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Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

suz-headshot-18 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert. Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert writes horror, dark fantasy, science fiction, and the occasional poem. Her short fiction has been published in the anthologies Killing It Softly, The Deep Dark Woods, and The Final Summons. Her poetry has appeared in places such as the anthology Wicked Witches, Tales of the Zombie War, “The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature,” and “Eternal Haunted Summer.” Suzanne is a freelance editor and content creation expert. She’s currently writing several more works of short fiction in between meeting the incessant demands of her feline overlords.

Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert’s latest published story, “In Darkness, She Sheds,” appears in The Final Summons (New England Speculative Writers, 2019). A quick summary for my readers: In a land where the human Master controls both humans and fae, a chance accident enables Savron d’Fae—Master’s Elixir-Mistress and former concubine—to glimpse the true nature of Master’s rule.

Where did the idea come from for your latest published story, “In Darkness, She Sheds”?

I wrote the first version almost two years ago, as a reaction to the fury I felt watching Kellyanne Conway stand up and lie and defend Trump’s actions on whatever that day’s disaster was. I kept thinking, “Why do women not support each other and make alliances with men who are innately against their best interests?” I kept turning that thought around in my head and I wrote the story to get out some of that anger.

Who is your favorite character in the story—and why?

That’s a tough question. Probably Darron, even though she gets introduced halfway through the story. Savron, who begins the story, is also a compelling character. What I like about both of these fae women is that they are very brave and decisive despite being literal slaves and discovering that their realities were not what they thought.

final sum Where and when will this story be published?

This story appears in the just-released anthology The Final Summons, which is the premier anthology from the New England Speculative Writers. They formed about two years ago and have amazing and dedicated leadership. They quickly came up with the idea for this anthology and put out the call for submissions to writers in New England. They had a good number of submissions, so I was really happy to make the cut.

The anthology was crowd-funded in order to pay fair compensation to the contributors, editors, and artist. They were also able to hire a blurb writer. I think it was a successful model, and the anthology will be available in both print and electronic versions.

I encourage any aspiring writers who feel daunted by writing a novel to try writing short stories first, and getting them placed in anthologies with more established writers, if possible. It’s great exposure for you, and you’ll learn a lot from your fellow contributors.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m a short story writer, not a novelist (yet!) and I’m a total pantser! I get into my writing mindset, and the characters “tell” me what’s going to happen next. Having said that, I do make notes and do some character studies. But I’ve found that when I put too much on paper, it inhibits my creative flow. I do a lot of work “in my head.” I do hope to get better at outlining. I attribute my inability to successfully write a novel (yet!) to getting too bogged down in the outline process. But I believe I’ll figure it out eventually!

What was your favorite book as a child?

As a child, I adored the Little House books and read them over and over. I liked a female protagonist, reading about perilous situations, and I liked that Laura was a person not afraid to stand up for what she believed.

When I got a bit older, I fell in love with dystopias. I believe I was about ten when I first stumbled upon Animal Farm at my grandmother’s house. Then, I read 1984 and Brave New World in quick succession. My mind was literally blown by the concept that people could manipulate each other so capriciously, and that others could so easily fall prey to misinformation.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m currently finishing up another short story, “Unafraid,” which is horror. On the back burner are two novellas (one scifi/fantasy; the other scifi/horror) that need more editing, and I have an idea for a horror novel that I haven’t been able to successfully write out. It’s based on what was initially a short story and it’s about 35% done.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Do what works for you! That is honestly the best advice. I was bogged down for years thinking I’d never be successful because I didn’t write every day (and still don’t.) Find your own rhythm. Make your own path. Although it doesn’t hurt to try others’ “sage advice” to see if it resonates.

Want to learn more about Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert and her short fiction, including “In Darkness, She Sheds”? Check out her: Website–Voices in my Head, Twitter, Facebook page, Bookbub, Goodreads, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Final Summons.

Thanks to author Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Catherine Lundoff on February 12, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Grue Magazine 7 Yesterday, I wrote about some of my early Science Fiction and Fantasy publications in the SF Spectrum Publications in the United Kingdom.

Today, I want to mention a few of the SF and F magazines which included my speculative work very early in my writing career. Again, I want to thank these editors who not only devoted time and talents to sharing their love of science fiction, fantasy, and horror — but who often put in their own money.

Worlds of Wonder Oct 87 I am not the only writer who benefited from their efforts. Everyone begins somewhere, and many writers and illustrators whose names are now recognizable began on the pages of these (or similar) Indie publications.

Thank you to Gary William Crawford of Supernatural Poetry who published my poem, “Driftwood,” and Robert E. Cooke of Worlds of Wonder who published three of my poems.

Supernatural Poetry One Also thanks to John Postovit of Alpha Adventures: Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine for publishing my poem, “A Circle of Pillars,” Janet Fox of Scavenger’s Newsletter for publishing my poem, “A Robot’s Question,” and Peggy Nadramia of Grue Magazine for publishing the original version of my poem, “Not Seen.”

And lastly, thank you to Donald L. Miller of The Nightmare Express for publishing one of my poems, and Charles M. Saplak of Celestial Shadows for publishing my prose piece, “Fish Story.”

Alpha Adventures Sept 85 By publishing my work and the work of other speculative writers in these labor-intensive Indie magazines, these editors introduced a new crop of storytellers to readers. Their hard work is why many successful writers of today have a reader base.

For example, I share the Table of Contents in the issue of Grue Magazine mentioned above with Wayne Allen Sallee, Keith Allen Daniels, Elizabeth Massie, Mort Castle, John Maclay, Kevin J. Anderson, J.N. Williamson, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Mark Rich, and other wonderful writers. I feel lucky!

So while I’d love to have you purchase books from the “big” publishers, don’t forget to support the Indie publishers. – Vonnie

Scavengers Jan 87

Celestial Shadows 92Nightmare Express May 87

 

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SF Spectrum 9 Among my early Science Fiction and Fantasy publications, were poetry, art, and fiction in SF Spectrum and Macabre, both from SF Spectrum Publications, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Editor, Wieslaw Tumulka, included my work in 8 issues of his magazines. For a woman from the USA, it was quite exciting to know her words and images were reaching a few readers across the Atlantic.

SF Spectrum 10 I felt privileged to share the pages with artist Steve Lines and writers J. N. Williamson, T. Winter-Damon, Steve Sneyd, John B. Rosenman, Don Webb, Andrew Darlington, John Haines, George Gott, and Mark Valentine,  and many more talented individuals.

In 1986 and 1987 when my work appeared in SF Spectrum and Macabre, the standard format for small or Indie presses was pieces of letter (or legal) sized paper printed on both sides, then, the stack of pages was folded in half and stapled.

SF Spectrum 12 Not very glamorous compared to many of today’s Indie publications, but this was before the advent of computers.

Tumulka, and other Indie publishers/editors were devoted to publishing and sharing the work of writers and artists whose work they believed their readers would enjoy. And in those days, there weren’t online versions and wide distribution — so a contributor “sold” First British Rights, First North American Rights, First Australian Rights, etc. rather than First World Rights or First English Language Rights.

Macabre 7 So which pieces of my writing and artwork did Wieslaw Tumulka choose to include in issues of his speculative magazines? Here is the complete (I think) list:

Poems: “More than Curiosity,” “Saturn’s Song,” “Snapdragons,” “A Circle of Pillars,” “Aware, After All These Years,” “Surgical Leftovers,” “Right Now,” and “Flies.”

Illustrations: “Skeleton in the Toy Box” and “Blooming Skulls” (a cover illustration shown here).

Prose: “Frycakes and Caruso.”

And so I conclude this visit to my past writing/art appearances with a thank you to Wieslaw Tumulka for selecting and publishing my work. It helped give me confidence to keep on creating. And a thanks to the writers and artists whose work I enjoyed in those long ago issues of SF Spectrum and Macabre.

Keep on reading! – Vonnie

Macabre 8

SF Spectrum 11

Macabre 6

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IMG_1821 Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. Born on January 19, 1809, Edgar lived only 40 years, but his impact on writing has lasted much longer.

Many of today’s writers of dark fantasy, horror, and detective stories can trace their genre’s roots back to Poe. And arguably, even science fiction short stories can find a rootlet embedded in one of his tales.

I, too, have always been a fan of Poe’s wonderfully fantastical tales and lyric poetry. So it is with admiration that I say, “Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!”

For those who want to learn more, here’s a link to more information on this American writer.

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As Halloween approaches, I think about what monsters frightened me as a child.

I always suspected there were monstrous creatures under my bed, and never let my hands or feet hang over the edge so “they” wouldn’t grab me and drag me under the bed. Likewise, I avoided shadowy places, just in case the shadow-monsters were lurking there, ready to pull me into their shadow world.

With evil clowns capturing recent headlines, I hesitate to mention my dislike of clowns (and mimes – their silent partners in frightening children). My friends thought Bozo and others of his kind were laugh-out-loud funny. But not me. I didn’t want to watch their antics at circuses and fairs, and certainly didn’t want to interact with them at parties.

As for Frankenstein’s monster, I always felt compassion for the fellow. It wasn’t his fault he was the way he was. Dracula? Even as a kid, it seemed fairly easy to me to avoid his fangs – wear a cross around your neck and line your windows with garlic. The whole wooden stake in the heart thing seemed unnecessary if you were careful.

Werewolves were more problematic. I couldn’t imagine myself shooting anyone or anything with a regular bullet, much less a silver one. And as a kid, I had no access to guns – unless you count water pistols and cap guns. And when I thought about zombies, I thought I could out-run their slow shambling gait.

I suppose all those childhood monsters and more have appeared (or are destined to appear) in my dark fantasy and horror stories. One of the benefits of being a writer – I can destroy monsters or make them “nicer” by just typing a few words!

Here’s a link to a wonderful post on Victorian Monsters from my writing friend, Andrew McDowell.

Now, it’s your turn. What monsters frighten you?

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I must admit, Stephen King’s stories (whether novel-length or short story) scary me. Not just a little heart-beating-faster kind of scare, but a can-barely-breathe-looking-over-my-shoulder-and-shaky kind of scare. Which is just what a reader wants, and a horror writer strives to create.

I own, and recommend, King’s book, On Writing. Not your classic “how-to” writing book, it nevertheless is filled with information that writers will find useful. And it is in that spirit of learning that I share a wonderful article from The Guardian by James Smyth, “Ten things I learned about writing from Stephen King.”

In this article, and elsewhere, you’ll find announced a new short story contest (deadline December 18) to be judged by the master of horror writing, Stephen King himself. Interested? Here’s the link for the Stephen King Short Fiction Competition.

Good luck and keep writing!

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794 Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley was one of the scariest poems read to me as a child. Perhaps its dire warnings and promises of goblins lurking near helped me behave when I was young. Or perhaps they influenced me to write dark stories when grew older.

I remember decades ago, at the annual Halloween poetry reading held for years at Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air, Maryland, members of the Harford Poetry Society and others would turn the lights down low, light a candle, and read in unison Little Orphant Annie. One year while reading the poem, with no windows open and no living person nearby, the candle’s flame wavered and went out when we reached “A-listening to the witch tales that Annie tells about…”

Here for your reading pleasure, in anticipation of Halloween, is today’s quote, Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley.

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IMG_2395 Only 2 weeks until Halloween and 6 days until HallowRead. So I decided to share with you one of my favorite readings of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, The Raven. Actor Christopher Lee is the reader.

A bit of background: Christopher Lee began his film career in 1947 in the Gothic romance, Corridor of Mirrors. Lee co-stared in classic Hollywood horror films with Peter Cushing, Boris Karloff, and other well-known horror actors. He also played Sherlock Holmes in several movies. Star Wars fans will recognize him as the villainous Count Dooku.  Fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies will remember him as the wizard, Saruman, Interestingly, he was the only member of the casts to have actually met JRR Tolkien. Other recent films he appeared in include: Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows.

The Raven is a long poem, so be prepared to lean back, relax (if you dare), and listen to a marvelous Raven recitation by British actor, Christopher Lee.

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IMG_1833 Halloween, the day when ghostly and ghastly thoughts swirl about like an autumn wind, is 17 days away.  A week ago, October 7th, was the 166th anniversary of Poe’s death in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. So naturally, I chose an Edgar Allen Poe quote for today.

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins.” – Edgar Allan Poe in The Premature Burial.

What a perfect quote for this pre-Day of the Dead time. In the era of The Walking Dead, Ghost Hunters, Twilight, and other undead delights. For fans of the undead, two of my zombie-ghost tales are currently available in new books. “The Return of Gunnar Kettilson” can be found in the beautifully-bound Gothic fantasy collection, Chilling Ghost Short Stories from United Kingdom’s Flame Tree Publishing. And from the USA’s Alban Lake Publishing, Potter’s Field 5 – Tales from Unmarked Graves, contains my story “Snowbroth.” (Also available on Kindle).

For Poe fans, here are some other EA Poe quotes: 30 Thoughtful Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe.

And don’t forget, I’ll be at HallowRead October 23 presenting a workshop on Anthologies at 1 PM, and on October 24 I’ll be participating on various spooky, dark panels.  Plus, I’ll be happy to sell and/or sign my books and talk to fans of dark fantasy and horror.

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karinachainsaw2 Thanks to author, Karina Fabian, for stopping by and sharing her take on writing monsters, and for including Whimsical Words in her I Left My Brains in San Francisco Blog Tour.

Writing Monsters: Start With What You Know by Karina Fabian

‘One maxim I try not to work by is “Write what you know.” Trust me, if I did that, I’d be bored and so would you. I prefer to write what I can learn about, sometimes learning as I go. However, it’s a good idea to start with what you know.

You know that you want to write a story with an imaginary creature in it. What do you know already about the story? Do you have characters, or are you looking for a character to fit a plot? I could easily imagine that Generation Dead started with Daniel Waters saying, “I want to write a YA about how hard it is for minorities or people who are ‘different’ to make it in society. Hey! What could be more different than zombie teens?”

Even when you don’t know much about a particular monster, starting with what you do know can give you direction. For example, when I was asked to write a zombie story that eventually led to the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator series, I didn’t know much about them aside from some vague memories of Night of the Living Dead and the notion that modern authors were using zombies either as sympathetic characters and sickening corpses. I knew I preferred the shambling undead version, but I didn’t want to do scary horror.

I Left My Brains in San Francisco cover You probably also know what’s hot and what’s been done. Waters probably realized that with Twilight being such a hit, doing his story with vampires would not be as popular (not to mention drive him batty with comparisons). However zombies were gaining new life in the fantasy scene. I knew that the apocalypse had been done in movies and books, so I wanted a different approach.

As a result, I made my zombies animated rotting meat with some curious residual attitudes and mental processes, and I made them rare enough that they were not a pestilence, but a pest. And who do you call to get rid of pests? Thus, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

When you want to create a monster for your story, it can help to spend some time mulling over what you know about the legendary monsters and how they are being treated in movies and literature today. This will give you some starting points and direction for your research and imagining.’

If you are interested in learning more about monster creation, Karina Fabian is teaching a webinar on the subject, Oct 19, 7pm MT. You can register at here.

Plus, Karina is offering four fun extras: a Trailer, Zombie Quiz #1, Zombie Quiz #2, and a Crappy Crude Song.

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MED Curious about I Left My Brains in San Francisc, the second Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator book, available in audio by author Karina Fabian, and narrated by Becky Parker, form publisher, Damnation Books?

Here’s the cover blurb:

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator–but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she’s looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it’ll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.”

And here’s an excerpt:

‘Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday.

Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee. Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting. Was it only last Christmas?

He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind. “You want to live! We want to live! That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”

Yeah. Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.

He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.

God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back. Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside. He needed to delete Marley’s old code from it.

He cleared his throat. “Listen up! You want to live! We want to live!”

The exit door clicked.

That’s impossible!” he declared. The store fell silent.

Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.

That’s not what I meant! Security team to customer service!”

He reached under the counter for a shotgun. Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw. They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.

The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.

Clint to blasted him with the shotgun. The impact knocked the Marley out the door.

Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot. “He brought friends! Call Nine-One-One. I’m putting this place on shutdown.”

Screw that! I’ve been prepping all my life for this!” With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door. She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.

Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.

He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1. It’d be too late by the time they got there. All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.

God bless survivors.’

And here are some buy links:   Damnation Books and Amazon: paper and Kindle

More about the book can be found hereAnd if you’d like to know more about Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, go here. The second book, I Left My Brains in San Francisco, is supposed to be out in audiobook – but unfortunately, it has been briefly delayed. For more info.

But do not despair! Anxious for some zombie humor? So are we, but I Left My Brains in San Francisco still isn’t up on Audible. BUT you can get the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go here now. Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!

About the Author: Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky tales that keep her–and her fans–amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for TopTenReviews.com and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. You can find Karina Fabian on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

081315_BeckyParkerGeist-7530lowres-Version-2-240x300 About the narrator: Becky Parker Geist owns Pro Audio Voices, serving clients internationally with exceptional voiceover for audiobooks, advertising & animation. She loves creating audiobooks with sound effects! Married with 3 adult daughters, Becky lives in San Francisco and New York, working Off Broadway regularly. You can find Becky Parker Geist on her Website, Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks again to Karina Fabian for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a zombie-free day! – Vonnie

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