about anyone).

Erin: Where can readers find Conduits and you?

Jennifer: You can buy Conduits from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and occasionally Twitter.

My personal site is http://jennifertloring.com.

Erin: Thanks so very much for stopping by to talk to me! Feel free to come back anytime. I enjoyed my experience reading Conduits.

Jennifer: Thank you for having me! It’s been fun. 😊

About Conduits

ConduitsMara is a Japanese-American girl with a history of personal tragedy. Though she still cuts herself to quell the pain, she thought the worst was behind her. But her boyfriend’s sudden death, and a visit to one of the most haunted places in Washington State, sends her into a spiral of madness, landing her in a psychiatric ward.

Already suffering from dreams of a strange, ghost-infested house in the woods, Mara begins to question the very existence of reality. She is forced to confront the truth about her older sister’s death and the reason the ghosts have chosen her as their conduit.

“An evocative journey into the darkest realms of a troubled psyche. Part ghost story, part psychological suspense…” —Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of all Flesh

Jennifer Loring, Biography –

Jennifer LoringJennifer received her MFA from Seton Hill University’s program in Writing Popular Fiction, with a concentration in horror fiction. In 2013, she won first place in Crystal Lake Publishing’s inaugural Tales from the Lake horror writing competition, which found her published alongside her mentor Tim Waggoner in the anthology of the same name. DarkFuse released her psychological horror/ghost story novella Conduits in September 2014 (which was re-released by Lycan Valley Press in 2019); her debut novel, Those of My Kind, was published by Omnium Gatherum in May 2015. She has since appeared in anthologies alongside some of the biggest names in horror, including Graham Masterton, Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Steve Rasnic Tem, and Clive Barker. In addition, Jennifer has presented her academic horror research at StokerCon 2018 in Providence, RI, the International Vampire Film and Arts Festival (IVFAF) in Sighisoara, Romania in 2018, and NecronomiCon in Providence in 2019.

Jennifer lives with her husband in Philadelphia, PA, where they are owned by two basset hounds and a turtle. She is currently at work on a number of projects, including more short fiction.

__________________________________

Thanks for joining us today to learn about Jenn!

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Hooked-Up Friday News: Two Books, a Movie, and a Show for Your Weekend. #Ghostland #DollCrimes #DoctorSleep #horror #books #film

I don’t normally do a lot of these (though I might start), but today is a Friday post of a couple good and bad things happening for folks I consider friends.

It’s been a long week and a half and I didn’t get separate posts made as I had wished. I didn’t even let on really on social media so no one even knew but… I had bronchitis for a week and a half and I’m still recovering (coughing and tired). I worked my full work load through it from bed and managed to get pretty much every thing accomplished (editing  a couple books, assisting two authors in self-pub books in process, etc.) while coughing incessantly, including buying two new front tires and a service from the tow truck for $400 when a tire shredded on my partner as he was driving down the interstate. Found out my mom was taken to the urgent care for her heart and she’s being evaluated by a doctor. She’s 81 and I’m worried about her. Some time I need to catch up on sleep but you know I always say that. Oh and I didn’t get any writing done for awhile now, so as always, please remember to buy my first collection too! It’s on sale in print for just $10 on Amazon currently.

These are horror related titles below, and there will be some more horror and thrillers later, but there’ll also be fantasy and historical fiction this month too. So don’t fret. I know I have a lot of readers here with different tastes. There’ll be more posts to come!

First good news!

Ghostland is open – Get Your Tickets!

Ghostland Duncan Ralston

Duncan Ralston‘s next book, GHOSTLAND, has arrived! I’ve been waiting so long for all of you to get your hands on this book. I can hardly believe the day is here! First, since it’s what you take in first with your eyes, let’s talk about this cover. I am IN LOVE with this cover by Dean Samed! It’s outstanding and one of the best I’ve seen all year. It totally brings to life all the facets of this novel. I totally want this on a mug, a t-shirt, a poster, and everything else I can put it on.

Now of course there is no cover without there being a book, so let me tell you how wonderfully amazing it is. Ghostland is something different for us all in horror and I have to say it’s the best book in the genre I read all year. I’m so thrilled I got to read an early copy. It’s gave me entertainment and fun in a read that I was really desiring. It’s for adults – it’s terrifying in parts – but it features two young protagonists. I love this viewpoint without it being strictly YA. I love that he utilizes the male and female friend relationship as well. Duncan does a great job with characters in his other books and here it’s no different. He writes thrillers, he writes ghost stories, he writes horror stories, he integrates virtual reality in a cool way, and he seems to have easily rolled all that up together in this bundle of entertainment.

You’re going to hear a lot about Ghostland, I’m sure. There will be interactive fun – within the book learn about the ghosts and attractions this way. There’s a park map. You’ll need to get your tickets because the park is open and they can use all hands on deck to keep the ghosts inside.

Get your copy HERE today! It’s available in e-book (and for a short time on Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback (if the print isn’t showing up yet, just wait a bit while it shows up). Enjoy the ride!

Here’s the synopsis –

People are dying to get in. The exhibits will kill to get out.

Be first in line for the most haunted theme park in the world – GHOSTLAND! Discover and explore hundreds of haunted buildings and cursed objects! Witness spectral beings of all kinds with our patented Augmented Reality glasses! Experience all the terror and thrills the afterlife has to offer, safely protected by our Recurrence Field technology! Visit Ghostland today – it’s the hauntedest place on earth!

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After a near-death experience caused by the park’s star haunted attraction, Ben has come to Ghostland seeking to reconnect with his former best friend Lilian, whose post-traumatic stress won’t let her live life to the fullest. She’s come at the behest of her therapist, Dr. Allison Wexler, who tags along out of professional curiosity, eager to study the new tech’s psychological effect on the user.

But when a computer virus sets the ghosts free and the park goes into lockdown, the trio find themselves trapped in an endless nightmare.

With time running short and the dead quickly outnumbering the living, the survivors must tap into their knowledge of horror and video games to escape… or become Ghostland’s newest exhibits.

Featuring an interactive “Know Your Ghosts” guide and much more, Ghostland is over 400 pages of thrills and terror!

Oh – and also, keep an eye on Ghostland’s Restoration Project website.

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Now some good and bad news!

Doll Crimes

I’ve been so excited for Karen Runge’s next book, Doll Crimes, to publish! Karen is such an emotional and mesmerizing writer, if completely raw and visceral. Unfortunately, Karen went hiking last weekend at a nature preserve in South Africa and was attacked, beaten, and robbed by suspected poachers. Her pack with her belongs and key were stolen and she had to crawl and walk back two miles on her own to find safety and somone to help her. It was inhumane and terrifying, and so of course, the last thing on her mind is being able to promote her book properly. I’m so thankful how some of the horror rallied around to share her pre-order link and cover.

Today, it’s released from Crystal Lake Publishing and hopefully soon my pre-ordered copy will arrive on my Kindle. But it’s had several great pre-publish blurbs so check it out and spread the word.

Doll Crimes is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and so smooth it reads like reality.”
– Kaaron Warren, award-winning author of The Grief Hole and Tide of Stone

Here’s the synopsis for Doll Crimes

‘It’s not that there aren’t good people in the world. It’s that the bad ones are so much easier to find.’

A teen mother raises her daughter on a looping road trip, living hand-to-mouth in motel rest stops and backwater towns, stepping occasionally into the heat and chaos of the surrounding cities. A life without permanence, filled with terrors and joys, their stability is dependent on the strangers—and strange men—they meet along the way. But what is the difference between the love of a mother, and the love of a friend? And in a world with such blurred lines, where money is tight and there’s little outside influence, when does the need to survive slide into something more sinister?

Grab it HERE!

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Weekend Watchings

Doctor_Sleep_(Official_Film_Poster)

Did  you hear Doctor Sleep is out today at the theater? I’m so excited. I watched the end of Kubrick’s The Shining last night. Jack Nicholson just makes me laugh with his acting, but in reality, I know Doctor Sleep will scare the crap out of me! It’s going to be really cool how they link Danny’s special gift into this movie. I almost wish Kubrick would have done his film a bit differently and played into that more. But boy, was he good for a child actor wasn’t he? I hear he makes a cameo appearance in this film. Anyway, I’m excited to see Doctor Sleep! But I’m also excited to see Terminator: Dark Fate as well as Maleficent 2 and Midway! As always, too many good movies to choose from all at the same time.

Also, the European show Dublin Murders based on Tana French novels will premiere on Starz this weekend. Have I told you how much I like Starz? They keep bringing me the stuff I want.

If you’re not familiar, here’s a synopsis from the site Deadline: The psychological thriller is adapted by series creator and writer Sarah Phelps. Dublin Murders follows Rob Reilly (Scott) – a smart-suited detective whose English accent marks him as an outsider – who is dispatched to investigate the murder of a young girl on the outskirts of Dublin with his partner, Cassie Maddox (Greene). Against his better judgment and protected by his friendship with Cassie, he is pulled back into another case of missing children and forced to confront his own darkness. As the case intensifies, Rob and Cassie’s relationship is tested to the breaking point and when Cassie is sent undercover for another murder case, she is forced to come face to face with her own brutal reckoning.

Dublin-Murders-poster

Besides hopefully seeing a movie and getting out of the house for a bit, I also should be recording a podcast show with author friend Leo on his Losing the Plot! podcast. I’ve been on before and I’m looking forward to talking to him again on Sunday.

What are your weekend plans?
Whatever you do – reading, watching, writing, or living, enjoy your weekend!

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Review: Little Paranoias by Sonora Taylor #PromoteHorror #HorrorisHealthy

Little Paranoias, Review –

Little-Paranoias-Cover-Front

I enjoy Sonora’s short story, flash, and poetic writing. I’ve read her full-length novel Without Condition but something draws me to her shorter pieces. I was excited to receive her collection Little Paranoias! I think we write somewhat similar: saying much in small spaces, similar themes – musings on death or the afterlife, surprise twists and endings, shocking amid the normal, and involving nature in our writing. I suppose the things I like to think about that end up in my writing is what I like about her short pieces because reading her pieces make me ponder life as well (when they aren’t shocking me).

I especially liked the opening piece “Weary Bones,” which takes us on a journey with skeletons who are, for lack of a better word, alive. It really was ingenious and made me think about how much we do forget our loved ones, in death, even in spirit, that we seem to need voice, warmth, skin. It was well-written and thought-provoking but also gave me a sadness. I only wished this story was longer and had more meat on its bones because it was over too soon and I feel there could have been more. I really felt I knew the character Brandon so well so soon, which is hard to pull off in shorter pieces.

“Crust” spoke deeply to me in a few hundred words and that’s all I’m going to say, but wow did it feature what I struggle with every single day. “Cranberry” scared the shit out of me. That’s some pent up rage and writing that holds nothing back. Many of the other stories dealt with murder of some sort whether a perpetrator, a family member, a spouse, the general populace. I am beginning to wonder if Sonora is a serial murderer in her head. I’m joking (maybe….haha). I can dig it as some of my stories often off men and foe. Many pieces had surprise endings, often they showed clearly life issues which created characters crossing boundaries into raw, primal emotion, and others were creatively done and had such a unique flair.

I actually was completely unnerved and uncomfortable with “Stick Figure Family” – I mean, it actually made me ball up in anger and question a lot, but in a way I suppose that just means it was well-written enough to urge reaction of me as most horror stories should do.

Though I really enjoyed “Hearts are Just Likes” quite a bit – I found it inventive and fun and cool – my favorite story was “Quadrapocalypse,” which has the character starting off on the DC metro, and after, the story splitting off into four ways with four different scenes. I love techniques like this! Also, the nature lover and activist I am really enjoyed the theme of this one. Be good to nature, or it may get you back!!

My least favorite was the last story, “Seed.” I wanted to like it, due to its themes of nature, and I DID like parts of it and the overall plot and thought behind it, but I don’t like too much erotic content in my reads. Also, it was just unexpected because there wasn’t any in the rest of the book but by the end I “got” the animal correlation of it and why. I’d probably not have put it as the last piece, since that should be the blow away read. I’d have chosen “Quadrapocalypse!”

Overall, I really had fun reading a few of these stories a night during this annual spooky reading month! They made me think, made me cringe, made me scream, and even shocked me. Bite-sized morsels of fiction that feel like a meal, maybe your last meal or one that haunts you, but fiction that’ll chill you to your bones no matter the temperature. Highly recommended!

Little-Paranoias-Cover-Front.jpgLittle Paranoias: Stories, Synopsis –

Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind?
A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?

Little Paranoias: Stories features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear — but after all, it’s those little paranoias that drive our day-to-day.

Little Paranoias: Stories is Taylor’s third short story collection and fifth overall release. Featuring cover art by Doug Puller, the collection features twenty short stories, flash pieces, and poems. The collection features an assortment of dark tales, including “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,’” a contemporary reimagining of “The Tell-Tale Heart” originally published in the award-winning anthology Quoth the Raven (ed. Lyn Worthen, Camden Park Press).

Little Paranoias: Stories is available now in e-book and paperback (released: October 22, 2019) and exclusively on Amazon.

Purchase Here

sonora-taylor-2019-headshot.jpgSonora Taylor, Biography –

Sonora Taylor is the author of Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,’” was published in Camden Park Press’ Quoth the Raven, an anthology of stories and poems that put a contemporary twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Taylor’s short stories frequently appear in The Sirens Call, a bi-monthly horror eZine. Her work has also appeared in Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast. She is currently working on her third novel. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

Find Sonora Online

Visit Sonora online at her website!

Facebook

Goodreads

Blog

Twitter: @sonorawrites

Instagram: @sonorataylor

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Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review/author blurb. This didn’t affect my opinion.

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The Night Crawls In Collection and Info on Ladies of Horror Fiction (LOHF) Writers Grant Inspriation + Free Poetry and a Drabble

Hey all! I’m a little late here as summer was winding down I had a ton on top of the ton I usually have going on because of my kiddos back to school, travels, and then catching up on work – oh and my birthday! I’m behind on blogging but I hope to have some great stuff for you soon again as Fall and Winter approaches us. Today, I still wanted to get this information to all the female writers out there about this grant in partnership with Ladies of Horror Fiction and author Steve Stred. Please check it out and consider applying by September 1 (edit: the recipient has been chosen but keep in mind for next year) and order a copy of Steve’s dark poetry book because the proceeds are what is funding the grant now and in the future! Steve is a wonderfully supportive author to others and especially the women writers out there who need amplification. The LOHF group is doing an astronomical job of helping out women writers in horror too. I also appreciate his shout out to me below. THANKS!

Now let’s get to it…

The Night Crawls In Poetry Collection and the Ladies of Horror Fiction (LOHF) Writer’s Grant Information and Inspriation (+ Free Poetry and a Drabble)

By Steve Stred, author of Dim the Sun

It’s getting close!

September 1, 2019 will see the arrival of my collection The Night Crawls In. Featuring thirty-three drabbles and seventeen poems, the collection was created specifically to help fund the First Annual Ladies of Horror Fiction Writer’s Grant.

The grant is open for applications until September 1, with the winner announced September 15. ((Edit: The recipient has been chosen.)) For full details, click HERE!

lohf_headers_lohfwritersgrant

Now that the official stuff is over – let’s chat about the why and the how.

Why?

Good question. This guest post is kindly being hosted by my friend Erin. There really are two people responsible for this collection happening. Erin and Miranda. As I mentioned in the blog post over on Miranda’s great site, while me and her were chatting, she convinced me that releasing a collection for charity each year was a great thing to do. I spoke with my sister a bit about what charity I should focus on, and through chatting with Jodi, I decided to scrap the charity idea. Instead, I wanted to make sure that the funds raised were directly going to someone rather than an organization. And what better way than to help support fellow authors and creative types?

Erin is probably the biggest reason any of this came about. Last year I read her brilliant collection Breathe. Breathe. Not only were the short stories amazing, but her phenomenal poetry kicked my butt into motion and got me writing poetry again. Without her amazing collection and her constant support and reassurance, I’d never have made the leap to writing poetry again. So thank you Erin and Miranda!

How?

The how was actually super easy on my part. I took a look at the writing community and the horror community and everything led me to want to support a great and fantastic group of writers who frequently deal with the short end of the stick. Truthfully, I don’t think I’m smart enough to accurately describe the frequent marginalization that women horror writers have to deal with. Heck, I might even be using that word incorrectly within my own statement. To be pointed – they have to work way harder than most to have their books read, reviewed, and taken seriously. Shameful.

So I reached out to Toni and the wonderful Ladies of Horror Fiction group and after some secret back room, dark alley Twitter conversations, we got the ball rolling!

So, click the link above and check out how to apply! Good luck!

As I’ve been doing on the other wonderful guest posts sharing/promoting The Night Crawls In, I’ve been giving previews of some drabbles and poems!

The Night Crawls In

Please enjoy these two poems and a drabble from The Night Crawls In:

Summers. (A Poem)

Remember how grass used to feel between your toes?

Long summer nights under the moon’s tender glow.

Evening thunder storms down the valley ahead,

The rattling boom after the lightning had led.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band leading the way

Taking us to a special place at the end of the day.

We’d hold hands sitting under the stars,

Talking ‘bout love that wouldn’t leave us with scars.

Ours bodies snuggled up, keeping the other warm

A tender touch that would help us transform.

The memories of how life used to be

The days we now chase, while we wish to be free.

END

______________________________________________________

Worms. (A Poem)

They live just below our feet.

Crawling, slithering, trying to latch on.

We go about our normal days,

Oblivious to the horror three feet below.

Our feet create vibrations,

Bringing them ever closer.

The worms, oh the worms

Ascend from below.

In waves they come, they slurp and they gulp,

And in the end

We should have known.

END

 ______________________________________________________

The Safe. (A Drabble)

 It should’ve been simple. Straight forward.

Walk in, tell everyone to get down, demand they put all the money in the bag, then get them to open the safe.

We got our matching president masks, we stole a car and junked the plates, putting fakes ones on in place.

We parked out front, car running, getaway driver waiting patiently for us to return.

Everything went according to plan, until they opened the safe and me and Davey rushed in.

The lights snapped off as we entered and the tentacled monster that lived there, began to feast.

We didn’t last long.

END

 __________________________________________________

So a bit of background on each piece!

“Summers” just might be the single best piece of anything I’ve ever written. In my opinion at least. Each line and each image transports me back to the summer’s growing up in Burton and now, how, I chase the ghosts of how life used to be.

“Worms” is based on my son’s reaction to seeing worms, haha! He’s inspired so many of my stories, just form his innocent reactions or from playing with him and seeing how he processes stuff. As of typing this, he turns three on Monday and I’m hoping he says “ewwwww, worms!” for the rest of his life.

“The Safe” is a cosmic monster story about some bank robbers trying to rob the wrong bank. I’ve always been utterly fascinated by the massive banks of federal reserves, the ones that are locked down to everyone. So I had a thought, what if they secretly are also storing some of the world’s secrets?

Thanks to Erin for hosting this!

Ordering

Pre-order links are now up – every pre-order goes towards funding the grant. Every sale after September 1 goes towards funding future grants!

Amazon USA

Amazon CAN

Amazon UK

Amazon AUS

Steve Stred, Author Biography –

Steve StredSteve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.

Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas The Girl Who Hid in the Trees, Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, and the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun.

On September 1, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will arrive. This release was specifically created to help fund the First Annual LOHF Writers Grant.

Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.

Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.

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National Poetry Month: “Unforgiven” – A Poem from Miranda Crites #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry

National Poetry Month April

Today for National Poetry Month I welcome Miranda Crites! Miranda is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. I met MJ virtually sometime last year in her role as a book reviewer, but I came to be friends with her as well with our mutual interest in writing, photography, nature, and raising our kids. She’s so very creative and a bundle of energy that makes my days online so much better each time I see her beautiful photos or stories or hear from her. She’s also been a great supporter of indie authors as well as my own prose and poetry, so when she told me she’d like to try her hand at sending me a poetry piece, I was thrilled because I love supporting writers who want to come of their shell with their work.

It was a complete joy to work with her on this piece and she took my editing advice and ran with it, quickly turning this work into a refined piece of beauty that captures so much emotion, and for me, made me feel like I was floating. And maybe a little less alone. The photo is also one of her own. Thanks so much, Miranda!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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raven

Unforgiven
by Miranda Crites

I sink into sludgy, blackness

The iciness of the lake seeps into my bones, slowing my movements

I trudge along the muddy bottom; it pulls at me

I push toward the barely visible light above

 

Only my eyes break into the bleak day

Ancient pines dance in the brisk breeze

Snow-capped mountains beckon to me in the distance

But I can rise no further

 

My lungs plead for a breath of raw, pine-scented air

Blood races through my veins, pounding forcefully in my ears

The darkness below gently tugs

The oxygen I crave is merely an inch away

 

I swim harder, reaching the water’s edge

Vengeful blades of grass slice through my fingers

I rip them out by their roots as I try to save myself

I claw through dirt and rocks

 

I am restrained, a tethered dog

Bubbles tease my cheeks as I scream away my last breath

Deeply in my chest, a torch is lit

A voice within the darkness whispers: “forgive”

 

A rope of fiery vines bites at my ankle

My fingernails rip off as I try to break free

“Forgive,” repeats the inky blackness

I don’t have that ability

 

My world explodes

Shooting stars burst behind my eyes

The torch expands its flame

Fireworks light the dimness above, the blackness below

 

Release

Relief

No more pain, only ephemeral sadness

I float to the surface, finally unconfined

 

Lightning rips open the gray cloth above

The darkness below feeds on my light, my aura

A single crow lands on my chest, pecking at my eyes

Fish and unknown creatures nibble the remaining soggy meat of my fingers

 

Wolves sprint to the water’s edge

They drag my body onto the shore

Their pack devours most of my flesh and bones

Vultures clean up the last remaining pieces of me

____________________________________________

Miranda Crites, Biography –

MirandaMiranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia.

Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old.

The writing bug bit her at a very early age too, when she won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.

 

Find Miranda Online –

You can follow Miranda on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Her photography can be found on her dedicated Facebook page at MJ Creations.

She reviews for Kendall Reviews, as well as her own site, Miranda Crites Reads and Writes.

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Filed under Feature Articles, poetry, women in horror