Category: Guest Post

Edo van Belkom On His Book’s Death and Fiery Resurrection

In 2006, at the urging of my wife, I began writing young adult fiction. Not horror per se, but books that featured teenage werewolves where the conflict was more about teenage problems than supernatural horror. The first book in the series, WOLF PACK was a big success, winning both the Aurora and Silver Birch Awards. The Silver Birch was a big one because there had to be 5,000 copies in print for the book to be on the award ballot, and there were four printings and 10,000 copies in print by the time the award was presented. That made the book the bestselling title for Tundra Books that year and encouraged the publisher to allow me to write three other books in the series,  LONE WOLF, CRY WOLF, and WOLF MAN.

But, without the Silver Birch Award, sales of the follow-up books weren’t nearly as good as the first, averaging sales of around a thousand copies each.

It was a good run while it lasted, but by 2008 the last book in the series had been published, and a few years later, they were all out of print.

How to Write Submission Guidelines for Your Anthology

How to Write Submission Guidelines for Your Anthology

by Deborah Sheldon

Let’s get my bona fides out of the way first. I’ve curated three horror anthologies. Midnight Echo 14 (AHWA 2019) won the Australian Shadows ‘Best Edited Work’ Award, and one of its stories was nominated for the Australian Shadows ‘Best Long Fiction’ Award. The anthology I conceived and edited, Spawn: Weird Horror Tales About Pregnancy, Birth and Babies (IFWG 2021), was critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning, and multi-award-nominated. My latest anthology – that I also conceived and edited – is Killer Creatures Down Under: Horror Stories with Bite (IFWG, 2023), released this month.

Here are my suggestions on how to write a submission callout that will (a) get you the kind of stories you want in order to (b) create a knockout anthology. These tips apply whether your anthology is open call – meaning unsolicited submissions – or by invitation only.


‘The Dent in the Universe’ Blog Tour: The Writing Process Of E.W. Doc Parris

Listen here. I’ve been asked to write a little about my writing process, and, this being the internet and your attention being tugged at by the siren call of your busy lives, I reckon I don’t have much more than 750 words to do my duty. So here’s what I’ll do; I’ll try to define the sort of speculative fiction audience I’m hunting for, then I’ll tell you what I think they’re thirsty for, and then I’ll try to wrap it up with my tricks for slating that thirst. How does that sound? Good. Let’s dive in.

Speculative fiction is just a name, a relatively recent buzzword, for stories that seem to lean more heavily on the writer’s imagination in the writing— and the readers in the reading. A story about a Wall Street hedge fund manager absconding with the hard-earned retirement funds of poor old ladies, for example? Well, that takes no imagination at all. Things like that happen every day of the week. Writers who write about those stories are usually called journalists if the names haven’t been changed or literary fiction authors if they have.

There are a few branches on the Speculative Fiction family tree. They are more alike than you and your Thanksgiving dinner guests. They all start with the same unspoken question in the storyteller’s mind: What if? How elaborate the rest of that question defines whether a story is science fiction or fantasy. But to me, the ground truth of speculative fiction is in that core question. What if women were forced by the state to bear children against their will? What if cities became alive at some point in their development? What if you could send IP traffic back in time?


Horror Dressed in Black – A Look at Gothic Horror

Horror Dressed in Black – A Look at Gothic Horror by Lauren Carter


Fancy walking into shadows? Gothic horror will take you there, gladly. 

Gothic horror looks at the fear we feel and the hauntings that may happen in between all of that. The genre dates back as far as the 1700’s with The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, with many classics following closely behind such as The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde or Dracula by Bram Stoker. We all know gothic horror to be a certain aesthetic, dark castles in remote areas, candle lit rooms with portraits overlooking it all, creepy gargoyles, and bats just outside. The genre, however, is always evolving, sometimes separating more for its close cousin of gothic romance or even, in some cases, pairing the two together – which is true in the case of my novelette “Your Darling Death.”

While gothic horror tends to focus on the setting on the book, there are many out there that look further than that and even don’t write much about where the characters are, instead they focus on the terror of the characters or just the story itself. Especially in the last few years, gothic horror has started to expand even more and taking more (what might be considered) risks to branch out from the norm of gothic template.  

Let’s take a look at ten of my personal recommendations that I not only love but helped inspire parts of Your Darling Death.


Sometimes Being a Good Writer Means Being a Broken Person…

Sometimes Being a Good Writer Means Being a Broken Person…

By Van Essler


Sometimes being a good writer means being a broken person…


It is often said that if there are no tears in the writer, there can be no tears in the reader. This quote is most often pulled out when you’re trying to teach writing to someone, and it is intended to imply that if the writer isn’t writing from a place of emotional connection, the writing falls flat and is bland and dull…

But is it true? How often have you sat down to write and instead of sharing the emotions of the day, you find yourself lost in escapism? We no more want to think of our own problems as a writer—whether or not the water bill has been paid, final wishes, life’s little calamities—than anyone else, but if we’re divorced from the very emotions we want to emulate on the page, how can we write compelling stories?


May 2023 Horoscopes: Birds of a Feather…Kill Together!

So, as you may have caught on, May’s horoscopes are soaring to new heights with our feathered partners-in-horror! Let the hunt for prey begin as we take to the skies–or even all the way out to the stars!

Disclaimer: These are mock horoscopes and are meant for entertainment purposes only, and are not representative of any particular person or people. For sources, I relied on my own observations of birds I spotted in the wild, or encountered at the wildlife rehabilitation center I worked at, as well as utilizing the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” online database for more info on some of the birds listed below.

Want to research birds for your spooky book or story? Check out these great online resources:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
Birds & Blooms Magazine/Newsletter:


Who Will Take Care of You When You’re Older and Other Responses to Being Child-Free

In his new novel, Robert P. Ottone explores the world of modern parenthood, and finds the drive to have kids is now lacking some urgency. He explains why he felt compelled to explore this topic in his suburban family folk horror The Vile Thing We Created (out April 18 on Hydra), and his own responses to society’s pressure to procreate. 


I think the weirdest thing people say to me when they find out my wife and I are child-free is easily “who will take care of you when you’re older?”

Truth be told, I can’t imagine living to old age. Not with the cocktail of physical ailments I deal with on a daily basis, coupled with my immune system which is best described as “Dickensian orphan,” I just don’t see lasting to what I imagine people refer to as “old age.” Add to that the imminent collapse of the environment, society tearing itself apart through ignorance and inaction, and the inevitable heat death of the planet and well … you see where I’m going with this, I’m sure. 

But Rob, do you hate kids!? (I imagine you saying this while clutching a Martha Wayne-style pearl necklace)