Women In Horror Month – Violet Tempest

Love and horror are two things that might not make a whole lot of sense being put in the same sentence normally, but in the month of February, we make an exception. February is not just for lovers on Valentine’s Day, it’s also been set aside to give some dedicated air space for women who write horror stories. Yes, you’ve probably heard by now that women can write horror stories too, and that they’re good at it! It’s true, I even know a few of these female horror writers personally. They’re great gals, not scary at all. *wink* Continue reading

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New Year and Figuring Stuff Out

I suppose this is my new year’s post, the one everyone writes to make a resolution to be better at something. Please forgive me, I’m sure you’re seeing a lot of these lately. Have you done it? Made a resolution? I bet you have. Even if you had, say like me, planned to make no resolution at all, you still made one. Resolving not to make a resolution is still a resolution.

The plan was, not to make a resolution because, well, I can never stick with them. Lose weight? Nope! Eat healthier? For a time, but then when stress or illness comes along that goes out the window. Write more? Sure, but never the amount that I plan. Publish more? That ties in with the last one, doesn’t it? I’m not really great at sticking to things 365 days a year. Continue reading

1st Quarter Reads

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King

I love to read, I don’t like to write reviews. As a writer, I know how important good reviews are, and how poor reviews can hurt – not just an author’s pride,  but their chances to succeed as well.  Imagine if you had to go to a job interview wearing a sandwich board with a starred rating and testimonials from people what you’d done wrong, even if only minorly, on the projects you worked on at your last place of employment. That’d be terrible, right? I think so at least. I’m not saying book reviews aren’t necessary – I’m just illustrating why I feel a certain amount of pressure and guilt writing them if they’re not glowing. Continue reading

Not I

Free Read – Flash Fiction:

Crowds bother me. The press of bodies eager to reach their destinations and the accompanying frustrated energy doesn’t help, but worse than the wall of chests and backs is the random searching touch snuck in knowing they couldn’t get caught. Four more arms to protect myself would be welcome and better than an extra length of height. Though I wouldn’t turn down a dozen or so more centimeters of height, then I might be able to see where I’m going. The stall should be over here somewhere.

“You,” a voice growls from behind and a vise like grip embraces my upper arm and pushes. I try to look at who’s forcing me through the mass of bodies, but it’s impossible. There’s no choice, if I don’t move my feet I’ll trip. Surprise makes way for the indignity sparking at my core. I dislike being handled more than anything. Continue reading

Mischief Madness Mourning By J. Matthew Saunders

I can’t wait to read my copy. I think everyone should part with the small amount of cash to get this. No doubt, it’s well done.

Since moving to North Carolina several years ago, I have come to appreciate how much of a character the southern scenery really is unto itself. The Midwest doesn’t get its own subgenre of fiction based on its locale but the South certainly does. J.Matthew Saunders has come out with a trio of Southern Gothic short stories – Mischief Madness Mourning.

From Amazon:

Mischief: “An Appalachian Tail” is the story of three boys who sneak out late at night from a sleepover in search of an adventure. They get more than they expect when they encounter a bloodthirsty creature out of Appalachian folklore in the woods near where they live, but other things lurk in the darkness that might be even more deadly.

Madness: In “Mr. Samuel” Jack Pruitt returns to his childhood home in the Georgia mountains to help take care of his ailing mother. She suffers from dementia…

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Essentially, Reading is…

Answer me this: Where has this month gone? It seems that every time I blink a week goes by – thankfully it doesn’t, but it sure feels that way.  I didn’t want to start this year talking about resolutions because, well, I can’t keep them.  My mind, body, and soul typically rallies to defeat such silly notions like well thought out plans. I can’t even blame it on procrastination, because it isn’t even that simple – I don’t put off working toward my goals, I run away screaming.

So, no resolutions. I resolve to not make resolutions. Hear that universe? Hows that for some top-notch reverse psychology? I plan to not make plans I could possibly stick to and have every intention to fulfill.

My first post of the year wasn’t going to be about what I wanted to do in the next 365 days. Everyone does that. Instead, I’d like to talk about some of the great stories I’ve read lately.

Birds gotta fly. Fish gotta swim. Writers gotta read. We shouldn’t want to read because the act of reading is the key to understanding what’s popular. We shouldn’t want to write because we’re filling some desire to become wealthy or famous or both. No, we should want to read and to write because it is part of who we are. Because words resonate against the minerals deep within our bones. Because to do otherwise would be denying an essential part of our being.

That’s what it is for me. If one day I make some sort of name for myself, then great. But will that in itself be the defining moment of my life? Will that be what I measure my success against – that I got a huge contract or movie deal? I don’t think so. What I’m working for right now is the ability to infect the minds of others with images and concepts my own mind created. To tell at least one compelling story that forces my readers to agonize and hold their breath to the very last word. To come back to my story and point at the page while telling their friend: you hafta read this! I wonder what will be the touchstone for me for which I’ll measure my success, will it be a certain number of stories, will it be one runaway smash hit, or will it be something I won’t even realize before I draw my last breath.

Each new and great story I read shows me markers in which to measure myself against.  Writers shouldn’t compare themselves to others because no two writers are alike. I know this, and the comparisons I draw are more for technical mastery than tide markers for my ego. With that said, here are some of the stories I’ve read lately that have taught me a thing or two.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – technical precision in using 1st person present tense. Beautifully done and the movie really did well to keep up with Collins’s vision. The sequels are on my TBR list and I’ll tackle them soon, I hope.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – spellbinding world building and use of hypnotic techniques to deliver a dreamlike story. Drawing parallels from Carroll’s Alice and Wonderland and  Orwell’s 1984 the twists and turns of his tale kept me from wanting to put the book down. Though there were a couple spots that drew me out of the story and I felt the ending was a bit too abrupt, the story on whole was magnificent with each scene very carefully constructed. The time it took to read the three part book was well worth it.

Wool by Hugh C. Howey – Fantastic dystopian world building on a small scale – at least for the first book, the rest of the series is on my TBR list. I’ve tried to wrap my mind around world building on occasion and my ideas are often on a grand, world-wide scale. Howey shows us in this first installation of the series that it doesn’t have to be huge to feel that way. In just one silo the struggle for life rages on and the psychological effect of the microenvironment has some interesting outcomes.

Novelets in 2013 November-December issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine: Hell For Company by Albert E. Cowdrey; The Soul in the Bell Jar by KJ Kabza; Baba Makosh by  MK Hobson. Each of these stories have what I would call flawless deliveries of very creative narratives. Not one thing in these stories drew me out of them. I was delighted to read a story with Samuel Clemens in it – there needs to be more  like Hell For Company. The Soul in the Bell Jar was a fantastic dive into the notion of what if science had taken a detour somewhere gory – a healthy mix of steampunk and gaslight, at least in my opinion – KJ Kabza made a fan of me with this story. And I would go as far to say that MK Hobson created a timeless piece with Baba Makosh. I don’t know much about Russian mythology but if Hobson’s story was any indication – it’s something I’ll need to read more on.

Dogs by Miwa Shirow – Manga. A very bizarre dystopic tale of science gone wrong – very wrong. After reading all of the 9 graphic novels available at the local library I’m still not sure where this story is going, but I’m enjoying the ride.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading some great works from fellow authors in my writing group and several other stories that are well worth mentions, but I’ll save them for another day. For now I’ll leave you with this from the King:  “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

It’s Official!

In The Bloodstream: An Anthology of Dark Fantasy and Horror.Mocha Memoir Press included my short story, The Skin Thief, in their In The Bloodstream Anthology which is now available in stores. Yay!!!!

Thanks to Mocha Memoir Press’s Eden Royce who worked very hard to bring this anthology to life!

Visit Mocha Memoir’s Press’s website to purchase this assemblage of killer stories (pun intended).