Saturday, February 25, 2017

Women in Horror Month - Part 6

Our 2nd to last guest Blog. This one blog brought to us from Christa Carmen.

February’s Women in Horror Month as a platform to explore the dreaded question: Do you believe in writer’s block?  

By Christa Carmen

February is Women in Horror Month, which means…absolutely nothing if you are a female horror writer who is anything like me. During the month of February, I write. I also write on Christmas, my birthday, on the day when I had applied for a new job and found out I didn’t get it, and I write on the day, a year and a half later, when I had applied for the same job and I found out I got it. I write when the writing’s good and I write when the writing sucks (Jodi Picoult’s quote: “You can always edit a bad page…you can’t edit a blank page,” is printed in purple chalk on a blackboard atop my desk); I write when I want to write and I write when I really rather wouldn’t.
But what if someday, the time comes when I go to pick the gel off the tip of a new Bic Cristal 1.6 mm blue pen, lean in to smell that new-notebook scent, and realize that I haven’t the foggiest idea what to put on the damn page? What if I just stare and stare until the lines blur together and the clock leers at me from the wall and no matter how hard I try and coax my brain into transcribing a message to my fingers, nothing comes???
Well, I’m here, the February 2017 version of ‘Woman in Horror,’ Christa Carmen, to tell the future, potentially-plagued-by-the-dreaded-‘W-B’-phrase, Christa Carmen, how to escape from that blank-paper Hell. It won’t be an exact science, but it will at least be a blueprint to refer to should the Four Horses of the Apocalypse show up to drag each and every embryonic storyline from my head before I’ve had a chance to deliver and properly nurture them.
Step one: read! This is a nice and easy one.  Read books that recently debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and read the classics. Read outside the genre of horror and read hardcore horror books within it. Read something of which the dust jacket blurb calls to you like an old friend, a friend you can envision being curled up by the fire with, your beagle next to you on the couch and a monstrous cup of tea in front of you on the coffee table, and read something that prior to picking up, you would have never imagined yourself reading in a thousand years.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be coming up with short story, novella, and novel ideas over the past year faster than I can write them…but with the addition of both the Audible (Amazon’s audiobook division) and Overdrive (e-and audiobook distributor for American libraries) apps to my mobile device, I’ve been averaging two books a week in that same amount of time.
Starting with the recommended reading list at the end of Stephen King’s On Writing and moving on to devour everything from Michael McDowell’s Cold Moon Over Babylon and Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl; from Frans de Waal’s Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? and Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk to Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I have always been a voracious reader in conjunction with being a writer.
My mother knows I like to try out different brands and sizes of notebooks like some people try new IPAs at their local watering hole, and so she recently presented me with an ‘ideas’ notebook (the cover inscription of which declares: Remember, ideas become things). The white ruled pages are intermittently interrupted by inspirational quotes written in large font and centered against fun, mustard-yellow backdrops (perhaps an interruption another writer might find disruptive enough to elicit a serious case of writer’s block!), and one of these quotations was from MovieMaker Magazine’s January 22, 2004 interview with Jim Jarmusch. It reads as follows:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

If that is not good advice for how to beat writer’s block, then I don’t know what is! Jarmusch’s quote immediately had me contemplating A&E’s drama series (this description is per its Wikipedia page – I would have called this baby a straight horror show, but hey, what do I know, I’m just a lil ol’ Woman in Horror;), Bates Motel. Robert Block wrote Psycho in 1959, and unlike Norman’s companions in slasher film serial killing, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger, all of who have had film installments which did justice to their respective backstories, the original mama’s boy was a bit of a tabula rasa in terms of his genesis.
Creativity kudos goes to Anthony Cipriano, who wrote Bates Motel’s first script, as well as to Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin, who joined seven months later as executive producers and head writers. Ironically, Cuse cited the drama series Twin Peaks as a key inspiration for Bates Motel, actually stating, “We pretty much ripped off Twin Peaks...If you wanted to get that confession, the answer is yes. I loved that show. They only did 30 episodes. Kerry [Ehrin] and I thought we'd do the 70 that are missing.” The cycle of reinvention and reinterpretation continues!
Step two: attend conferences! StokerCon, BookCon, Terror Con, Necon, Comicon...the cons go on and on! First, conferences are just a lot of fun in general, a great excuse to be around other writers and/or horror fans and learn a ton, but in addition to being enjoyable, conferences are inspiring in myriad ways.
Take a look at the schedule of events for any horror and/or writing conference and you’re in for a real trick-or-treat.  The lineup for StokerCon’s 2016 Horror University included courses on Building a Better Monster, Poetic Forms: The Scary World of Structured Poetry, Vice and Virtue in Horror Poetry, Writing from Experience, Writing from the Wound, How to Write Scary, and Making the Reader Squirm.
Finally, a conference in and of itself can be fodder for a story idea. Take Nick Mamatas’ I Am Providence, published by Night Shade Books, the tagline of which reads: An author's murder during an H. P. Lovecraft fan convention reveals dark secrets beneath the printed page in this biting murder-mystery satire. Not only do I want to read this book, I want to go to NecronomiCon this coming August!
Step three: write anyway! When all else fails, write through the barriers. Write a journal entry that’s the equivalent of your sister’s Instagram feed, i.e., pictures of palm trees and champagne brunches. Write a grocery list. Write one-hundred times in a row, I CAN’T THINK OF WHAT TO WRITE.  No matter what, just write. Eventually, instinct will take over, and before you know it, future, potentially-plagued-by-cerebral-obstruction, Christa Carmen, your writer’s block will be the stuff of nightmares. And hopefully, so will your writerly brainstorming.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Women in Horror Month - Part 5

We still have a few entries left to post for the guest bloggers for Women in Horror Month.So we'll be carrying these into March. Next up is April Hawkes.

Women in Horror Month
April Hawks

I have been participating in, and interested in, Women in Horror Month since I learned of its existence, in 2014. 

My first experience in WIHM was interesting. During a thread that I was following, there was a guy named Scott Lefavre, who saw an image that was for Women in Horror Month with red lips and the logo, and a tongue. He claimed it was the official picture for the month (it wasn’t) and that it was sexual in nature. So I hopped in, thinking that he meant well as he dug deeper into the hole he was making, and tried to help him explain what he meant. Turns out he meant that women’s mouths were better suited to sex stuff and that the red lips were suggestive of that and it was just a crash and burn that blew up in my face. When I realized what he was REALLY saying, to me at that point, about red lips and vagina dentata and more weirdness, the whole thing blew up and FaceBook was flooded with profile pictures of lips in bright red lipstick. Mine was my husband wearing it in support. So, that was year one for me, in a nutshell. 

Year two for me for Women in Horror Month began in a group for New England Horror Writers. Rod Labbe asked if there were any horror writers in Maine. Someone mentioned the trio of us that make my Writer’s group. He dismissed us as not real writers. I ignored it. Then he posted, publicly, on Facebook a continuation of that initial conversation. The thing was, that the beginning in the private group, was unknown to most that saw it. I copied his post, or maybe screen shotted it, and posted it to my own page and said ‘If you want to be friends with him, whatever, but this is what he is posting about my friends and I and I have blocked him.” So that was another big boom. And, again, the majority of the damning (for the other person) conversation was between myself and them. At one point, he classified women horror writers as hags. He condemned library readings and tables for book sales on lawns. Those were things that our group had advertised as they happened, and to my knowledge we were the only ones that mentioned tables on the lawn, because there is a big festival in our town and one of the members lives right on the street where most of the events take place. I think it was in the part I posted on Fb. Soon, once again because I have amazing people in my life, pictures of Hags in all forms were profile pictures. The posts about hags were everywhere and Haggate was a thing. I coined the phrase Resting Hag Face (which I am so proud of.) and made it a hashtag.

I  was primed and ready for Year Three to involve some stupid person and a bunch of drama, but it passed quietly and peacefully.

I ADORE our community, and how they stand up for what is right, and when one or several of us are attacked, they DO NOT stand by and watch. Horror writers are some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Having said that, I am interested to see what this year brings. I will not be bringing national politics into this, except to say that the political climate is restless and in some ways aggressive and I think that there is an attitude that anything can be said, no matter how hateful, and that the attitude by many is that it is encouraged. So, given all that, and several governmental policy changes, this current time is, in and of itself, horrific for women (and for SO many others for SO many reasons. I am not discounting you, nor forgetting you) But I have seen my Horror friends do what they do best. Rally for what is right. And should there be some sort of ridiculousness within the confines of Women In Horror Month, I know that we will unite once again. And, hey. Maybe we’ll get some new hashtags and some new profile pictures for the month, too.

April Hawks lives in Maine with her four boys and her husband, all avid supporters of her writing (even though the younger three aren’t yet allowed to read most of it) Her blog can be found at and her email is She has been published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Great Old Ones Publishing, has appeared on The Taco Society Presents, and is co founder of Tuesday Mayhem Society, a writing group that usually, now, meets on any day but Tuesday. She has permanent Resting Hag Face.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Women in Horror month - Part 4

The newest guest blogger is Juss Stinson!

Well, hello there sweet Darklings! I suppose introductions are due, yes? My name is Juss Stinson, I am an author, a mother, a life consultant, an oddity enthusiast, and I am proudly blogging for Women in Horror Month! I began my author journey in 2014 at the age of 23 and have since then self-published five books including: two paranormal romances, a horror themed poetry/short story anthology, a children's book about a sweet werewolf pup, and a free verse horror story. Many more creepy creations are also in the making, of course! *Insert delightful evil cackling here* I am writing to give forth a few pieces of my mind regarding this awesome month, filled with awesome women, and the most awesome genre. I am sure you are thinking to yourself that this sounds pretty awesome...YOU WOULD BE RIGHT! Anyway, I certainly hope you can take something from my playful prattling. 

What is my biggest advice to anyone dabbling in horror? Don't dread the brainstorming of your projects because dread is exactly what we want. I mean, think about it, we are talking about horror here! I know that when we look at something as a whole that it can get overwhelming. Break it down, turn that stress into scream fuel, and place that dread we were talking about into the details of your work. You won't be disappointed. My biggest problem when I began was the feeling of a stop sign directly in my view in the moments I was whisked away into my world of writing. I quickly learned that this is exactly the place you need to be in order to create the best ideas. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT allow yourself to dial it down when that scream fuel creates a fire! There are always moments of reflection later on. This means that later on if you really don't like how something played out, you will have plenty of time to edit. Just remember that editing can happen whenever, but those crazy floods of thought are spontaneous. Embrace that rush and prepare to grab a bucket for its collection. Ps, write it all down as it comes just in case you want to recycle thoughts later. You may want to take those thoughts and manipulate or tweak them to enhance things down the road as you edit.

Is horror really where it's at? Hey! Who asked that?! Don't be ridiculous, horror is one of the most amazing genres, no question about it. Don't get me wrong, there are so many epic genres that I am also in love with, but horror is surely my favorite and is unforgettable. It is elaborate and a place that the grotesque can be made gorgeous! I can certainly tell you that when you dabble in the realm of horror you really aren't going to forget it. When I was a kid and saw my first horror movie it was simply monumental. In entertainment, one of the most sought after factors is a range of emotions. Emotions are put into play in order to make something fantastic and create an impact in the mind. Horror is a genre that really invokes the strongest of emotions. I have sat through sad movies and blubbered like an idiot, but have you ever launched a popcorn bucket three rows in front of you in just a matter of seconds? I can tell you this, the popcorn bucket made for a better memory rather than leaving a snotty mess of tissues on the floor. I also love getting a strange look from someone when I am reading and give out a sharp audible gasp or make a variety of twisted faces while I go through the motions. If you just naturally love horror than you know exactly what I am talking about. It's almost like a roller coaster of excitement, confusion, mystery, and fear. Some people greatly enjoy taking that ride. 

I suppose one of the biggest things to mention is do not be surprised if you start somewhere specific and then end up with a product that has you questioning what in the world happened. You can map things out all you'd like, outline your troubles away my friend, but sometimes you still end up taking a scenic backroad. When things don't go as planned take it as a sign that the brainchild spoke for itself. Isn't that the magic of storytelling? If it surprises even you, the creator, than clearly originality has taken its proper place in the process. Also, feel free to yell "IT'S ALIVE" after creating whatever you are working on because that is always appropriate in this genre. When you are working with horror be prepared to play with some funky ideas. I can't tell you how many times I am reading my own material and find something strange, even in my eyes! I treasure those moments because molding them into a story is always fun.

Speaking of fun, I may have had a bit too much fun writing this, but I hope it shows why I am so passionate about horror. I am more than honored to be able to live in a world where I am a woman in horror. I suppose it is not just this month, but actually every day of every year! More about me and my work can be found in the links I will provide below! I am also on most social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Please feel free to reach out to me for any reason because I am a sucker for conversation, especially when it comes to horror! 

My Website:
My Books:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Women in Horror Month - Part 3

The next entry for Women in Horror Month is dfrom Elaine Pascale:

How WIHM Saved This Final Girl…

As a young girl, I didn't dream of becoming a metaphorical Final Girl.
I wanted to be Morticia Addams. I wanted to stay home in my creepy manse, waltz with my infatuated husband, snip the buds off roses, feed my carnivorous plant, and look fierce in a tight dress.

I got the stay home part right. Because I work long hours and have a family, any hour not logged into academia, or my now grown children, or my house chores, is spent TRYING to write. At home. Away from interesting people. And as any writer can confirm, trying to write is a task that is easier said than done. Trying to write is decidedly different from actual writing. Trying to write involves beating up on oneself, along with wailing and the rending of clothes. There are many things that stand between me and my imagination. Virginia Woolf was spot on with her “room of one’s own” assessment. In 2017, my male counterparts have responsibilities and distractions of their own, but there is still something to be said for being a woman and a writer. Many days, I find myself longing more for a wife than for a room. And I don’t want a Morticia Addams type wife (as much as I idolize her).

Which brings me back to my childhood fantasy and how different my life turned out to be. My creepy manse is more on the rickety side of suburban style. I am unable to waltz due to cats and dogs underfoot. No time for gardening, let alone dealing with debauched plants. And my standard pajamas and bathrobe inhabit a galaxy so far away from fierce that a Hubble telescope could not link the two disparate styles.

Writing is not glamorous and it is often lonely. It is the stalker/killer in my Final Girl metaphor. It is the trauma that those of us compelled to write cannot avoid. It keeps us from a fully developed social life; it sets us apart, and not always in a good way. As a woman who has written horror stories since my pre-literacy days (some of us remember forcing our parents and other adults to act as personal scribes), it is also something full of stereotypes and assumptions. Ironically, one of those assumptions is that my home life echoes that of Morticia Addams as opposed to what I have already described.

I could go on to extend the Final Girl metaphor: pen/pencil as phallic weaponry, co-writers "picked off" by changing genres, but I hate when metaphors are overly abused. The point, the true point, is that I am a Final Girl, isolated and introverted--at times happy with that situation, sometimes not so much.

The saving grace: other writers. One would assume that there is a high level of competition especially between writers who share a genre. I have been fortunate to find the opposite to be true. Some of the nicest people I have ever met are horror writers. Go to any convention or book reading and find out for yourself. I have become nestled into a truly supportive community amongst horror writers. We share market news, publicity ideas, joys and sorrows. My friendly horror writers are the cavalry (police officers?) that show up to rescue the Final Girl.

Other writers are the saviors, but what really puts the slasher/monster to rest, avoiding all sequels, is Women in Horror Month (WIHM). On the loneliest of nights, I remind myself, "February is coming."

I am not going to lie, part of the joy of the month is receiving recognition. It is wonderful to be a part of a WIHM magazine, or blog, or event. The publicity is always welcome. But what I have found myself most looking forward to is the much needed reminder to applaud the work of others.

This February is the 8th WIHM, and I began chirping about it on social media way back in July. That is because I can remember many, many years without a WIHM. I can remember many, many years of wondering if the compulsion to write is a crazy one--one that could possibly benefit from medication.

WIHM allows us to link arms with our sisters. We celebrate each other. We don the hat of publicist and work to stir up chatter. In a culture that often pits women against each other, this camaraderie feels sacred.

In that spirit, here are some writers, programs and events I would like to celebrate this year for WIHM:

Siren's Call 5th Annual WIHM ezine issue. This is always an eclectic and interesting issue that is downloaded by the masses. It will become available in February--check to download a free copy. There is no place more fitting to house an ezine dedicated to WIHM than Sirens Call. They have an inclusive sensibility and are so generous in their promotion of new and established writers. Past issues have kept me thoroughly entertained during my snowed in/power bereft Februaries!

Anything brewing in Mercedes M. Yardley's brain. She is one of my favorite contemporary writers of any genre. Check out her author’s page: and read something!

Nancy Kilpatrick has a new novel coming out: Revenge of the Vampir King. Nancy is a horror expert: a wonderful writer, editor, researcher. She is also someone who embraces the ideals of WIHM. She is truly supportive of other writers. The novel is available on as an ebook, with the print book becoming available in April. In order to wet appetites, here is the back cover blurb:
Vampires and humans are at war! 
Moarte, King of the Vampirii, is a prisoner of his Sapiens enemy. The beautiful Sapiens Princess Valada, believing that Moarte killed her mother, tortures him, even to the point of breaking the bones in his wings so he cannot escape. She intends to incinerate him to ash in sunlight, but Moarte escapes.
Moarte hungers for revenge. When, through an act of betrayal, Valada is captured by the vampirii, his first instinct is to drain her blood and annihilate her. But he realizes he can get revenge in other ways, using her as a tool to gain the upper hand in this conflict. But who is manipulating whom? Both want revenge, and control of the other, and Moarte wants to drink Valada's blood. Dark desires lead down a path neither had envisioned, a threatening spiral that can destroy empires.
Hunter and hunted change places again and again in this novel of twisted, violent passions. Seeds of deception are sown amidst love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, obsession and indifference, in an erotic tale of warring races, foes since the beginning of time, and two unlikely adversaries aligning to battle a common enemy. 

Theresa Derwin is creating a website for WIH research. Theresa is an accomplished writer and editor, and I am looking forward to the finished product. People interested in signing up for the site will be eligible to win horror books and ebooks. You can contact Theresa through the website:

Please take a moment to check out the many events that are specific to WIHM:

Elaine Pascale had been writing her entire life.  She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, son and daughter.  Her writing has been published in magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the soon to be released Blood Lights, and If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit.  Elaine enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats. Find out more at,, or, or