Monthly Archives: September 2019

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!

My Schedule for Saugatuck StoryFest 2019

In just one week, we’ll be hitting the road and heading out to the awesome Saugatuck StoryFest in Westport, Connecticut! It’s my last convention for the year, and I’m incredibly excited for it! So in case you’ll be there, here’s my official schedule of panels and signings during the event. (Plus, check out this super cool graphic that StoryFest created for me! EEEE!)

Scary Stories Presented by the Horror Writers Association on Saturday, September 28th at 12pm
Moderated by HWA president John Palisano, I’ll be joining panelists Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Mallory O’Meara, Grady Hendrix, and J.W. Ocker on The Forum Stage. We’ll be talking all about the current state of the horror genre as well as its future. And as if all of this isn’t cool enough, this panel serves as the “opening act” for R.L. Stine who will be giving his keynote address right afterward. For real, how cool is that?! *writer swoon*

Book Signing on Saturday, September 28th at 2:30pm
If you want a chance to talk a bit or to pick up a copy of The Rust Maidens, Pretty Marys All in a Row, or And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, I’ll be signing books in the afternoon. This signing event will also include all the great panelists and moderator from the previous panel plus the absolutely delightful and talented Christa Carmen. So head on out to meet us all and get your books signed!

The Storyteller in the World on Saturday, September 28th at 3:30pm
My second panel of the weekend explores the worlds that writers create and how we have personal connections to those worlds. Moderated by Meryl Moss, I’ll be with fellow panelists Marah Hardt, L.L. McKinney, Christa Carmen, Tope Folarin, and Courtney Maum. Also, in case you miss my first signing, the panelists and I will be doing a signing right after this panel too!

There are so many other great events all weekend, so you can find the full schedule for StoryFest right over here. Needless to say, I’m looking so forward to seeing everyone in Connecticut next week! Definitely say hello if you see me!

Happy reading, and happy StoryFest!

Autumn Tales: Submission Roundup for September 2019

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Lots of great writing opportunities in September, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, then one of these markets might be a great place to send it! As always, a disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m only spreading the word. Please direct your questions to their respective editors.

And now onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupLatinx Screams
Payment: .05/word
Length: up to 5,000 words (though up to 3,500 words preferred)
Deadline: September 25th, 2019
What They Want: The fantastic V. Castro and Brian Lindenmuth are seeking horror stories from Latinx and AfroLatinx authors about protagonists facing and fighting overwhelming fears.
Find the details here.

Augur Magazine
Payment: .11/word (CAD) for short fiction; $110/flat for flash fiction; $60/flat for poetry
Length: up to 5,000 for fiction; up to 5 pages for poetry
Deadline: September 30th, 2019
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction, especially fabulism, magic realism, and slipstream.
Find the details here

Dim Shores
Payment: $200 to $400
Length: at least 6,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2019
What They Want: Open to unsettling, weird speculative fiction that will be produced as part of Dim Shores’ chapbook series.
Find the details here

Unnerving’s Rewind or Die series
Payment: 50/50 royalty split
Length: 25,000 to 50,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2019
What They Want: Editor Eddie Generous is seeking novellas that focus on the wonderfully creepy spirit of the 1970s and 1980s horror video craze era.
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

Happy reading!