My coffee mug hit the counter top, droplets of steaming brown struck my shirt and soaked into the soft white cotton, like many times before. I’d given up avoiding them now. Same outfit every day. Sometimes I wondered if those stains would stay, change my perspective on the situation, but they never lingered.
Every day started the same way; pee, shower, coffee, write, in that order (if short of time… well you can imagine the inevitable combinations). I enjoyed the routine. After a hectic year of submissions, and rejections; literary and emotional, it was nice to feel like myself again.
I slid my mug into its position on my desk and opened the word document to continue working on my novel.
Word count: 0.
I knew what was coming, my apprehensive fingers hovered ever closer to worn keys. A new story today, or perhaps improve on ancient text that lined the dusty corners of my frazzled brain. Time for words and stuff, I would tell myself.
Three years now, maybe four. It was hard to keep track when every day was the same. In fact, literally the same. I couldn’t tell you why, or how I had ended up in this loop, but here I was.
Day after day another word, another line. Stories I could only store in my fragile mind. Ideas flowed from me like hot piss from a drunk guy’s jeans leg —flailing on a street corner hunting for a bathroom…until the police show up and stop him mid flow.
A world without completion, my ideas never came to fruition.
I’d given up attempting to break the cycle.
First, I didn’t understand, I tried to run. Lurching from my creaky front door, back door, bedroom window. CRACK —and I was back making coffee again.
Yes, I had thought of the obvious. Killing myself brought me back to the same spot. CRACK, another coffee, another stained white shirt. I know it sounds like “Groundhog Day” but I can promise you there is no Bill Murray fun in my life. Just me, my coffee, and my computer.
Today, I thought I’d tell you a little about my life, and my word count.
Tomorrow is only a distant memory.
Pippa Bailey lives in rural Shropshire, England. Principally a horror writer, independent reviewer, and YouTube personality, her supernatural, and sci-fi stories have featured in several anthologies, and zines. She is known for her ‘question of the day’ on social media, where she asks authors probing or just plain scary questions. You can find her at www.PippaBailey.co.uk. Her debut novel LUX is due for release summer 2018.
Here are a few links and lists of her latest projects!
In Snowbound, the sequel to my Bram Stoker Award-winning YA novel, Snowed, Charity and her surviving friends are on a dangerous Arctic mission to a frozen fortress where they believe Aidan is held captive by Krampus. Before writing Snowbound, I knew little about the Arctic aside from my knowledge of climate change and its devastating effects on the polar caps. So, I definitely needed to know more to get Charity and everyone across some of the deadliest territory on the planet.
In my research, I found this fascinating TEDx Talk given by the record-breaking British polar explorer, Ann Daniels. She’d been one of the first women to walk to both the North and South Poles, and she’s since led numerous expeditions. I immediately found her website and read everything I could possibly find about her. With deep admiration, I emailed her, hoping that maybe she’d be willing to answer a couple of my questions or point me to a good reference book.
I got way, way more than that. Not only had Ann read and loved my first novel, Mr. Wicker, but she was incredibly generous with her polar expertise for Snowbound, even going so far as to let me read her extraordinary expedition journals. Every beta reader and editor has expressed astonishment at how vividly I’ve portrayed the Arctic in Snowbound. It wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome without Ann’s help, friendship, and inspiration.
Thanks, Ann, from the bottom of my narwhal-loving heart.
SNOWBOUND: Book 2 in the Bloodline of Yule Trilogy
Since the events of that deadly Christmas night, Charity has been dreaming about a mysterious set of coordinates in the Arctic Ocean. Certain that it’s a signal from Aidan in captivity, she harnesses trickery and technology to lead her surviving friends on an expedition to save him and kill Krampus. What she encounters on and beneath the ice nearly destroys her. But when Charity discovers Aidan’s shocking fate, she makes a fatal mistake that starts a countdown to environmental apocalypse. Can she stop the clock? Or will humanity pay the ultimate price?
Coming September 8, 2018 from Ghede Press
Maria Alexander’s short dark fiction and poetry has been in publication since 1999. Her debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Her first YA novel, Snowed, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel, and was nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel in mystery writing. When she’s not wielding a bladed weapon, she’s being outrageously spooky or writing Doctor Who filk. She lives in Los Angeles with two ungrateful cats, a Jewish Christmas caroler, and a purse called Trog. Want more? Visit her website at www.mariaalexander.net.
Stacey – Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?
Cameron – I hail from Brisbane, Australia, but now live in France with my French wife and two sons. I teach English to make a living but hope that after this interview I’ll become so famous I’ll be able to write professionally. What kind of chap am I? Well, I love forests, the seaside, stormy weather, castles and old villages, fine whisky, print rather than ebooks, and British mysteries. My favourite writers include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Roald Dahl. My favourite music is The Cure and Nick Cave.
Stacey – When did you start writing?
Cameron – I tried to write a novel about the adventures of a warrior in the Bronze Age when I was ten. That was fun. I started writing seriously about twelve years ago and have had numerous short stories and a novel published since then. You can find links to everything of mine that I want you to read on my blog.
Stacey – If you could meet any author living or dead, who would it be?
Cameron – I’m not really fascinated by any one particular author. For me, writing isn’t just about big names. There are thousands of great writers out there. But let’s answer your question… The Marquis de Sade, perhaps. That might be fun.
Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?
Cameron – Ideas come to me from all different sources. The People, things, and places around me. There have been times when somebody has said something and that has triggered an idea. My wife’s favourite story of mine was inspired by a bird living in Australian rainforests. A story or song will sometimes inspire me, but my inspiration usually comes from my own experiences.
Stacey – What’s your writing process like? Do you write during the day or at night?
Cameron – I write when I can. I don’t have a lot of time to write, but Friday is my quiet day at the moment. I take the boys to school, get the housework done, and try to get a couple of hours in before it’s time to return to the real world. I sometimes write for thirty minutes before bed if everybody is asleep and I’m not too tired. I don’t stick to any particular process. Each story is different. I’m very particular about grammar and punctuation because I believe that errors distract the reader from the story, so I edit a lot. I generally edit a story ten to fifteen times.
Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?
Cameron – Music and silence are both fine, but not essential. If I waited for ideal circumstances, I’d never write.
Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?
Cameron – Oscar Tremont, Investigator of the Strange and Inexplicable, is my favourite character. I’ve given him some impressive talents, but also particular weaknesses, and he’s both old-fashioned and avant-gardist.
Stacey – This is a bit of a random question, but… give me one word you overuse when writing.
Cameron – As a matter of fact, that’s a timely question. I’m in the process of resurrecting a novel manuscript that I wrote over ten years ago. There’s a huge amount of rewriting and editing to do and repetition is one of the problems. I’ve noticed a lot of then, of course, and that. In most cases, these words are unnecessary and even distracting. I used to use suddenly and all of a sudden too much, but I’ve broken out of that bad habit. I find it useful to search a manuscript once I’ve finished it to see which words have been overused.
Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?
Cameron – All the time. Life’s too short to read stories you don’t like. If a short story doesn’t interest me after the first page, I’ll either stop reading it or quickly scan it to confirm my suspicions. As for novels, if I really don’t like the first chapter, it’s farewell. The first page or chapter is one of the most important in a story. If an author can’t draw me in from the start, I have to assume it just gets worse from there.
Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?
Cameron – I don’t watch many horror movies. I generally find them less poignant and well-developed than horror fiction. The last one I saw that I enjoyed was The Babadook, an Aussie horror movie that gets you thinking. I recommend it.
Stacey – What scares you?
Cameron – The manipulability of some human beings and the selfishness of others. It’s a horrible combination. We live in a world of immense disparity between the rich and the poor, a world in which domestic abuse is a regular occurrence, school shootings and terrorism have almost become accepted and there’s little will to progress and evolve. The degree to which these problems affect you varies according to where and with whom you live, but they exist and are part of our world.
Stacey – Favourite movie or tv show? (Doesn’t have to be Horror)
Cameron – I recently saw Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. If you like black comedy and quirkiness, that’s a great movie. Not officially horror, but it’s more disturbing than a creature feature or slasher movie. As for TV, I love mysteries, like Midsomer Murders, Vera, and Endeavour.
Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?
Cameron – I have a number of short stories, a novella, and a novel in the works. I usually have different stories to work on at any given time. The novel I’m working on features a homicidal madman in a small village surrounded by quagmires. It’s a combination of psychological suspense and mystery. It studies the idea of social manipulation.
Stacey – Any up and coming releases we should know about?
Cameron – I’m working on an anthology called Shelter from the Storm which will be released through my publishing house, Black Beacon Books, later this year. The best way to keep track of my news is by joining me on Facebook.
Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
Cameron – What I’d really like to share with you is an excerpt from my second short story collection. It’s called The Animal Inside and is currently listed on KindleScout. If it gets enough nominations, I can sign a publishing contract with Kindle. If it’s accepted, you all get a free ebook copy. Thanks in advance. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3PDH4KZWOZHYN
Thank you so much for your time Cameron! If you would like to find out more about Cameron and his writing endeavours, check out the links below.
A common theme among horror writers, understandably, is that they are horror READERS. It is this understanding which makes the ‘Trembling With Fear’ horror features make sense in conjunction with the listings of open writing markets. For Women in Horror month, Horror Tree did something different. They opened their doors to let me share five authors you should be reading if you aren’t already. Have more to add? I’d love to hear about them. There are far more amazing women in publishing than I could list in this article!
1.) Christina Bergling
Christina Bergling writes beautiful, complex stories which also happen to involve serial killers. Relatable characters with real problems who happen to have violent tendencies – art mimics life. She does tell stories with supernatural or science fiction elements, but the book that made me love her writing was The Rest Will Come ( http://amzn.to/2HAl6Qz ). The book is about Emma, a woman whose life abruptly changes when she discovers her husband cheated on her. That leaves her with mountains of debt, and nights spent scouring dating apps for “the one.” After a string of bad dates and messy breakups, something in Emma snaps and that’s when the real fun begins.
2.) Lori Titus
Lori Titus, like Bergling, can also spin an impressively complex and real yarn. Her characters read like fully-formed, actual people. Their personalities are as vivid as their backstories – and she is just as capable when it comes to selling terrible, horrifying moments. Her novel The Bell House (http://amzn.to/2orWUav ) is about Jenna Bell McBride who loses her husband in a fire. After the tragedy she goes to live in a house she was willed when her father passed. Her half-sister Diana lives on the same property in a home she was left when he died. The two didn’t get along before the ghosts from their pasts got involved, and things certainly don’t improve when outside forces try to intervene.
3.) Amy Cross
Amy Cross is a master of twisted ghost stories. She has a knack for turning familiar horror tropes sideways and making them suit her purposes. She can fill a reader’s thoughts with dread and make them believe they know just where a story is headed, only to surprise them with unexpected twists and turns. The Death of Addie Gray (http://amzn.to/2ETunEX ) was the first title of hers I read in which a couple’s young daughter wakes from a coma with a terrible secret.
4.) Barbara Copperthwaite
Barbara Copperthwaite has a special talent for classical thriller storytelling. The way she writes scenes and establishes characters is reminiscent of Thomas Harris’ writing. His thrillers, like Copperthwaite’s, undeniably sit in the horror realm. She writes disturbing scenes vividly and does as well with her character portrayal and development. In Flowers for the Dead, (http://amzn.to/2HxpnUZ ) she plays with storytelling by switching between narrators and focusing on different details.
5.) Eden Royce
Eden Royce has embraced and expanded our understanding of Southern Gothic Fiction. Her writing is as elegant as it is effective, and the short stories in both the Spook Lights (http://amzn.to/2EHHtpi ) and new release Spook Lights II (http://amzn.to/2CAdie2 ) are filled with numerous stories designed to unsettle and disturb.
Fox Emm is the head of Spooky Words Press and loves to write and read about disturbing things that go bump in the night. You can find her on most social media by name, or find her non-fiction horror articles on Wicked Horror, Horror Fuel, and Gores Truly. You can find more of her short story work in BAD NEIGHBORHOOD, or in other anthology publications. You can follow her work at www.SpookyWordsPress.com.
When I say I’m a writer, the typical question I get is “What kind of Romance story do you like to write?”
When I tell them I write horror the looks I get range from incredulous to horrified.
Even my family members have told me they hate the fact I prefer writing horror to any other genre. They would love to see me write a romance or even a crime-filled story as long as there was a romantic undertone to it. Whether it’s because I am female, or romance is less embarrassing, I can’t say.
When a male writer talks about murdering someone with an ax or throwing them into a hole and burying them alive, it is met without a blink of an eye, as if it were a common occurrence. If the same thing was said by a woman, all bets would be off. It’s as if because that we are women, we are generally thought of as nurturing and loving. We shouldn’t be able to see the dark side of things.
Writing, in general, isn’t an easy field. Those of us who are drawn to it are well aware of the drawbacks as well as all the positive. We know this constant struggle, but we keep going because we love it. The research a writer does in order to make their work authentic is insane. A woman writer has to work twice as hard. If she has one single fact incorrect, someone will comment “It’s written by a woman, what else did you expect?”
Women horror writers have taken some drastic steps to get their work out into the world for people to enjoy. Some use initials to disguise their apparent feminine names. Others go as far as using pen names, or fictional names.
In 1818, Mary Shelley published Frankenstein. She combined horror and science with amazing agility creating a new label which would be, and is, called science fiction. In order to publish her book, she had to use her husband’s name. If she used her own, it would not have been published at all.
Even Anne Rice, whose name and various works are well respected, had mixed reviews when she published “Interview with a Vampire” in 1980. After establishing herself as a horror writer, she had to use the pen name, A.N. Roqulaure, to write her erotic stories which were a far cry from her normal work.
From 1818 and 1980, 162 years have passed, but there is still a tangible barrier and bias against women horror writers. In the last few decades, strides were made and women became horror writers. The struggles and barriers need to change and I only hope the prejudice, which still exists in the same tone as Mary Shelley faced, ends someday, if not today.
Kim Plasket is a Jersey girl at heart relocated to sunny Florida. She enjoys writing mainly horror and paranormal stories and lives with her husband and 2 kids. When she is not slaving away at her day job, she can be found drinking coffee with fellow author Valerie Willis and planning the demise of some poor character. Currently she has several short stories featured in anthologies such as ‘Demonic Wildlife’ and ‘The Hunted’, also has a story in an Anthology Titled Fireflies and Fairy dust with more to come.
These are some of the first things that we think about when we think about serial killers. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, serial murders are not a modern phenomenon and are not unique to the United States. The FBI does note that serial murders are rare, very rare in fact – comprising less than one percent of all murders committed within any given year. The FBI defines serial killing as a series of two or more killings committed by the same person.
There are common myths associated with serial killers including that they are all dysfunctional loners, that they are predominantly white males, that they are motivated by sex, travel and operate interstate, can’t stop killing, are evil geniuses…and that they are all male.
There are female serial killers, many of them. There are very well likely female serial killers operating today. Also, as often incorrectly cited Aileen Wuornos was not the first female serial killer in the United States. There were plenty of female serial killers before Wuornos. While Wuornos killed as many as seven men there are female serial killers throughout U.S. history that committed many more.
Below is a list of female serial killers in the U.S. you may not have heard of.
Jane Toppan (1854-1938)
Victim estimate: 31
Famously quoted as saying her goal was to “have killed more people,” Toppan was a nurse and killed her landlord, his wife, and dozens of patients whom she often experimented on, drugging them with various levels of morphine and atropine. It’s said she fondled her patients as they died, gaining sexual gratification from their deaths.
Bertha Gifford (1871-1951)
Victim estimate: 17
Found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a mental hospital, Gifford was accused of killing 17 with arsenic – a common household supply at the time.
Victim estimate: 11
Nannie Doss killed her five husbands, two of her sisters, two of her sister’s kids, a mother-in-law, and her own mother. She stirred in arsenic into family meals, coffee, and even their booze.
Genene Jones (1950 – )
Victim estimate: 60
Using injections of digoxin, heparin, and others, Jones is suspected of killing over 60 infants and children in her care in Texas. She is serving 99 years and is currently being held at the Lane Murray Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Cynthia (Cina) Pelayo
Cynthia (Cina) Pelayo is the author of Loteria, Santa Muerte, The Missing, and Poems of My Night. She blogs at cinapelayo.com