Stalking horror and dark fiction in October

Horror & Dark Fiction Theme Post

In screenwriting, horror is very formulaic. The setting isolates the characters in a situation where their lives and/or souls are in jeopardy and the characters always make poor choices which throw them directly into the path of the psycho serial killer/monster, i.e. the villain. This horror movie commercial for Geiko sums up horror movies nicely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYae3ZAAbLc. I get a kick out of it every time I watch it. But that isn’t to say that there are no good movies. When done right, horror movies can keep you awake at night because they play on our deepest fears. And fear is a powerful emotion.

In October Writing to be Read has been stalking horror and dark fiction. In fiction, horror stories don’t have to be as formulaic as horror films, (although they can be), but they have many of the same components. There is usually a battle of good vs. evil, as horror and dark fiction stories seem a natural fit for this theme. Dark fiction stories mesh well with fantasy, thrillers, science fiction and western genres, among others. They just seem to work well together. Whatever flavor of dark fiction you choose to examine, horror is, and always has been, in high demand.

You can’t have a conversation about horror and dark fiction without hearing mention of the masters such as Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice. These dark minds have created some of the most memorable horror stories, ones which stick in readers’ minds because they are so twisted, and dark, and horrific, playing on the fears we harbor within ourselves. Stephen King and Anne Rice are the masters of horror for me. Who is your favorite horror author? Let me know in the comments below.

This month we looked at two award winning and best selling authors of dark fiction on not one, but two segments of “Chatting with the Pros”, who may be right up there with the best of them: Paul Kane and Jeffrey J. Mariotte, and a double review featuring Kane’s Arcana and Mariotte’s Cold Black Hearts. In addition, I interviewed author Roberta Eaton Cheadle about her first dark fiction novel and the transition from writing children’s stories into writing horror, and I reviewed that novel, Through the Nethergate. And “Growing Bookworms” Robbie Cheadle discussed the pros and cons of allowing children to read stories with scary or sad content.

 

 

 

In addition, this month myself and three of the Writing to be Read team members: Art Rosch, Robbie Cheadle and Jeff Bowles, have stories in the WordCrafter paranormal anthology, Whispers of the Past, and Robbie and I both have stories appearing in Dan Alatorre’s horror anthology, Nightmareland.

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It’s been a great month for horror,and to top it all off, WordCrafter is co-hosting a Halloween book event on Facebook with Sonoran Dawn Studios, the All Hallow’s Eve: Little Shop of Horrors Party. With games and giveaways with cool prizes, music and scary audio stories, it should be a lot of fun. I hope you’ll click on the link and drop in and spend some or all of your Halloween with us: https://www.facebook.com/events/2389123051407696/ 

 

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Halloween: Scary, but Fun

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People love to be scared, especially within a safe environment. That’s why the horror genre will always be popular. Sitting around trying to scare one another by telling ghost stories or urban legends is a passtime enjoyed and induldged by young and old alike. It’s one of the reasons Hallowen is a favorite holiday for many, with haunted houses and ghost stories and a monster around every corner.

But telling ghost stories to pass the time on a stormy night isn’t any type of new passtime. In fact, two hundred years ago, on a damp and dreary night, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstien was created on just such an occassion, when a challenge was issued to see who could invent the best scary story.  Today’s monsters may be digitally enhanced, but we still enjoy sharing their stories, searching for an inkling of fear or a rush of adrenaline to get our hearts pumping.

Dead Man's Party

That’s why I hope you’ll all drop in and join in the fun at the Sonoran Dawn’s Dead Man’s Party today on Facebook, where myself and other authors will be reading scary stories, playing games and holding giveaways. Many of the authors from the Dark Visions anthology, which I reviewed this past month, including Writng to be Read team member Jordan Elizabeth, and AtA panel member, Dan Alatorre, who compiled and produced the anthology which climbed up the ratings for best horror anthology rapidly following its release. I gave the anthology five quills and it is well worth the read. I’m excited to be reading a few of their stories for them, as well as my own The Haunting of Carrol’s Woods, and can’t wait to hear the audio recordings of the other’s stories, too.  I hope you will join us. It may be scary, but it will be fun.

Happy Halloween

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Writing for a YA Audience: Do ghosts really cast no shadows?

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Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with ghosts.  Recently at work, someone drew a house on a whiteboard and everyone added something to the picture.  I added a ghost screaming from an upstairs window.

Writing a short ghost story has always been a fun activity for a rainy afternoon.  After compiling two steampunk anthologies, I decided to take a turn compiling one on ghost stories.  I imagined it sitting on the shelves of local gift shops; the cover would show a ghost girl floating down a hallway of peeling wallpaper and cobwebs.  With this in mind, I reached out to my critique partners, author friends, writing workshop attendees, and writing club members.  They had a year to get me a short story or two.  I wrote a few, and as stories trickled in, I put them together in a word document.   We brainstormed ideas for a title and settled on “Ghosts Cast No Shadows.”

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Once I had a selection of almost thirty stories, I submitted the manuscript to the publisher.  The majority of the stories were accepted, but a few were rejected, and I had to break several hearts by telling writers their story didn’t make it in.

After the list of accepted stories was finalized, it was time for editing.  Each story went across the desk of an editor twice, followed by a once-over with a proofreader.  The proofreader was a different editor who could come into the anthology with new eyes.  With the editing process over, we got to work on a cover.  We’d originally submitted a worksheet of cover ideas, but the publisher felt a different style would be in order.  The talented Eugene Teplitsky put together the current cover depicting a man haunted by his past and plagued by death.  Ghost books, they felt, were too involved with Halloween.  They wanted our anthology to be marketable year-round.  This strategy meant we would need to change the title.  “Ghosts Cast No Shadows was shortened to “Cast No Shadows.”

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The book was in place and the release date was set for October 6, 2016.

We organized a cover reveal and blog tour for the release.  Reviewers offered their services to help spread the word.  I tentatively set up signings for the end of October through December.   I had to hurry because my son was due October 18 of the same year.  I didn’t want any of the release buzz to fall through the cracks.  (I also naively assumed I would feel up to doing a signing despite just having a baby.)

The book came out to meet with rave reviews.  (You can read Kaye’s review of the book here.) The blog tour sparkled.  While the ebook sold, the paperback remained unavailable.  My son arrived earlier than expected, and in no way did I feel like doing a book signing.  They were postponed to the spring.  Because of technical difficulties, the paperback still wasn’t available in the spring, and the signings were cancelled until further notice.  When the paperback did release a year later, we were all set to push it.

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The group of us who live locally (listed in order as they appear in the picture above: Elizabeth Zumchuk, Joan O. Scharf, Tracina Cozza, Jordan Elizabeth, Jeremy Mortis, W. K. Pomeroy, and James McNally) did our rounds wearing matching CAST NO SHADOWS T-shirts.  The libraries welcomed us and in front of audiences, we talked about what inspired our individual stories and read the first pages.  We sold copies to eager readers.   Every October we do our rounds again.  We stand together in our shirts with the books open in front of us.

It feels so mysterious to stand in front of an audience telling the story of a ghost who wanders dilapidated hallways seeking a future she will never find.

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Interested in reading CAST NO SHADOWS?  The book is available on Amazon or you can get a signed copy off Jordan’s official website.

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  CAST NO SHADOWS is her third anthology published by Curiosity Quills Press.  Jordan can be found wandering the empty houses and shadowed woods of Upstate New York searching for ghosts.


Writing for a YA Audience: Boo! There’s a ghost behind you.

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Ghost stories have always fascinated me.  I’m obsessed with history, so I see ghosts as a link to the past.  They’re our chance to communicate with those who came before.  Plus, the mystery surrounding ghosts is fascinating.

Ghost stories are prevalent in young adult fiction, as well as non-fiction.  Whenever I visit a new locale, I always check out books on local ghosts.  You can see I love ghosts, right?  They tend to drift into my writing more often than not.  My young adult novel, VICTORIAN, centers around ghosts in an abandoned village where visitors come to relive the past.  ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW features a ghost child trapped by a witch’s curse.  TREASURE DARKLY tells the story of Clark Treasure, a young man who receives the gift of communicating – and raising – the dead.

Oftentimes, I’m asked if I believe in ghosts.  That’s a big yes.  I’ve even experienced a few ghostly happenings.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had people say my name, voices no one else hears.  It doesn’t happen all the time and the voices never answer if I reply.  I always turn to find no one behind me.  The earliest time I can remember was when I was driving by Lake Delta.  A voice came from beside me on the back seat.  “Jordan!”  No one was there and my parents hadn’t heard it.  More recently (a few years ago), I was working in a renovated woolen mill.  This building of weathered brick was infamous in the neighborhood for its hauntings.  I never saw or felt a presence, but twice a female called my name from directly behind me when I was alone in an office with a closed door – and the only other person in the building was a male custodian.

I was a recent high school graduate when one of my grandmother’s close friends passed away.  She and I were in her bedroom when the phone rang,  My dog – the only one else in the house – was also in the bedroom.  While my grandmother was learning about the passing from her friend’s daughter, a box of candy flew off the kitchen table and slid across the floor.  It had been on the center of the table and we hadn’t experienced an earthquake.  Nothing else in the house moved.  I like to think it was the friend’s way of saying goodbye.

The other ghostly goodbye came while I was at my then-boyfriend’s house.  I suddenly had an eerie feeling.  The world wasn’t quite right.  After a few minutes, I went to get a drink.  As soon as I walked into the other room, a female voice said my name directly behind me.  Almost instantly, the eerie feeling passed.  I learned the next day that my father’s aunt had died.  I’d only met her a few times, but perhaps she had done her rounds through the family to say farewell.

I’ve been on plenty of ghost tours, but only once did I catch an orb on film.  A local church is connected to a mansion with giant pillars, beautiful windows, and embellished rooms.  The mansion is breathtaking.  A friend hooked my parents and I up with an exclusive tour.  Many people have claimed to have experienced ghostly happenings, but we didn’t see or feel anything.  I did, however, catch a clear orb in a picture of the upstairs sitting room.  Ghost or dust?  I like to think it’s a ghost saying hello.

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Have you had any ghostly experiences?  If you have, share them with us below!

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  She may or may not be staring at a supposedly haunted house trying to see faces in the windows. You can connect with Jordan – and point her in the direction of some paranormal activity – via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.


“Cast No Shadows”: A Collection of Ghostly Tales

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Cast No Shadows is a Curiosity Quills Press anthology of ghost stories for YA readers, but some may not be what you’d expect when you think of ghost stories. Stories such as The Last Act of Keri and Trent by Derek McFadden or Nellie’s Playmate by Lorna McDonald Czarnota use a different POV to tell their tale, and aren’t crafted to bring goosebumps to the flesh, but to unfold a ghost’s story in a creative way.

In other stories seeing and/or talking to ghosts is treated as a common every day occurrence. Stories such as Amity or Tillie in Utica by Jordan Elizabeth, Ghostly Affection by Grace M. DeLeesie, The Sun Valley Bistro by Kae T. Quinn, Ghosts of Holy Cross by Ashley Pasco, Graveyard Dust by Heather Talty, A Minor Matter of Deatb by W. K. Pomeroy, Death of a Necromancer by Misha Murphy, Ghost of Shadmoor Park by Grant Eagar, and Simon and the Ghost by Jeremy Mortis are crafted to entertain and make readers think, rather than to scare.

Still other stories in this collection are intended to surprise readers with the unexpected, as in Attic Secrets by Ashley Pasco, The Regal by Jeremy Mortis, Dark Rider by Amy L. Gale, The Sailor by Lisa Oaks, Sarah by Rachel Pond, The Staircase by Clare Weze, A Trace of Time by Joan O. Scharf, Try Me by Christine Blake, or Yankee Inn by Jordan Elizabeth.

Which is not to say that you’ll find no stories here that contain that eerie scare factor. It’s a large anthology, and stories like Faceless by James McNally, This Ol’ Haunted House by Gloria Slade, Jacked by A. F. Plant, Silent Opera and Swamp by Joan O.Scharf are aimed at stirring up that creepy feeling within readers.

Stories that I feel did this the best were Moving in with the Ghost by A Elizabeth Zumchak, Sweet Hollow Road by C. K. Raggio, House on Hazlenut Lane and The Blood Stained Handkerchief by Jordan Elizabeth. These four would be the five quill stories out of the entire collection, the ones that replay in your mind when you lay down to sleep at night.

Overall, I thought this anthology  was a great group of ghost stories for a YA audience. Even the scariest ones achieved the effect without being too gruesome or violent. I give Cast No Shadows four quills. Four Quills3

Kaye gives honest book reviews and she does not charge for them. If you have a book you would like reviewed contact Kaye at kayebooth[at]yahoo[dot]com.


It’s Up to You, the Reader

New Years is almost here and what writer doesn’t include in their list of resolutions a resolve to improve their writing? In 2010, I had the privilege of reviewing many truly good reads, by some really awesome authors. With 2011 just around the corner, I thought it might be beneficial to take a look at those reviews to see what worked and what didn’t. The only problem is I don’t really have an unbiased opinion, so I thought that I’d leave it up to you. So, here are links to twenty-two book reviews, both here and on the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner. Please take a look at them, if you haven’t already,  and then vote for the ones that you think are the best in the comments section. You can choose more than one, but please include a brief explanation as to why you liked each particular review, or why you didn’t, so that I can identify areas that might need some work. If you read the book, do you agree or disagree with my review? I will approve all comments as long as they are not downright nasty. Next week I will publish a list of the top reviews, according to you, the readers. I couldn’t do it without you.

“The Ruby Notebook” holds the key to many secrets

When “Mosquito” gets hold of you, it sucks you in and doesn’t let go

Anna Strong is a force to be reckoned with in “Chosen”

Storyline in “The Truth Comes Out” keeps readers guessing

You’ll think twice about water after reading “Water Hazard”  

“Reprisal! The Eagle Rises” gives readers something to think about

“I’ll Be There to Write the Story” – A true tale that will touch your heart and stir your spirit

“The Last Lie”: a perplexing tale that will keep readers guessing

“Why Did This Happen to Me, Aunt Lou?” Inspires and Delights  

“Killing the Cobra” is packed with action

“The Midnight Ride of Blackwell Station” is delightfully entertaining for all ages

“The Secret to Lying” holds the key to more than one secret

“Raw Edges: A Memoir”: a journey of self discovery and revelation

“Star in the Forest”, a glimpse of reality through a young girl’s eyes

Pamela Clare brings another sizzling romance in, “Naked Edge”

“The Spirit Lens”, a spellbinding tale that will captivate readers

“From the Spleen of Fiery Dragons”, by Mishka Zacharin  

From the Old Blog to the New – Reviews of “Demon Hunter: The Chosen One” and “Demon Hunter: Seek and Destroy”

“The Fishing Trip: A Ghost Story”, by Chris Keys  

“Beneath the Mask of Holiness” depicts the human side of Thomas Merton

“The Secret of Everything” is an absolute must read


“The Fishing Trip: A Ghost Story”, by Chris Keys

I recently had the pleasure of editing The Fishing Trip: A Ghost Story, by Chris Key’s. It was a pleasure for three reasons: first, it is a thrill to work with Chris, who has chosen to develop his writing talents, after proving his abilities in several other career areas, including the political arena, and advertising and marketing – experience that he brings to the writing desk with him; second, I consider Chris to be a friend, as well as a colleague; and third, I love a good ghost story. For these reasons also, it is a pleasure to write a review for the e-book story. So even though my opinion might be slightly biased, I will admit that freely, and then present to you my review without further adieu.

"The Fishing Trip", by Chris Keys

A Truly Chilling Tale

If you like a good, old fashioned ghost story, The Fishing Trip is an e-book that you will truly enjoy. It is filled with frightful specters that must be overcome in this classic good vs. evil theme. What starts out to be a beautiful day of salmon fishing, turns into a night of fear and tragedy, as our heroes, two brothers, Bill and Ryan, fight for their lives and the lives of their friends, against the great evil that lies beneath the surface waters of Lake Michigan. The Fishing Trip is a truly chilling tale that will satisfy the ghost lover in all of us. Key’s colorful characters and gruesome ghouls are believable and entertaining; his storyline, enthralling and filled with suspense. You won’t want to stop reading until the very last word.
You can get your copy of The Fishing Trip on Smashwords. It will be available in a week to ten days, for $2.99, which is a really good price, but to make it even better, Chris is offering a coupon to the first 100 readers, so they can get The Fishing Trip for free!