Press-ing Matters: The Art of the Submission Email

Hey writerly peeps, Julianne here! Today I want to talk to you about something near and dear to my heart—the submission email. In our world, they’re necessary. When we submit to open calls, it’s usually done via email or through Submittable. Despite the title of this post, writing a submission email really isn’t an art, not by a long shot, but every writer should view it as a necessity.

First impressions are just as relevant digitally as they are in face-to-face interactions—you don’t get a second chance to make one. So, if you’re sending out a submission to a publisher, you want to take the opportunity to show that you’re aware of a few things: what you’re submitting for and who you’re submitting to. At the very least, your submission should be accompanied by a greeting directed to the publisher you want to be published by and some indication of what you’re submitting your work for. Some publishers have more than one open call at a time and if you don’t indicate what you’re submitting for, you run the risk of your submission not being evaluated against the set of requirements (theme, subject matter, you name it) you worked hard to follow.

Going a step further than the basics is a welcome treat for most publisher—heck, we’re people too! Introduce yourself if you’ve never worked with a specific publisher before, and if you have worked with them, mention that. Be proud of your accomplishments. Just be careful not to list every single publication you’ve ever been in—if that list is long, it’s not necessary to include it all. Publishers don’t want to read a two page letter with each submission so the idea here is to be brief. Essentially, you’re looking to give the publisher a quick introduction to yourself and show that you’re congenial.

So, what’s important to take away from this? An empty email with an attached submission isn’t the best way to submit a piece of your work to a publisher. If you do that, you run the risk of them just tossing it because frankly, they don’t have the time to hunt you down to ask what you’re submitting for. The onus is on you, the writer, to be clear about what you’re submitting. Anything above and beyond that is an opportunity and you should be viewed as one.

Take the opportunity—trust me, you can’t go wrong.

‘Til next time!

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Tim W. Long

Liz – Hi, Tim! Thank you for joining us for ‘The Horror Tree Presents…’ Why don’t you tell us about your part of the world?
Tim – I live out in the suburbs of Seattle, WA. We have near constant rain, but it’s okay. Writers need mood setting. I’m 40 minutes from the big city but only 15 minutes from a Costco. It’s an important trade off. Can’t be too far from cheap mutant sized rotisserie chicken. Who doesn’t like coming home from the store with enough food to last a month? It’s like a preppers dream come true.
My house is in what used to be a very small town. Over the last 15 years it has probably quadrupled in size. But I still like to say I live in the boonies. Now it’s the boonies with a super Walmart and an Office Depot.

Liz – Do you enjoy reading as well as writing? If so, who are your favorite authors?
Tim – Before I became a writer I devoured about a book a week, and sometimes more. I’ve always been a fan of door stopper sized epic fantasy. Some of my favorite authors are Steven Erikson, and George R R Martin. I also enjoy thrillers, and the occasional historical fiction tome. I used to read everything that Tom Clancy (RIP) put out. I’ve yet to find an author who had such a keen eye for technical detail as well as interesting characters on top of real world events and politics.

Liz – How long did you serve in the Navy for? Did you get to travel much? Have your experiences in the Navy influenced your writing?
Tim – The Navy was a fantastic learning experience. Every 18-year-old kid think they know it all, but when you join the military, you really see a new side of life. I was in for 4 years and got out in 1990. I spent most of that time in Japan on a ship that made a lot of port hops, but didn’t spend a lot of time at sea. I’ve been all over Asia, and even spent a month in Australia and Tasmania.

My time in the Navy as an engineer directly influenced my most successful series, the Z-Risen books. The main character is a wise-cracking, wrench swinging, engineer, who likes to bash heads first, and ask questions later. For the record, I never bashed in any heads.

Liz – That’s good to know! You’ve worked in some interesting roles: from working for a gaming corporation, to aeronautics, to an IT engineer. Do you utilize these experiences when working on a story?
Tim – I primarily write character driven stories, to that end, I think it would be hard to say my real life experiences haven’t influenced my writing. I have always tended to draw from stories I hear from other people. But I’ve never really based a character on someone I know. For the most part, though, I just make stuff up. If I don’t know about a job a character has I will talk to people or do research.

Liz – What prompted you to become a full-time author?
Tim – That’s a simple one. It’s the dream of every writer. Leaving a good paying job, and hoping I can keep my writing career on track, was a scary decision. I don’t know what most people think a full time writer does, but for me, it’s sort of like war. Long hours of boring stuff like sitting at a computer, followed by complete chaos, like releasing a new book. The week of a new book release can mean 14 hour days of non stop work. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything. It’s the greatest job in the world.

Liz – It’s definitely a dream for many of us. Your girlfriend is an author also, are there pro’s and con’s to living with another author?
Tim – It’s all pros. We completely understand our need to write. Instead of being solitary, though, we often work on projects side by side. We talk about the business all the time. We discuss what’s happening in the industry, and trade marketing and business ideas. Katie is the absolute best. We met at a zombie convention because we were both writers selling our work. Now we do a number of conventions together every year.

We talk about our ups and downs in the biz. She also has a publishing company and we help each other with our separate business. It really is amazing being with another author.

Liz – It sounds like you make a great team! Can you write anywhere, or do you need a specific set-up? If so, what is it?
Tim – Pretty much anywhere. I keep Scrivener on my phone which is my favourite writing program. I can be waiting at an appointment and knock out a few hundred words on my latest work in progress. I don’t need a special setup. All I need is a writing program.

Liz – I didn’t know you could have Scrivener on your phone? The things we learn! I see you’re also a coffee lover – a writer after my own heart. Do you find there is a fine line between ‘enough’ and ‘too much’ coffee when writing?
Tim – I’m sure there is. I wouldn’t know. Related question, why am I so jittery right now?

Liz – Good point…Do you have any quirky writing habits or methods?
Tim – I don’t think so. I can write in silence, but I prefer to have something on like the TV, music, or even a satellite radio station. I’ve written 16 books so writing it is a job I have done for years and it requires very little setup.

Liz – What inspired you to write your first book? Tell us about it.
Tim – I was intrigued with the whole zombie genre. Max Brooks had made a huge splash with his books, and then I found out that there was an entire culture of zombie inspired work out there. My first book was a kitchen sink zombie book. I threw everything into it. Fast zombies. Slow zombies. A serial killer. Loss, love, and everyday problems compounded by lots of blood and gore.

Liz – What have you released since then?
Tim – I’ve written 15 other books, and countless short stories. I write everything from zombies, to science fiction/superheroes, to dystopian fiction. I have also dabbled in some satire but that’s mainly for fun. I’ll never make a living from writing funny stuff. The money is in the more serious work.

Liz – That’s quite an impressive body of work. What are you currently working on?
Tim – My newest book was just released. It’s a book called Drums of War and it’s a dystopian technothriller. It’s based on the current political unrest in the states, and draws on a lot of what I have seen as far as fighting on social media, and the war on the news. One man gets caught up in the middle of what may turn out to be the second American civil war. I had an absolute blast working on this book, and the sequel comes out in June of 2017. It’s called March to War.

My next book is in nearly done. It’s the fifth novel in the Z-Risen series and it’s called Barriers. It should be released in mid-April 2017.

Liz – Has your writing style changed from your first book to your current one? How so?
Tim – I feel like I’m a hell of a better writer, that’s for sure. My first book was filled with passive writing and a lot of other newbie mistakes. Still, that book has always sold very well, and I’m pleased that I wrote it. I’d say that I have let a little more humor leak into my work since then.

I’ve also spent a lot of time getting better at the craft of writing. I have taken classes and read books on writing. But mainly, I have found that learning to read with a critical eye, has improved my writing. Having my work critiqued hasn’t ever been a big learning experience. But learning to critique other’s work has been.

Liz – Do you prefer to write stand-alone novels, or a series? Are there pro’s and con’s to both?
Tim – A little of both. But there is a lot more money in writing series. I tend to write short pulpy reads. Sometimes people just want a quick entertaining tale. That’s the kind of work I like to consistently deliver.

Liz – What is your ultimate goal as an author?
I don’t know that I have one. My goal had been to become a fulltime writer. I don’t know, I’d love for a big Hollywood producer to show up on my doorstep with a wheelbarrow full of money. I’d sell the crap out of a book if it could become a block buster.

Liz – If you had to select one of your books as your favourite, which would it be, and why?
Tim – I like all of my children and it’s hard to pick a favorite. I’d say that my current book is always my favorite. Then I write another book and it becomes my favorite. So I guess Drums of War: A Broken Patriot novel is my current favorite.

Liz – Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Tim, and we look forward to seeing more of your work!

You can find out more about Tim W. Long at:


Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Don’t Let Self-Doubt Make You Miss Deadlines

Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, today, I will be talking about writing deadlines, and how self-doubt can get in your way of reaching them.

As a writer, especially when you’re starting out, it can be easy to spend years writing one short story and doing nothing else, simply because you don’t have a deadline. A deadline can help to motivate us to finish a piece and to send it out into the world. But even with a deadline, you can’t guarantee success, especially when Mr Self Doubt pops up to continue tormenting you.

How will Mr Self Doubt torment you? Well, he’ll make you doubt yourself and your work. You worry that you won’t have time to edit your story properly before submitting. You convince yourself that you shouldn’t be submitting anything right now. So what do you do? You miss the deadline, and what goes with it is a chance to be published. How do I know this? Well, I have missed many deadlines due to the fear of not being good enough.

So, what can you do to overcome this? Well, I have listed five ways you can stop self-doubt from making you miss a deadline:

  1. Don’t start work too close to the deadline – You want to give yourself enough time to write, and properly edit your story. While a close deadline can work for some, if you suffer from self-doubt, you’ll likely decide to hold a piece rather than submit it if you do it this way. For a short story, I would suggest that you give yourself at least a month to work on your story. If you can do longer, then that’s even better.
  2. Organise your time – to write and edit a short story you need time, which can be tricky to do when you have other commitments. So make sure you allocate some time each day to work on your story and stick to it.
  3. Aim to submit before the deadline – if you aim to submit your story earlier than the stated deadline, then you will have backup days to use if you need more time to work on your story.
  4. Don’t overload yourself – it can be tempting to plan to submit several stories per month, but it’s not ideal if you don’t have enough time to do that. So instead of trying to submit to multiple magazines and competitions at once, choose the submission calls that you want to do the most, and focus on those, so when the deadline is near you don’t fly into a panic. This is something I need to work on because I’m always trying to do too much.
  5. Ignore self-doubt and focus on the positives – you will find yourself plagued by self-doubt, but you need to remember that you won’t get published unless you push fear aside and take the leap. It’s scary, I know, especially when you fear rejection, but it’s worth trying so one day you can get that acceptance.

So there you have it – five tips to help you stop self-doubt from making you miss deadlines. So let’s do it, let’s beat Mr Self Doubt. Keep writing folks!

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Dreams without deadlines are dead in the water. Deadlines are really lifelines to achieving our goals.” ― Mark BattersonAll In: You Are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life

Guest Post: What’s in a Name? (+ Freaks Anon Giveaway)


We’re giving away 2 copies of Freaks Anon by Matt Darst this month. Below, Matt provides some thoughts on genre classifications, the novel, and the changing nature of speculative fiction.

What’s in a Name?

To paraphrase author Charlie Jane Anders, the various genres in fiction are a lot like dog breeds. They’ve been engineered to promote very specific traits. For instance, good horror intends to scare its audience. In a sense, horror is the Rottweiler of fiction, a working group dog that seeks to terrify. Science fiction, on the other hand, is very different breed. Sci-fi imagines technological innovations and their impact on mankind. I’d liken the genre to the English bulldog, an animal today that has been genetically modified so that it looks and acts very different than its bull-baiting ancestors.

These genres and others can be great shorthand for readers and viewers looking for particular characteristics. The problem with genres, though, is that they can get tired. Purebred dogs, though loveable, are often susceptible to illnesses that don’t plague mutts. At its worst, horror can rely too heavily on gore, jump scares, or weary tropes. Other genres have their problems as well. Too often in sci-fi we find ourselves in a dystopian environment, traveling beyond the speed of light, being menaced by AI, or bumping up against an alternate universe. These themes are as unwelcome as hip dysplasia and other canine genetic disorders.

Writing across genre lines diversifies the gene pool. While these novels are just as loyal as their fixed genre peers, they offer a glimpse of something new, something refreshing. Crossovers can be chilling, inspiring, and even euphoric.

We’ve seen directors do this successfully. Take Alien. H.R. Giger designed something we had never seen before. Alien is sci-fi set in a haunted house. Or The Thing. John Carpenter pit Lovecraftian horror against the human race in a Cold War chess match. It’s a thriller as much as it is science fiction and horror.

So what did I learn from these films? It’s okay to write genre mash-ups. That’s a lesson that authors Charlie Huston (his Already Dead is the perfect mix of horror and noir), Michael Crichton, and Stephen King have underscored. Writers have varying interests. Why not encourage them to apply their diverse interests and views to their work? With that in mind, I began work on what would become Freaks Anon.

Freaks Anon is a supernatural superhero tale, a novel that’s as much urban fantasy and historical fiction as it is horror and sci-fi. It’s a nexus point between several passions, including music.

Turning back to Carpenter, not only does the director integrate a variety of genres and amazing visual effects (courtesy of Rob Bottin and Stan Winston), his collaboration with Ennio Morricone on the score helped create an even more comprehensive vision. Lately, there have been additional offerings in this vein. It Follows features an amazing soundtrack by Disasterpeace. Stranger Things preyed on our collective sense of 80s music nostalgia.

Freaks Anon is similarly inspired. So much of Freaks Anon is influenced by music that I decided to replace the typical chapter format with “tracks,” essentially creating a mix tape within the novel. Each song speaks to events or the theme of a chapter: The Church’s Ripple, The Jam’s Disguises, Bowie, The Walker Brothers, and dozens of other bands.

(Note: if I could somehow also include a visual element in my writing, I would. Design and music are like chocolate and peanut butter. You can’t get much better than the album art of Warhol or Peter Saville. Or the concert posters created by Mike Joyce of Swissted. Their work even inspired me to take a stab a redesigning some iconic film posters)

The Future

What does the future hold? Well, Alan Rinzler offered some thoughts on his blog for writers. “Genre is a convenience,” he noted, “a traditional device that the conventional process of commercial publication has been using awkwardly for centuries.” According to Rinzler, “The hegemony of genre categories is eroding. A book may well wind up on more than one shelf.” That’s a good thing for authors, especially writers like me, with a variety of interests and that don’t want to be pigeonholed or stifled by the trappings of a genre.

About the Novel

Rather that continue to talk in broad strokes about the novel, maybe it would be best to provide a back cover synopsis: Centurion is a wannabe superhero. Life is pretty hard for him, and it gets harder once his sidekick, Henry, dies. The police say Henry’s death was an accident, but Centurion knows better. Henry’s death is part of a bigger pattern. Someone’s murdering children, kids with extraordinary psychic and physical abilities, across the South and Midwest. He needs to find the killer…and fast. In Chicago, his prime suspect has already set her sights on a pair of new victims. But these teens aren’t like anything he’s ever seen. They’re special. Like Henry. Centurion will face spies, monsters, and the ultimate evil: the Chicago auto pound. If he doesn’t watch out, he might just find he’s the one in need of saving.

All proceeds from the sale of Freaks Anon will be donated to Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C).





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About Freaks Anon

Collection notices. Disapproving looks. Sleeping in a van. Life’s hard for wannabe superhero. Things get harder still when Centurion’s sidekick, Henry, dies.
The police say Henry’s death was an accident. Centurion knows better. His death is part of a bigger pattern. Someone’s murdering children, kids with extraordinary psychic and physical abilities, across the South and Midwest.
He needs to find the killer fast. In Chicago, his prime suspect has already set her sights on friends Astrid and Kim. But these teens aren’t like anything he’s ever seen. They’re special. Like Henry.
Centurion will face spies, monsters, and the ultimate evil: the Chicago auto pound. If he doesn’t watch out, he might just find he’s the one in need of saving.
All proceeds from the sale of Freaks Anon will be donated to charity.
Included with the novel is Matt’s dystopian short story Monument.

Matt Darst

Matt Darst

Matt Darst got hooked on reading early. His addiction to reading took a turn for the worst when he started writing…for fun. His experimentation with notebooks (a classic gateway) led to dabbling with typewriters. Soon he was hitting the hard stuff: word processors.

After law school, he decided to straighten out his life. He went cold turkey. He got a responsible job, a place in Chicago, and a dog. He surrounded himself with all the trappings of a normal life. Still…

Pen and pad call to Matt late at night, cooing his name, telling him to take another hit of fiction. Sometimes, when he’s weak, he heeds the siren call of the drug. He wakes from each blackout amid reams of freshly written pages, pages that have seemingly written themselves.


Freaks Anon On Amazon
Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C)

The Horror Tree Presents: Author Interview: Jaidis Shaw

Liz – Tell us a little bit about yourself and your part of the world?

Jaidis – I was born in California but moved when I was just a few months old. I’ve spent time growing up in various states including Michigan, Indiana, and South Carolina where I still reside. I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters, and will be welcoming my third child this fall.

I began writing at an early age but didn’t really try making anything from it until high school. It wasn’t until several years later that I went ahead and pushed the publish button.

Liz – What are your preferred genres to write?

Jaidis – I love writing stories with paranormal elements. It is a great genre because there are endless possibilities. Most of my stories also fall under the horror category because I feel having that darkness helps to balance the light.

Liz – Which authors/books have inspired you?

Jaidis – I grew up reading many books but the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel was always one of my favorites. If you haven’t read The Clan of the Cave Bear, which is book one, I highly recommend it!

Liz – Do your local surrounds influence/inspire your writing?

Jaidis – The only thing about my local surroundings that really influences me is the solidarity of being in a small town out in the country. The town I created in my first book, Destiny Awaits, takes place in a small town. I haven’t spent time in large cities so it would be hard for me to write a book that takes place in one.

Liz – As a busy mum, how & when do you find the time to write?

Jaidis – It’s so hard to find time! I know authors are always saying that you need to make a schedule and set aside to write but when you do have children, a business to run, and want to write it can be exhausting. I’m at a point now where when I do have free time to write I’d rather take a nap. I have to work really hard to force myself to close down the internet and just write.

Liz – Do you have a process you need to go through in order to write?

Jaidis – I don’t really have a specific process I go through. It’s usually while I’m sitting in the car line while waiting for my oldest daughter to get out of school. When I can sit at my computer to write, I stick to the basics: have a cold drink nearby, music playing on Pandora, and all social media windows closed. If I keep anything open on my computer, I get distracted.

Liz – Yes, social media is certainly a big distraction for me, also! Tell us about your novel, “Destiny Awaits”?

Jaidis – Destiny Awaits is a YA paranormal romance that tells the story of Alayna Scott. After losing both of her parents in a tragic accident, she decides that she needs to move in order to move on with her life. She ends up in the small town of Juniper Grove and things quickly change for her when she is bitten by a vampire. Her neighbor, a shapeshifter, saves her life but it is forever changed as she struggles to understand the supernatural world and what powers may be brewing within her.


Liz – Destiny Awaits won an award – tell us about the award. How did you feel when you found out?

Jaidis – It did! It was selected as the “Solo Medalist” in the 2016 New Apple Summer E-Book Awards for YA Romance. Last week it won another award. This time around it was selected as the “Official Selection” in the 2016 New Apple Annual Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing! I couldn’t be more excited that it has one not one but two awards! Having my book selected out of thousands of entries by a panel of judges has given me a confidence boost like nothing before.

Liz –  That’s wonderful! Congratulations! Do you have any other solo projects in the works?

Jaidis – I have already started on the second book in the Juniper Grove Chronicles. Each book is standalone so book two tells the story of a secondary character that readers met in Destiny Awaits.

I also have a paranormal thriller started that I’m super excited about!

Liz –  Sounds intriguing! What is your ultimate goal as an author?

Jaidis – My ultimate goal as an author is to provide a brief escape from reality for anyone who needs it. If I can allow someone time to enjoy a story without having to worry about their troubles in life, I’ve accomplished my goal.

Liz – You’re the creator and editor of the successful ‘Lurking’ anthologies – what was the inspiration for the series?

Jaidis – The Lurking anthologies was an idea that I pitched to my publisher in the hopes that I could help authors share more stories with readers. Each book follows a theme and they have been really fun to put together.

The first book, Lurking in the Deep, are all stories about the creatures and horrors that live below the sea. I’ve always been fascinated with the ocean because we are always discovering new life forms and so there could be anything down there.

The second book, Lurking in the Shadows, is all about creatures or the fear that people have about the dark. It’s a bit darker than the first book but I love it!

The third book, Lurking in the Mind, will be released on April 4th and revolves around the horrors in the mind. It covers some more sensitive topics such as depression, multiple personalities, suicide, and more.

Liz – How have you found the process of selecting and declining submissions?

Jaidis – Sending rejections letters out to authors is the hardest part of the process. I don’t want to be viewed as the bad guy because authors work so hard on their stories but sometimes a story just doesn’t fit well with the theme and so it has to be let go.

Liz – Tell us about your own work that feature in the anthologies. Do you have a favourite?

Jaidis – I don’t know if I could pick a favorite. My story in Lurking in the Deep is titled “The Reluctant Seamstress” and the main character is the outcast of her underwater community. She is struggling to figure out why she is treated differently and would do anything to escape her captivity, even if that means sacrificing a part of herself.

The story I have in Lurking in the Shadows is a little darker (pun intended). It’s called “The House on Juniper Lane” and involves a crazy family tradition where the men in the family lure women out into the woods to kill them. The main female lead finds herself in that situation and isn’t afraid to fight back. It does have a surprise ending that I loved creating!

Liz – How have you found working with so many authors at once?

Jaidis – Working with several authors at once can be a little overwhelming but I enjoy it. They all have their own styles and ideas and it is nice to see a group working together to accomplish a common goal.

Liz – Do you have plans for any future releases in the ‘Lurking’ series?

Jaidis – There is another one that was scheduled, Lurking in the Woods, but it is on pause for right now. I’ve already received a couple of submissions for it so I may move forward with it if my schedule allows. I’m trying really hard this year to focus on my own writing since most of last year was dedicated to anthologies.

Liz – Are there plans for a new anthology series?

Jaidis – I’ve been wanting to release my own anthology for a long time now. I have it all planned out but just haven’t had the time to write it. I’ve also toyed with the idea of pitching another series idea to my publisher that I think could be fun. We’ll see what happens!

Liz – You’re also an advocate for supporting indie authors – where does this passion come from?

Jaidis – I remember how hard it was when I was first starting out. I hadn’t made a name for myself and nobody wanted to take a chance on someone they didn’t know. I think a lot of indie authors face similar hurdles, whether it is that they don’t know where to start or can’t find anyone willing to help them. Even with a publisher backing you it can be hard so I think it is important for authors to be there for each other and help if they can.

Liz – You’re the founder of ‘Juniper Grove Book Solutions’ – what led you to form the company, and what did you want to achieve? How would you like to see the company grow?

Jaidis – Back in 2010 I was working at a company that organized virtual books tours for authors. When that company closed, I still had the desire to help authors and that’s when JGBS was created.

I would love to see JGBS grow because I feel as though my team and I offer high quality services that gain books exposure while being affordable.

Liz – Tell us about the Juniper Grove Review Library.

Jaidis – The JGBS Review Library is a program I started to help authors gain reviews. They can submit their book for a small listing fee and then we advertise their book to readers and our team of reviewers. A reader can request a free ebook copy, which we send directly to their Kindle for extra security, in exchange for an honest review posted to sites like Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

Liz – Do you have any advice for those wanting to become a writer?

Jaidis – If you want to become a writer, work hard and make it happen. Don’t let your fears or insecurities prevent you from achieving your dreams. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may feel alone or like it is hopeless, but that’s just because you haven’t found the right support system.

Jaidis Shaw

Jaidis Shaw


Jaidis Shaw currently resides in South Carolina with her husband and two beautiful daughters. With a passion for reading, Jaidis can always be found surrounded by books and dreaming of new stories. She enjoys challenging herself by writing in different genres and currently has several projects in the works.

Jaidis also owns and operates Juniper Grove Book Solutions, voted #1 Best Promotional Firm, Site, or Resource in the 2015 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll.
One of her main goals in life is to encourage her daughters to let their imaginations run wild.




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“The House on Juniper Lane” – featured in Lurking in the Shadows (2016)

“The Reluctant Seamstress” – featured in Lurking in the Deep (2015)

Destiny Awaits – published by CHBB Publishing (2014)

“Blind Justice” – featured in Wicked Bag of Suspense Tales (2012)

“The Tower” – featured in Twisted Fairy Tales Volume II (2011)

Destiny Awaits Book Awards:

Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist

“Solo Medalist” for Young Adult Romance in the 2016 New Apple Summer E-Book Awards

“Official Selection” for Young Adult Romance in the 2016 New Apple Annual Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing

TunnelVision Blog Tour: Surrealism in Writing Horror

Surrealism in Writing Horror

By R. Patrick Gates, Author of TunnelVision


Surrealism can be a very effective storytelling tool in the Horror genre. Horror, or Dark Fantasy (a much more accurate label, in my opinion, since Horror falls under the broader category of fantasy, meaning stories that are outside the realm of reality) is a natural for Surrealism. Horror stories are, if anything, surreal. From the very beginning, the very roots of horror with Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stoker’s Dracula, and Poe’s macabre stories, has the surreal making up a big part of every horror tale. For most writers of Dark Fantasy the challenge has been how to make the surreal seem real and believable. I’ve always seen the challenge as being sort of the opposite: how do I make the real seem surreal? It has occurred to me that if anything were ever to actually happen that was in any way similar to the plot of a horror story, it would certainly seem as if reality had suddenly become surreality, and that is one of the challenges that I believe a modern writer of Dark Fiction has to try to meet.


So how does one incorporate Surrealism into their work? Well, in the same way all of us learned to write, we should start with reading, in particular Edgar Allan Poe, whose work is, in my opinion, the epitome of what Surrealism in Dark Fantasy should be. Just his mastery of vocabulary and language alone allowed him to create a surrealistic aspect to his work that has been unrivaled. Through imagery, simile, and metaphor he creates mood and atmosphere perfect for a dark tale.


Using vocabulary and literary techniques is the more sophisticated method, but presenting a worldview seen through the eyes of an insane person is probably the easiest method of incorporating Surrealism into a Dark Fantasy novel.One of the inspirations for my surreal novel, TunnelVision (25th anniversary edition now available from Bloodshot Books) was an article I had read about how schizophrenics perceive the world. Poe used this technique very effectively in many of his stories. Thomas Harris uses it in his novels, Red Dragon, and Silence of the Lambs—surrealistic reality seen through the eyes of serial killers. Using the mentally skewed narrator or character as P.O.V. can be a very effective way to incorporate surrealism in your work, and have quite a lot of fun while doing it because literally anything goes! Landscapes can be wildly and darkly Dali-esque and inanimate objects can speak and pontificate (personification in general can be a very big part of Surrealism). You can bring in music, movies, literary characters—anything you can imagine. It’s a chance for the writer to let their imagination run wild and rampant.


I recommend giving it a try—let go, explore and have fun with it—you can always reel it in a little on rewrite.


Thank God for rewrites.



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Tunnelvision (25th Anniversary Edition), Synopsis –

One fine day in the middle of the night,

Two dead boys got up to fight.

Back to back they faced each other,

Drew their swords and shot each other.

A deaf policeman heard the noise,

And came and killed the two dead boys.…

The empty airwaves of the mind…

Welcome to TunnelVision – the premium channel streaming from the imagination of R. Patrick Gates to you!

What happens when you lose sight of the forest for the trees?


Wilbur Clayton has a personal connection with Jesus – Murder! Abused for most of his life, Wilbur and Jesus are out to make amends and take revenge. With Grandma in his head and Jesus on the TunnelVision, Wilbur knows what must be done and who must be made to pay for the sins of the father…

The only thing standing in his way are a cop with a gift for details and deduction, and a young genius whose reenactments of his favorite books are about to become all too real.

TunnelVision – streaming seven days a week, 24 hours a day!

On the air and in your nightmares!

R. Patrick Gates

R. Patrick Gates

R. Patrick Gates has been a teacher and writer for over thirty years. Besides Tunnelvision, which is currently being published in a 25th anniversary edition, he is the author of Grimm Memorials and Grimm Reapings, (which have achieved cult status and been called ‘horror classics’ by Rave Reviews) and seven other critically acclaimed adult horror novels and at least ten young adult thrillers. Mr. Gates resides in Massachusetts with his wife and dogs, and dabbles in painting and acting in his spare time. You can find him online at his website.

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