Taking Submissions: The Blue Route #22

Deadline: March 1st, 2019
Payment: $25

The deadline for submissions for Issue #22 is March 1, 2019. 

Prose – Submit 1-3 pieces of fiction or creative nonfiction totaling no more than 3000 words.

Poetry – Submit up to 3 poems.

We want good, highly imaginative writing about contemporary life as you see it. We’re not interested in genre writing (romance, detective, horror, sci-fi) unless it somehow rises above the conventions associated with those types of writing. If your writing is clichéd, inspired by TV, emphasizes end rhyme above all else, has flat characters, exhibits a general insensitivity to the beauties and subtleties of language, it will not find a place in this journal.

No pornography. No racism. No sexism. If you’ve got to use profanity, remember a little goes a long, long way.

We do not accept previously published work. However, we do accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.  Our response time is about three months.


  • Undergraduate Students: Only previously unpublished work of current undergraduate writers will be considered. In order to verify your status as an undergraduate, we ask that with your submission you send along the email of a faculty member from your department. Until we gain confirmation of undergraduate status from this reference, we will not be able to publish your work.
  • Note to Widener Students: At this time, work from Widener students will not be accepted. Widener students are invited to submit their work to Widener Ink, the university’s print journal.
  • Frequency of Submission: If your work has been published in The Blue Route, we ask that you please wait at least one issue before submitting again.

Terms: We pay twenty-five dollars upon publication. We acquire First North American Serial Rights, a one time, non-exclusive use of Electronic Rights, with all rights reverting to the author upon publication. We will archive your work online. If your piece is later published elsewhere, we expect that you will mention The Blue Route as the original publisher.

Formatting: We ask that you put no identifying marks on your submission. Instead, in your submission email, we would like the following information provided:

Name (First and Last)

Title of Submission(s)

Name and Email of Faculty Contact for Enrollment Verification

A Brief Biography (No more than 100 words and written in the third person.)

For submissions: Please write “Poetry–Your Name” or “Fiction–Your Name” or “Nonfiction–Your Name” in the heading of the email. Send your work in an attachment in .doc or .docx format.  Submissions that do not follow these simple directions may be deleted.  Send all poetry or prose submissions to [email protected].

Via: The Blue Route.

Taking Submissions: Speculative City: Occult

Deadline: March 25th, 2019
Payment: $20-$75 according to the category and length of submission

Submissions are OPEN from February 11 – March 25

Speculative City publishes provocative works that are centered within a cityscape. Although all are welcome to submit, special consideration is given to creators and characters often underrepresented in speculative fiction, such as people of color, queer people, working-class people, and people with disabilities (this list is not exhaustive and acts as an example of the types of voices we wish to hear and show).

We are looking for fiction, poetry, and essays within the theme of the magazine’s upcoming issue (occult, see below). Writers published will be paid $20-$75 according to the category and length of their submission. We would be hard-pressed to include submissions with a length exceeding 5500 words.

Editor’s note: stressing to non-fiction writers that we are looking for critical essays & opinion pieces that explore the theme in regards to speculative fiction.

  • All submissions should be the original, unpublished work of the submitter.
  • We will accept simultaneous submissions, but please inform us if the submission has been accepted by another publication.
  • We do not accept multiple submissions for fiction or essays.
  • Please submit word (.doc, .docx) or rich text format (.rtf) files and format your submission according to our format guide.
  • Please send all inquiries to info @ speculativecity .com .
  • We try to respond to all submissions within 90 days, but as a team of two, we may not always be able to.

All submissions should be sent through Green Submissions. Green Submissions requires users to create an account. Please see link to sign up and submit at https://greensubmissions.com/1024/speculative-city/index.php.

Before submitting work, please also be familiar with our contract.



adjective, noun| \ə‘kəlt\

Definition of OCCULT


  • matters and practices involved with or influenced by supernatural or miraculous powers


  • matters and practices involved with or influenced by supernatural or miraculous powers
  • secretive knowledge of the mystical and magical

Via: Speculative City.

WIHM: An Interview With Sara Tantlinger

Hi Sara, and welcome to The Horror Tree – the writer and author resource! Since that’s the site’s target, we’ll be mostly talking about the process of writing and publishing here today. I’m excited to pick your brain (very gently of course)! Let’s begin.

Erin: Tell the readership a little about your background, your published poetry titles, your work, etc. for them to create a foundation about who you are…

Sara: Thank you so much for having me!

I started dabbling with poetry in middle school after reading Edgar Allan Poe for the first time, and also as catharsis for dealing with middle school in general, especially after my dad passed away when I was twelve. My angsty, broken poetry was my outlet for the emotions I never talked about, but I never realized it was something I could hone and even publish until my undergraduate studies in college.

Since then, I have continued to deeply love reading and writing poetry. Cultivating that love stemmed from having great mentors, peers, and friends who helped me edit, revise, and strengthen my craft. My two poetry collections are Love For Slaughter and The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes. I have dozens of individual poems out there in publications too such as Abyss & Apex, The Sunlight Press, Twisted Moon Mag, and the HWA Poetry Showcase!

Erin: You have published your two poetry books, The Devil’s Dreamland most recently, and obviously enjoy writing poetry, but with an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, you must dabble in writing horror short stories or novels as well. How does your mind focus over to writing longer lengths? Is it challenging? Or maybe writing poetry helps your prose?

Sara: Oh yes! I wrote a horror/dark fantasy novel for my MFA thesis and have been writing more short stories over the past two or three years. My goal this year is to actually focus on more prose, which includes editing that thesis novel again.

Poetry has been a huge help. It teaches you how to be concise, to make every word count, to create descriptive and emotive language, and to add rhythm to your words. These lessons from poetry have been instrumental in my prose. Sometimes starting with a poem when I’m feeling stuck or struggling with writer’s block can really help. I like to write poems from the viewpoints of the characters in my prose work, too – it can help me get a stronger feel for who each character is by what they might choose to include or not include in a poem.

Writing longer works is definitely challenging for me though. After my MFA program, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever attempt a novel again, but I’m currently (finally) working on a novel that I am ecstatic about. I am positive it will take me a while to write (it took me over two years to write my MFA thesis novel, after all), but using my confidence from poetry has been a huge help.

Erin: What other stories interest you to tell at length and why? What will your process be to get them onto paper? Do have any tips or tricks that help you succeed at writing goals?

Sara: With poetry, I don’t have to usually outline my ideas as much, but with prose, outlining has become an absolute must! I have story ideas jotted down all over the place, so when I finally choose to roll with one, I always try to outline and keep asking myself questions. I attended a great workshop during my MFA where the instructor encouraged us to keep asking questions of our work and to push past what our first answer would be – this exercise helped me a lot in working around clichés and tropes by questioning what else could happen rather than always going with the first idea or answer that sprang to mind.

Erin: I’m assuming as well that you like research, historical research too, by the publishing of The Devil’s Dreamland. Is that true – do you love research or is it just something has to be done for the end goal? If you like it, what fascinates you about it?

Sara: I absolutely love research. I am prone to getting lost in the research rabbit hole and never emerging. It is so, so fun, but at the same time, I can struggle with knowing when to stop the research and get on with the writing.

The Devil’s Dreamland was a trip to research because I was so desperate to try and understand this man (H.H. Holmes) from the late 1800s with shady records, who was an exquisite liar, and who was just kind of beyond understanding. I had a blast trying though and ended up being proud of the pieces I did connect, the research I did discover – it all came together to create a unique poetry book that can also appeal to true crime and horror fans in general (I hope!).

Erin: What tips do you have for other writers in regard to research? Predominately horror writers are often quoted as not doing or not needing to do a lot of research for their content (as other genres) but do you think that this is changing? Do you find more people delving into the past for story ideas?

Sara: I always research something for my work, even if it is a small piece of information, so I have no idea what these writers are doing, but I do think you should always fact check yourself while writing. Sometimes research is using Google or going to the library, but sometimes it is having a conversation with someone of a certain expertise or background that can help add creativity, realism, and truth to your work. I can’t imagine not embracing research on some level.

Right now, I am aiming to write a historical horror novel that takes place in 1800s Madagascar, so, needless to say research is necessary to add accuracy for the story I want to create. However, sometimes you do need to let certain things go (as I am constantly learning with historical fiction/horror) because if I’m spending five hours researching what glass and windows and gowns might have looked like during this time period and not doing any writing, then that’s where it becomes an issue because I’ll never get the book done! Beta readers experienced in history or the culture you are researching are going to be amazingly helpful.

I do think there is a solid interest in true crime and historical horror right now. Perhaps there is nothing more terrifying than what we as human beings have done to each other in the past; and maybe, given the chaos of current times, reaching into past terrors is our strange way of trying to cope with or warn others about history repeating itself, and about what we are still doing to each other now.

Erin: Being a fellow poet myself, I know that often we are seen to just be writing poetry of our “feelings,” but that’s not always the case. I know myself I do a lot of research for some of my poems if they are based on a myth, legend, historical place, etc. I love to look at images and read about it to get a better “sense.” Obviously, research of serial killer H.H. Holmes for your publication The Devil’s Dreamland was necessary for you. What types of things did you research, read, look at, etc. before you started or while writing your collection?

Sara: I love to look at images, too! It really helps with poetry since you are trying to create something sensational with just a few words. For The Devil’s Dreamland, I did research newspaper headlines, profile sketches, and supposed blueprints of Holmes’ Murder Castle, all of which were eerie and inspired ideas. I read The Devil in the White City, which was fun, but definitely embellished on Larson’s interpretation of Holmes more than I was looking for, so I turned to Adam Selzer’s amazing and extensive research on what was thought to be true and what remains unknown. I really recommend his research to anyone who wants to understand the minute details of Holmes’ case. I also read horror legend Robert Bloch’s American Gothic, which is an inventive fictionalized version of Holmes’ story with Holmes being renamed “G. Gordon Gregg” – I loved it!

I did watch a few documentaries and listened to a podcast or two about Holmes, as well. And, of course, I had to read Holmes’ prison memoir and “confession,” both of which he wrote in jail. I read both of them numerous times, and then proceeded to research analyses of the works to help decipher what he was lying about in his writing, which was a lot! He was a con-man through and through.

Erin: How did writing The Devil’s Dreamland differ from Love for Slaughter? How are they different but how are they alike?

Sara: Love For Slaughter was much more emotional, aiming to focus on the idea of Folie à Deux (madness shared by two), and how love and lust can drive one to the brink of obsession and insanity. It is a bloody, sensual nightmare with visceral depictions of the ways love can consume us. Each poem is meant to have its own story of brutal lovers, but all the pieces fit into the theme.

The Devil’s Dreamland, on the other hand, has a more narrative arc and reads like a story, which I think helps it appeal to people who may be wary of poetry. It is cold, calculating, and dark – much how I interpreted H.H. Holmes to be. I think both collections have some similarities with themes of madness, but I wanted my second collection to be as different from the first as possible. It was important to me to show others and myself that I am capable of writing two very different collections but putting equal time and consideration into both.

Erin: You also teach writing, are a writing coach, and edit poetry – how do you feel about poetry structure today? Are you hard and fast to rules or more of a creative thinker? What is some advice you give to first time writers who want to tackle dark or horror poetry?

Sara: I encourage anyone to write poetry the way they want to – following structure and rules can be a fantastic exercise and challenge, but I love seeing what writers do with free form, too. However, even if you aren’t writing a villanelle or a sonnet, you should still thoughtfully choose your words, read the work aloud to see what the rhythm and flow is like, and evoke the senses as much as possible. It is also so important to read and study the forms and structures of classic poetry as well as the more contemporary free verse poems I see (and write) a lot. Understanding the history of poetry and its development over time can really give you a strong foundation.

To anyone thinking of tackling dark/horror poetry, my main advice is to read as much as possible, but try to discover your own voice along the way – no one is really looking for a mimic of Poe because no one is ever going to write like Poe! Read, write and write some more, and then read and read some more. Talk to poets you love and round up some honest beta readers. Also, one thing that drives me crazy, edit and revise your poetry! Just because it is a short work, does not mean it escapes the need to be edited or heavily revised.

Erin: Then, what is some advice you might give to first time writers of prose?

Sara: Outline! I was a “panster” for the longest time, but becoming a plotter and outlining more has easily helped me create stronger stories. My advice is pretty similar to the above advice with poetry – read good work and know what is happening in your genre. Find a short story you love and dissect it. What does the writer do that captivates you? Analyze the structure, the dialogue, the setting, everything. I also recommend investing in good craft books; I come back to the ones I used in graduate school time and time again.

Erin: How do you think horror writing is evolving?

Sara: One of my favorite aspects of horror writing is that it so often reflects societal and cultural times back at us, like a really disturbing mirror. Women and minorities are angry, and we aren’t going away. I think new work will continue to evolve and stem from these constant oppressions, violence, and dismissal of voices. Literacy is power, and giving writers an outlet like horror to express and address these critical issues is going to have a huge impact on the genre – an impact I look forward to.

Erin: Do you feel like horror is becoming more inclusive to minorities and accepting of diversity? How can writers do a better in the genre in terms of this with their interactions, promotions, acquiring, or even writing characters?

Sara: I think we’re getting there but have a long way to go. I still see too many anthologies using the same writers over and over again, which often does not include much diversity at all. Mostly, I hope to see those in positions of power use their privilege to help promote and seek out diversity. I also think writers can do better by taking the time to interview or talk with people from diverse backgrounds, attend workshops on diversity to learn more about writing characters outside your own race/sex/gender/etc…, and by reading more work from diverse writers.

Erin: I think women in horror are doing some amazing things at the moment. What do you think women writers in horror bring to the table for readers? How can men support them?

Sara: Women have been dealing with inescapable horror since our existence – I think that makes us positively terrifying to behold. When we have that chance to bring those experiences to the table, and to cultivate the darkest pieces of our lives and minds into horror writing, it can create truly powerful and moving work. Womanhood is a complex, strange, and constantly changing thing – yet sharing such moments and twisting them into the characters we create can really affect readers in important ways

Men can support women in horror in so many ways – something small like helping to promote, share, or direct readers to a woman with a great work is always appreciated. There are many male editors and publishers out there who can continue (or start) to reinforce the importance of diversity and promote open calls to online groups of women writers, too. In horror, we all benefit from each other’s success and promotion of the genre.

Erin: You’re in the middle of curating an anthology for StrangeHouse that is all female. Why did you decide to make this a women-only anthology and how did that go in terms of submissions? Is there more female talent out there than the genre is realizing?

Sara: I am so excited for this anthology! Nick Day, who co-owns StrangeHouse, and I were having a conversation one day about some guys on a social media forum who were crying about diversity and women and how difficult it was to get diverse writers into an anthology (eye roll). The whole thing was just gross. Nick had a fabulous idea for StrangeHouse to publish an all-female anthology in response to this nonsense, and he asked me if I’d be interested in editing the book and kind of being in charge of it, so I of course said yes! I love editing, and being able to do something to specifically help bring attention to women in horror makes me so happy and proud of these writers.

Erin: How is the process going overall doing this for the first time? What challenges do you have and what has thrilled you? What will it be called and when is the release?

Sara: The anthology is titled Not All Monsters and should be released in 2020. I have edited for much tinier slush piles before, but I did not expect nearly 300 submissions for this anthology. However, I am glad women from all around the globe have been sending in work for me to read.

Narrowing down what stories to include is beyond difficult. The ladies who submitted really brought their A-game to this open call, and it is going to be heartbreaking to send rejections out, but I am positive those stories will find homes, too. So while passing on stories and deciding what fits the theme best has been a challenge, it has also been amazing to discover new names and keep them on my radar to see what these women do in the future – I have a feeling they will continue to create amazing work.

Erin: What is some advice you can give to writers in terms of making their work publishable AND presenting it as publishable? What do editors want to see and maybe not want to see? Tips?

Sara: Follow the guidelines! For the love of all that is holy or unholy, follow the guidelines, and follow proper manuscript format. Please.

Otherwise, proofread, edit, and revise your work before sending (beta readers are invaluable sources, too). When there are numerous typos on the first page, it is really off-putting to keep reading. It definitely helps to get the story done, take a few days away from it, print it out, and then read it again on paper. I always catch my own mistakes more when I take some time away from a work and print it out to read on a different medium than the computer screen.

And, this is a total pet peeve, but when there is no greeting, no subject, and just nothing in the email but an attachment, it makes me a grumpy editor, too. Put in the subject, say “Dear editor,” and at least sign your name on the email – it looks more courteous and professional rather than just shoving a manuscript at someone and running away.

Erin: And finally, one fun question. What is your favorite writing spot?

Sara: Anywhere that has snacks and coffee! (I love Panera). Usually I just write downstairs in the giant squishy chair and am often joined by my big, nosey cat, Zorro 🙂

Erin: Thank you so much for answering all my grilling questions, Sara! I wish you all the best in 2019!

Sara Tantlinger Biography –

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. Her dark poetry collections Love for Slaughter and The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes are published with StrangeHouse books. She is a poetry editor for the Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s MFA program, a member of the SFPA, and an active member of the HWA. She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraJane524 and at saratantlinger.com

Sara’s poetry, flash fiction, and short stories can be found in several magazines and anthologies, including the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. II and V, the Horror Zine, Unnerving, Abyss & Apex, the 2018 Rhysling Anthology, 100 Word Horrors, and the Sunlight Press. Currently, Sara is editing Not All Monsters, an anthology that will be comprised entirely of women who write speculative fiction. The anthology is set for a 2020 release with StrangeHouse Books.

Find out more about Sara at her website!

Sarah’s Latest Collection –

The Devil’s Dreamland

H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer.

In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspiration from accounts and tales which spawned from the misdeeds of one Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Fact and speculation intertwine herein, just as they did during the man’s own lifetime.

There’s plenty of room in the cellar for everyone in The Devil’s Dreamland.

“…chilling poetry…” —Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of “How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend” and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“…morbidly creative and profound crime documentary…one of the best works of horror poetry I’ve read in years.” —Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Grave Markings and Play Dead

“…fascinating and absolutely riveting…powerful and vivid prose…will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.”—Christina Sng, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares

Purchase on Amazon

Add to your GoodReads




‘Dominic’s Ghosts’ Blog Tour – And Get off My Lawn… Some Writerly Advice from 30 Years of Doing This

And Get off My Lawn…

Some Writerly Advice from 30 Years of Doing This

When I’m asked to write about writing, I usually say something about the insides of stories, but these days it seems as though the world is overflowing with the particular “how-to” of plot and character, and even more about how to market and sell your books once you’re ready to do so.  I don’t know how much more insight you gather on these matters from thirty years of doing it, but one thing that long experience teaches you is how to persist and endure in the art and craft.

So at risk of being a curmudgeon, here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

About ten years ago at a convention, I heard a beginning writer, buoyed by newfound popularity, proclaim that none of us in the audience should “consider what we’re doing to be art.”  To this day, I’m not altogether sure what we should consider it instead.  My work may not be good art, but it’s not a business: I thought it might be, when my first novel, Weasel’s Luck, was a best-seller and the first quarterly royalty check was over $25,000…

But it has never happened again.

Believe me.

It hasn’t.  Or at least at nowhere near that amount.

If I were considering my novels as business alone, the books as “product,” I would be better off as a stockbroker or having gone to law school.  Barring the rarest coincidence, you don’t make big money writing novels: what you can do, though, is deepen your experience of the world, and if you do that well, you can deepen the experience of others.

I may not be the greatest success as a novelist, but I have thirty years of publication under my belt, and a few people still living have heard of me.  I’ve found that I am sharpest and most productive when I follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Your craft may not end up a lucrative business, but you’ll be at your best if you regard it as a profession. The novelist John Cheever rented a small room to write in—a bare, boring little alcove off the laundry of his apartment building.  He dressed for work every day—jacket and tie—and went down to “the office” at the same time.  When you create respectful and regular habits surrounding your work, you come to value the practice more, and you incline more to the discipline that’s needed for an artist undertaking a sustained and lengthy work like a novel.


  1. Every writer advises other writers to read. What I don’t hear as much, is someone speaking to the art of reading—how to read. This means to read constantly—not just your own writing or the writing of your friends, and not just work in your genre.  Read the writing time has honored, assuming the regard it is due: if a 19th century novel seems slow-paced to you (and it may, because narrative style was different back then), look toward other things the writer might be doing besides moving from plot point to plot point.  How does she draw characters? Choose descriptive detail? When does she show?  When does she tell? When does she step away from immediate and dramatic action to say something larger about the arc of the novel?  There are other things to learn from good fiction besides fast action.  Take your time while reading, and absorb those things.


  1. I don’t use film or television as my guide to writing prose fiction. This is not snobbery: I would use screenplay or teleplay as my models if those were what I was writing.  But TV and movies tell stories differently than novels or short fiction—an obvious fact until you get down to the process of writing.  I tend to use the novel as my model instead.  To make the tactics match.


  1. I take a manuscript through one more draft than I think it needs. This practice has never failed to uncover things that need attention.  I also am not in an all-fired rush to publish a piece: I wait, let it simmer, allow space between drafts to think about what I’ve done.  I’ve accused of working slowly; instead, I look at my practice as working constantly and at length.


  1. Despite the changes in the publishing world, I am more at peace spending my time in writing than in marketing. I know writers who are just the opposite, but I am more satisfied in my work when producing fiction takes precedence over selling fiction.  To those of you who would say, “but you need a marketing strategy in order to be a writer,” I understand and respect that argument, but stick by what I said in this post before I got to the list.


All of these things add up to respect.  This is still an art.  Selling your work is a worthy pursuit, but it is not your art, regardless of what someone at a convention might tell you.  Sit down at your desk, same time, same place (the little alcove off the laundry is open now).  You owe it to your work to respect it.


Get ready to explore a gem of mythic fiction in Michael Williams’ Dominic’s Ghosts Blog Tour. Taking place February 13-20, 2019, this blog tour celebrates a new stand-alone novel in Michael’s ambitious City Quartet.

Atmospheric and thought-provoking, Dominic’s Ghosts will take you on a unique kind of journey that involves a conspiracy, legends, and insights from a film festival!

About the author: Over the past 25 years, Michael Williams has written a number of strange novels, from the early Weasel’s Luck and Galen Beknighted in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental Arcady, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines. In Trajan’s Arch, his eleventh novel, stories fold into stories and a boy grows up with ghostly mentors, and the recently published Vine mingles Greek tragedy and urban legend, as a local dramatic production in a small city goes humorously, then horrifically, awry.

Trajan’s Arch and Vine are two of the books in Williams’s highly anticipated City Quartet, to be joined in 2018 by Dominic’s Ghosts and Tattered Men.

Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent much of his childhood in the south central part of the state, the red-dirt gothic home of Appalachian foothills and stories of Confederate guerrillas. Through good luck and a roundabout journey he made his way through through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, and has ended up less than thirty miles from where he began. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities, and teaches at the University of Louisville, where he focuses on the he Modern Fantastic in fiction and film. He is married, and has two grown sons.


Book Synopsis for Dominic’s Ghosts:   Dominic’s Ghosts is a mythic novel set in the contemporary Midwest. Returning to the home town of his missing father on a search for his own origins, Dominic Rackett is swept up in a murky conspiracy involving a suspicious scholar, a Himalayan legend, and subliminal clues from a silent film festival. As those around him fall prey to rising fear and shrill fanaticism, he follows the branching trails of cinema monsters and figures from a very real past, as phantoms invade the streets of his once-familiar city and one of them, glimpsed in distorted shadows of alleys and urban parks, begins to look uncannily familiar.


Author Links:


Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Mythical-Realism-The-Michael-Williams-Page-128713900543978/




Tour Schedule and Activities


2/13     Ravenous For Reads   www.ravenousforreads.com  Author Interview

2/13     Breakeven Books         https://breakevenbooks.com  Guest Post

2/14     Marian Allen, Author Lady      www.MarianAllen.com           Guest Post

2/15     Inspired Chaos     http://inspiredchaos.weebly.com/blog  Guest Post

2/16     I Smell Sheep   http://www.ismellsheep.com/            Guest Post

2/16     The Book Lover’s Boudoir       https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpress.com/         Review

2/17     Jorie Loves A Story      http://jorielovesastory.com    Review/Author Interview

2/18     The Seventh Star         www.theseventhstarblog.com            guest Post

2/18     Willow’s Thoughts and Book Obsessions       http://wssthoughtsandbookobsessions.blogspot.com/            Review

2/18     The Horror Tree          www.Horrortree.com             Guest Post

2/19     Sheila’s Guests and Reviews   www.sheiladeeth.blogspot.com            Guest Post

2/20     Jazzy Book Reviews     https://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/           Top Tens List

Amazon Links for Dominic’s Ghosts

Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Michael-Williams/dp/1948042584/

Kindle Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Quartet-Michael-Williams-ebook/dp/B07F5Z4L18/

Barnes and Noble Link for Dominic’s Ghosts: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dominics-ghosts-michael-williams/1129262622?ean=9781948042581

WIHM: Knowing Your Industry

So, you want to be a horror writer? Make lots of money like Stephen King?
Writers don’t tend to make lots of money but if they work hard – if you work hard – a living can be made.
There is, of course, an element of luck in everything – however – last year someone had the nerve to call out Sarah Pinborough and say she’d been lucky because of her success. I doubt very much they’d ever say such a thing to Stephen King. The thing is, I’ve known Sarah many years and she has worked her arse off to achieve what she has done. 
There lies the key to making a living as a horror writer 
  1. Hard work 
  2. Knowing Your Industry
That’s just for starters 
In this post I’m going to talk about knowing your industry; namely, horror.
Right, let’s start by pretending the debate on ‘what is horror?’ ended decades ago.
There are plenty of genres and sub-genres out there, and the best way to know what’s happening currently in the industry is to read, read and read some more.
Not just actual horror books and stories, but the stuff that surrounds horror.
Now, this won’t work for everyone, but these are the things I do to keep up to date with the industry, in which I’m writing.
I aim to spend three hours a week on my horror education.
  1. Use connections and social media – to start with I follow as many well known and emerging names in the horror genre as possible – across all platforms. On Twitter, Facebook and newsletters I follow as many prose writers, publishers, editors, directors, actors, screenplay writers, and artists as social media will allow.  I’ll check out links which are shared and follow those down the rabbit hole – unless it’s Sasquatch porn – until I find out something relevant and/or new. And the amazing benefit of this, apart from knowledge of course, is that I make actual friends!
  2. Subscriptions and Memberships – I frequently see people questioning whether societies and organisations such as HWA and BFS are worthwhile. The quick answer is – yes! For starters, you have the benefit of increasing your network, plus the potential of members-only anthology invites. The newsletters can also contain information on new releases, submission calls, and conventions or book events worth attending. I back up my HWA membership reading with a couple of magazines or e-zines I regularly read. As a HWA or BFS Member, you also get access to things like Award recommendations lists. I also include podcasts here.
  3. This list is personal and not exclusive –
Black Static
Cemetery Dance
The Horror Zine
Ginger Nuts of Horror
This Is Horror
Brian Keene’s Horror podcast
Three Bearded Guys
Best Of anthologies by Ellen Datlow, Stephen Jones, and Johnny Mains
Horror Tree
Some of these are hard to get in the UK but you can subscribe, get kindle or get ad hoc issues from Forbidden Planet London or newsagents online resources.
  1. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DVDs. I make it a habit to follow friends’ recommendations for challenging TV and film viewing. Netflix is really pushing boundaries right now and is a haven for geeks like us. As well as hosting The Haunting of Hill House and the forthcoming V Wars plus Behind Her Eyes, you can access international gems such as The Ghoul and indie films. 
Now, you’ll probably think – when does Theresa sleep? The thing is, I don’t do these things every day, or every week. In between conventions and TV binging I do other non-horror related activities – if you don’t, you’ll burn out. I haven’t read everything, I haven’t seen everything – but what I have done, is gained a flavour of what’s now, what’s current.
These things influence my writing, increase my awareness of the genre and entertain me.
  1. conventions
I’ve touched on this earlier, but trust me, nothing will e hands your love of horror more than attending a convention where you Can meet like-minded folk. And for me, the top ones are:
StokerCon- coming to the UK 2020, this is a fantastic networking opportunity and I’m sure it’ll be the experience of a lifetime too.
FantasyCon – focusing on a blend of genres, this UK Con is a book lovers dream come true.
Edge Lit – held every year in Derby, this is a writers’ weekend getaway
World Con
USA based cons on my bucket list are;
Merrimack Halloween Book Festival
Bizzaro Con
Killer Con
Dragon Con
No, I won’t hit them all, but I’m already registered for StokerCon UK, and with Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane at the helm, it will be great.
So, off you go young Skywalker – open your eyes to the beauty of horror and see what you can find.

Theresa Derwin

HWA member Theresa writes Dark Urban Fantasy & Horror and has over thirty anthology acceptances, one recently in ‘Below the Stairs’ with Ramsey Campbell and Clive Barker. She has been a fan and writer in genre for over twenty years. 
When she became to I’ll to work in the civil service in 2011, she accepted medical ‘retirement’ to pursue a writing career. She is a regular speaker at various conventions. She’s had three collections published; Monsters Anonymous (Anarchy Books 2012), Season’s Creepings and Wolf at The Door’. She edited Weird Ales 2016 creating vol 2 and 3 in 2017. Forthcoming books are Once Upon a Feather’ publisher TBC, then ‘God’s Vengeance’ from Crystal Lake Publishing. 
In 2017 she’s guested at Birmingham Horror Con. 2018 she appeared at Darker Side of Fiction as a guest author. Favourite writers include Aliette de Bodard, Seanan McGuire, Lisa Shearin, Paul Tremblay, Angela Slatter and Clive Barker. Robert A Heinlein was her first SF love – til she realised!
Personal note: as well as physical disabilities I have cognitive function issues, and writing give me an escape from my illnesses.

Trembling With Fear 02/17/2019


Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

This week, Steph is out with The Plague (see: Flu!) so I’m having to step(h) things up a bit. Thankfully, I’m fully rested and caught up from being on vacation from last week! (Or… Close enough!) But to keep that way, I’ll be making sure to wear protective gear when I read her next e-mail since you never know how virus’s spread these days…


This week we’re starting off with a bit of science fiction by Keith A. Raymond,MD that lets you know that there are consequences to all of our actions. However, the right gamble can pay big if you’re willing to take a chance. I’m loving when I see other genres outside of pure horror filtering into our weekly release!

Heading over to our drabbles we have Zoey Xolton sharing how fatal our desires can be and what giving into them can mean.

Next up, Madison McSweeney shares that sometimes things just aren’t what they appear to be.

Finally, Lionel Ray Green has delivered a story about the showing off what one has accomplished in a year. For some reason, this one has stuck with me since the first read.

I apologize for not going quite as in-depth on these as Steph does. To be totally honest, I am still catching up from last week and to say that I’m behind is an understatement. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and week ahead! Crush those writing goals and maybe even send some new drabble in our way. I’d be thrilled to see some darker science fiction or fantasy hit our inbox if creativity allows for it!

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree


Casino was an entire planet dedicated to gambling. Cruise ships plied the seas, steamboats paddled the rivers, and each city was a monument to a different era related to games of chance. One could spend the day in the desert heat of Las Vegas then the cool nights in Macao. Neva owned it all. To understand her wealth one must know her upbringing in poverty.

A sensor array rose on its stalk and pointed toward the squalling. The discarded robo-nanny rose from the junk pile alert. Rubber treads rolled over rubble to a recess in the debris. The squalling was coming from a baby girl.

The child was bright red and flailing on a canvas of blue gray mottled skin, her dead mother. A scan revealed bacteria leaching the last sugars from her cells. The robo-nanny placed a micro-probe into the mother’s milk glands sampling. The child fortunately had been protected. The robo-nanny used the mother’s analysis to synthesize milk for the child, carrying it back to the other discarded bots of her clan.

The mech servants had been abandoned here on Nix 5.

Neva suckled happily at the synthetic nipple the robo-nanny made. Per protocol, it presented the infant to the Magistrate, but local social services were already overwhelmed. Slavers would have forced her into the mines in any case.

The robo-nanny raised Neva in the metal dump with her clan. Redundant butlers taught her dance and etiquette, tutors taught her through college level education, her nanny taught her everything else. Neva was a tomboy. As a teen, she explored further and further from the metal dump.

On a bright day, Neva came upon an abandoned mine. Her green and purple cropped hair barely vibrated in the breeze. Her hazel eyes spotted discarded tailings of vurtzdaleite. She picked up two chunks of the mineral and banged them together. This, the hardest of all substances in the galaxy, was so brittle that several shards broke off.

Hypnotized by a centimander, she failed to notice her hands were slippery and wet. Absentmindedly, she had been playing with the chips. They were cutting her hands without her realizing it. Wiping the blood on her dress, she took her gum and used it to collect the vurtzdaleite.

An hour later, she showed her friend Caleb the shards. He was not impressed, and continued the tattoo he was placing on the back of a miner. The vibrating tool gave her an idea. Borrowing one of the tattoo machines, Neva disconnected the ink, and used her gum to affix a vurtzdaleite chip to the business end of the device. Turning it on, she found she could use it to cut anything she wanted.

Back home, the robo-nanny scolded Neva for the state of her hands. It washed them, sealed the cuts, and applied antibiotic. All the while, the teenager’s eyes roamed the shelter taking in the windows the butlers had assembled for their enclave.

“What are they made of?” Neva asked.

The robo-nanny admonished, “Be specific, what is what made of?”

“The windows.”

“Oh! Those are made from sheet diamond. Cheap, plentiful, and not much use for anything except windows here. There are some pieces of it laying around, look,” the robo-nanny answered, finishing the dressings on her hands.

“Can I take a piece? The sheet diamond, not the window,” Neva remembered, being specific, per instruction.

“Sure, just be careful.”

Neva picked up a piece of sheet diamond from a corner and went to her room. Sitting on the bed, she plucked a rough oblong emerald geode she had found previously from a shelf. Examining it closely, she laid it on her salvaged desk, pulled out her vurtzdaleite modified tattoo machine and went to work on the diamond glass.

Several hours later, she had constructed an emerald fish with diamond scales. The eyes were made from garnet, though she would have preferred rubies. Proudly, she showed it to the robo-nanny whose hollow praise, Neva could see right through.

The next day, she showed it to Caleb. He looked at it in disgust, but being young, he mashed on the point, “Junk made from junk by a junkie.”

Her face went beet red, then pale. She was grabbing for it, when one of Caleb’s customers said, “Hey, wait. Let me see that! Can I take a picture?”

Neva was still ripping the skin from Caleb’s bones with her eyes when she uttered, “Sure, whatever.”

 The customer uploaded the emerald fish onto his social media. The transmission was intercepted by the Hoarder, a wealthy trader who happened to be in orbit above Nix 5. Interest was so great, the Hoarder had to acquire it and insisted on adding the fish to his upcoming auction.

Neva stood in awe as the luxurious shuttle descended into the metal dump. The mechs had never seen a yacht of such quality. The Hoarder arrived like royalty in a fur lined gold mantle.

He walked directly up to Neva offering a vast amount of credits.

“Be specific,” she mimicked her robo-nanny.

 Neva realized that she had created an art treasure. The Hoarder offered an astronomical amount. In the end, Neva refused to sell. Instead, she preferred to consign the art to auction. The Hoarder, upset, agreed to accept the consignment.

The bidding became the stuff of legends. In the end, the House of Salman paid her with a planet, along with a sum of credits. Neva was suddenly the wealthiest eighteen year old in the quadrant.

Taking her obsolete robot servants, she built Casino. She left Caleb behind. He hadn’t known it at the time, but his comment had cost him a life of luxury.

Casino became the gambling hub of known space. All of Neva’s service mechs were collected and refurbished as a dedication to her nanny, the butlers, and the tutors who raised her on Nix 5.

Keith A. Raymond,MD

Dr. Raymond is a Family and Emergency Physician that practiced in eight countries in four languages. Currently living in Austria with a wife and a polar bear our husky brought home. When not volunteering his practice skills with refugees, he is writing or lecturing. He has multiple medical citations, and also published stories and poetry in Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grief Diaries, The Examined Life Journal, The Satirist, Chicago Literati, Serendipity, and Frontier Tales Magazine.

Fatal Desire

The fires burned strong and bright in the Pits of Hell, gorging on the pain and suffering of some of humanity’s wealthiest and most influential individuals. They had named their price and sold their souls. The Devil smirked. Their requests were always the same. Their predictability almost bored him into oblivion. They lusted after the flesh or the clink of gold. Other times it was power. Thrones. Kingdoms. Nations. But it was always greed. Humanity’s one fatal flaw was greed. They had still not yet learned and so continued to arrive at his fiery Gates. Eve had been the first.

Zoey Xolton

Zoey Xolton is a published Australian writer of Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. She is also a proud mother of two and is married to her soul mate. Outside of her family, writing is her greatest passion. She is especially fond of short fiction and is working on releasing her own collections in future. To find out more, please visit: www.zoeyxolton.com!

The Vanishing Lady 

The lady was a disappearing act, vanishing at odd hours and slinking back home without so much as a lie. The husband was meek, the type who could screw himself up enough to put a tail on his wife, but never confront her.

I parked outside streetlamp range and waited, camera lens trained on her house.

She arrived home in style, whisked through the sky in a silver rig that would’ve blotted out the sun at a different time of day. I admired her shapely legs in silhouette as she slid into her kitchen along a beam of white light.


Madison McSweeney

Madison McSweeney is a Canadian writer, poet, and blogger.

Her horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories have appeared in Unnerving Magazine, Women in Horror Annual 2, The Fulcrum, Horror Tree, 365 Tomorrows, and Dark Horizons: An Anthology of Dark Science Fiction. She also has stories set to appear in Weirdpunk Books’s upcoming Zombie Punks F*** Off and forthcoming issues of Polar Borealis and Deadman’s Tome.

Her non-fiction arts and culture coverage has been published in a number of outlets. She blogs at madisonmcsweeney.com and tweets (mostly about horror, rock music, and the Canadian arts scene) from @MMcSw13.  

Edgar’s New Year’s Eve Bash

Edgar adjusted his black tie and stepped into the dining room.

A banner hung from the ceiling.


On the table, a chocolate sheet cake with seventy-two candles provided the only light.

Edgar glanced at the six guests sitting motionless around the table, their cadaverous faces nearly invisible in the flickering shadows.

“Last year, twelve attended the party,” Edgar said.

The jawbone of one of the guests dropped to the table and clattered to the floor.

Edgar’s left eye twitched once.

“There’s always next year,” Edgar said before adding six more candles to the cake.

Lionel Ray Green

Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in the anthologies Alabama’s Emerging Writers, The Heart of a Devil, Fifty Flashes, How Beer Saved the World 2, Graveyard, Frightening, Tales from the Grave, In Creeps the Night, and 22 More Quick Shivers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose and his short story “A Tale of Two Shards” was third runner-up in the WriterWriter 2018 International Fantasy Competition Phoenix Rising. His work has also appeared in The Poet’s Haven Digest anthology It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, in Issue 1 of Cross+Decay magazine, and in the 2017 issue of From the Depths magazine as well as in Trembling With Fear, an online feature of the Horror Tree website.

Homepage: lionelraygreen.wordpress.com

WIHM: Be Brave, Be Delighted

Be Brave, Be Delighted

By: Joanna Koch


I started writing about ten years ago with no MFA, no writing group, and no idea what I was trying to achieve. My daily creative practice up until then was drawing or painting. Writing always seemed so cerebral, so out of the realm of possibility for someone who processes information visually and spatially, that I never considered it a viable creative endeavor. Being an author was not part of my life plan.

And marketing? Oh, please.

The best things that happen in life are usually not part of the plan. Often, they’re the result of mistakes. Glorious, foolish, cringe-worthy mistakes. When you feel lost about what to do, deep in the thick of the woods and bound by the inextricable path of a bad choice, you’re well on your way to discovering something better than you’d ever plan.

Next time you’re lost, and there’s always a next time, try to remember that it means you can end up somewhere unexpected. In darkness, there is the potential for delight. (Oh yes, I did just plug a new anthology I’m in from Corpus Press. Check it out.)

It’s the nature of creative thinkers to doubt and question, and to turn the critical lens upon themselves. Too often, it’s turned inward destructively. In a culture that historically tells women to be quiet, tolerant, and nurturing to others, our internal critics can crush us if we don’t turn our support and generosity towards ourselves.

Perhaps it’s impolite and uncouth to be bold or brash or delighted about your own work. Writing this article, part of my brain is nudging me right now to apologize for not having enough published work to validate giving my opinion. I haven’t finished a novel. Every time I post links to my work on social media, part of me cringes. Am I making an idiot of myself? What if the work isn’t good enough?

It’s the same with submitting stories. Doubt, doubt, doubt. I doubt and I cringe and do it anyway.

I think we all know that inspiration is a myth, and that the biggest part of creativity is just showing up. We show up and put down words whether we feel good about it or not. We put in the work hours and gradually the muse unveils herself.

We have to show up and market whether we feel like it or not, too. Speaking up when the broader culture says not to speak is a political act. Art with no political agenda is a political act. It’s not the content, it’s the act. Publishers are looking for underrepresented voices. There’s no excuse not to take the leap.

Faking confidence is one method of overcoming a fear of the leap. It’s how I’ve survived as a shy person in an extroverted world. I ask myself, what would a totally confident psychopath do? They’d write that cover letter and send the thing in with no apologies. They’d send it to that big publisher, the one paying pro rates or the one with a roster of authors from your dreams. I generally stop emulating psychopaths before any blood gets shed, though. Generally.

Doubt is also a useful creative tool. When you doubt, you’re open to making changes. It takes doubt to edit your own beloved work, to listen to feedback, and to let things go. Doubt examines. Doubt hones.

Too much doubt silences. Alternative voices carry a double burden of doubt when cultural messages become internalized. The trick is not to take doubt too seriously, to treat it like a flashlight. Take it out when you need to see better, and then put it away when you’re done.

Authors who have been writing much longer and much better than me silence themselves by conceding to doubt. You know who you are. I’d like to hear you speak out. The ratio of highly visible male to female horror writers is skewed. Let’s fix that.

Let’s also be delighted when we succeed, even in the small things, like getting out of bed. Let’s congratulate each other for showing up. If writing feels useless, write anyway. Crank out some words. Their worth won’t be known until days or months have passed, and today’s failure may be the seed of tomorrow’s success. Unless you’re the person who stole the time machine my cat was building in the basement and know what the future holds, there’s no way to predict the outcome of today’s work.

Be brave, be unapologetic, be delighted. Go write or market or submit something right now. Do something you aren’t sure you can do. Fake it if you must. It is a brave and worthy endeavor to strive to create art.

Joanna Koch

Author Joanna Koch writes literary horror and surrealist trash. Her short stories have been published in journals and anthologies including Storgy and Doorbells at Dusk. She’ll have new work out soon in Synth, Sanitarium, and in anthologies from Corpus Press and Carrion Blue 555. Joanna is a graduate of Naropa University who lives and works near Detroit. Follow her monstrous musings at horrorsong.blog.



The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with C.R. Langille

Claire: Hi C.R.! How are you? What have you been up to on the writing front?

C.R.: I’m great! Thank you for asking. At the moment I’m working on an episodic shared-world serial set in a grim, post-apocalyptic fantasy world where all the gods have died. Think if Cormac McCarthy’s The Road had a bastard child with Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire…maybe a pinch of Robert E. Howard in there for taste. I’ve also been finishing up the first draft of the third book in my Dark Tyrant Series.

Claire: Tell me about you! Are you a full-time writer, or do you work in ‘the real world’?

C.R.: I work in the real world as you put it. I’ve been in the military for nearly 20 years now. I’m actually set to retire in September, where I plan on writing full-time. It’s been a challenge trying to juggle writing, work, and family. I’m okay at that juggle. However, I know of a lot of folks who are masters at making it work. It amazes me what people are capable of if they put their mind to something.

Canyon Shadows

Claire: Tell me about your novels ‘Consequence’ and ‘Canyon Shadows.’

C.R.: Consequence and Canyon Shadows are dark urban fantasy books with some heavy horror elements. However, all that aside, the stories are really about how much someone is willing to sacrifice for their loved ones.

They are both set in Utah, my home state. Canyon Shadows deals with a small town I created in Southern Utah of the same name, where an ancient entity known as the Dark Tyrant was imprisoned deep in the mountain when the earth was still young. As time has worn on, the Tyrant has grown stronger and he seeks a way free from his bonds. Consequence, takes place right after the Tyrant has broken free and a demonic apocalypse kicks off across the world.

When I started off to write these books, they were going to be traditional horror novels; however, as I fleshed out the stories, I couldn’t help but add elements of magic and other strange things. I think it stemmed from my love of reading fantasy novels when I was younger. I started really getting into reading with Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, my absolute favourite still being Homeland by R.A. Salvatore.

I finally embraced it and my books turned into this mix of urban fantasy and horror which I think is really fun. I have a certain scene in Consequence that I’ve been told was traumatizing to a reader.

Claire: As well as being published in magazines, you also self-publish. What do you enjoy about self-publishing?

C.R.: I enjoy the freedom that comes with self-publishing. I set my own deadlines, goals, and objectives. I like being able to release on my own schedule as well. The best part, is all the return comes to me and I’m not sharing any of that royalty with a publishing house. However, don’t get me wrong, there are certainly drawbacks to self-publishing as well. For example, all the cost is now on me (cover art, ISBNs, editing, interior design, etc), not to mention all the marketing is up to me as well. I’ve had to become educated on marketing and I’ve only scratched the surface.

Claire: Tell me about your writing process. Do you set aside time to write, or do you write as your stories come to you?

C.R.: At the moment I try and sneak in writing whenever I can. My schedule is pretty crazy at the moment. I know there are a lot of successful folks who get up super early in the morning and do all their things…well, that isn’t me. I think if I tried to do something like that there would be an incident. As for plotting books, I gave that up a long time ago. It doesn’t work for me. I’d spend all this time and energy plotting out each chapter, and it would derail by the middle of chapter one. The way I do it, is I know the major scenes and the end, so I know where I’m headed, and then I’ll just ensure I write what I need to end up at those scenes.

Claire: I see you also write for younger readers. Is your writing process different for younger readers than it is for adults?

C.R.: Very much so! My stories for adults are way darker than anything I’d ever write for young readers. I have to be careful when I’m writing those stories that they don’t get too scary or bleak. That doesn’t mean I don’t write scary stories for young readers, because I do. I grew up watching scary movies and loving horror from a very young age, and I think it’s important that kids and teens experience those emotions in a healthy way.

Claire: How long have you been writing for?

C.R.: I started writing over 20 years ago for fun, but I decided to get serious about writing 17 years ago.

Claire: You have a MFA: Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. How has that impacted your writing career?

C.R.: Getting my MFA from Seton Hill was one of the smartest things I ever did for my writing career. My first published short story came out in October of 2011 and as you could imagine, I was excited about it. When I was accepted at Seton Hill I thought I knew a lot about writing, turns out I was wrong. I realized pretty quickly that I had a lot more to learn. They also taught at a lot of the back-end pieces of writing like market study, research, querying agents, teaching, etc… The greatest thing about Seton Hill’s program though, wasn’t just the education, but the networking. I met so many awesome people out there that I still converse with today.

Claire: I see you’re a tabletop gamer. Does that help shape your writing?

C.R.: Definitely! I started playing paper/pencil RPG’s when I was in 6th grade. None of my friends at the time had ever played, so it was on me to get the books, learn how to play, teach them, and ultimately run the games. I spent a lot of my formative years creating adventures, campaigns, monsters, and characters for them to enjoy. I still run games today as the DM/GM. There is no doubt in my mind that being able to create fun adventures for people and see how they unfold has helped me with creating stories for folks to read.

Claire. Reading through your blog, I see you’re also an expert in survival techniques, and regularly post about your activities. Does that aspect of your life influence your writing? If so, how?

C.R.: Indeed it does. The Air Force sent me to an outdoor survival school which was amazing and throughout the years I’ve taken other classes and seminars to help reinforce those skills. Whenever I’m writing about a character that is stuck in the wilderness, I pull on that knowledge to help me create realistic scenes. In fact, the main character in Consequence has some of the same training and utilizes his training as he’s fighting his way through the forest.

Claire: You also mention you’re inspired by the Utah outdoors. How do you blend real locations within your stories?

C.R.: I like to draw on real experience in my books. I think it’s that touch of reality that helps turn horror even scarier. There are places both Canyon Shadows and Consequence that are very real. A lot of the times if I come across something unique, or something that sticks out to me, I’ll make a note and incorporate it somehow later. For example, in Canyon Shadows, there is a scene where the character is driving along a lonely road on his way to Canyon Shadows, Utah. Canyon Shadows itself is a fictional place; however, along the way he passes a run-down cabin in the middle of a field. I first saw that cabin when I was a very young boy and always wondered who built it, what its story was, and how long it had been there.

The coolest thing, is that I give enough information in the book, that anyone can go find that place and experience the same things as well. The hunting scene in Consequence is drawn from an area I hunted several years ago. Black Rock in “Brine and Blood” is a real landmark near the Great Salt Lake. The list goes on, but I think adding a touch of realism enhances the story.

Claire: You’re a member of the Horror Writer’s Association. What does being a member mean to you? How has it furthered your writing career?

C.R.: For me, being a member of the HWA is a way of showing that one, I take my writing seriously. I love horror and writing and the HWA promotes both of those things. It’s a great way to network as well and bounce ideas off other like-minded individuals. I like to give back as well, and I’ve participated in the HWA’s mentorship program for the past few years. Basically they will pair up a newer mentor or someone who wants help with their writing, with another HWA member who has some experience. I enjoy being involved in the mentoring program, because just like any good mentoring relationship, if done right both participants can learn a great deal from one another.

Claire: Tell me about your protagonists. Do you base them on people you know? Or are they purely fictitious?

C.R.: My protagonists are mainly fictitious; however, I do incorporate some aspects of real people at times. Not just with my protagonists, but with supporting characters as well. When I’m out and about, or interacting with folks, I am always taking note of interesting mannerisms. During my studies at Seton Hill one of the teachers mentioned people watching as a research skill. Basically, take a notepad and go sit in a coffee shop, or a store or shopping mall and just watch people. You’d be amazed at the amount of interesting things that come from that.

Claire. I see you also review movies. What do you enjoy about reviewing?

C.R.: Reviewing is a way for me to unpack what I just watched. It’s a way for me to analyse my own thoughts on what happened. What worked and what didn’t. Mainly, I love hearing back from people to see if my own views line up with what they were thinking or seeing if I’m way off. I generally only review movies or books that made an impression, so it’s another way for folks to see what influences me as a writer and a person.

Claire: What’s your favourite book?

C.R.: That’s a tough one. My taste in books have changed so much over the years it’s hard to pin down. Some books that have influenced me or left an impression throughout the years are Homeland by R.A. Salvatore, The Shining by Stephen King, and Penpal by Dathan Auerbach.

Claire: You’re stuck on a desert island. Being a survivalist, what would you do?

C.R.: I’m going to stick with the basics and follow a few simple things. Let’s talk about the rule of threes to begin with. This is an over-generalization because extremes can definitely change the timelines, but a person can last three hours exposed in harsh climates, three days without water, and thirty days without food. Therefore, my first priority is going to be finding or making shelter. I am assuming if it is a desert island that heat is going to be the biggest factor, so shade and protection from rain/storms. Depending on what’s around me that shelter could be a debris shelter, a lean-to, or even a cave if such a thing exists. Things I’d be looking for is a location that is close to a water source, fuel for a fire, and food (if all that is possible).

Following that, my next priority is going to be water. Ideally, there is a body of fresh water on this island, which would make things easier. At that point I just need to figure out a method of purification which probably means building a fire.

After fire and water is taken care of, I would need to find food. I’d be looking at local wildlife, insects, and plants to cover that aspect.

Finally, after all of that, I’d be looking for a means of rescue. That means building SOS signs large enough to be seen from the air. Having three large bonfires ready to go at a moment’s notice to signal I need help, or things of that nature.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done and it comes down to having the skills to implement this type of training, and ultimately having the will to live in a survival situation. Nothing is guaranteed, but proper training and the will to live can go a long ways to successfully surviving in an extreme environment.

Claire, I want to thank you for taking the time to interview me. It’s been a lot of fun and I appreciate the opportunity.







Taking Submissions: Apparition Lit Magazine (Short Window!)

Deadline: February 28th, 2018
Payment: $0.03 per word, minimum of 30.00

Apparition Lit is open for poetry and short story submissions four times a year.

  • February 15-28
  • May 15-31
  • August 15-31
  • November 15-30

Our themes for 2019 will be:

  • Resistance (Submission period November 15-30, 2018 (CLOSED), Published January 2019)
  • Ambition (Submission period February 15-28, 2019, Publishing April 2019)
  • Retribution (Submission period May 15-31, 2019, Publishing July 2019)
  • Euphoria (Submission period August 15-31, 2019, Publishing October 2019)

Our themes for 2018: Apparition (Published January 2018) – Delusion (Published April 2018) – Vision (Published July 2018) – Diversion (Published October 2018)

Apparition Lit also holds monthly flash fiction contests. These stories will follow selected themes and be published online.

For more information on themes and submission guidelines, please see the flash fiction drop down below.


Apparition is a semi-pro rate magazine, paying $0.03 per word, minimum of 30.00 dollars (excluding flash contest. See details in the Flash Fiction dropdown for flash rates). If we accept your story, we are purchasing the right to publish the story online and in the quarterly edition. Rights will revert back to the artist after one year.

What we’re looking for:

(Click on the sections to see detailed guidelines for each classification.)

Short Fiction:

We will only accept stories between 1000-5000 words. If the story is complete with an extra hundred words, then it will still be considered. Any stories over 5,200 words will automatically be rejected.


Apparition is a semi-pro magazine, paying $0.03 per word, minimum of 30.00 dollars (excluding flash contest). If we accept your story, we are purchasing the right to publish the story online and in the quarterly edition. Rights will revert back to the artist after one year.

How to Submit:

  1. Format the story using the Shunn manuscript
  2. Please only use Times New Roman or Arial font in your document
  3. Save as an RTF file and attach to an email
  4. In the text of the email, provide a brief cover letter that includes your name, the title of the short story, word count, and any relevant publications
  5. Edit the email’s subject line so it reads: SUBMISSION: Title of Your Story
  6. Email your formatted email and short story manuscript to [email protected]
  7. Add Apparition Lit to your Safe Senders list so you can receive our auto-response emails

Response Time:

All acceptances and rejections will be emailed by the 15th day of the following month after submissions close.

If you have not heard back by the 15th, send a query to: [email protected] with the title of your submission. Before emailing, please check your spam folder.

To make sure you receive all emails from Apparition Lit, please add us to your Safe Senders list in your email client.

Apparition Lit is seeking original, unpublished speculative fiction that meet our quarterly theme. Speculative fiction is weird, almost unclassifiable. It’s fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and literary. We want it all. Send us your strange, misshapen stories.

Send us stories with enough emotional heft to break a heart, with prose that’s as clear and delicious as broth. We’re looking for proactive characters and beautiful language, all wrapped up in a complete story.

Diversity is as important in fiction as it is in real life. We want a mosaic of stories, from authors of all identities and walks of life.

What we don’t accept:

While we love dark stories with macabre elements, we will not accept stories with gratuitous and graphic violence or rape, this includes any type of child abuse including sexual abuse. We also will not consider stories that have extreme, purposeless violence toward animals. Stories containing these elements will be automatically rejected.

We do not publish erotica or thinly-veiled fanfiction.

We do not accept multiple or simultaneous submissions. Please send only one submission per category during each reading period. Apparition Lit wants your best story that meets the current theme. At some point, if your story does not meet the theme, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall.

At this time, we do not accept reprints or resubmissions.

Via: Apparition Lit.

Creators Should Really Check Out The Available MasterClass Programs!

“I was compensated for this post and this post contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.”

We’ve all heard about the MasterClass program by now which features some of the greatest in each industry teaching a class with a focus on their specific craft. You may not know that this also pertains to the writing community!

One of the most recent editions is “Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art of Storytelling.” If you like Gaiman’s work or not – it is hard to argue that he is a master wordsmith and world builder and now there is a class you can take to get an insight into his creative process and how it can be applied to your own work.

It features 19 lessons and “In his first-ever online class, Neil Gaiman teaches you how he conjures up new ideas, convincing characters, and vivid fictional worlds.”

Gaiman isn’t the only teacher you can take advantage of here as R.L. Stine has a class which teaches how to write for younger audiences which has 28 lessons to enjoy. In it, “The Goosebumps author teaches you how to generate ideas, outline a plot, and hook young readers from the first page.”

You can also pick up courses by Margaret Atwood on creative writing, Dan Brown for writing thrillers, and Malcolm Gladwell teaching writing.

These classes are great for bringing a new level to your own work or is the perfect gift for the author in your life. Most of these classes come in at $90 per course with a MasterClass All-Access Pass at $180 per year if you have the time and dedication to get through more than two it could be worth going this route. The service is always adding more content creators as well which could make this an appealing option if you plan on continuing to use it down the line!

Have you taken a MasterClass program? If so, which one and what did you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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