Category: Articles

Epeolatry Book Review: Whoops! I Woke the Dead by Joseph Rubas

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Title: Whoops! I Woke the Dead
Author: Joseph Rubas
Genre: Horror Comedy
Publisher: Nightmare Press
Release Date: 24th September, 2020

Synopsis: Alex Warner was just your average sixteen-year-old gal – wait, no she wasn’t. Alex Warner was the coolest person to ever live. She had a hot, dorky boyfriend, a nerdy little sister who was actually her cousin, and a book – a really gnarly old book made from human skin. But you see, that’s right up Alex’s alley, because not only is she completely awesome, with her job at Pissy’s Pizza, her volunteer work at the library, and her VSCO friend who gives everyone scrunchies, but she also loves Halloween. And this book is perfect for this year’s witch costume. Only…it’s not a costume book, and when she reads it aloud in the graveyard…

Whoops I Woke the Dead

…sorry.

Joseph Rubas’ Comedic Horror novella, WHOOPS: I WOKE THE DEAD, leads the reader through a fast-paced rollercoaster ride filled with emotional dips, comedic hills, and horrific twists all in the name of giving Halloween its due. When 16 year-old Alex uncovers a spellbook buried beneath junk in the Library’s basement, she refuses to recognize the evil within the human-skin covers, only to realize too late how horrific conjuring the perfect Halloween (and zombies!) can be to those she loves.

Rubas brought life to settings with descriptive prose, earnest wit to his characters in dialogue, and references to many classic horror tales to embrace the mood.

I enjoyed the read and look forward to reading more from this author. Five stars.

Available from amazon.

Next Friday Join Flame Tree Press’ First Annual Creepy Carnival!

Flame Tree Publishing has made quite an impact on the writing community since they launched and now to help us through these quarantined times they are launching their first-ever annual Creepy Carnival! From readings to contests and more, this is the perfect way to celebrate the Halloween season while not being out and about AND interacting with a great group of creatives.

All of the details can be found in the press release below!

On October 30th, climb aboard the bone-chilling, fun-filled rides of Flame Tree Press’ First Annual Creepy Carnival!

Featuring readings, panel discussions, live Q&A, special swag, giveaways, and more!

Friday October 30, 2020

4pm Eastern Time / 8pm British Time

Facebook Live @ FlameTreePress

YouTube @ Flame Tree Press & Audio

 

*** RSVP: http://flametr.com/livespooky ***

Featuring:  (more…)

Guest Post: The NaNoWriMo Problem By Marc Watson

The NaNoWriMo Problem

By Marc Watson

 

I’d like to offer an opinion that likely flies in the face of a lot of the things you’ve read about the craft of writing: writing prompts and word goals can be harmful, and run the risk of being creatively abusive.

Writing goals and prompts can absolutely be an effective method of motivating a lapsed author back into a proper habit-formed writing routine. Check almost any social media group regarding writing and you’ll find an individual declaring their 3000-word a day goal was passed! Or maybe it wasn’t reached and the rest of the community heralds the accomplishment or consoles the failed attempt with upbeat sentiment and praise. Don’t get me wrong, sentiment and praise are incredibly useful and inspiring, but the machine of the writing goal itself can absolutely be harmful.

Writing is like parenting; if there was just one way to do it there would only be one book on how and we’d all walk away with a copy. However, just as a story or poem can be as individual as a snowflake, so to can the person who wrote it. One needs to find the method that works for them and roll with that. One needs to accept that a great story, one really worth telling, may take personal sacrifice and struggle that could very easily be uncomfortable for the author. It may take an ungodly amount of patience. This fact, particularly in new authors, seems to be lost at times.

But why do I say it can be harmful, or creatively abusive (which seems like shock-writing but hear me out)? Through my own experience, I’ve let a story simmer if I didn’t like where it was going. Maybe it meant I had to come back to it later. Once or twice I’ve abandoned perfect acceptable stories because at some point I realized I didn’t have the time or talent to really tell the story I wanted to tell. Could I have rushed it and put out something perfectly acceptable? Absolutely, but how happy would I have been?

A rushed story runs a very high risk of being undercooked. Maybe it will work! An undercooked steak can still be tasty, and some people like that meat bloody! I like to say that there’s an audience for every word ever written, but maybe you have an audience that wished for medium or well-done. Or maybe you’re making chicken, and now surprise! Everyone has salmonella.

If you want to put out the best work you possibly can, a creative endeavor you can be really proud of, what will rushing it, or pushing your creativity, or forcing your hand bring you? I’m certain it will bring you a story you can sell and print, but will it absolutely be the story you wanted to tell? You may get steak, but you run a much higher risk of chicken.

I’d like to address NaNoWriMo specifically, an internet-born writing prompt contest that runs through our circles every November. There are variations throughout the year, but let’s focus on this one.

The goal is 50,000 words in a month. Daunting, but absolutely possible. That’s only 1,667 words a day! Get to those keyboards and write that dream novel or book of poetry you’ve yearned to put out into the world!

…Unless you work full time, or are a single parent. Maybe you’re a member of a perfectly nuclear family, but the kids have soccer and your spouse goes away and you’re on your own for a day or two. Maybe you just don’t write well in the evenings, or mornings, or lunch breaks. Your rhythm may be interrupted by life. Suddenly the words from days you’ve missed pile into the ones you have available. But this is your dream and this is how you’ll do it!

…But now it’s the 15th of November and you’re only at 18,000 words. Do you celebrate this amazing accomplishment, or lament the fact that you’re so far behind? 18,000 words of anything is a joyous event, but will you appreciate it? 

I’ve created this perfectly reasonable scenario and ended up with an author who runs the risk of being disappointed or depressed or, worst of all, stifled with what many would consider success. How motivated is that author now? How likely are they to rush and push themselves to get to the finish line? I’m not saying they can’t or shouldn’t. It is absolutely possible to get there, to shake off the anchors and sprint. There are those that live for that pressure, and come out stronger for living through it. The creative fire cooks their food exactly how they like it, and how their audience likes it as well.

And yet, there are those that run the risk of getting run over by the expectation machine. Those that see the success of others and measure it against themselves regardless of how healthy or realistic that is. Never fool yourself into thinking that art doesn’t have its own culture of keeping up with the Joneses. Sure, maybe that author you like reached their goal, but do they live your life? Do they live in your brain and struggle with your struggles? No, and it can absolutely be harmful to put yourself up against them. Some do even if they fight it. And that’s where the harm comes in. That’s where creativity gets abused. That’s where the fire that cooked the previous author’s steak to perfection ended up burning your house down with you in it.

It is absolutely alright to not have a writing goal. Maybe you wrote 5000 words in a day. Astonishing! Maybe it was 500. Great! Maybe it was 50, or 5. Maybe it was none because the world doesn’t stop just because you want to write something. If you really have a story worth telling, do not be afraid to write it in your own time. It may take years. Or it may take weeks. Poll a room full of one hundred authors on how they make time to write and you’ll likely get one hundred different answers. It’s also just as likely that not one of them would work perfectly for you, because you are not them, and you shouldn’t try to be.

I’m not saying avoid writing prompts and challenges and NiNoWriMo. Try them if you like. Tweak them. See what sticks and what you can throw back. They are the loud and the easily celebrated. There is no contest for the author who took twenty years to finish their first novel, but their accomplishment is just as strong and valid as the one who took twenty days in a feat of finger flying fury. Neither of them is right, and that’s a truth lost on so many. Although I’d say I see it a lot more in new writers and young, fresh faces, I can’t say the veterans are totally immune either. As I said, each story is unique, and maybe the one you’re writing can’t be told by adhering to the styles that have previously brought you success. Maybe this one needs to simmer. Is it not somewhat foolhardy to assume every adventure into our creative selves will come out the same?

We all want success, regardless of what we see that success as. No one’s success is any more valid than another’s. The writing collective, the group hive-mind, is an inexhaustible resource for us all, but the sexy ideas aren’t always the right ones for you. Opening your mind to every possibility, even if it’s an uncomfortable one, is the surest way to get a story you can be proud of.

 

In the world of Ryuujin, heroes rise and fall, but there are always stories that slip through the cracks. The tales of the people who shape the years to come. Heroism and betrayal. Conversations between friends and enemies that will change the course of the world.

These are nine stories from a world that is historic, modern, and terrifyingly futuristic. A world where science and magic intertwine, and give birth to the unknown souls who become heroes, and the legends who fade away into history.

From the author of the renowned dark comedy Death Dresses Poorly, and from the world of his hit science-fantasy duology Catching Hell comes a collection of adventure, drama, joy, and terror as we look into the lives of the powerful, the meek, and the people who make the world turn over the course of centuries.

Marc Watson

Author

Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction of all lengths and styles. His works include the novels Death Dresses Poorly, Catching Hell: Journey, and Catching Hell: Destination, as well as having short stories in the collections Enigma Front 5: The Stories we Hide, and A Land Without Mirrors. His newest release, a collection of science-fantasy short stories Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin, is available now! He began writing at the age of 15 and continues to be a part-time writing student at Athabasca University. He has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org (find his stories here) as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com.

 

Marc lives in Calgary, Alberta. He is a husband and proud father of two. He is an avid outdoors-man, martial artist, baseball player, and lover of all Mexican foods.  He can be found at online www.marcwatson.ca, as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marcwroteabook, and on twitter at @writewatson.

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Jim Phoenix, Founder Czykmate Productions & Haunted MTL

An Interview with Jim Phoenix, Founder Czykmate Productions & Haunted MTL

By Angelique Fawns 

 

There is a dark and creepy place lurking on the internet for those that LOVE all things that go bump in the night. Hauntedmtl.com publishes horror news, criticism, and original fiction.  Looking to learn about the hottest new survival-horror video game? Need some direction finding the best in scary television and movies? How about some original dark fiction? Jim Phoenix and his team keep the daily horror feed current and prolific.

 

Haunted MTL is also announcing a new project called The Undead and Uncut -Live! It’s a podcast running just for the month of October, where everyday is a new episode building to an exciting climax Halloween. Any and all “listens” equal donations to the Ottawa food bank for Canadian Thanksgiving. Also anyone who donates to a food bank this month can show the receipt to @HauntedMTL, and get a free PDF copy of their new anthology 101 Proof Horror, which is for sale right now on Amazon.

 

Czykmate Productions is the publishing branch and produce anthologies and novels/novellas. They look for work that is “strong, punk, dark, humorous, and just strange enough to be true.” 

 

 I discovered this gem when I found a call on Submittable from Czykmate Productions, “How HORROR-able”.  I uploaded one of my very first short stories “Death Metal Fan” in February of 2019 and it was accepted. It was the first money I ever received from my fiction, and I was thrilled to make the $2.00 US. 

 

Jim Phoenix is also a very interesting and mysterious character. When asked about his day job, he said, “I used to write scripts and book adaptations but put that away once Czykmate started up. I do have ‘another life’ outside of horror, but I can’t say what it is here. Let’s just say my current day job isn’t exactly ‘open’ about things.”

 

Well, now I’m intrigued! Let’s learn more about the man and his mission…

 

AF: How has your company evolved since you opened your figurative doors?

 

JP: We started out ‘way back when’ as a punk ‘zine. It was something I wanted to start for people who normally wouldn’t have a voice in publishing. Our first venture was Ricky’s Back Yard named after my friend’s brother who died way too young. He was a new punk that wrote his own songs – something damn rare – and the name was a tribute to him. Our ‘zine was anthology based and we would have certain themes where all the money (not profit–all of it) went to the charity that was tied to the theme.

 

Back then it was Lizzie Nicodemus doing all the cover art and Jenni Hill reading the subs. I made sure that the people who we accepted got paid and did me best for internal design. We experimented a lot back then (still do, really) and hit major conventions like the AWP (The Association of Writer’s and Writing Programs) to help us grow. I remember ‘inventing’ a Trello board slush pile scheme because we didn’t have enough money to use Submittable. That’s how raw things were.

 

That moved slowly to Czykmate with an experiment of ‘ebook only’ authors where I likened it to ‘not ready for prime time’ but they had ‘something’. The result was offering an ‘ebook’ only contract where if the ebooks sold enough, we’d offer a print  book contract to the author. We were getting bigger then and, unfortunately, Lizzie and Jenni had other obligations so they parted ways.  I did most of the ebook covers and interiors (again, learning form conventions like AWP on how to do it) and went to out source the print books. With Lizzie and Jenni gone, I had to move into the freelance market to round off the staff (readers, editors, cover, interiors). 

 

From Czykmate came HauntedMTL. I’ve had this ‘real life hauntings’ idea for some time now. Originally, the website showcased some ghost hunting material that I was part of in Montreal with Taylor G and Stephanie R. We even had a pilot filmed where the concept was not so much ‘we believe everything’ but ‘we doubt’. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll dig that old pilot off…

 

After the ghost hunting died down (no pun), I turned the focus to covering horror. We’ve kept the charity grass roots and are huge supporters of LGBTQ and BLM issues, as well as food banks, retired veterans, and other projects of the more political nature. In the early days of that the site was just me–then Dave Davis came around. I gave him a shot as a writer and he expanded into designer and creative push for the site. I started recruiting from Submittable and put people in. Now we have reviewers, original content (short stories and art), a line of podcasts, and even a bit of swag available on Red Bubble. The future has a few tricks in store (video and radio dramas and choose your own adventures with RPGs and oh my! I’ve said too much!) but it’s always family first. I don’t have staff–I have a horror family with Brannyk, EV, Payne (yes, ‘that’ Doctor Payne), LJ, Parz, Shane, two Nicoles, Court, Dave, Vicki, Jenn, Jake, Brianna, Sarah, Rachel, Wade, Scream, Ruby, 3C3, Kayla, and Kota. And, of course, all of our listeners (special shout outs to Eric Gengle, a Missouri friendo of Brannyk’s, and someone who beat the dog act, and everyone lurking daily on the site and on our feeds–come say hi!).

 

AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself?

 

JP: I had a career as a script and novel writer (read as ghost writer). I got tired of ghost writing. It felt weird getting money for something I could never put on my CV. I still like to write, though. I have a novel in short stories that is coming out in 2021 where every chapter is a stand alone short story (yet they are all linked together like a traditional novel). After that, there is the Choose Your Own Adventure along with a YA novel. Believe it or not, I’ve got a card game coming out with an old friend (hi, Mike!) in 2021, too. 

 

AF: You certainly have a lot of irons in the fire! Is there any profit margin in your website/publishing?

 

JP: I’ve never done it for the profit. It’s always been about creating a safe space for horror fans. To be fair, we still give most of our money to various charities. Heck, there are people like Payne and Cleaves on my staff who have donated all of their pay to charity. I think giving people a voice, especially underrepresented people, is far more important that money. We used to use Google ads, but I got sick of banning so many crap political ads (and that damn earwax ad gave me the willies–if you use Google Ads, you KNOW the one I’m talking about). I’m a bit weird about money. It’s just funny little numbers to me. I’m definitely not a ‘money beats soul’ person (as Morrison would say). 

 

AF: There is an alternative, avant garde feel to your website. What sort of stories and/or writing are you typically looking for?

 

JP: Authentic. Make it real–from you. Don’t retell the same ol’. Grab me. Make me shiver. Make me go HOLY FUCK DID YOU SEE THAT?! It all comes down to being real with your art. Hone your craft and send in the best version of that story you can. 

 

AF: Thank you for picking up one of my very first stories. Why did you like Death Metal Fan?

 

JP: Remember when I said ‘grab me’? Check this hook: ‘The weather was unbearably hot. Smoking, steaming, bra-dripping hot. Mia lay on top of her bed with a fan blowing air on her body. Moderate relief.’ 

Let’s break that down. It’s hot out. How hot? Smoking. Steaming. Bra-Dripping. Hot. Some writers ignore rhythm in their work, which is a shame–BUT–when someone does have a great sense of rhythm it shows up that much brighter. I loved the beats here. This play goes throughout your writing–‘yada yada yada. Ya right.’ That plays out as Bum-pa Bum-pa Bum-pa. BUM BUM! Alex Van Halen would be jealous of that rhythm. 

 

https://hauntedmtl.com/originals/death-metal-fan-angelique-fawns/

 

AF: Your contract has a clause where the contributor has to pay $1000 if the work turns out to have been previously published. Why do you have that clause?

 

JP: Previously published can mean two things:

 

1) The author ripped someone off directly (boo!) or were using lyrics because they’ve seen their favorite authors do it (I think most people who haven’t studied writing need a big lesson…ready for it…here we go: If you didn’t write the song–then please don’t include the lyrics in your writing. Lyrics are expensive for rights and we don’t have Random House’s money.)

 

2) They published it before somewhere — maybe with another publisher or even a blog — and don’t own the rights for a republish. Not owning rights to republish puts us in a shitty spot. Don’t be that guy. Also, if you put something in a blog–and gave it away for free–why would I pay you for it? Why would a customer pay you for reading something they just read for free?  Writing is a business. 

 

AF: What are your plans for your website in the future?

 

JP: The immediate future includes an audio version of an exquisite corps for October. We are recording 30 one-minute story extensions October first ‘live’ and then releasing them one per day until Halloween as a special episodic podcast feature. Also–very exciting–short film and radio story originals are coming your way! COVID 19 makes some filming a bit tricky, but there are always possibilities…

 

AF: Any advice for others who want to start up a horror destination on the web like yourself?

 

JP: Family first. Don’t chase followers. Build a product people want to see and they will come to you. Be real with people. Don’t be a dick (Jim Breuer rule #1). Have fun. Learn from people (shout outs to SexyFandom, BlueBlood, Molly, Amelia G, Forrest Black, Sandy King-Carpenter, S.R., Darcy n Joe Bob, the Shudder crew, Kevin Smith, Sharknado crew, Tony Todd, Norm MacDonald, and everyone else that pushed, taught, gamed, and help us along the way–luv on ya). 

 

Most of all–do it with a purpose. There are so many amazing horror voices that need amplifying–if you are one of them, drop me a line. If you are in a position of power–help others. Be kind–I guess it all boils down to that. Just be kind. 

Our October 2020 Giveaway Lets You Win A Digital Copy Of Thylacines By Deborah Sheldon

ENTER TO WIN A DIGITAL COPY OF THYLACINES

The Horror Tree is giving away TEN ebook copies of Deborah Sheldon’s bio-horror novella, Thylacines, which was nominated for the Australian Shadows “Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction”.

The Horror Tree gave Thylacines a five-star review. In part, Alyson Faye wrote, “[This] is a fast, pacy, adrenaline-fuelled read which you can gobble up in a sitting or two.” https://horrortree.com/epeolatry-book-review-thylacines/
https://www.amazon.com/Thylacines-Deborah-Sheldon-ebook/dp/B078WKDC1N/

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was hunted to extinction some eighty years ago. Now, Professor Rosie Giuliani and her staff at The Resurrection Lab have done the impossible: created a living, breathing litter from a preserved specimen. Yet Rosie can’t share this scientific breakthrough with the world. The cloned animals are more like monsters than thylacines. By chance, a small band of activists hears about the caged litter, and their decision to free the tigers will unleash a deadly havoc upon the campus of Fraser University.

AUTHOR BIO

Deborah Sheldon is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum of horror, crime and noir. Her award-nominated titles include the novels Body Farm ZContrition and Devil Dragon; novella Thylacines; and collection Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories. She won the Australian Shadows “Best Collected Work” Award for Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories, which was also long-listed for a Bram StokerAs guest editor of Midnight Echo 14, she won the Australian Shadows “Best Edited Work” Award. Her short fiction has been nominated for various Australian Shadows and Aurealis Awards, and included in “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts and award-winning medical writing. Sign up for her monthly newsletter at: http://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com

To Reap The Spirit Blog Tour: Writing with ADHD

Writing with ADHD

By: Sarah Lampkin

Around the age of 14, my mom took me to a behavior therapist for the first time and that was when I was officially diagnosed with ADHD. After many fights and arguments over grades and studying, we finally had an answer as to why I couldn’t do things the same way as my older sister. It also explained my day dreaming.

Being a young teenage girl, daydreaming is a common occurrence and not something that would raise alarm. But my ability to be so completely lost in thought and in my own world happened far too often and during situations that got me into trouble. For instance, I was constantly lost while in school, as my brain believed my own world was more interesting. 

While using my sketch book as my outlet, I started to describe to my parents the stories behind my terribly drawn people…but I wouldn’t stop. There were times when I would start telling a story and no matter what my parents did to change the subject or stop me, I had no control over my own voice. 

That’s when a suggestion was made: Write your stories. 

I don’t remember who suggested it. I just know that I was never motivated to finish anything until I started writing. It became the perfect outlet for the ideas that were always in the forefront of my mind, distracting me from everything else. That’s when my life began to change for the better. I was finally learning how to live a healthy and productive life with ADHD without medication. 

With each new story, I was able to hyper focus on my writing. So, when the time came to go to school or work on homework, I was suddenly able to focus on the work at hand without getting easily distracted by everything else going on. Somehow, writing became the therapy I needed to be successful at everything in my life. Of course, I still struggle with some things, but not as much as I did before as a young teen or child. 

Writing was my life saver.

To Reap the Spirit (Dead Dreamer #3)

 

Publication Date: October 13th, 2020

 

Genre: New Adult/ Urban Fantasy

 

Sanguis daretur. Ignis invocavit.

 

The third installment in the haunting Dead Dreamer series.

 

Somehow Brenna Whit has survived to her junior year at Nephesburg College. Despite all odds, she’s fought against the Gatekeepers and lived. But the battle for the Fade has only just begun.

 

New pieces have been added to the board.

 

The Fade opens to the Veil.

 

And a Shade from the past returns.

 

With Brenna’s secret out, everyone is after her: dead and living alike. Those from across the sea have come and they’re determined to regain control of their broken faction.

 

Questions will be answers

 

Fires will be lit

 

Chaos will reign

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52344035-to-reap-the-spirit?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=GpvYiGEmzO&rank=1

 

Purchase Links

 

The Parliament House: https://www.parliamenthousepress.com/product-page/to-reap-the-spirit-by-sarah-lampkin

 Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08HCDDD33/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-reap-the-spirit-sarah-lampkin/1137586892?ean=9781953539670

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/to-reap-the-spirit

Sarah Lampkin

Sarah Lampkin

Author

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Sarah Lampkin is a 2015 graduate from Lynchburg College [University of Lynchburg] with a master’s degree in English. Since graduation, Sarah now lives in Northern Virginia working in the IT field as a Technical Writer while continuing her research for her graduate school thesis. When she isn’t working, Sarah continues her Celtic mythology research and Gaelic studies, while working on the Dead Dreamer series.

 

Dead Dreamer: https://dead-dreamer.com/about/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.sarahlampkin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lampkin_S

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/slampkin.author/

Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Book Tours

Guest Post: How I Fell (Back) in Love with Vampires

How I Fell (Back) in Love with Vampires

By Nicole Givens Kurtz

 

I fell in love with vampires by reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. It was on a bright, sunny day in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I had been banished from the house to go outside (like normal kids my dad would say). At 13, I didn’t like being hot and sticky, so I rode my bike during the early mornings. I attended high school on the other side of town, so my friends didn’t live in my neighborhood. It was the 1980s and cell phones were expensive fanny packs with a telephone receiver. No worries, I had my horror in a pile of mass market paperbacks and I was fine.

Prior to reading Salem’s Lot, I didn’t care much for vampires. They seemed silly, cartoonish, and a bit overdone. Then I read Dracula. It was okay, but I loved Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, and felt more horrified by Dr. Frankenstein’s actions than Count Dracula. As it was, Dr. Frankenstein had a choice. Not so much with the count. As I read both of these classics, one thing was painfully obvious: They were very pale. White. European.

It can’t say if that is why I didn’t groove to vampire the way I had other paranormal creatures in horror, but I can tell that once someone recommended L.A.Banks’s Vampire Huntress series, I devoured all things vampires. Sure, there had been movies like A Vampire in Brooklyn and Black vampires in cameo spots in vampire films, always background dressing. Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett’s movie was comedy, and that didn’t scratch my horror itch deeply enough.

But, Banks’ work did. Suddenly, vampires were Black. Hunters were black. And we weren’t in the 1800s or Europe. We were in Philly and in those urban parts that I recognized.

I was seen. Someone saw us. I was in love.

When L.A. Banks passed away, a void emerged. That’s not to say Black vampires weren’t being written. After all, Marvel in conjunction with Sony released Blade. The daywalker gave rise to the superhero movie, and while I love the original film, the sequels eroded his role and diminished him as both a vampire and a Black male, not to mention the erase of the Black doctor who saved him.

There were other vampire films, especially after Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Even the use of Aliyah as Queen of the Damned didn’t quite capture my interest and my horror-loving heart like L.A.Banks did. Perhaps it was the medium. Perhaps it was the writing

I’m going to go with the latter. 

And I stopped loving them. By the time big budget vampire films came along and sparkling vampires emerged, I was over them, like a boyfriend that betrayed me. At the mention of vampires, I got a bitter taste in my mouth.

All of the above films lacked the one thing Banks included in her vampire stories. Their Blackness, the characters’ connections to their neighborhoods and to being a Black person in America. That’s what I wanted to recreate with SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire.

But I wanted more than just the Black American experience, though that in and of itself is a varied, diverse stories from a diverse populace. I expanded the call for submissions for SLAY to include those stories from the African diaspora. We received many submissions, and the result is an anthology of 29 stories of vampires and hunters. 

These stories helped rekindle my love for vampires. These stories are rooted in African and African American diaspora experiences, legends, and myths. Some of the stories are subversive and glorious. 

There’s so much to love in those short stories. 

I was swept off my feet. 

And in doing so, I fell in love.

Again.

Mocha Memoirs Press is proud to present SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire — a revolutionary anthology celebrating vampires of the African Diaspora. SLAY is a groundbreaking unique collection and will be a must-have for vampire lovers all over the world. SLAY aims to be the first anthology of its kind. Few creatures in contemporary horror are as compelling as the vampire, who manages to captivate us in a simultaneous state of fear and desire. Drawing from a variety of cultural and mythological backgrounds, SLAY dares to imagine a world of horror and wonder where Black protagonists take center stage — as vampires, as hunters, as heroes. From immortal African deities to resistance fighters; matriarchal vampire broods to monster hunting fathers; coming of age stories to end of life stories, SLAY is a groundbreaking Afrocentric vampire anthology celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the African Diaspora.

Featuring anchor stories by award winning authors Sheree Renée Thomas, Craig L. Gidney, Milton Davis, Jessica Cage, Michele Tracy Berger, Alicia McCalla, Jeff Carroll, and Steven Van Patten.

Additional Contributing Authors: Penelope Flynn, Lynette Hoag, Steve Van Samson, Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, Balogun Ojetade, Valjeanne Jeffers, Samantha Bryant, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Miranda J. Riley, K.R.S. McEntire, Alledria Hurt, Kai Leakes, John Linwood Grant, Sumiko Saulson, Dicey Grenor, L. Marie Wood, LH Moore, Delizhia D. Jenkins, Colin Cloud Dance, and V.G. Harrison.

Nicole Givens Kurtz

Nicole Givens Kurtz

Author

Nicole Givens Kurtz is an author, educator, and publisher. She’s written stories for Serial Box, Baen, White Wolf, Draco Gaming, Inc. Her novels series have been finalists in the Dream Realm Award, EPPIE Awards for SF, and other recommendations. She’s the publisher of Mocha Memoirs Press, a small publishing company dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices in speculative fiction. You can find her via social media or at her site, www.nicolegivenskurtz.net.
 
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Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women Blog Tour: Part four of four

Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women blog tour Sept 21st – Oct 12th  Part four of four.

By Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn

 

Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women is an anthology of Southeast Asian horror which subverts expectations of Asian women and their place in society. It brings to light the furious and restless spirits which sometimes lie behind the smiling facade of quiet submissiveness and familial duty. 

Edited by award-winning author and editor Lee Murray, and published short story author and editor Geneve Flynn, the anthology was released by Omnium Gatherum on September 26th, 2020, and features esteemed authors of dark fiction such as Rena Mason, Angela Yuriko Smith, and Christina Sng. 

It has been called an “instant classic” by Nightmare Feed, and “one of the best anthologies of 2020” by Pseudopod.

This series of four blog posts introduces the editors and contributors, and reveals the inspiration behind the fourteen dark stories which feature in Black Cranes. In this post, we meet Rena Mason, Rin Chupeco, and Gabriela Lee.

 

Rena Mason, born in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, is an American author of Thai-Chinese descent, and a three-time Bram Stoker Award® winning author of the The Evolutionist and “The Devil’s Throat”, as well as a 2014 Stage 32 /The Blood List Presents®: The Search for New Blood Screenwriting Contest quarter-finalist. She’s had nearly two dozen short stories, novelettes, and novellas published in various award-winning anthologies and magazines and writes a monthly column. Her dark speculative fiction often crosses and mashes genres and subgenres. 

She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The International Screenwriters’ Association, and the Public Safety Writers Association. 

An avid scuba diver, she enjoys traveling the world and incorporating the experiences into her stories. She currently resides in Reno, Nevada but can also often be found visiting her home in the Great Pacific Northwest. For more information visit her website: www.RenaMason.Ink or follow her at: Facebook: rena.mason 

Twitter: @RenaMason88 Stage 32: Rena Mason Instagram: rena.mason 

Rena’s story “The Ninth Tale” is a dark retelling of the legend of the nine-tailed fox, showing the proud and calculating side of woman. Set in historical China, the story follows Ju as she seeks out the final human heart that will help her to ascend to heaven, and is rich with beauty and betrayal. 

Here’s how “The Ninth Tale” came about:

RENA MASON: I don’t think it’s ever one thing that inspires me to write any story, and the same is true for “The Ninth Tale.” With the popular resurgence of a modernized huli jing, (Pinyin – húlijīng) or fox demon/spirit portrayed in anime and video games with a blending of cultures and added superpowers, many of the original stories get muddled and lost to younger generations. Because of my mainly Chinese heritage, I wanted to write a folktale-style story using the Chinese mythos versus the versions from other countries like the Japanese kitsune, or Korean kumiho. I also wanted to take a character traditionally seen and feared as a “powerful” woman, and set her in a time when women suffered from the sexist practice of foot binding; whether it was for sexual purposes or to keep them sedentary for work, or not, it was wrong. I’ve always been fascinated by the contrast between the reverence for, and fear of, women in Chinese mythos compared to the treatment of Chinese women by their male counterparts throughout history. I also grew up watching a lot of historical Chinese drama and martial arts movies, am a huge fan of Zhang Yimou (minus The Great Wall), and I wanted to write a story that had a similar visual vibe and feel, to the extent of using the importance of different colours to set the moods in scenes. 

Rin wrote obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and did many other terrible things. They now write about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. They are the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, The Bone Witch trilogy, The Never Tilting World duology, and the Wicked As You Wish series. A Chinese-Filipino who grew up with Filipino superstitions, Catholic guilt, and Buddhist traditions, yet somehow overcoming them all to become a nonbinary liberal atheist, they were born and raised in the Philippines and, or so the legend goes, still haunts that place to this very day. Find them at rinchupeco.com

 

Rin’s tale “Kapre: A Love Story” is set in rural Philippines, where monsters such as the kapre, tikbalang and aswang reside and feed at the edge of the forest. Kapre falls in love with a baby girl and follows her as she grows from a child to a woman, rising above his monstrosity.

Rin shares what inspired the writing of “Kapre: A Love Story”:

RIN CHUPECO: Myths and legends played an important part in my upbringing, and I grew up with more books than friends, enchanted by fairy tales of singing mountains and benevolent enchantresses. Ghost stories, however, were my first love; the more subversive and eerie the tale, the more I enjoyed it, and my own books wind up becoming an odd amalgamation of both.

Gabriela Lee was born and raised in Metro Manila, Philippines. She earned her MA in Literary Studies from the National University of Singapore (NUS), and currently teaches literature and creative writing at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, focusing on science fiction & fantasy and children’s literature. She has received the 2019 PBBY (Philippine Board on Books for Young People) Salanga Grand Prize for children’s literature, writing about her grandmother’s experiences as a child during the Second World War. Her fiction has appeared internationally in publications such as LONTAR: The Southeast Asian Journal of Speculative Fiction, Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, Heat: An Anthology of Southeast Asian Urban Writing, Kaleidoscope: Speculative Fiction for Young Adults, and The Dragon and the Stars. She has also been published in the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies, the Filipino Fiction for Young Adults series, and in Philippine literary journals such as Kritika Kultura and Likhaan Journal. Instructions on How to Disappear, published in 2016 by Visprint, Inc., is her first collection of short fiction.

 

“Rites of Passage” is set in the Philippines and tells of the tiyanak, a vampiric baby. Three separate stories of three different young women intertwine with the mythology of the tiyanak, examining the secret and bloody rites of sex, pregnancy and childbirth beneath the heavy eye of morality and religion. 

Gabriela shares the background to one of the darkest stories in Black Cranes:

GABRIELA LEE: “Rites of Passage” is a story rooted in the Philippine mythological creature called the tiyanak. According to legend, the tiyanak was a shapeshifter, a creature of the forest, a monster that took the form of a baby, except for its red eyes and skin, and its sharp teeth. It would mimic the cry of a child, leading hapless people into the forest to look for it. Once it was picked up by the man or woman who sought to comfort it, it would attack the person and consume them. Other people say that it was the abandoned foetus from abortions – one of the many reproductive rights denied to women in the Philippines. I wanted to write a story about the horrors of motherhood in the Philippines, without sounding moralistic or antagonistic, and using the device of the tiyanak seemed like an appropriate way of exploring the cycle of the experience without directly confronting it; telling it slant. 

 

Thanks for joining us for the final post in the blog tour for Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. If you’d like to read the stories covered in the tour, you can click on the link below.

BLACK CRANES: TALES OF UNQUIET WOMEN edited by Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn

RELEASE DATE: 26/09/20

GENRE: Horror

PUBLISHER: Omnium Gatherum

AVAILABLE HERE: https://omniumgatherumedia.com/black-cranes