Author Archives: gwendolynkiste

Bite-Sized Horror: Part One of the HWA Poetry Showcase Roundtable

Welcome to this week’s brand-new author roundtable. For the entire month of December, I’m over the moon to be spotlighting the poets of the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase, Volume 6. There’s so much talent in this group, so I can’t wait to share their thoughts on the horror genre, literature in general, and their future plans as authors.

So let’s go ahead and let them take it away, shall we?

Congratulations to all of you for being part of this incredible table of contents for the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume 6. Please tell us a little about your piece in the anthology.

CURTIS M. LAWSON: Thank you! This is only the second poem I’ve had published, so it’s incredibly exciting to be included.  I keep having that impostor syndrome paranoia that someone’s going to find out I’m not a “real poet” and kick me out.

My piece, White Night and Black Stars, is a narrative poem about obsession with an ambiguous supernatural element. The most interesting thing I could point out about it would be the theme of atonality. In the last stanza I break away from the established rhyme scheme for a single line to highlight that concept.

PETE MESLING: Well, “A Return to Chaos” is pretty short, so saying too much might spoil the fun. But what I set out to do was draw a condensed picture of the end of the world. I like the incongruity of something as epic as the apocalypse being told very sparingly. And talk about not needing to reach for metaphor! I think the poem’s relationship to questions being raised in the times we’re living in is fairly obvious, kind of the way radioactive monster movies in the 1950s reflected a universal fear of nuclear holocaust. I hope it has that kind of resonance anyway.

CARINA BISSETT: My poem “Lepus antilocapra” includes my history of living in the Southwest for nearly two decades and combines it with issues of domestic violence. As a domestic violence survivor, I wanted to examine the truths behind the decision to finally leave a toxic relationship. In these situations, there is always a piece of you that gets left behind. Some of us lose more than others. The Sonoran Desert, with its cycle of life and death, seemed a perfect backdrop to strengthen the theme and imagery intertwined in this series of couplets.

ROBERT PAYNE CABEEN: Thanks for asking, Gwendolyn. I’m excited to be part of this stellar anthology. I never submitted in the past because most of my poems are so damn long–like Coleridge long. But since I did the cover art for this year’s Poetry Showcase, I wrote a short poem for a change. The cover illustrates SECRET, a tale of domestic violence and a woman’s brutal secret. She tells no one but a solitary crow her secret. The bird listens with patient attention and flies away. You’ll have to read the poem to find out what the crow does next.

MONICA S. KUEBLER: My poem “Conjuring Monsters” is one of those poems that has a bit of a dual meaning. On the surface, it’s about my fiction-writing process, but it also has a deeper current running through it, wherein I’m questioning the sort of people I draw into my life.

MICHAEL ARNZEN: This rarely happens, but “He Carves Wood” actually came to me in that hypnagogic morning state where you’re only half awake and don’t want to get out of bed yet. It wasn’t that I was dreaming about a woodworking murderer, per se, but that phrase that recurs throughout the poem — he carves wood…he carves wood — was chanting in my brain as some kind of inescapable line.  I was lucky enough to write this down when I finally did fall out of bed and crawl over to the computer, and I let the cadence just carry my mind as I wrote the first draft. I LOVE IT when that happens — when it all flows and feels like it isn’t writing at all. But then came the edits, of course, which, um, hammered and cut it into proper shape. It’s a creepy serial killer poem, but maybe it’s about poetry too, I don’t know. I was immensely pleased to learn it was chosen as one of the top poems to be “featured” in the book, too. The lesson? Trust your unconscious.

ADELE GARDNER: The varied inspirations for “Home Inspection” include encountering historical hair art for the first time at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York (creepy and oddly beautiful and often sad); the fear that a particular bedroom in my house may be haunted, based on several nightmares; and the wish that there had been an opportunity to spend a night in my house before buying it, for mundane reasons (I might not have done so had I known how loud the road is; I’m a very light sleeper). Somehow all these things combined in the back of my mind when I wasn’t looking, to give me this chill.

RISSA MILLER: My poem in the anthology is The Temptress. It’s part of a larger collection where the Temptress is both a literal and figurative presence. Who doesn’t know temptation, after all? A temptress can be a real, living being, but also a feeling, an object, even a figment of our own mind. This poem introduces the idea that everyone experiences both need and temptation, and that sometimes, such alluring moments can be quite dark.

E.F. SCHRAEDER: Hi and thanks for inviting us. It’s amazing to be part of a project featuring so many great contributors to the genre. At its core, my piece, “Good Until The Last Drop,” is best summarized as a poem about despair and the real life horror of running out of options.

SUZANNE REYNOLDS-ALPERT: My poem, “It is Forever Stalking You,” is based on my experiences dealing with bouts of depression. I wrote it during my last episode and putting that horrific reality to paper was extremely cathartic.

MARTY YOUNG: I don’t often write poetry. Actually, I only write poetry when I’m going through tough times. I have a book at home filled with pieces I’ve written during various dark periods of my life. ‘Not Enough’ comes from that book. I went through a time where I just couldn’t write. I couldn’t face the page and had no ideas in my head. As I said in a story once, I wrote my head empty and it never filled again. So that poem was my frustration, and my way of seeing that there was something much deeper going on than just a lack of ideas.

ROBERT CATINELLA: I wrote Neighbors to highlight the contrast between the way people think about others versus how they think about the natural world which is always around them. We humans live in a funny position, connected to and defined by nature while also feeling independent from it. I chose the first and last stanzas deliberately for the emotional impact they convey. All the intermediate stanzas went through quite a bit of flux with the order changing up to the last minute and with three other complete ones being cut for flow reasons. More than that, I hoped to give my readers a childlike joy in trying to figure out what animal each stanza was describing.

NICOLE CUSHING: “The Art” is about a witch’s struggle to learn spells, and a writer’s struggle to develop her skills, and an eccentric’s struggle to accept her eccentricity. 

G.O. CLARK: My poem “Suitcase Tombstones” was based on a passage from the memoir, “Milking the Moon”, by Katherine Clark & Eugene Walter. Walter was staying in Parisian hotel after WWII, one with a rat problem in the attic where luggage left behind by Jewish tenants was stored. The hotel manager knew the tenants were never coming back, but left things as is for years, the rats gnawing on the suitcases et al. The poem is a simple snapshot from a very dark moment in history, the Holocaust going way beyond any fictional horror.

DAVID SANDNER: My poem, “A Killer Doesn’t Kill Because He has a Knife,” is a “first line” poem, with a weird sentence that got stuck in my head and pushed me to figure out what comes next. The full sentence is “A killer doesn’t kill because he has a knife/ but because he has a life to take.”  I liked the off-kilter rhyme between knife/life, and the way I sort of do and sort of don’t understand what it means. It seems to be advice, but who said you have to kill because you had a knife? The narrator is clearly off-kilter, too, and I followed up on that, looking for what other kinds of surprising advice the narrator had to share, building the poem off this mysterious first line that popped in my head. Where did the line come from? I don’t know.

INGRID L. TAYLOR: Thank you so much, Gwendolyn. I’m honored to be part of this collection. My poem “Possession” started out as a reflection on obsessive love in its various aspects. I imagined a woman who visited a coffee shop every day and became obsessed with the barista, and I started playing with images around that theme. The images that came forth were both sinister and sensual, and led me to think about possession as an expression of love that can be both destructive and cathartic—an ultimate surrender and metamorphosis. My notions of possession are informed by Judeo-Christian tradition, but also the Egyptian tradition of spirit possession called zar, which I learned about while living in Cairo some years ago. All of these elements influenced the final form of this poem.

JOHN CLAUDE SMITH: On occasion, the other arts besides writing—music, visual arts—often inspire the words to flow for me. My poem, “In the City of Dead Dreams,” was my response to the painting The Snow Queen Flies Through the Winter’s Night by Edward Dulac. The illustration depicts a rooftop view upon which the Snow Queen resides, yet because my initial observation came without the title, I saw her as a ghostly spirit. One who had died there, come to haunt the city. Combine this with a conversation with a fellow writer, and my poem was born.

TRAVIS HEERMANN: Mine is a poem called “The Depths Yawned Wide”, sonnet with a Lovecraftian theme.

ANN K. SCHWADER: “In Our Last Darkness” is one of my few syllabic form poems: 14, 10-syllable lines.  14 lines because sonnets are pretty much how I breathe.  The first line popped into my head months before I figured out what to do with it.

DONNA LYNCH: Thank you! I’ve always been a visual person, even when I write, so I see pieces as though they’re a movie still. With ‘Star’ I pictured a lovely living room belonging to someone I’d describe like Ed Gein, but with money and refined taste. A psychopathic patron of the arts.

LORI R. LOPEZ: Thank you, Gwendolyn.  It’s wonderful to be here, and to be part of another Poetry Showcase.  The T.O.C. for this volume is pretty fabulous!

I often tell stories with my verse.  My poem “Collection” travels deep under the surface to a shady sector ruled by an imperious male figure who demands his due.  This character embodies vileness and ego and corruption, an unpleasant presence at the depths of a tunnel.  For those who must face him, there is no turning back or aside before meeting his demand.  Until, that is, a very grim female arrives to collect at the same time as deliver.

ANNA TABORSKA: Hi Gwendolyn. Thank you for including me in your roundtable interview series! My piece, VICTIM, is inspired by the crime drama and true crime TV shows I watch. I have long considered the world a cruel and terrifying place, and I’ve tried to put that across in my poem.

EV KNIGHT: H.P. Lovecraft said the strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. My poem titled Nothing pays homage to that. What we do not see, cannot feel, cannot touch is terrifying because nothing could be anything. Nothing is always present, always lurking. Death is the ultimate nothing. Nothing leaves us to our imaginations; all possibilities are on the table.

DAVID POWELL: “Scylla’s Proposition” is about an impossible choice, about the consequences of making deals with monsters. Much is promised, but everything is lost if you refuse the deal. It’s actually a moment from a story which I haven’t finished yet, but Linda Addison (in her course at Horror University) advocated using poetry to get “unstuck” when writing prose. I’m a believer in that.

MICHAEL BAILEY: “Shades of Red” is as a direct result of a lockdown at our daughter’s middle school. We trust our schools to keep our children safe, but what happens when that trust is broken? Not long after the wildfires that raged through Sonoma County and took our home, and while still recovering, we received an automated call: “[ school name redacted ] is under lockdown. Plan accordingly to pick up your son and / or daughter at the front office starting at one o’clock.” Something like that. The time may be different, but it was middle-of-the-day and now a blur. The message was vague, and so we suspected an active shooter situation, or a bomb threat. With no way to contact either of our children, we dropped what we were doing and drove straight there. Numerous vehicles from the sheriff’s office were parked out front, and already a line of parents leading to the front office, everyone asking, “Are we even safe, standing here? Have you heard what’s happening?” One by one, students were escorted from their classrooms to the office; not even the children knew why, other than spreading rumors. Everyone expected gunshots. The next day we learned that a twelve- or thirteen-year-old had painted I’M GOING TO KILL EVERYONE on a wall in one of the boy’s restrooms (‘everyone’ spelled wrong). An empty threat, but enough to impact every child and parent and teacher at the school forever more.

GERRI LEEN: To tell much about “Terroir” would be to give a lot away, but I can talk about the birth of it. A Whisky Cast podcast discussion on terroir got me thinking of ways to play with the concept and I definitely saw it as a horror poem, not a story. I was really happy with the result and am so thrilled it made it into the showcase.

NACHING T. KASSA: My poem, “Silken Whispers, Crimson Blooms,” tells of an encounter between the narrator of the poem and Slit-Mouth Woman. The Urban Legend of Slit-Mouth Woman or Kuchisake-Onna is famous in Japan. It concerns a Samurai and his beautiful but unfaithful wife, Kuchisake. When the Samurai discovered his wife’s infidelity, he disfigured her by slitting the corners of her mouth. Then, he cut off her head.

Kuchisake-Onna became a Yurei, a nasty ghost. For hundreds of years, she’s haunted the streets of Japan. In these modern times, she often wears a surgical mask and when she confronts you on the street, she will ask if you think she’s beautiful. If you say no, she cuts off your head. If you say yes, she cuts your face to resemble her own. The only way to escape her is to distract her and run away. But, sometimes, that doesn’t even work.

LISA MORTON: Thanks, Gwendolyn! My poem “Meeting the Elemental” was inspired by my continuing research into ghost lore. Elementals are considered to be the most frightening spirits, so much so that many paranormal experts feel they represent something that was never human. I thought it would be interesting to explore encountering something that terrifying.

LEE MURRAY: Dear Christine is a deeply personal poem, inspired, dredged up by recent events. This time, I felt I had something to say.

TRISHA J. WOOLRIDGE: Thank you! My piece, “American Body Horror” comes from several years of fighting with doctors about my health—and the continued fight for me and most women. Especially women who are overweight. For years, I was told my crippling pain was “normal,” that I was lazy and not trying hard enough to lose weight or reach my “full potential.” Long story short, only in the past few years was I diagnosed with several issues, including ADHD, which all contribute to weight and all of the other symptoms that I was told would go away if I could just make my body meet the conventional standard of beauty. Come to find out, it’s been over 20 years of serious issues ignored because doctors couldn’t see beyond my being fat. And this is a regular, exhausting battle for women. It’s gruesome, cruel, and horrific… and with all the recent diagnoses and getting my hands on all the research I can, I finally found words to express that.

STEPHANIE ELLIS: Stringed Pearls came about as a result of my eldest daughter, Bethan, telling me about the Japanese forest known as Jukai (the Sea of Trees), where people go to commit suicide. I had never heard of it but watching footage of Azusa Hayano, patrolling the area, revealed so many tragic stories, it had quite an impact. As he walked, he would stop where discarded belongings remained, or talk to someone camping there to make sure they were ok (camping is not permitted, those he finds are usually the ones contemplating their deaths.). He would pass trees where frayed ropes hung down and goodbye notes were nailed to trees. The sheer volume of suicides made me feel as if something was calling these people to its branches, something enticing, something which saw their deaths as a thing of beauty and not to be denied. I gave the forest its voice.

PETER ADAM SALOMON: My poem, Conception, started with the thought ‘how are ghosts born?’ and went from there. I was trying something new, for me, with rhythm and atmosphere, and trying to rhyme without rhyming so the reader isn’t really sure where the rhymes are, if they’re even there. It felt as though that disjointed feeling worked for it even though that’s not typically my ‘voice.’

SARA TANTLINGER: Thank you so much, Gwendolyn! I am thrilled to be included in another HWA Poetry Showcase, especially alongside such wonderful talent. My piece is titled “Diaphanous”, and as the title suggests, it plays off the idea of something being delicate. In this case, it refers to a man who tries to grow and water a gossamer girl in his garden, only to have such translucent love go terribly wrong. I love when horror can take something beautiful and turn it dark and monstrous.

OWL GOINGBACK: My poem is titled “Dance Macabre,” and it’s about the relationship between a mortician and his deceased customer. I worked as a cemetery caretaker for eight years, and got up close and personal with thousands of dead bodies. I also became friends with a lot of funeral directors, and heard some insane stories about things that happen in a mortuary late at night. My poem was inspired by those stories.

MARGE SIMON: “The Exile” was originally inspired by a prompt given out by Nina Archangela for the Ladies of Horror Facebook blog. It was one of four images she chose from Pixabay. Mine was as described in the poem, and as I often do, I wrote several alternative versions. The final version that appears in the Showcase has both pathos and passion, relating to the Native American gods.

DEBORAH L. DAVITT: “Apotemnophilia” was born at the intersection of psychology (it’s a condition in which someone believes that a limb they possess doesn’t belong to them. Some people go so far as to amputate legs or arms.) and, well, X-Com games, in which critically-injured soldiers who suffer amputations become the heart of mech units. What, I wondered, would it be like to suffer that kind of psychological issue in a world in which that technology existed—and how would the combat veterans feel about such a volunteer?

COLLEEN ANDERSON: I wrote Stardust specifically for the Poetry Showcase. I don’t often write in couplets so I wanted to explore the form. As well, I don’t often write SF poetry so I challenged myself to SF Horror. What is our greatest fear? What is the terrifying side of space? And stardust, while it conjures David Bowie for me, it also is made of destructions—of planets, asteroids, meteors. This poems compares the beauty of space with the terror.

And that’s it for Part One of our author roundtable series for December! Head on back next week as we discuss our poets’ love of the horror genre!

Happy reading!

Literature for a Winter’s Eve: Submission Roundup for December 2019

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! There are many fantastic writing opportunities out there this December, so get those stories of yours ready and sent out into the world!

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

LampLight
Payment: .03/word ($150 max) for original fiction; .01/word for reprints
Length: up to 7,000 words
Deadline: December 15th, 2019 (or until the Submittable portal is filled)
What They Want: The editors are seeking dark, literary fiction of the weird, unsettling, and quiet horror variety.  
Find the details here.

Bloodshot Books
Payment: Royalty Split
Length: 25,000 to 125,000 words
Deadline: December 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to novellas and novels in a wide variety of horror subgenres.
Find the details here.

The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 7th, 2020
What They Want: The follow-up to the highly successful The Fiends in the Furrows, the editors are seeking folk horror stories from around the world.
Find the details here.

Dark Stars: An Anthology
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 3,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: For their forthcoming anthology, Death’s Head Press is seeking horror-sci-fi stories (think Alien and Event Horizon). 
Find the details here.

The New Gothic Review
Payment: $15/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Original short stories that deal with the unknown, the dark, and the atmospheric. Eerie horror, weird fiction, fairy tales, and light science fiction are all welcome so long as the stories have Gothic elements.
Find the details here.

Once Upon a Hallowed Eve: An Anthology of Romantic Ghost Stories
Payment: $75/flat
Length: 7,000 to 15,000 words
Deadline: February 1st, 2020
What They Want: Open to romantic ghost stories set at or around Samhain, Halloween, Day of the Dead, or All Hallow’s Eve.  
Find the details here.

Midnight in the Pentagram
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: March 31st, 2020
What They Want: Silver Shamrock Publishing is seeking short fiction about the occult, possession, demons, and satanism in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, and Creepshow among others.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

Fantastical Fun: Interview with Jamie Lackey

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight author Jamie Lackey. She’s the author of Left-Hand Gods, Moving Forward: A Novella of Life After Zombies, and The Blood of Four Gods and Other Stories, as well as an accomplished editor.

Recently, Jamie and I discussed her inspiration as a speculative fiction author as well as her genre favorites and her writing plans for the future.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer–the first thing I remember writing is retelling of Disney’s The Little Mermaid when I was in elementary school, and I just never stopped. Though I did stop copying Disney movies. Eugie Foster, Peter S. Beagle, Octavia Butler, and Lois McMaster Bujold are some of my favorite authors.

You’ve written in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres. Do you remember your first experience with speculative fiction? What are a few of your personal favorite genre books or films?

I think the first speculative book I read was The Hobbit, in about third grade. The Last Unicorn is one of my favorites for both books and movies. I also really enjoyed both the book and movie of The Martian. I also really love pretty much every Pixar movie.

You’ve written a great deal of flash fiction, which I personally feel is one of the most unsung yet wonderful lengths of fiction. What is it about this particular length of stories that appeals to you?

I like how direct it is. There’s not a lot of time in flash fiction for red herrings or digressions that don’t really matter to the story. I’m a pretty impatient person by nature, so it always makes me happy when a story just gets on with it. I also like how quick it is to both read and write. As a writer, I really like finishing things, and flash fiction stories are about the easiest things to actually finish.

You’ve been a slush pile reader as well as an editor, both at Electric Velocipede and on the Triangulation anthology series. How has being on the other side of things changed your perspective of the writing process?

It helped me to understand that rejection really isn’t personal. It also helped me to see things that lots and lots of people do that don’t really work and try to avoid those things myself.

You’ve written a novel as well as over 150 short stories. How does your process differ between long versus short fiction?

Short fiction is sooo much easier for me. The process is essentially the same, but longer things are so much more work.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: plotting an initial idea, working on a first draft, or polishing up an almost-finished piece?

I think the polishing up is my favorite step. That’s when I think about theme and that sort of big picture thing, and when the story really coalesces into what it’s going to be.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on one novel–a Pride and Prejudice retelling where Mrs. Bennet trades Lizzie and Mary to a witch to make Lydia a boy.

I’m also working on a handful of short stories.
1. An epistolary story where the letters are from an artificial intelligence that can travel from one person to another by eye contact, and addressed to a girl whose mind it lived in for a few years.
2. A fantasy story where the emperor stole all the magic in the world and doles it out as he pleases.
3. A group of angels meeting up to make people’s days better in tiny ways.
4. A hollow earth story with feathered riding dinosaurs.

Big thanks to Jamie Lackey for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find her online at her website as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!

Lyrical Curses: Interview with Candace Robinson

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today, I’m pleased to feature Candace Robinson. Candace is the author of numerous books including Clouded by Envy, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, Lullaby of Flames, and Bacon Pie, among others. She also runs the popular blog, Literary Dust, which features author interviews and reviews.

Recently, Candace and I discussed her new book, Veiled By Desire, as well as her love of horror and her upcoming projects.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I first decided to become a writer senior year of high school when we had to do an assignment where we had to write down our thoughts for a certain length of time. Somehow my thoughts turned into the start of a story! But I didn’t actually write my first story until years later! Some of my favorite authors are Holly Black, Sarah J. Mass, Natalia Jaster, and Brenna Yovanoff!

Your new book, Veiled by Desire, is due out this month. What can you share about the process for this book? How long did it take you to write it, and what was the inspiration behind it?

This was actually the first idea I ever had for a book which dates back to 2003, but it literally took me forever to get the full story in my head. I ended up writing several other books before it finally came together. I even ended up writing Clouded By Envy first, which is a prequel of sorts. Anyway, I wrote the first draft within a month in September of 2018!

You’re a fan of horror, and your darkly fantastical work often reflects that love. How did you first fall in love with horror? Do you remember the first horror film you saw or horror book that you read, and do you have a current favorite?

I’ve been watching horror movies since I could pretty much walk, seriously. I’m not sure if my parents should have been letting me watch these movies, but they did lol! The first one I recall ever watching would have to be Nightmare on Elm Street which I still love today! My all time favorite horror movie is either May or The Bride of Frankenstein.

You live in Houston, Texas. How, if at all, do you find your hometown influencing your writing?

Well, I live in Deer Park, and for Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, I actually used the town as the setting for it. Actually, most of my books that take place in the real world are set around here!

All of your covers are so beautiful! What’s been the process behind the artwork for your different books?

I actually suck at designing covers, so this is actually all thanks to the wonderful cover designers! I really wish I could design and do stuff the way they can.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

I’d have to say Lyrics & Curses. It technically doesn’t come out until November 2020, but it’s set in 1985, and I just love 80s stuff so much! Plus, those characters are my babies!

What projects are you working on now?

I just finished up a short story and am trying to revise another old manuscript, so hopefully I can make those readable!

Where can we find you online?

Website: http://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com

Blog: http://literarydust.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/literarydust

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/literarydust/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/literarydust

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16541001.Candace_Robinson

Tremendous thanks to Candace Robinson for being this week’s featured author!

Happy reading!

Deep Water: Interview with Chad Lutzke

Welcome back for this week’s author interview. Today, I’m thrilled to spotlight Chad Lutzke. Chad is the author of numerous books including The Pale White, The Same Deep Water as You, Stirring the Sheets, and Out Behind the Barn with co-author John Boden.

Recently, Chad and I discussed the inspiration behind his recent novellas as well as his process as a writer and his future plans.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I didn’t really start taking writing seriously as something I’d like to make a career of until 2014. At the time, my favorite writers were the usual suspects: King, Koontz, McCammon, Barker, and Poe, but since then I’ve had a far greater appreciation for Ketchum and Lansdale.

Congratulations on the recent release of The Pale White! What was the inspiration behind the book?

Thank you. I wish I had something cool to give you, but the truth is I don’t really remember. Sometimes ideas just pop into my head. That was one of them.

I absolutely adore the cover for The Pale White. It’s so evocative and tells such a story on its own. Who is the artist, and how did the cover develop?

Thank you. Zach McCain did that cover. He also did Out Behind the Barn, The Same Deep Water as You and Halo of Flies. It was just something I envisioned. I drew a sketch of it and sent it to Zach along with very detailed instructions on how I want the girls to look, the house, the stained glass and even the hues. Zach is great at giving me exactly what I ask for.

Earlier this year, you also released The Same Deep Water as You. What was the inspiration and process behind this book? How did it differ from your process with The Pale White?

The Same Deep Water as You is about 98% nonfiction. It was my life in the year ’89/’90. I took the liberty of adding a few things, but for the most part its autobiographical and an experiment for me to write…my idea of dark romance that was basically just for me. Fortunately, people seem to connect with it. Because nearly all of it’s true, it came out very fast. I wrote it in 10 days in a notebook by hand. The Pale White took much longer. It was something I kept putting on the back burner.

Your work often falls in the novella category. What is it that draws you to this length of stories? Also, how is your approach different or similar when working on short stories versus longer fiction?

I like a small cast of characters in isolated incidents. I’m not into long, drawn-out characterization, going on for pages with character backgrounds, and I’m also not big on description. Mix those dislikes with my love for lean prose and you get a shorter book. Often times the short stories I write are nothing more than me starting with an intriguing opening sentence. Something that hooks me enough to keep writing, with the need to know where it’s going. Eventually things come together and the pieces fit. It sounds messier than it is. While I still pants all of my books, I usually have more of an idea on where it’s headed before I start one.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: developing characters, establishing setting, or crafting dialogue?

Probably developing characters, particularly if I have no idea where things are headed. I love that spontaneity. It keeps me interested. Once I get a better idea of the character, I fill in the blanks later, but the most fun is getting there.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m finishing up a crime noir book called The Neon Owl and slowly writing another book with John Boden. I’m also writing a book with Boden and Bob Ford, which is in the early developmental stages. I have another project I’m doing with another author, but it’s too early to spill the beans on that one yet.

Huge thanks to Chad Lutzke for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find him online at his website!

Happy reading!

Autumnal Fiction: Submission Roundup for November 2019

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! There are plenty of wonderful writing opportunities out there this month, so get those stories of yours polished up and sent out into the world!

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors. And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Podcastle
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; $100/flat for reprints over 1,500 words; $20/flat for reprints under 1,500 words
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: November 15th, 2019
What They Want: Open to original and reprint fantasy stories of all subgenres. 
Find the details here.

Enchanted Conversation
Payment: $10/flat
Length: 700 to 2,000 words (1,200 words are ideal)
Deadline: November 20th, 2019
What They Want: Enchanted Magazine is seeking fairy tales, folktales, and myths that can either be retellings of established stories or featuring original characters. This issue’s theme is Winter.
Find the details here.

Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy Short Stories
Payment: .08/word for original fiction; .06/word for reprints
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words
Deadline: December 1st, 2019
What They Want: Flame Tree is seeking short stories for their popular Gothic Fantasy anthology series. The current themes are Bodies in the Library, which will include crime and mystery stories, and Footsteps in the Dark, which will feature horror and suspense fiction.
Find the details here.

The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: January 7th, 2020
What They Want: The follow-up to the highly successful The Fiends in the Furrows, the editors are seeking folk horror stories from around the world.
Find the details here.

The New Gothic Review
Payment: $15/flat
Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Original short stories that deal with the unknown, the dark, and the atmospheric. Eerie horror, weird fiction, fairy tales, and light science fiction are all welcome so long as the stories have Gothic elements.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

My Upcoming Readings in the Pittsburgh Area

Happy October! This month has already been flying by, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of spooky fun left before Halloween! And if you’re looking for thrills and chills of the literary variety, I’m super thrilled to be doing two creepy horror events in the Pittsburgh region this month!

First up, I’ll be part of the Horror/Sci-Fi Panel this Saturday, October 19th at the Barnes and Noble in Monroeville. The panel starts at 7pm, and features authors Rick Claypool, Brandon Getz, C.M. Chakrabarti, and Jamie Lackey, along with yours truly. All the details are available on the Facebook event page here.

Then on Tuesday, October 29th, I’ll be joining Ronald J. Murray and Nelson W. Pyles at the Monongahela Area Library for Haunted Books, Wicked Words. I’ve never done a reading at a library before, and honestly, you can’t get a better literary setting than that, so I’m very excited to be heading out for this one. The event starts at 5:30pm, and you can find those full details right here!

I’m so ecstatic and honored to be part of both of these events. It will be a lot of fun seeing everyone there, so if you’re around the Pittsburgh area, head on out and hang out with us horror writers. I promise we’re not as scary as we look!

Happy reading!

Table of Contents Reveal for NOX PAREIDOLIA from Nightscape Press!

So this week ushered in the big table of contents reveal for NOX PAREIDOLIA, the highly anticipated anthology from Nightscape Press, and to say that I’m thrilled about it is a massive understatement!

*cue banners and streamers and screams of joy*

Slated for an October 31st release, this is sure to be one of the very coolest anthologies of the year, and I’m completely elated that I get to be part of it! My story, “When the Nightingale Devours the Stars,” is all about birds, small towns, death cults, and outsiders fighting for their place in the world. It’s a story I’m so proud of, and I am positively overjoyed that it found such a wonderful home.

So without further adieu, let’s see that gorgeous TOC, shall we?

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR NOX PAREIDOLIA
“Watch Me Burn With the Light of Ghosts” by Paul Jessup
“Immolation” by Kristi DeMeester
“Her Eyes Are Winter” by Christopher Ropes
“8X10” by Duane Pesice and Don Webb
“Bag and Baggage” by Greg Sisco
“The Dredger” by Matt Thompson
“Hello” by Michael Wehunt
“Gardening Activities for Couples” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
“Lies I Told Myself” by Lynne Jamneck
“The Unkindness” by Dino Parenti
“Merge Now” by Kurt Fawver
“when we were trespassers” by doungjai gam
“Rum Punch is Going Down” by Daniel Braum
“Unmoored” by Sean M. Thompson
“Just Beyond the Shore” by Elizabeth Beechwood
“The Schoolmaster” by David Peak
“The Past You Have, The Future You Deserve” by K.H. Vaughan
“Herr Sheintod” by LC von Hessen
“The Room Above” by Brian Evenson
“Sincerely Eden” by Amelia Gorman
“Wild Dogs” by Carrie Laben
“The Moody Rooms of Agatha Tate” by Wendy Nikel
“Salmon Run” by Andrew Kozma
“The Little Drawer of Chaos” by Annie Neugebauer
“When the Nightingale Devours the Stars” by Gwendolyn Kiste
“Far From Home” by Dan Coxon
“Birds” by Zin E. Rocklyn
“Strident Caller” by Laird Barron
“The Taste of Rot” by Steve Toase
“Venom” by S.P. Miskowski
“In the Vastness of the Sovereign Sky” by S.L. Edwards

As you can see from that list, this is a massive horror anthology, clocking in at over 300 pages. And look at all those names! From major award winners to fantastic up-and-comers, these are truly some of the very best short fiction authors of horror and the weird today, and I’m so very happy to be included among them.

As if these wonderfully weird words weren’t enough, every story in the book has an illustration to accompany it, and as always, the artwork from Luke Spooner is out-of-this-world beautiful. My lovely, creepy birds are featured above, but you can see all the art for NOX on social media by heading over here or here. And, you know, you could also go ahead and buy this supremely cool anthology and enjoy the art and the words for many weird years to come! It’s already available for pre-order on the Nightscape Press site as well as on Amazon.

As per the usual, you can expect lots more celebration of this anthology from my social media and blog in the weeks to come. Because really, what’s better than a horror anthology making its fearsome debut in the world on Samhain?

Happy reading, and happy spooky Halloween season!

Spooky Stories: Submission Roundup for October 2019

Welcome back for October’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great opportunities this month, so start polishing up those stories now!

As always, a word from the keeper of the blog: I am not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word. That means if you have any questions, please direct them to their respective editor.

Now onward with this month’s submission calls!

Submission Roundup

Electric Spec
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 250 to 7,000 words
Deadline: October 15th, 2019
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative short fiction.
Find the details here.

Dark Divinations
Payment: $10/flat
Length: 2,000 to 5,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Editor Naching T. Kassa is seeking horror stories about divination set in the Victorian age.
Find the details here.

Arsenika
Payment: $60/flat for fiction; $30/flat for poetry
Length: up to 1,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction and poetry, including horror.
Find the details here.

Movies, Monsters, and Mayhem
Payment: .06/word
Length: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Open to short stories that feature a monster in a movie setting.
Find the details here.

Pulp Horror Phobias Volume 2
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: October 31st, 2019
What They Want: Lycan Valley Press is seeking pulp/noir stories that deal with phobias.
Find the details here.

The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror
Payment: .04/word
Length: 4,000 to 8,000 words
Deadline: Opens November 1st, 2019 for submissions
What They Want: The follow-up to the highly successful The Fiends in the Furrows, the editors are seeking folk horror stories from around the world.
Find the details here.

Happy reading and submitting!

Poetry of the Night: Interview with Cina Pelayo

Welcome back for this week’s author interview! Today I’m thrilled to spotlight Cina Pelayo. Cina’s an accomplished and award-winning poet and fiction author with numerous books including Poems of My Night, Santa Muerte, Loteria, and The Missing.

Over the summer, Cina and I discussed her inspiration as an author, her gorgeous covers by Abigail Larson, and her future writing plans.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I started writing in high school, but non-fiction. My undergraduate degree is in journalism and I worked as a freelance journalist for about 10 years before moving on to fiction writing. I started writing fiction while pursuing an MFA. I have always loved horror. I watched my first horror movie at 5 and was pretty obsessed with all things horror to the point that my mother consulted with her priest about my obsession with horror movies, books, magazines and fascination with the occult. She wound up throwing away my Ouija board, but I put my foot down on horror movies and books and she left me alone from there thinking it was a phase. I guess it wasn’t a phase?

What draws you to horror? Do you remember your first experience with the genre, and do you have a favorite film or book that serves as your horror go-to?

I live in inner city Chicago – not the suburbs where most people live who say they live in Chicago. I’ve seen it all. Gangs. Guns. Drugs. My elementary school friend is serving life for murder. A classmate from high school was paralyzed days before graduation. I’ve covered stories as a journalist where I’ve showed up to the scene and the body is still there on the ground for all to see. Those things don’t leave you. They become a part of you. That together with my mother’s wild religious superstitions (We once had a quasi-exorcism in our house) have stayed with me. My mother has also had her fair share of exposure to horrific crimes that she has shared with me. A neighbor girl from her town was abducted and raped and killed and her dismembered body was discarded in her parent’s trash can. My mother also recalls people’s fears of witches and the occult from her town and she’s shared these stories with me. My father has shared stories of strange occurrences from his town as well.

I wish I could say that fiction has been my sole inspiration, but it’s really been non-fiction that has influenced my fascination with the horror genre. Why do people do horrible things to one another? What is their motivation?

In terms of my first exposure to the horror fiction genre it’s seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was about 5-years-old while my brother was baby sitting me. Freddy is forever my first and favorite. In terms of a horror book that is my go-to, it’s The Exorcist. When I think of all of the horror novels that I wish I could write it would be that one.

You’ve written both fiction and poetry. Is your approach to writing the same or different depending on the medium? Is there one you prefer over the other?

Different. With fiction I am much more organized and structured, and sometimes it’s a really grueling experience with editing and rearranging scenes and understanding the logic and motivation behind what is going on. I think of it mathematically sometimes, if this plus this then it equals this, and then I wind up overthinking what is going on, how I am saying it and even where it’s located in the story. Sometimes that overthinking stunts me, I freeze, and I just stall writing.

With poetry, it’s much looser and I feel more at peace with what I am doing. It feels closest to painting for me when I write poetry. Yes, there is some editing and rearranging of things like with fiction, but I really enjoy writing poetry. It’s musical. It’s beautiful, and it’s much more personal for me.

You recently were a judge for the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume 6 alongside Christa Carmen and editor Stephanie M. Wytovich. What was that experience like, and do you foresee more editing work in your future?

Stephanie and Christa are two of the most wonderful horror writers working in our genre today. Both of them are incredibly smart and talented and just very pleasant to be around and talk to. I enjoy their work tremendously and I just enjoy them as overall people. It was a joy to be able to work on this project and I still can’t believe I was able to do that.

I’m not really an editor. I am in awe of those who edit. I’ve been trying to revive my indie press (Burial Day) for some time and that’s probably the most editing I will allow myself to do so that I can focus on creating.

Your books all have such beautiful covers! What can you share about the process of working with your cover artists?

Thank you but I can’t take credit for that. That is really the work of Abigail Larson. She’s a genius and I have been working with Abigail for about 10 years now. She is extremely busy (which is fantastic) and so I am lucky when she has availability. I usually send her a few ideas… all notes and not visuals because I really want her to come at it through her lens. She’s brilliant and always creates something perfect for my work.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

Poems of My Night is the most personal. Santa Muerte is my first published work so that will always be a special piece for me. Loteria was my thesis, so it’s special because of that. I have really enjoyed my short stories lately. I have one coming out soon for a Puerto Rico charity anthology edited by Angel Luis Colon from Down and Out Books – Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas, and that is my favorite short story I have written in some time. I also really like the short story I wrote for She’s Lost Control.

What projects are you currently working on?

I feel like I have been editing this novel for two years… and that’s because I have. I’m trying to wrap up a detective-horror novel right now. After that, I’m likely going back to my YA horror roots but I’m not completely certain yet.

Tremendous thanks to Cina Pelayo for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find her online at Twitter and her website!

Happy reading!