RA for All...The Road Show!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Register Now: Librarian's’ Day At StokerCon in Providence, RI 3/1/18

This is a cross post with RA for All

As I have hinted at a few times here and on the horror blog, I was asked by the Horror Writers Association President, Lisa Morton, to organize the second annual Librarians’ Day at StokerCon 2018. Last year I was their special guest for the first annual one, but had no say in the planning. This year-- cue evil laughter-- they put me IN CHARGE! Seriously, they have let me loose on an entire day of conference programming....BWAHAHAHA

Thankfully, I have the necessary experience, having been part of planning conferences big and small. But I also knew that I couldn’t do this alone. The very first person I thought of to help me was local, had the necessary skills, and most importantly was a friend, a friend who I knew I would work well with- Kristi Chadwick. Kristi is not only a librarian who works as a consultant for the Massachusetts Library System, so planning and running programs and training sessions is literally her job, but she is also the SF/FSY/Horror columnist for Library Journal. And she said, YES!

Kristi and I have been hard at work behind the scenes and can now officially announce that registration is OPEN for this wonderful day of programming. [See below for the details and necessary links to the StokerCon 2018 Librarians’ Day page.]

Of course there are still many specifics to announce but I promise you this will be worth your time. And if you register before 1/31/18 you save $10. It is only $65 for a full day of professionally planned sessions with catered lunch and free ARCs.

What are you waiting for?!? I already have my plane ticket. Kristi and I doing this as volunteers, that’s how much we both believe in the importance of this day for you and your work with leisure readers.

This is the only 1 day horror conference in the world for librarians, organized by librarians. The entire day is completely about you and your service to your readers. I always talk about how the HWA cares about library workers; well with asking me to run this day for them, they have done more than just tell you that you matter to them, they are showing you.

Come hang out with us and dare to improve your service to your scariest readers. I can’t wait to see you all there.


Join Stoker Con for a special day-long program of panels and presentations for librarians!
Becky Spratford, author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd edition [ALA, Editions] and horror reviewer for Booklist and IndiePicks Magazine and Kristi Chadwick, Consultant, Massachusetts Library System and Library Journal’s Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror columnist are coordinating the event.

March 1, 2018, 8:30-4:30

Cost: $75—$65 with Early Registration Discount Code: PROVIDENCE.

Select “Early Registration” and enter the code. Expires January 31, 2018.

Lunch included!

ARCs for all attendees!

Programming will include:
  • 120 Years of Dracula, from Novel to Stage to Large and Small Screens, presented by Dacre Stoker!
  • Horror Programming at Your Library, a panel discussion with Christopher Golden, JG Faherty, and more! 
  • Lunch, featuring an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Kristi Chadwick and Becky Spratford!
  • A panel discussion moderated by Becky Spratford with newer horror authors you need to know about right now!
  • A Book Buzz to end the day, featuring the very best upcoming horror titles, presented by publishers big and small, with ARCs and tote bags be given to all attendees!

Click here now...if you dare!!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Day 31-- Lots of Me Talking to You and a New Celebration of the History of Horror Begins

Happy Halloween! It is finally here. [I lived through another horror blog-a-thon.]

Today I relax and rejoice in the holiday that makes you all want to give horror books and readers the attention they deserve. Now if only you did that all year long. [Hint, hint-- you should, and this blog is the place here I give you the tools to do that.]

But since I have your full attention for 1 more day I wanted to point you to 3 things you can do to celebrate the holiday and brush up on your horror RA skills all at the same time.

The first two involve your ears. I have recent appearances on 2 podcasts where I talk about horror and other library related things.

The first is a brand new podcast called Three Books produced by the Ela Area Public Library. Christen and Becca are bringing book people in to talk about their three favorite books and more. Since they were launching in October and because I've known Becca for years, they asked me to come in and be their first guest. You can click here to listen and subscribe. We talk about my current horror favorites, why the world NEEDS horror, and more.

The second is my 4th [!] appearance on Circulating Ideas:
Circulating Ideas facilitates conversations about the innovative people & ideas allowing libraries to thrive in the 21st century. Brought to you with support from the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science and listeners like you.
In Episode 120, which dropped today,  Steve and I talk about the the current state of horror, but also about the importance of libraries including self published/small press titles in their collections and how to stay on top of genre trends easily, even if you don't like the genre yourself.

After a month of reading my words, I am giving you a chance to learn from me in a different way. If you listen to both of these podcasts, you will quickly get a general overview of what is MOST IMPORTANT about horror right now [at least from the library worker perspective].

I have also added these two new appearances to my podcast appearance archive which is always available on the general blog's About Me page and that blog's Recent Presentations page.

And now, the third thing you need to do to both celebrate Halloween AND brush up on your RA skills-- today also marks the launch of much larger scale project, one that beginning today will be published every month, for free. One that all of you have to read:
Click here for the first chapter
Brian Keene and Cemetery Dance are going on an adventure to produce a definitive history of horror from the beginning of humanity to the present and all of us get to read it for free.

In this first chapter, Keene clearly notes the people [including myself] who have done more academic work on this topic, but he also knows as one of the top horror writers of our time and as a life long fan himself, no one has ever given the genre the respect it deserves. He is going to write the definitive history of one of the oldest and most popular genres in literature and I implore you to follow along.

I promise you will learn about horror, obviously, but you will also learn about readers, why people are drawn to any story, You will learn about writers, why stories are told in a certain way. And, you will learn to put that information together in a way that allows you to connect with your patrons better, no matter what genres they prefer.

Plus, all of the semicolons will be in the correct places [read the chapter and you will get the joke.]

Now go forth and celebrate Halloween.

Monday, October 30, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Day 30-- The State of Horror 2017

This is Horror has posted their annual State of Horror Address here. Every single one of you should read this because it talks about horror in the mainstream world and how it is doing overall. This is horror as seen through the eyes of your patrons, how they consume horror, and what they have been most interested in. It is the view of horror from above.

This is Horror is one of my favorite overall horror resources in general. They understand the genre in all of its incarnations, and you can trust them.

In this Address trends in horror are also discussed at length both right this minute trends and some suppositions about next year too.

As you can probably guess, the Address notes that the state of horror is very strong- especially in fiction and television. So that leads to my final plea for this haunting season for you-- the library worker:


This is one of the best things you can do to help your patrons.  Keep these displays up at least 1 week past Halloween because many people let the season slip by without nabbing a scary read, and on Halloween they will realize they forgot. Then a few days later when they finally have time to come in a get something, you will have taken the displays down. 

Leave them up for people who “missed the boat” to still find horror easily. They may be so embarrassed that they forgot that they won’t want to ask for help.

Just wait another week to take the cobwebs and creepy books down. And if your supervisor thinks you are slacking, send them to this post and said Becky commanded you to do this.

See you back here tomorrow for HALLOWEEN!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Day 29-- Books To Help You To Stop Being Scared of Horror

We are getting close to the end, but before I lose your attention I wanted to make one of my final plugs for Horror in months other than October.

Since librarians as a group are known to be “scared” of horror as this study from RUSA, Library Journal and NoveList found [see graph too], I know many of you are happy to wash your hands of horror after October 31st. Some of you are even my friends!

But hear me out right now.

You shouldn’t be SCARED of horror. You don’t have to enjoy it for yourself, but being “scared” of it is just silly. It’s not going to bite you. Neither are the readers. I like to say-- Horror fans are not monsters, they just like to read about them.

Scared just means you don’t understand it. That’s where today’s post comes in. There are two resources I am assigning you all to read AFTER Halloween to help you understand horror, how it works, why it exists, and what it means. Reading these books will educate you. You may not like horror still, but you won’t be scared of it anymore.

First is a classic and I know it is on the shelf at most of your libraries-- Danse Macabre by Stephen King, originally published in 1981. From Goodreads:
The author whose boundless imagination & storytelling powers have redefined the horror genre, from 1974's Carrie to his newest epic, reflects on the very nature of terror--what scares us & why--in films (both cheesy & choice), tv & radio, &, of course, the horror novel, past & present. Informal, engaging, tremendous fun & tremendously informative, Danse Macabre is an essential tour with the master of horror as your guide; much like his spellbinding works of fiction, you won't be able to put it down.
Danse Macabre is a little bit memoir but it is also a social science look at horror in media. It is fascinating and enlightening. I own a personal dogeared paperback. If you can’t wrap your head around why people like horror, this is the book to read to help you understand.

The second is new-- Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix which I wrote about back in June here. Hendrix has a snarky but well researched writing style. This book is all about the popular horror titles from the 70s and 80s-- all the stuff King writes about in Danse Macabre. He looks at these titles and authors with affection, yes, but also makes a compelling argument as to why these books did, and continue to, matter.

I particularly LOVE the appendix where he wrote interesting, fun, and useful bios for every author he mentions. George R. R. Martin’s is on of my favorites.

Come for the fun covers and the engaging narration, but stay for the educational aspects. Even the biggest fraidy-cat or horror cynic will learn here-- and enjoy the process too.

So now you have your marching orders for after Halloween. Read one, or both of these titles. I promise they will help you to understand horror and its readers in a way you didn’t before. Understanding means your fear will lessen. Less fear means you will try to suggest horror to the appropriate patrons outside of the 10th month of the year.

But first, get back to work. You still have a couple more days to press the flesh and put some scary reads into your horror craving patrons’ hands.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Day 28-- Lists Worth A Look

As we inch closer and closer to Halloween, it seems like every website wants to share horror recommendations. Here are some that are worth a look both to suggest to readers now and to use for beefing up your collections for future horror seeking patrons:

Friday, October 27, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Day 27 -- Meet Some Author at the Horror Lounge

Click here to enter if you dare
Over on Lounge Books from 10/25-Halloween, they are hosting Horror authors. The line up is spectacular from masters of the genre to up and coming authors.

And, the lineup is diverse. There are authors from all backgrounds on this list. And there are horror fiction, genre blending author who put fear at the forefront and even nonfiction authors- those who write about horror. Literally, something for everyone.

Below is the list but click through to the horror lounge for more information and links. They conduct an interview with each author where they talk about their own works and their favorite books. You can click through from the author list below to see specific interviews.

This resource will help you to find suggestions for readers in these waning days of the haunting season because by now I know your go-to horror titles are all checkout. And that is scary enough a situation.


































Thursday, October 26, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Day 26-- Diverse Horror Options

Yesterday I talked about Nisi Shawl and her increased popularity. She is just 1 example of how the own voices movement is taking over Horror. There are more diverse options within the genre than ever before, and quite honestly, they are some of the best voices. [For proof, see Nisi Shawl]

We’ve come a long way from the racism and misogyny of Lovecraft. Speaking of, I did an entire book talk on the fact that there is a reemergence of Lovecraft in today’s genre fiction and much of it tackles his bigotry head on.  You can click here to listen to that.

Before we get into own voices horror fiction, I also want to mention that in the world of horror, diversity still means including women.  For many years, men controlled horror both as authors and readers. Well, that’s not exactly true. There were women writing horror. I mean, a woman-- Mary Shelly-- invented the genre and many others wrote horror, but the overwhelming culture of horror, it’s fan boys, the conventions, and lifestyle were dominated by white men. While there are now many female horror writers and readers, many men still think women don’t like horror.

I would like to clarify here that today’s horror authors are almost all supportive of the female writers in their ranks. It is mostly still the bro-readers who have a problem with women. I am not imagining this bias either. Earlier this month SYFY Wire had an article entitled, “Women Love Horror: Why Does This Still Surprise So Many Dudes?"

Okay now on to my suggestions for own voices horror.

Let’s start with my series of posts last year on the emerging trend of African Horror. Click here to read my post about the trend, a post by Nuzo Ohno, an African horror scholar and author, and a review of one of her books.

Another popular subgenre that is not new at all, but is moving into the mainstream thanks to horror legend, Tananarive Due, is Afrofuturism. Here is an overview of Due’s course on the topic. I highly recommend Due’s work for any fan of dark literature. You can find more info about her here by me, and here on her site. Due has been talking about the importance and influence of Afrofuturism for a long time, but one of the reasons it is being talked about now is the emergence of Nnedi Okorafor. You can read this profile of her and her work from the NYT here.

One of the best places to find suggestions of books and authors is from other authors. A few year ago, the Horror Writers Association was appalled at how white and male their slate of Stoker nominees were. Instead of just paying lip service to the problem, they immediately set up a task force of women and POC authors to start regularly suggesting own voices authors from the horror genre. They called this features-- The Seers Table. Now a few years in, these monthly suggestions are piling up and you can see an archive of all the columns by clicking here. You must click on each title to open the entire column.

One of the members of the HWA who worked hard on the Seers Table initiative is Linda Addison an award winning author and poet. Anything by her is excellent, but specifically I want to point out an amazing collection for which she was an editor, Sycorax’s Daughters. It is an anthology of dark fiction and  poetry by black women writers. Click through for details and a list of 28 more authors you should know about.

Stephen Graham Jones is another author you need to know about. Not only do I think he is the leader of the next wave of “the best” horror authors, he also brings a Native American perspective to the genre. I really like this recent interview he gave where he talks at length about his work, “representation,” and why own voices matter. The first time I encountered Jones was hearing someone else read his work out loud and it held me spell bound. I have never looked back.

Finally, don’t forget the voices of those around the world.  There is a wonderful resource, Speculative Fiction in Translation to help you.