NSW Horror Presentation

Slides are here.

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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Haunted Hotel Gives the NBA's Thunder an Advantage

Check out this great article from the New York Times about the haunted hotel where the OKC Thunder's opponents stay.  If they win the NBA Championship, will they have the supernatural to thank for it?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Stephen King's Carrie Turns 40

In my book, I argue that the current age of horror fiction began with the publication of Carrie by Stephen King.  Everything before Carrie is "classic," while everything after is modern.  It really was THAT important.

Well, this week Carrie, a novel that changed horror, heck changed American fiction writing, forever, turns 40.  This was King's first novel, and as I also argue in my book, no matter how you feel about King and his work, it would be very hard to dispute the fact that no other American author has had as great of an impact on the American fiction landscape over that time period.  And, I would go so far as to say he is America's greatest living storyteller.

Anyway, in honor of the 40th Anniversary of the publication of Carrie, the Guardian UK ran a series of articles and essays:

  • Click here for Stephen King's "How I Wrote Carrie" essay
  • Click here for "How Carrie changed Stephen King's Life and Began A Generation of Horror"
  • Click here for the Carrie at 40 Quiz
Happy 40th Birthday Carrie!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

RA for All Goes International With an Updated Horror Presentation

Click here for a 2014 coupon
Yes, International!  Due to the wonders of technology and in spite of the perils of time zones, day light savings time, and the international date line, I will be making my first ever overseas appearance for a New South Wales Readers Advisory training based out of Sydney, Australia.

The appearance is on Wednesday March 12th in the afternoon their time, but will be Tuesday evening my time.  I feel like I get to time travel. That was a bonus I never saw coming.

This will be my 1 Hour Horror RA program based on my book, The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, 2d edition, but with new examples, trends, and authors.

I have made the presentation available for anyone to view.  Simply click here for access.  

The good people at ALA Editions have also provided a great coupon for anyone to use in order to buy my book in print or eBook format.  Remember, the book comes with a free update...this BLOG! The coupon is in the second slide if you are interested.

But feel free to view the presentation no matter where you live.

Friday, February 28, 2014

WiHM Guest Post: Australian Horror Author Kaaron Warren

Welcome to the final day of February which is also the last day of Women in Horror Recognition Month.  I am glad I participated more officially in the celebration this year.  Together with Monster Librarian, I think the library world got an excellent and broad picture of the contributions of women in horror as they apply to a public library audience.

For todays final post, I am capping off February while looking forward to March.  Today I welcome award winning Australian horror author Kaaron Warren.  You can see more about Kaaron here and here.

But why is this post looking forward to March? Well, I first got in touch with Kaaron because we are both going to be featured speakers at an Australian RA training in March focused on horror.

I will have more on that presentation as well as a brand new coupon for my book coming soon, but for now let’s close this wonderful month out with Kaaron.

I have archived this year’s WiHM posts here.  I have also tagged any post I have ever done about women in horror.

Now, here’s Kaaron.....
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“Why do you write horror? You’re a woman.”
It’s the classic question, one I’m asked more often than “Where do you get your ideas?”
The thing is, quite often the questioner has just finished telling me about a vicious murder, or an arsehole ex-boyfriend, or a child drowning in a swimming pool. They’re armpit deep in horror, shocked by it, fascinated, disgusted, entranced. This is the stuff that chills us to the bone.
Most of my stories are a visceral response to these horrors.
In “Dead Sea Fruit” the thing I was horrified by was body image and how many people it destroys. The story is about the Ash Mouth Man, a legendary character anorexic girls believe in. They say that after you kiss him, everything you eat will taste like ash, so you’ll never want to eat, and you’ll be thin.
The inspiration came from a friend telling the story of a young girl who travelled to India and drank from the Ganges, with the sole purpose of getting dysentery and therefore losing weight.
This was one of those moments where a bunch of women were horrified, outraged, shocked, and terrified for our own daughters. We wondered how this could happen, and why, and how did we keep our girls safe.
My response was the Ash Mouth Man.
And  no, the girl who drank from the Ganges is not alright. Years later, she is still sick.
"Why do you write horror?"
I get asked this question more often because I’m a woman, I think, and more specifically a mother, as if becoming a mother numbs all but maternal feelings, as if having a child renders all of your past vacant.
Many people can see the same things I’m seeing, talk about them, then let them go.
I can’t let them go, and I can’t forget. I want to try to make sense of the nightmares.
Why do I write horror?
Because I never, ever will.

You can read "Dead Sea Fruit" in Kaaron's latest book, The Gate Theory, the reprint collection 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

BRAM STOKER 2013 FINAL BALLOT

Here is the final ballot, and this year is going to be a doozy with Stephen King and his son Joe Hill Squaring off for the main prize.

Also of note, in the YA category, 2 books I have been a big champion of, Cat Winters' In the Shadow of Blackbirds is up against Geoffrey Girard’s Project Cain.

I am very impressed this the quality of nominees this year.  The full ballot is at this link and posted below.  Congrats to all of the nominees.


The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is pleased to announce the Final Ballot for the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards®. The HWA (see WWW.HORROR.ORG ) is the premiere writers organization in the horror and dark fiction genre, with over 1,200 members. HWA has presented the Bram Stoker Awards in various categories since 1987 (see HTTP://WWW.HORROR.ORG/AWARDS/STOKERS.HTM).
“We are proud to present a particularly notable slate of nominees this year, showing the horror genre is strong and popular,” Rocky Wood, the HWA’s President, said.
IMPORTANT: Voting begins on 2/28 and ends on 3/15. Only Active and Lifetime members can vote.
The nominees are:
Superior Achievement in a Novel
Joe Hill – NOS4A2 (William Morrow)
Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)
Lisa Morton – Malediction (Evil Jester Press)
Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson – A Necessary End (Thunderstorm/Maelstrom Press)
Christopher Rice – The Heavens Rise (Gallery Books)
Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Kate Jonez – Candy House (Evil Jester Press)
John Mantooth – The Year of the Storm (Berkley Trade)
Rena Mason – The Evolutionist (Nightscape Press)
Jonathan Moore – Redheads (Samhain Publishing)
Royce Prouty – Stoker’s Manuscript (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Patrick Freivald – Special Dead (JournalStone)
Kami Garcia – Unbreakable (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Geoffrey Girard – Project Cain (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Joe McKinney – Dog Days (JournalStone)
Cat Winters – In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Harry N. Abrams)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Ed Brubaker – Fatale Book Three: West of Hell (Image Comics)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)
Brandon Seifert – Witch Doctor, Vol. 2: Mal Practice (Image Comics)
Cameron Stewart – Sin Titulo (Dark Horse Comics)
Paul Tobin – Colder (Dark Horse Comics)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Dale Bailey – “The Bluehole” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2013)
Gary Braunbeck – “The Great Pity” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Benjamin K. Ethridge – “The Slaughter Man” (Limbus, Inc., JournalStone)
Gregory Frost – “No Others Are Genuine” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Oct./Nov. 2013)
Greg F. Gifune – House of Rain (DarkFuse)
Rena Mason – East End Girls (JournalStone)
Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Michael Bailey – “Primal Tongue” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
Patrick Freivald – “Snapshot” (Blood & Roses, Scarlett River Press)
David Gerrold – “Night Train to Paris” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2013)
Lisa Mannetti – “The Hunger Artist” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
John Palisano – “The Geminis” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Michael Reaves – “Code 666” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2013)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Fabien Adda and Fabrice Gobert – The Returned: “The Horde” (Ramaco Media I, Castelao Pictures)
Brad Falchuk – American Horror Story: Asylum: “Spilt Milk” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Bryan Fuller – Hannibal: “ApĂ©ritif” (Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production, Gaumont International Television)
Daniel Knauf – Dracula: “A Whiff of Sulfur” (Flame Ventures, Playground, Universal Television, Carnival Films)
Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead: “Welcome to the Tombs” (AMC TV)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (ed.) – Horror Library: Volume 5 (Cutting Block Press)
Eric J. Guignard (ed.) – After Death… (Dark Moon Books)
Michael Knost and Nancy Eden Siegel (ed.) – Barbers & Beauties (Hummingbird House Press)
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (ed.) – The Grimscribe’s Puppets (Miskatonic River Press)
Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson (ed.) – Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror, Volume One (Grey Matter Press)
Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Nathan Ballingrud – North American Lake Monsters: Stories (Small Beer Press)
Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)
James Dorr – The Tears of Isis (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories (Subterranean)
Gene O’Neill – Dance of the Blue Lady (Bad Moon Books)
S. P. Somtow – Bible Stories for Secular Humanists (Diplodocus Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan (ed.) – Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Gary William Crawford (ed.) – Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Modern Master of Horror (Scarecrow Press)
William F. Nolan – Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction (Hippocampus Press)
Jarkko Toikkanen – The Intermedial Experience of Horror: Suspended Failures (Palgrave Macmillan)
Robert H. Waugh (ed.) – Lovecraft and Influence: His Predecessors and Successors (Scarecrow Press)
Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Bruce Boston – Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems 1971-2012 (Dark Renaissance Books)
Helen Marshall – The Sex Lives of Monsters (Kelp Queen Press)
Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca – Dangerous Dreams (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob, and Linda Addison – Four Elements (Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – Hysteria: A Collection of Madness (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
HWA’s voting members will now vote on this Final Ballot, with voting closing on March 31 (only Active and Lifetime Members are eligible to vote).

The Bram Stoker Awards® will be presented at the 27th annual Bram Stoker Awards® Banquet held during the WORLD HORROR CONVENTION 2014 in Portland, Oregon, on May 10th. Purchase of tickets to both the convention and the banquet are open to the public. The awards will also be live-streamed online for those who cannot attend in person.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Women in Horror Guest Post by Cynthia Tottleben

This week I have the full spectrum of JournalStone female horror authors as guests on the blog.  Earlier in the week, you read Lisa Morton’s take on being a woman writer in a fairly male dominated genre.  I would argue she is the top of the genre for women right now.

Today, we have the other side of the coin... the newest up and comer in the genre.  Cynthia Tottleben is this year’s winner of the JournalStone writing contest and her prize, getting her novel published.  Entitled The Eye Unseen, Cynthia’s novel is fast paced and horrifying (in a good way since this is horror).  You can click here for some plot details, but what I found most striking in The Eye Unseen was how well she managed the multiple points of view.  This technique is a good choice for horror because it picks up the pace and increases the level of dread and terror.  As the pov changes, the readers knows more than the characters, ratcheting up our anxiety and, as a result, our enjoyment of the horror tale.

However, many authors have trouble negotiating a smooth switch of pov.  It is something that often takes years of practice to get right.  Currently, Jonathan Maberry is the champion at this, in my opinion. Badly written pov switches are painful to readers.  When they are obtrusive and forced, it takes away from the atmosphere, turning what should be terrifying into something laughable.

So kudos to Tottleben, so mastering this horror skill right off the bat. The Eye Unseen is worth a read.

But enough about her book, let’s hear from the author herself.

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My sordid relationship with the slush pile started the summer I turned eight. I had not only penned my first book, HOMER THE GRASSHOPPER, but illustrated the story myself, and mailed my masterpiece to the publishing houses of the books adorning my bedroom floor. With all the confidence in the world I began plotting my fame and naming the legions of followers I would soon have, other children poised in anticipation of my next tale, the sequel to HOMER, one of many that would grace bookshelves and nightstands for decades to come.

Until the rejection letters arrived, the pestle of those horrid words grinding my ego into a fine powder, even at such a young age. 

Thirty years later I found myself playing the same game. My manuscript for THE EYE UNSEEN received excellent feedback from agents unwilling to back genre fiction. Several suggested I change my focus and get my feet wet on mainstream material, but I wield words like weapons and didn’t want to change my rusty razor blades out for cookie cutters. Unless, of course, they were incredibly sharp and matted with dried blood. Those I could handle.

The author Heather Graham pulled me out of my rejection blues by suggesting I submit my horror novel to small publishing houses that would welcome the genre.  After a bit of research, I discovered JournalStone Publishing and felt we would be a great team.  My query letter was answered within days, suggesting I submit THE EYE UNSEEN to their annual horror-writing contest. With the prize being publication and a $2,000 advance (which would allow me to join the Horror Writer’s Association), I didn’t see how I could refuse.

The submittal was quick and painless, but the waiting butchered me. I wanted the contest to run like a slot machine, where I inserted my novel, hit a button, and instantly determined whether I won the grand prize or settled for just enough feedback to keep playing. Fortunately, I am a retail manager. Just as I became jittery with impatience, we moved into the dark side of the year, where Time gets her fangs in me and life is nothing but a revolving door of work shifts and the sporadic half-night’s sleep. I didn’t have the energy to write, let alone obsess about the contest. My edges smoothed out.

When JournalStone posted the top ten finalists, that calm went to the wayside. Fast. Even if I didn’t win, my writing was validated. THE EYE UNSEEN, narrated through the viewpoint of four female characters and very much a woman’s story, had stood out to a panel of mostly male judges. My book had been read and deemed worthy. Despite the genre. The niche. The visceral threads that made others shy away from it.

On the day I won Christopher Payne, owner of JournalStone, called to congratulate me and discuss the parameters of our relationship.  I in turn detailed the play-by-play of our conversation onto post-it notes, adhering them to our appliances while my husband worked in the kitchen. My family renamed me The Winner, a title I still invoke if I need to throw my weight around, and it took weeks for me to settle down. My words were at the starting gate of publication. The characters I had both tortured and nurtured were going to be able to share their dark tale with an audience from around the world. And, finally, I belonged to a group that embraced the macabre and understood my fascination with it.

 My vacation this year fell during the week of my publication. I traveled to Indiana to visit my mother and fawn over her copy of THE EYE UNSEEN, the first one I had touched. As we stood in the living room inhaling the new book smell, we both immediately thought of HOMER THE GRASSHOPPER, and the little girl who was so determined to become a published writer.  Her dreams, no matter how sick and twisted, had finally come true.

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Find more from Cynthia:

Monday, February 17, 2014

WiHM Guest Post by Lisa Morton

If I had to pick a single favorite woman in horror today it would be Lisa Morton.  I went out on a limb back in 2012 by putting her in my book as one of the top women in horror.  I am so glad the rest of the world is starting to agree with me.

Lisa has always been generous with her time, and this WiHM is no different.  She is spreading the gospel of women in horror EVERYWHERE, including here.

Below Lisa writes about how she creates female protagonists.

But before you get to that I especially want to mention her newest novel, Netherworld, which I will be featuring in my Halfway to Halloween list coming in the April 15, 2014 issue of Library Journal.  It is a compelling blend of historical fiction, horror, and adventure led by one badass Victorian lady.  Think female Indian Jones battles supernatural evil.  This is a dark fantasy series to keep an eye on and is perfect for most public library collections.

Now, here’s Lisa...

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GUEST BLOG BY LISA MORTON

Since February is “Women in Horror Month,” I thought I’d take up a little of the space Becky has so kindly provided here to talk about how I craft female protagonists in my horror novels. I’ve written four novels now (The Castle of Los Angeles, Malediction, Netherworld, and the forthcoming Zombie Apocalypse: Washington Deceased) and all four of my novels have centered on women leads. Just to assure everyone that I’m not writing the same character over and over, these women have been (in order) a theater director, a teacher, a nineteenth-century British noblewoman, and the Director of the Secret Service. Two of my novels – The Castle of Los Angeles and Malediction – also feature feminine antagonists.

Too often in horror, women serve as victims or mere slaughter fodder. If I ask you, “Quick, off the top of your head: What do female characters usually do in horror?,” I’m betting you’ll go right to the movies and think of the screaming damsel in high heels fleeing through the woods who trips just as the monster or slasher is closing in on her (and I don’t blame you for that, by the way – it’s such a stereotypical image that it’s hard to escape!). In the more extreme end of horror fiction, women might serve primarily as the objects of rape, mutilation and murder. 

Even in middle-of-the-road horror (as in many other forms of fiction), the women in the cast of characters are often defined by their relationship to the strong male leads – they’re somebody’s wife/girlfriend/sister/mom. Their physical characteristics might read more like an ad at a dating service; I was recently e-chatting with a group of women writers who were commenting on how often breast size was mentioned in regards to female characters.

A lot of women authors tend to write male protagonists, but personally I find it more interesting to get into a woman’s head, maybe because I’ve already spent a lot of time there. With something like The Castle of Los Angeles, using a woman as my lead character was never a question, partly because I was basing the novel’s story and structure on the traditional Gothic tale, and partly because I gave my lead character Beth Ortiz a job I’ve held myself (directing and producing small theater). For Malediction, I wanted to explore destruction versus creation, and it just seemed obvious to make my nurturing, healing lead a woman. With Zombie Apocalypse: Washington Deceased, I was hired to create a tie-in novel to a successful anthology series, and the editor (Stephen Jones) asked me to create a strong central woman in the White House.

I approached Netherworld with a more deliberate attempt to subvert gender and genre. I had been working on a story involving Van Helsing, the original vampire slayer, and I began to imagine how much more interesting he’d be had he been female. Next, I imagined moving the age back and making my female Van Helsing young and (for the nineteenth century) hip, kind of like a Victorian version of Emma Peel from The Avengers. I wanted her to travel the globe fighting evil, so I created a series of mystical gateways scattered around the world that she must close; and to give her adventures a dynamic raison d’etre, I made her a young widow (as Mrs. Peel was) searching for clues to the murder of her husband. 

However, since she would be British and traveling the globe in 1879-1880, there was one more thing I wanted to do with her: Have her experience and react to the horrors of that century’s British imperialism, which included The Raj in India and the opium trade with China. She might be an adventurous, passionate heroine, but she would also experience a political awakening…even while she was fighting off monsters. 

Lastly, I wanted to give her a name that would be a nod to a fantasy novel that I think is an underrated gem, and so I stole “Furnaval” from Charles Williams’ All Hallows’ Eve (although I altered the spelling slightly from the original “Furnival”). Her first name references both the legendary goddess of the hunt and, of course, the brilliant actress who played Mrs. Emma Peel. 
Once I had Lady Diana Furnaval’s character locked down, it was easy to create situations to put her into. I had tremendous fun traveling the world with her, and I’m already looking forward to her next book, when she’ll travel into another world that I won’t give away yet. 

And not once did I mention her breast size.