Category: Guest Post

WiHM 12: Scratching the Surface: Skin that Inspires Horror by: Aliya Whiteley

At first, he’s relaxed. He helps himself to food from the fridge; it’s going to be a long night. He’s there to watch for ghostly activity – the signs of spirits at work. Sounds ridiculous.

 He finds a chicken leg. Tasty. Then he decides to cook a juicy steak. Finds a frying pan. Puts it on the hob to heat up. 

The steak, on the counter, moves. 

WiHM 12: The Humor of Horror

The Humor of Horror

By: Kathrin Hutson


This may seem like a bit of an odd place to start, writing about humor and horror at the same time. I am, however, a huge fan of dichotomies and turning tropes on their heads. The last time I had the privilege of writing for The Horror Tree, I did very much the same thing—comparing the darkness and intensity of what I write with the upbeat, light-filled, perfectly happy person I am in my daily life. There’s a balance that has to be maintained when we’re writing anything, especially a genre like horror or any dark fiction that has a propensity for sucking us down into unexplored emotional territory (oftentimes intentionally unexplored). 

This balance with the humor of horror appears in the actual writing or creating of any dark, grueling, terrifying work of art, no matter the medium. 

WiHM 12: WiHM and Why Allies Are Important By Somer Canon

WiHM and Why Allies Are Important

By Somer Canon

It’s Women in Horror Month again. An interesting time, to be honest. It’s interesting as a fan of the horror genre and it’s interesting as a female horror creator. It’s interesting being introduced to new (to me) women creating in the horror genre, especially if I’m being introduced by their fans. There’s an enthusiasm that comes with those sorts of introductions that are intriguing and make one want to look into further that creator. This is also the best time of year to take stock of just how many people you’ve reached in your career, who remembers you and your works when asked to shine the light on a female creative. It can be nice.

Yet, we still have to have this month to make sure that we don’t creep back into the scenery and end up forgotten by many. Part of it is because there are less of us. This is a male-dominated industry and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can make being a woman in a man’s playground difficult. We don’t tend to stand out as oddballs in this field. We tend to be overlooked, underestimated, and just plain forgotten. I don’t like it. My male contemporaries don’t like it. So how do we fix this?

I think Women in Horror Month is a great start, by highlighting women and their works and making sure our names are put out there year after year. But it’s a complicated process for many of us. We wish there was no need for a month that reminded people that women are out there creating horror that can stand toe-to-toe with the work of any man, yet we have to acknowledge that need as well. And acknowledging that need can wear on even the most gracious and patient women in our ranks. We don’t want to come off as tired or bitter or defeated, but sometimes that’s just how we feel knowing that come the first day of the month following Women in Horror Month, it’s back to business as usual and names of female creators are sometimes forgotten. 

WiHM 12: Taking Back Our Voices: The Necessity of Representation in Horror

Taking Back Our Voices: The Necessity of Representation in Horror

By Spinster Eskie

There’s a new thing I do before watching any movie I suspect will include a rape scene. I check the name of the director to see if it is male or female, and because the nuances of gender make names less of a giveaway, I then investigate further by reading the filmmaker’s Wikipedia bio before deciding if I am willing and able to stomach the content I am about to view. But why should I care? Why does the identity of the filmmaker matter so much? There are plenty of artists that imagine rather than experience. The reason it matters is that bias is inherent within the artist and any themes relevant to my gender and/or queer experience means that I expect to connect with the art.

Since the internet emerged well after I had already become a horror connoisseur, being able to diligently research filmmakers before watching their babies thrive upon my television screen, is a relatively new habit. In the 90s I couldn’t always cherry-pick to the extent that I do now and my options were limited, as far as gender identities went. Carrie and Rosemary were fabulously chilling and inspiring characters, but they were, of course, invented by men.


My father, a charismatic, sadistic horror fiend introduced me to the genre at my most absorbent age, but I liked the girls I saw the most. Lydia and Elvira dazzled me. Frankenstein’s Bride enticed me, and knowing that she was conceived by a female author was encouraging when I began to write, myself, and discovered that alongside Mary Shelley were Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Toni Morrison, and Shirley Jackson. All members of this beautiful, sinister club known as horror, but all names that were unfairly overshadowed by the white cis men that have ruled the genre, as well as the industry, for decades. (more…)

WiHM 12: Finding Humor in What Scares You by Lana Cooper

Title: Finding Humor in What Scares You

by Lana Cooper

I come from a long line of people who crack jokes at inappropriate times as a coping mechanism. Throughout my childhood, my parents always found the humor in seemingly dire situations. When Dad’s hours got cut at the factory, Mom joked that at least she wouldn’t have to worry about him spending money. 

When my younger brother was beaten up in the school bathroom by a bully, Mom made up a song parody to the tune of “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” recounting my brother’s assault in verse. It made him laugh after a harrowing experience and gave us something to do as we figured out what action to take. 

When I ran afoul of the nuns during my stint in Catholic school for reading Stephen King novels and trashy tabloids during Sustained Silent Reading, Dad encouraged me to take it with a grain of salt, saying, “Don’t worry, kiddo! They’ll kick you out soon enough! You’ll be back with your friends in public school before you know it. Don’t let them stop you from being you.” 

It was my parents’ knack for finding humor in situations that seemed scary to a kid (or an adult, for that matter) that reinforced the power of laughter to help you regain the upper hand when things seem out of control. While my parents often leaned on gallows humor during situations that most would never find funny, it was the ability to elicit laughter that gave them a moment of pause – to make a plan and take action to protect those they loved and to make sure everyone was safe and in good spirits. 

Fast-forward years later when my mother was in the hospital for Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer, Dad kept cracking “Code Brown” bedpan jokes in the waiting room whenever there was an announcement on the hospital intercom system. While Mom was undergoing a grueling eight-hour surgery, poop humor was something that Dad leveraged to divert our minds from the grim possibility that she might not make it.

Two years later, I remember being at my disco-loving mother’s viewing and noting the irony that we were playing “Staying Alive” from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (one of her favorites) shortly before we buried her. It wasn’t lost on me just how much Mom herself would have laughed at that twist.

All of those experiences reinforced for me that finding the humor in what scares you is like throwing a flashlight on the dark corners, exposing what’s there – or what’s not. I think it’s why I’ve always been drawn to the intersection of horror and humor in the stories I write. 

What Scares the Things That Scare Us?  (more…)

WiHM 12: Field Notes, what are they?

Field Notes, what are they?
By: Florence B. Caghens

Writing field notes is a good habit to get into. All you need is a notebook and a pen. You can take it with you anywhere, and write in it anywhere.

When I take field notes, I make a quick note of the date, time, and location. Over time this has developed into a quick shorthand. E.G. 4/fe/’t. Which translates to the morning of the 4th of February 2018 in Belfast.

This can help when you look back on them. To expand on the field note in question. It can take you back to the time when you first wrote that field note. Which can help jog your memory, which in turn helps to expand on the field note.

Field notes can literally be anything. Do not be put off by the name, they are just quick observational notes. Notice how the light shines through a window, and lights on something? Write that down. When you look back on it, what is the light? What is the source of the light?

WiHM 12: Riveting Verse

Riveting Verse

By Ashley Dioses


A poem should be written in such a way that it enchants all who hear it. For dark poetry as well, a poem should begin with a grabbing line and end with a line that will haunt the reader after they’ve finished it, just like any horror fiction piece.  

 The beauty of words and the evocative images they evoke are not just limited to fantasy or even dark fantasy for that matter. This is also what makes it fun to write dark, horror-filled verse. Is your poem aimed to inspire fear or is it written to disgust your audience? What senses would you want to conjure up? Make your audience taste the blood spilled in your verse, conjure that metallic taste, and that sticky hot mess on their fingertips. Make your audience feel the cold steel of that dagger or the acidic taste of poison on their lips. Inspire fear with the magic of words that will slice through the tension-filled air.

A poem should have beautiful language. Beautiful language, not necessarily the theme, makes a beautiful poem. If you describe the stiffened contours of a lifeless lover or the mangled cadaver of your latest plaything, then describe it richly, beautifully, darkly. Show the details of her crimson-stained hair or conjure the scent of his aged and rotting flesh. Do not spare a single psychotic notion in your verse.

Now enough of love! Excuse the romance and let us get back to the horror. Not everyone wants romance in their horror and dark verses but that does not excuse the lack of that enthralling language.  Make your images, your lines, your verse more haunting than any image readers can conjure up.

Whether you wish to instill fear, repulsion, or drear lamentation, do it with your language. Even if the horror is subtle and only hinted at, enthrall them with your words.  Spin your dark enchantment around your readers and spellbind them with words they can ever be haunted by.

Ashley Dioses


Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark fiction and poetry from southern California. Her debut collection of dark traditional poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, was released in 2017 from Hippocampus Press. Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Cemetery Dance Publications, Weirdbook, Black Wings VI: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, and others. Her poem “Cobwebs,” was mentioned in Ellen Datlow’s recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve list. She has also appeared in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase 2016 and 2020 for her poems “Ghoul Mistress” and “Her Heart that Flames Would Not Devour” respectively. She was also a nominee for the 2019 Pushcart Prize. She is an Active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA.  She blogs at

WiHM 12: Where Do the Stories Go?

Where Do the Stories Go?

By Dawn Shea


A publisher wakes up one morning with an idea. An idea for an anthology.  They think it is an exceptional idea. They decide to take the plunge and the gears of industry begin to turn.  First an open call takes place. Writers find this open call and are intrigued by it. They spend weeks or months preparing and writing a story that they think will fit perfectly. Some have unsolicited stories saved for the right occasion as well as manuscripts formerly rejected that just need a home. They finally work up the nerve to submit it after reading and re-reading.  These fine individuals hit the send button, and then what? You wait, right? Do you ever wonder what happens in those moments? The eternity between sending your precious story into the lair of the publisher and finally receiving an answer that showers you with joy but oftentimes not. Let me take you on a short journey. A journey where those stressful days are equally stressful for the publisher.

For us, open call day is so exciting. We are about to embark on a journey with many authors that we do not know and possibly some we do. We have the pleasure of reading some of the best and worst stories imaginable. As they roll in, we take our time savoring every word, picturing ourselves in the story. Usually within the first couple of paragraphs, we can figure out if this is a YES story. We also know if it is a NO story. Then there are the MAYBE stories.  The ones that have potential but have a few things that are questionable. We place each story in its appropriate category. We have a minimum number in our head of how many we need in the anthology. We also have an alternate number of the maximum we can fit. 

Now that we have a foundation of definite inclusions, we can determine how many more stories we need to fill in the book.  Being in the maybe stack is not a knock or slight and perhaps is the hardest part in putting the anthology together. We read them all over again, we make lists, and graphs, and charts. Essentially, some we just have to pick apart. In the end it comes down to, does it encompass the theme of the anthology, does it have a beginning, middle and end (you would be surprised by how many do not), and does it flow well. Pretty much anything else, we can work with. Errors are easily correctable and human.  I typically do not pay much attention to those. That is why we have editors, right? After much agonizing and indecision, we choose those final stories that round out our roster. We feel terrible we couldn’t choose everyone. We now have to go and give out good news to a few and bad news to twice as many. 

Now the eternity is over. Authors have received their email, enclosed either good news or bad news, but dreaded is the moment. I just want you to know as an editor/publisher, I yearn for your story to make it. I am an author also, so I know how you feel. If your story wasn’t chosen, please try again at another open call. I hope it finds an amazing home, snuggled in the pages with some other great authors. Most of all, I promise that while your story is with D&T, it is cared for, given the utmost consideration, and respected for the time and effort that you put into it. Let’s be honest, our stories are like our children. We work hard to grow them, mold them, and make them the very best they can be. At D&T, we promise that we understand how important they are to you and we hope that you understand how important they are to us, too.


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Dawn Shea


Dawn Shea was born and raised in Ripley, Mississippi and now lives with her husband and children in Corinth, Mississippi. She is an RN by trade and is half of the publishing team at D&T Publishing. She has been writing since an early age and is a contributing author in all of D&T’s publications.