Author: Angelique Fawns

WiHM 12: An Interview With Michelle River of Eerie River Publishing

Michelle River and Eerie River Publishing

By Angelique Fawns


Michelle River and her Canadian-based small independent publishing house are helping other indie authors achieve their goals. Things are busy for this mother of two; River has a toddler and a newborn, but she still somehow finds the time to run her company. Focusing on horror, Eerie River Publishing provides a wide range of services like editing, formatting, cover design, and social media marketing. They have an ongoing submission call for their monthly contest, and the theme for February is “Monsters”. Michelle River talked with me about how she finally brought her lifelong dreams to fruition. 

 

AF: Tell me about the creation of Eerie River Publishing?
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WiHM 12: Autumn Miller, and why she’s an unofficial “X-Men”

Autumn Miller, and why she’s an unofficial “X-Men”

By Angelique Fawns

 

Autumn Miller is a horror and poetry author who recently joined the Jolly Horror Press team as a First Reader. She helped choose the stories in their latest anthology, Coffin Blossoms, and is currently working on Fornever After, open for submissions now. Fornever After seeks stories of tragic love with a horror theme, and ask writers to “scare us and rips our hearts out.”  Miller also professes a love of cats, calligraphy and crocheting. (Don’t make her angry when she has a crochet hook in her hand.)

I met Miller when she helped revise my story “The Golden Falcon” for Coffin Blossoms. She took the time to let me know my story was “almost there”, but really didn’t like the ending. Would I consider rewriting it? Not every First Reader takes that extra step, so I was interested in learning more about this exceptional woman in horror.
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WiHM 12: An interview with Sarah Glenn

Sarah Glenn and her “Strangely Funny” world of horror

 

Sarah Glenn has a dark funny bone, and loves sharing humorous horror with her readers. She has a background in journalism and even worked the Reports Desk for her local police department. There she learned some criminals, are in fact, dumb. She and her partner Gwen Mayo have published eight issues of their Strangely Funny anthology series, and are opening submissions for the ninth edition in August. They’re looking for funny paranormal stories, and the guidelines give examples from stories they’ve accepted in the past, “Homicide is summoned to a halfway house for the undead, a finger transplant from a serial killer leads to hilarious consequences, a mummy regrets hiring a cheap embalmer. Lovecraft humor is welcome; shaggy dog stories are not.”

I met Glenn when she accepted a story of mine, “The Writing Retreat” for Strangely Funny VII, and sat down with her to learn more about this talented “woman in horror”.

 

AF: Tell me about the creation of your small press, Mystery and Horror, LLC.

SG: Mystery and Horror began in the days before same-sex marriage was legal, long before we set up the press. We could not pass the copyright of our characters to one another unless we were married or related, so Gwen and I set up an LLC that would permit each of us to leave our creative works to the surviving partner. At the time, Gwen Mayo and I each had books published by Pill Hill Press. When they went on hiatus, we discussed our options and decided to set up our own press. We’d been involved in newsletter/zine production before, and we expanded our skills to book publication. Since we were already legally organized, we expanded the functions of the LLC.


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WiHM 12: Tara Grimravn and her “Literary Nectar for the Shadowed Soul”

Tara Grimravn and her “Literary Nectar for the Shadowed Soul”

By Angelique Fawns

 

Tara Grimravn grew up immersed in the sad songs, myths, and stories of the Appalachian Mountains. Coming from a long line of storytellers, she creates worlds imbued with dark fantasy and horror. She is currently finishing her first full-length fantasy novel, “Beneath a Red Hunter’s Moon”, and has published numerous short stories based on a multi-verse of her own creation. Grimravn also works as a First Reader for Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores. I sat down with her to find out more about her ambitious projects, and fascinating background.

 

AF: How did you originally become interested in horror?

TG: To be honest, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in horror. That probably sounds weird, but I have always loved it. If you had to nail me down to an answer, though, I’d say my grandmother was to blame. 

My grandmother grew up in the backwoods of the Tennessee, up in the Appalachian Mountains, and when my siblings and I were growing up, she’d tell us these stories that she’d heard from her grandfather and grandmother when she was a child. Everything from seeing glowing coffins in the woods the night before the death of her 4-year-old brother Berdine (he died of diphtheria), to the sounds of ghostly horses running circles around the cabin they lived in, to a creature she called “Raw Head and Bloody Bones.” 

When I got older, of course, and started my undergraduate degree in archaeology, I realized that “Raw Head and Bloody Bones” was originally an old English nursery bogey that migrated to the U.S., and there are several versions of the fairy tale. My grandmother’s version was about a child-eating monster that lived in the deep forest of the Appalachian Mountains in a rundown cabin (similar to the medieval English version that lives under the stairs), but I’ve heard of a version from Arkansas that involves a razorback hog and an old witch, too. Either way, I have to credit my love of folklore, especially dark folklore, and horror stories to her.  

 

AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself? (more…)

WiHM 12: It’s Raining Alien Bugs!

It’s Raining Alien Bugs!

How one horror story found a home. 

By Angelique Fawns

 

We all have dreams. Mine is to explore the darker side of human nature like Shirley Jackson. Create monsters as memorable as Mary Shelley. Learn to show the future with the finesse of Octavia E. Butler. 

I started my quest to write horror in 2017. My journey has been riddled with rejection, frustration, and moments where I want to go screaming into the night. It has taken me almost four years to find a home for the very first story I penned. “Invasive Species” is a science fiction/ horror story inspired by climate change and unusual weather patterns. It was rejected 33 times. Rewritten nine times.  

In those four years, I’ve also written other short stories, and managed to find homes for approximately 30 of them. But “Invasive Species” was the black albatross around my neck. 

Until recently. 

 Scot Noel, editor-in-chief of DreamForge Anvil, picked up “Invasive Species” for their pilot issue, “With DreamForge Anvil we not only offer great, positive science fiction and fantasy, we take a behind the scenes look at what the story means to the author and how it reached its final draft.”

Noel explains why he chose my alien story, “In “Invasive Species” Angelique presented us with an engagingly written tale constructed around some interesting ideas. I felt the original version could find a home eventually, if it just hit the right editor’s desk at the right time.”

Noel was definitely the right editor. He took me through a series of thoughtful plot revisions and clarifications. (What is the exact science behind growing marijuana? How big of a greenhouse do you need to feed a small family for a year?) The story became 100x better. 

Now that I look back on it, the first version created back in 2017 was probably quite horrible, but I was convinced the story had legs. That summer, Toronto was dealing with unprecedented rainfall. I work at a media company down by the lakeshore and EVERYTHING was flooding. The highway was under water in low parts. The sugar factory next door was using sandbags to protect the warehouse floor. People who lived on the Toronto Islands had to move to the main land and were travelling their footpaths by canoe. 

To add to the dystopian strangeness of that year, (though 2017 has nothing on 2020) our region’s ash trees were being ravished by an invasive species called the Emerald Ash Borer. My husband works handling these issues for our township, so I knew it was a serious problem. The idea for “Invasive Species” was born. I wrote a 3000-word piece and sent it off to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

C.C. Finlay rejected it, but sent me this note

Thank you for giving me a chance to read “Invasive Species.” I was interested in the premise, but overall, the story didn’t quite grab me — in part, I thought it started in the wrong place or with the wrong event to give it strong narrative momentum — and I’m going to pass. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it. I appreciate your interest in F&SF and hope that you’ll keep us in mind in the future.”

I tweaked the story, sent it off to The Writers of the Future Contest, and earned an honorable mention for the second quarter in 2018.

Then I sent the story off to Abyss & Apex Magazine.

“Thank you for submitting your story to ABYSS & APEX. It was well received here, but after some thought we have decided not to accept it for publication. I hope you’ll consider us again, and I wish you the best success in placing this story elsewhere.”

A year later, I gave the story yet another intensive rewrite, changed the title to “A Flood of Bugs” and resent it to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

“Thank you for giving me a chance to read “A Flood of Bugs.” I don’t remember the earlier version, but this story didn’t quite grab me — I didn’t see what the stakes in the first couple scenes were for Cass and, particularly, Devon, and so the beginning didn’t have a lot of narrative momentum for me. I’m going to pass on this one for Fantasy & Science Fiction, but I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you’ll keep us in mind in the future. Also, I’m very happy to see your enthusiasm, especially for revising stories — regardless of how this one turned out, that’s generally the way people become better writers and reach their first sales. Good luck.”

I rewrote it, hoping I was adding “narrative momentum” and sent it to Eerie River Publishing.

“We really enjoyed the tale you wove, the flooding of the Toronto island brought be back to the news reports last year, I think. However, we regret to advise you we will not be using it for our anthology. Although dark in nature, it didn’t quite hit the horror notes we were looking for. It was an interesting take on the call out, but just not for us.”

In 2019, I submitted it to Unreal Magazine and though it received a “blue ribbon” for being on the right track, it wasn’t purchased. 

So, I sent it on to The Reckoning.

“Thank you very much for submitting “Invasive Species” to Reckoning, but unfortunately it isn’t what we’re looking for right now. The concept, while clever, is somewhat overdone — we see a lot of aliens-as-invasives go by. Best of luck in placing this elsewhere.”

I rewrote it. Again. And found an open call at The Rabbit Hole.

“Many thanks for sending us your story for consideration in The Rabbit Hole. However, with 114 submissions in contention, I’m afraid we feel unable to include it. It’s an interesting piece, with an intriguing concept at its core. Unfortunately, though, we felt that it would have needed a different treatment to make a stronger impact. Such judgments are subjective, of course, so you may find that others will differ, and I wish you all success in placing it elsewhere.”

If a magazine actually offers commentary it usually means they liked your work. I was getting lots of comments but no contracts. Time for another rewrite, and off to Visions Magazine.

“We’ve reviewed “Invasive Species” and unfortunately it hasn’t made the cut. It’s a nice pitch that creates an interesting atmosphere, unfortunately the story doesn’t fit with the rest of the commissioned pieces. Overall, the delivery didn’t feel fully mastered and the narrative could have been snappier. It left me wanting something a bit more crafted to create a more long-lasting impression.”

It was sheer luck I found Scot Noel and DreamForge Anvil. I had sent several stories his way over the years, but none of them were picked up. (Even though I always appreciated the thoughtful rejection letters.)

I’ve recently published an anthology called The Story Behind the Stories: 12 Dark Tales and their Publishers. It showcases my previously published tales, interviews from the purchasing editors, plus all the rejection letters each piece got before pick-up.

Scot Noel not only gave me permission to use his helpful advice, but asked me to participate in the DreamForge Anvil project if I could send him a worthy story. 

I sent him four stories that I couldn’t find a home for. He picked “Invasive Species”. You can read the whole story for free at DreamForge Anvil, and have the option to buy an affordable subscription to see all the line-edits. 

I may not have managed to write “The Lottery”, “Frankenstein”, or “Kindred” yet, but I do feel with help from editors like Scot Noel, I might be getting a tiny bit closer.

 

The Horror Tree Presents: Interview with Deidre J Owen, founder/designer at Mannison Press, LLC

The Marvelous Mannison Minibook!

Interview with Deidre J Owen, founder/designer at Mannison Press, LLC

By Angelique Fawns

Have you ever heard of a press named after a pet plant? With a whimsical origin story, and imaginative marketing, Mannison Press, LLC is seeding for the future. Always experimenting with new ideas, the line Mannison Minibook is offered in the 4 x7 paperback format. The catalog of these “not quite a novella, and not quite a short story” minibooks is growing rapidly, and offered in a variety of genres. 

Deidre J. Owens calls them “the perfect single-sitting read.” 

She’s taken an unusual path in her own writing career, starting out with Christian fiction, and ending with horror.  I sat down to chat with Owens about her publishing company and jam-packed schedule for 2021.

AF: How and why did you start your small press?

DO: Back in June of 2018, my Twitter pal Ron Linson reached out with a children’s book idea sparked by some random Twitter shenanigans. He knew I’d previously written and published several children’s book and proposed a collaboration. While that was in the early stages of development, we also began working as critique partners and started swapping short stories. We even collaborated on a humorous short story that later became our very first publication as business partners (the Mannison Minibook Overworked: A Legal Fiction).

One day in January, 2019 he was reading a ghost story of mine and realized it shared an underlying theme with a story of his own, and he suggested the idea for a themed anthology. Now, publishing our own stuff was one thing, but bringing in a bunch of outside authors was something completely different. It was complicated.

We decided that if we were going to do this, then we needed to do it right and form an LLC…and I had a name for us right away. So, you know how writers often have a little writing companion? It’s typically a cat, though sometimes a dog or other beloved pet. Well, I didn’t have a pet at the time. I had a plant. This sweet peace lily (which I miraculously haven’t killed yet) had been a housewarming gift in 2017. It was in our new house that my adventures in writing and publishing truly began, and the lily sat quietly beside my desk watching me work and evolve. When I decided he was my “writing plant” I had my young daughter help me name him.

She called him Mannison. 

AF: Do you have a day job?

DO: Nope. Well, I did once upon a time, but our little family works better with a parent in the home. I do have a degree in veterinary technology, however, and can see myself one day returning to work with animals. 

AF: What kind of writing/creating do you do personally?

DO: When I first began to take my writing seriously it was with an inspired series of contemporary fiction novellas with Christian undertones (as yet unpublished). From there, I moved over to children’s picture books and early chapter books, of which I have several. I dabbled in humor, but then swiftly moved into weird fiction and horror. That’s a natural progression, right? Christian –> children –> humor –> weird –> horror?

AF: What do you typically look for in a story that you buy?

DO: While we certainly appreciate originality as much as the next person, we also look for presentation and style. After all, even an overdone trope can be fun if it’s told in an entertaining way! Twists are always fun…we love it when you throw us something unexpected. And being flexible on genre allows us to enjoy a variety of settings and mash-ups. 

AF: Could you expand more on your Minibook Project? 

DO: Our Mannison Minibooks are short fiction in a free-standing format, ranging in length from short story (~5K words) to novelette (~17K words). We do publish them in e-book format, but our pride and joy at MP is our 4×7 paperback Minibooks! We bill them as the perfect single-sitting read. They’re portable, affordable, and coming in a variety of genres makes them easily gift-able. We’re currently in the middle of our second round of Minibook releases which will wrap in March with a total of 25 Minibook publications, and we have plans to open Minibook submission again in summer of 2021. 

AF: I see you have a submission call for Novellas. Is this the same thing as the Minibooks?

DO: No, and I’m glad you asked! This will be another EXPANSION for our offerings here at MP. So far, we have our multi-author anthologies, short story collections, and our line of Minibooks. Novellas will be in their own new category. These will range in length from roughly 20-40K and will be published in 5×8 format (as opposed to the 4×7 Minibooks and 6×9 collections). This submission call will be relatively brief, however as we are only a two-man operation! Busy, busy.

AF: What sort of response have you had to the Minibooks?

DO: Overall, pretty good. We are a small publishing house so our visibility is admittedly limited, but so far all of our authors have been delightfully pleased by the whole Minibook approach. In fact, some of our authors have been truly partnering with us in our publication and marketing efforts, which makes an enormous difference in reader response. Getting seen is one of our biggest challenges, but people who discover our Minibooks are enthralled by them. 

AF: What genre are you typically publishing? 

DO: We are open to a fairly broad variety of genres. So far, our complete catalog includes a variety of horror, high and low fantasy, crime drama, science fiction, weird fiction, steampunk, western, a touch of humor, and even a little taste of romance (LBL)…and on the near horizon, you’ll find a memoir-style war drama and superhero fiction! Our limits are more on subject matter than genre, and this is always clearly outlined in our submission calls. 

AF: Any advice for writers hoping to submit to you?

DO: Review our guidelines carefully! We post detailed submission guidelines on our website, every point of which has been carefully considered. This is for two main reasons. First, it helps streamline the entire process. Being clear about subject matter, formatting, and the submission process helps both us and the writer. It may seem a bit nitpicky, but when we make our requests clear it actually releases the pressure from a writer trying to figure out what exactly they should include. It’s all there! And it is tremendously helpful for us as we process your work. Second, it can give us some insight into how it might be working with an author. Did they read everything carefully? Can they follow instructions? Are they familiar with certain basic technologies? Regardless of the quality of the work, if an author doesn’t follow guidelines or disregards our requests, then it can affect whether we consider working with them. Because we want to work with you! We just want to make sure you want to work with us, too.

AF: What are your future plans?

DO: As of now, our publications include anthologies, short story collections, and our Mannison Minibooks which are stand-alone shorts ranging from short story through novelette. But, come January of 2021, we are branching out yet again! We will be briefly opening submissions for novella length works. We still have Minibook releases scheduled through March 2021, but we’re looking ahead to summer and beyond. We’re currently (quietly) experimenting with expansion into audiobooks with a couple of our own short stories. However, this is an expensive venture so we’re taking that slowly. And we would also love to do more themed anthologies like our “Youth Disrupted” books! We have a whole list of fresh new ideas, we simply need to build the capital. (Putting together an anthology also gets expensive, ha-ha.) 

Here are a bunch of useful links related to Mannison Press:

Website: https://mannisonpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MannisonPress

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MannisonPress/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mannisonpress/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mannison-press-423581197/  

YouTube: https://bit.ly/2msmTBa

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MannisonPress

Mannison Edits (editing services by Ron Linson): https://morganschafer.wixsite.com/mannisonedits 

Mannison Design (formatting & design services by Deidre J Owen): https://mannisondesign.wordpress.com/

 

An interview with Author Angeline Trevena on the magic of world building

An interview with Author Angeline Trevena on the magic of world building

By Angelique Fawns

 

The story-maker proves a successful ‘sub-creator’. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter.” 

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Angeline Trevena knows about the importance of world-building. This UK-based author spins series-upon-series of addictive urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic adventures. Her work is noted for compelling characters and spellbinding worlds. A full-time author, Trevena has created: The Paper Duchess Series (dystopian); The Memory Trader Series (urban fantasy); The Poisonmarch Series (post-apocalyptic); and her Authors Guides on how to build fantasy worlds from scratch. There are currently three books in the Complete Worldbuilding boxset. 

As an author myself -trying to make the leap from short stories to longer fiction  -I know world-building is an integral part of any successful story. I was excited to learn these guide books are out there and am thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with her.
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An interview with Author Sonnet O’Dell on the sexy side of urban fantasy & paranormal romance

An interview with Author Sonnet O’Dell on the sexy side of urban fantasy & paranormal romance  

By Angelique Fawns

 

“What is normal for the spider may be chaos for the fly.”

Sonnet O’Dell is a UK based author and she writes titillating tales. With several series on the market, including her Cassandra Farbanks adventures, Cera Raine trilogy, plus some more adult titles, I thought it would be interesting to chat with her about career. As O’Dell says “sex sells.” 

 

AF: As a prolific writer of several genres, tell me what your favorite is and why you like to write it?

SO: I suppose urban fantasy would be my favourite – the modern world, things people can relate to but with that fantastical element. I find it hard to imagine times in the past, how people did things without the technology that has been at my fingertips most of my life. However, I find it easy to imagine how convenient a vampire would find a cellphone or the ability to call for takeout food.

 

AF: What has been most profitable for you?

SO: I find paranormal romance has done me well in the past. I suppose the old adage of sex sells is true. I’m not a big fan of writing ordinary romance because just boy meets girl just isn’t interesting enough for me. I need real obstacles for my characters to have to overcome.

 

AF: Explain the genre of paranormal romance and the major tropes you use?

SO: As I sort of said above, Paranormal romance is boy meets girl but in a fantastical setting. For example, girl and boy meet but one turns out to be a werewolf and is afraid the other will find out their secret. Major tropes include this one, trying to keep the secret, love triangles with two different supernatural creatures vying for the attention of the same girl, magical bindings either intentional or accidental, unknown destinies or responsibilities. I am particularly of that last one, the idea of growing up with no knowledge of a secret and how people react when they know the truth.

 

AF: Where do you draw the line/define adult fiction vs so called normal fiction?

SO: Is there a line? I mean what is normal. What is normal for the spider may be chaos for the fly. I mean I understand to a certain degree that there is fiction with no nookie, fiction that may not even feature any romance at all and books on the other hand that are so raunchy it should be locked in a special safe to keep it from falling into the wrong hands – ie minors.

 

AF: Describe your writing journey. Do you have any advice for success?

SO: I’m very cautious at describing myself as a success. It’s a struggle most of the time, trying to get yourself and your work noticed. I didn’t ever imagine I would reach the heights of the New York Times Bestseller list and the most I hope for is some healthy sales now and again. It’s been a long journey in a lot of ways. I started out with a boutique publisher backing me, they helped me launch my career, however, after ownership changed hand several times, we ended up parting ways. It was a very different thing doing it on my own, I became editor, formatter, and publicist, all on my own. I find so much time is taken up by these things that I am not getting a lot of time to work on anything new. I have been slowly trying to work my way through relaunching my back catalogue as all of them had to come down when I left.

 

AF: Do you have a day job, if so what is it?

SO: I do have a day job. I work in the administration department for a mail order collectibles company. I do about forty hours a weeks, and squeeze what I can in around that and my family. Its easier when work is slow but when we’re very busy at the office, it leaves little energy for other things.

 

AF: Do you publish wide or use KU? Why?

SO: I am guilty of clinging to the amazon platform simply because it is the easiest to use, I understand how it works and the royalties are fairly decent. I’ve even begun branching out into their audible schemes as I love audiobooks myself.

 

AF: Where does your inspiration come from? Any authors have a major influence on your work?

SO: A lot of my stories come out of my dreams. I have some pretty vivid ones. I also have always been into a wide selection of mythology and old stories that have helped my flesh out ideas. I usually read quite a lot, I have a large collection of books in my TBR pile and it’s ever growing. I like a lot of different authors ranging from Crime Fiction to books in my preferred writing genre; I’ve even been known to pick up a biography or two.

 

AF: What is in the future for Sonnet?

SO: My main goal this year has just been surviving 2020 and seeing what the New Year brings fingers crossed 2021 doesn’t just say “here, hold my beer”. Writing goals are to finish a trilogy I have been working on, get the remainder of my back catalogue up and work on some other ideas that have been patiently waiting their turn while I deal with the issues this year has thrown my way.