Monthly Archives: January 2020

My Nightmare story and Vastarien article are on the Preliminary Bram Stoker Awards Ballot!

So last week ushered in a very big surprise when both my short story, “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” and my short nonfiction article, “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” made it on the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot.

Seriously. WHAT?!

Now as always, it’s important to note that this is NOT a nomination. Voting on the final ballot opens tomorrow, and the official nominees will be announced next month. But to have two works appear on the preliminary ballot is such an incredible honor, and I’m still stunned just writing this post.

Because I don’t want to keep blathering on (yes, I know you’ve all heard plenty about this from me already on social media), here’s a bit about each work that’s on the preliminary ballot, and then I’ll wrap this up.

In the short fiction category, my story “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” first appeared in Nightmare Magazine in November and is available to read for free online. It’s a retelling of Dracula from Lucy’s perspective, and it’s been called “a wonderful and subversive take on the classic story” by Curious Fictions and “a story that knows exactly what it is about, intricately framed and wonderfully complex” by Quick Sip Reviews.

As for short nonfiction, “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” was first published in March 2019 in Vastarien. This piece focuses on three of Gilman’s most famous short stories–“When I Was a Witch,” “The Giant Wistaria,” and of course “The Yellow Wallpaper”–and reflects on their themes of freedom, individuality, and so-called madness.

The iMailer newsletter from HWA went out earlier this week, which included links to both my works, but if you missed that email, then it’s worth repeating: if you’re an Active or Lifetime member and would like to read either my short story or my short nonfiction article, please email me at, and I would be thrilled to send you copies of them!

Once again, so many huge congratulations to everyone on the preliminary ballot. It was another wonderful year for horror, and the fantastic authors and works on the ballot reflect that! I’m so thrilled and humbled to be among so many awesome friends and colleagues! Good luck to all!

Happy reading!

Wild Doorways: Interview with Eric J. Guignard

Welcome back! This week, I’m happy to spotlight author and editor Eric J. Guignard. Eric is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of That Which Grows Wild and Doorways to the Deadeye.

Recently, Eric and I discussed his inspiration as a writer as well as how his work as an editor at his publishing house Dark Moon Books has affected his work as a writer.

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

First, of course, thanks so much for this interview, Gwendolyn!

Now for your questions: I’ve been writing fiction with the goal of publication since February, 2011. However, I’ve been writing and drawing stories ever since I was a child. I’d just done it previously for my own interest, or for friends. I stopped in college, in order to pursue business and serious-minded life necessities… which, of course, I now regret. I don’t regret the pursuit of those things, but rather having given up writing for so many years. I only jumped into as a potential career-type desire after the realization struck me that I was missing out on something I was passionate about!

Some authors I currently adore and consider influences and inspirations include Joe R. Lansdale, Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, Stephen Graham Jones, Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Morton, Kaaron Warren, Dennis Lehane, Seanan McGuire, Lauren Beukes, Jack Kerouac, Mark Bowden, O. Henry, James Ellroy, Neil Gaiman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Helen Marshall, John Steinbeck, Weston Ochse, and many, many others.

Your debut novel, Doorways to the Deadeye, was released last year through JournalStone. What can you share about the process of writing your first novel, and what has the release been like so far?

Since Doorways to the Deadeye was my first full-length novel, the process went pretty much all over the place, and it became a melting pot of worlds and styles.

I wrote this book for “me” (rather than for a particular market, which ultimately wasn’t the best decision!), examining insights and feelings, and also experimenting with structure, and digging into new themes as well as ones I often include in my other writings: Death and how we handle it; the fluidity of memories; explorations of uncharted territory; loss of loved ones; unexpected ways to emerge victorious from dark situations… There’s elements of Dark Fiction; Speculative Fiction; Magic Realism; Thriller; Light Horror; Urban Fantasy, etc.

Since this book is about legend-building and memories, and the search for perseverance after death, it’s also meant to go “all over the place,” as the voices change, and the stories within the greater story; it’s all meant to evolve as the book progresses, just like in life that as we tell stories they change, and so do the memories of those involved. Then I framed all this in the travels of a 1930s-era train-hopping hobo, and the homeless narrator who is trying to keep the stories literally “alive”.

I know that can sound pretty flighty, so here the P.R. synopsis: A Depression-era hobo rides the rails and learns the underlying Hobo Code is a mystical language that leads into the world of memories, where whoever is remembered strongest—whether by trickery, violence, or daring—can change history and alter the lives of the living.

As far as results of the release, I feel it’s gone well. One can always wish for greater acclaim of course (it’s never enough!!), but I’m happy with sales and reviews so far. This type of book is definitely not for everyone, and I know that … I’ve had a few people tell me they can’t understand it after the first couple of chapters and give up. But most readers and reviewers have given it solid, heart-warming praise, and some have even told me it’s changed the way they read and write stories.

If I may be so bold as to drop a few lines of reviews here, they include the following:

“…Guignard captures the depth of emotion underlying fictional terrors.”—Library Journal

“This novel is a stunner… shocking to see how powerful the author’s lines were, how well-drawn the characters had become.” —Cemetery Dance Magazine

“Rich, strange, and wonderful.” —Michael Marshall Smith, NY Times bestselling author

And I literally just got a new wonderful review five minutes ago from The Horror Fiction Review, which made my day, as well as an inclusion on the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot this morning!

Congratulations on your Stoker win last year for That Which Grows Wild! How did that collection of short fiction develop?

That book is a collection (my first!) of previously published works, the stories having first appeared in various anthologies, magazines, etc. Each story in itself had its own inspiration or aim, so the collection is more about which stories would work well together in a grouping. I worked with editor Norman Prentiss at Cemetery Dance to select ones that presented a wide range of material, but at the same time weren’t too far “out of the box”. Originally I had some other choices that were more “weird” or satire or dark, and Norm suggested switching out those to ones a bit more in the same mood, so voilà, the finished product, which I’m happy with!

How does your approach to short versus long fiction differ? Do you prefer one length over the other?

My favorite thing to write (and to read) has always been fiction short stories, rather than novels, so that’s usually been my focus. But I am proud to have now gotten my first novel under my belt (Doorways to the Deadeye), as there seems to be this lack of gravitas for anyone who claims they’re a writer but hasn’t put out the “full-length” book!

And interestingly, over the nine years I’ve been writing short stories, I do find them getting longer and longer on average (in word count), so perhaps it’s a natural progression that will lead into more novels.

I probably should have a more formal approach to writing as well, but I still mostly just write what I feel like, when I feel like it, and I also write more in terms of being a “Pantser,” i.e. writing as I go, although if the story becomes complicated or I get burned out, or stuck, then I turn to plotting or outlining to figure the proper direction.

You’re also an award-winning editor. What inspired you to become an editor, and how has editing informed your fiction writing and vice versa?

I started editing because I wanted to improve as a writer, and it’s helped immensely. I recommend it to anyone wishing to improve their writing. By reading submission slush I saw what everyone else was writing about, the same tropes and styles, and immediately knew to write something going the other direction. By an aggregate of stories, I would find flaws in writing that I would then recognize in myself. And I learned it’s true that you can accurately judge a story based on the opening paragraph, and in most cases the opening sentence. From editing, I gained experience in story development, author communications, layout, promotions and so on. I now look at projects from the multiple eyes of “Editor,” “Marketer,” “Distributor,” “Publisher,” and it’s made me a better person.

I find editing is easier for me than writing, although writing brings more satisfaction. Writing is emotionally exhausting, whereas editing I can do all day long. And I’m always thrilled with the chance to connect and work with other writers while editing. But I love so much to type “The End” at the end of a writing piece—it’s a wonderful, fulfilling sense. Both are different journeys to a creative destination.

As an aside, my day job is working as a Technical Writer, which can get dull at times, but it’s also definitely improved my fiction writing, by articulating stories in concise language, with focus on impact, brevity, and an understanding of audiences.

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

“Polishing an almost-finished piece” is the easiest for me, fine-tuning the details (probably more aligning with my day-job work of Technical Writing). Brainstorming ideas is my favorite, because it involves a lot of daydreaming and idea sketches and just letting my mind wander, although 99% of those ideas don’t go anywhere, and sometimes it turns into this very stressful realization of wasting time! A slightly different response is that the most satisfying part of the writing process would be to get down the first draft; this is absolutely the hardest part for me, so when completed, I feel a natural exhilaration for the rest of the day. (And then the next day, it’s back to something else, haha!)

What projects are you currently working on?

Through my press, Dark Moon Books, I’m continuing to publish a series of author primers created to champion modern masters of the dark and macabre, titled: Exploring Dark Short Fiction (Vol. 1: Steve Rasnic Tem; Vol. II: Kaaron Warren; Vol. III: Nisi Shawl; Vol. IV: Jeffrey Ford; Vol. V: Han Song; Vol. VI: Ramsey Campbell).

And through SourceBooks I’m curating a new series of books titled, The Horror Writers Association Presents: Haunted Library of Horror Classics with co-editor Leslie S. Klinger (to begin publishing 2020).

I’m also still writing short stories, and I’ve started THREE new novels, although I’m not very far into any of them! One is a pulp science fiction, one a paranormal detective series, and one a literary historical horror.

I also have hopes to launch a new anthology series in the future, if I can ever get my publishing finances out of the red!

Tremendous thanks to Eric J. Guignard for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at his author site and Dark Moon Books as well as on Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram!

Happy reading!

The Horror Year that Was: 2019 Award Eligibility Post

So 2019 is officially in the rearview mirror, which means now it’s time for this annual post. As everyone always says, it tends to be a little weird to do an award eligibility blog, but at the same time, it’s also nice to look back at the year that was, so here we go, once more unto the breach!

For me, last year was all about new short fiction and nonfiction as well as promoting The Rust Maidens. I didn’t have any longer fiction projects released, although The Invention of Ghosts is right on the horizon, so that will be a big new project for 2020. As for 2019, I had nine new short stories make their way into the world along with five nonfiction articles. Here’s a bit of an overview on each!

The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” (Nightmare, November 2019)
A retelling of Dracula through Lucy’s perspective, this tale has got bloodlust, rage, and revenge, all while reclaiming the identity of a very unsung character of horror literature. Based on reader responses, this is one of my very best received short stories, with Curious Fictions calling it “a wonderful and subversive take on the classic story.” Plus, it’s free to read, so that’s always nice.

All the Ways to Hollow Out a Girl” (Horror for RAICES, December 2019)
An isolated teenage girl has an uncanny knack for resurrection, which makes her a target for a group of neighborhood boys. All proceeds from this wonderful anthology go to benefit RAICES.

A New Mother’s Guide for Raising an Abomination” (The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg, November 2019)
An eager mother gets more than she bargained for when her baby undergoes a monstrous transformation, joining a legion of other little girls who are more than what they seem. Part of the Cronenberg tribute anthology, this tale is a nod to The Brood as well as the overall body horror vibe of Cronenberg’s work.

When the Nightingale Devours the Stars” (Nox Pareidolia, October 2019)
Two women are trapped in a hellish small town, one of them cursed with a gift of strange magic that might just be able to save them both. This beautiful anthology is packed with so many incredible writers and has been quite well-received so far by readers.

The Girls from the Horror Movie” (Come Join Us by the Fire, October 2019)
A pair of twins were the unlikely stars of a horror film when they were children. Years later, they still haven’t escaped its cinematic thrall. Another personal favorite, this story is part of the flagship project for Tor’s new Nightfire imprint.

Over the Violets There that Lie” (Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror, August 2019)
It’s the turbulent 1960s, and a troubled housewife finds herself cast in a gruesome anthology film dedicated to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. 2019 was definitely a year for me and film-centric tales, a theme I most certainly hope to continue building on in the future.

A Lost Student’s Handbook for Surviving the Abyss“(Welcome to Miskatonic University, July 2019)
A college student confronts cosmic horror, displacement, and identity issues all while coping with her first semester at the famed university. This is such a fun anthology, and I love that I got to do my own spin on the Lovecraftian mythos with this tale. Another fantastic table of contents, Broken Eye Books always puts out such great anthologies.

The Woman Out of the Attic” (Haunted House Short Stories, March 2019)
A re-imagining of the Madwoman in the Attic trope. A lonely ghost haunts the grand estate where she once lived with her brooding husband. When he brings home a new wife, the ghost starts to realize that perhaps her fate isn’t as hopeless and inevitable as she thought. This one was recently reprinted at Pseudopod and is available on the podcast for free here.

Tips for How to Deal with Your Daughter When She’s Become a Monster” (Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, February 2019)
A horrifying discovery forces a mother to come to terms with her teenage daughter’s monstrous nature. True to its title, this anthology features reimaginings of the Medusa and gorgon legends, and it’s a truly fantastic table of contents with a gorgeous Daniele Serra cover.

As for my nonfiction, I had an essay featured at Kendall Reviews about holiday ghost stories, a guest post on body horror over at the lovely Ladies of Horror Fiction site, and a folk horror article and a retrospective on the 60th anniversary on Psycho in Unnerving. My most scholarly article appeared in the excellent Vastarien back in February; “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” examines Gilman’s legacy through her exploration of witchcraft, psychology, and feminism.

If you’re recommending for awards, I would be absolutely thrilled to provide copies of any of the works above; just feel free to drop me a line!

Last year also saw me officially earn the title of “award-winning writer,” which means provided I don’t worry myself into an early grave, I’ll one day be that old person with a bony fist, shaking it at the sky and croaking out things like “Back in my day, I won awards, and I’ve got the cool swag on my wall to prove it!” Although I suppose I’m a little like that old person now, so maybe none of us has to wait for that reality.

In all seriousness, it was a really wonderful and fortunate year professionally for me, and I have nothing but gratitude for that. Once again, thank you to all the fans of The Rust Maidens; your support is what carried it to the Stoker and the This is Horror award, and that’s still astounding to me. So thank you thank you thank you.

So that was my year. It was a very good one professionally, which leaves me hopeful that 2020 might not turn out too shabby either.

Until next time, happy New Year, and happy reading!

Happy New Year for Fiction: Submission Roundup for January 2020

Welcome back to the first Submission Roundup of 2020! Lots of great opportunities this month, both submission calls that were featured in December as well as several new ones. But before we get started, first the usual 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 with that, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupThe 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.

Electric Spec
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 250 to 7,000 words
Deadline: January 15th, 2020
What They Want: Open to a wide range of speculative short fiction.
Find the details here.

The Macabre Museum
Payment: $25/flat for fiction; $5/flat for poetry
Length: 3,000 to 6,000 words for fiction; up to 3 poems
Deadline: January 31st, 2020
What They Want: Open to literary horror fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Triangulation: Dark Skies
Payment: .03/word
Length: up to 5,000 words (3,000 preferred)
Deadline: February 29th, 2020
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction stories that deal with extinction.
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!