Here is an early review of my novel Abode from Unnerving Magazine.
“Well worth picking up.”
I’ll take that 🙂
Here is an early review of my novel Abode from Unnerving Magazine.
“Well worth picking up.”
I’ll take that 🙂
A TERRIFYING HAUNTING
This is the place where the harrowed ghosts of a dozen generations whisper in the shadows of their ancestral home, where one family’s dreams of a new beginning turned into a nightmare that ended in tragedy.
A CURSED BLOODLINE
This is the place where a line of witches bound themselves—in blood—to a primeval entity. Here, nightmare and reality meet beneath frozen skies, and even time and space fall under the power of the demonic being that rules this remote northern wood.
A CHANCE ENCOUNTER
This is the place where the path of a tormented survivor meets that of an unknowing innocent. Past and present collide, and secrets long buried crawl back into the pallid light of day as the shadow of the Beast falls over them both. But even the bloodiest dreams of that demonic being may pale in comparison to what lies buried within the human heart.
This is the place where evil dwells …
Grinning Skull Press has just released the an anthology from The Horror Writers of Maine, Northern Frights. The book was edited by David Price, and features an intro by Holly Newstein Hautala. I have a story in it, and am thrilled to be in a book with so many friends, including both of my Tuesday Mayhem Society Cohorts, Peter Dudar and April Hawks. I asked co-contributor Angi Shearstone a few questions.
What inspired your story?
I have some characters in my current large WIP, and had a general idea of their background. I wanted to develop the details of how they first met and plant the seeds of the relationship that followed.
What are you working on now?
A few things! That current large WIP – BloodDreams, a vampire story that kicks off in the 1977 punk scene (a few hundred years after my Northern Frights story). I’ve got the first book mostly settled, and am trying to write out the rest of the first story arc, which I think is two more books. The books started as a conversion from comic book scripts that I wrote, when I decided to put the comic on hold and try writing it all as prose. That’s why I’m not quite sure how many books it should be. Prose gives more opportunity to explore tangents & subplots, whereas comics you have to keep in mind the “budget” of pages & how much stuff one page can handle. I have a time travel story that’s almost done with its ugly first draft stage, and that’s starting to look like 10,000 words despite my plans and best efforts to keep it under 8,000. And I have a ghost story floating around in my head (ha!). I’m hoping to nail that and submit it to the New England Horror Writers anthology.
What are your thoughts on Maine?
Maine is fascinating and has a unique flavor for its part of New England. I especially love Portland, where some good friends live. I haven’t experienced much beyond that yet!
What are your top 5 favorite books?
Ah! This is kinda hard, because after the first two, it’s a mash of things that are about tied. Comics are easier, I’ll include those. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) Good Omens (Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett Mur Lafferty’s Afterlife series (Heaven, Hell, etc…) The Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling) The Parasol Protectorate Series (Gail Carriger) Comics: Hellblazer Preacher Transmetropolitan Planetary The Books of Magic
Tell us a bit about your background.
I’m an artist who likes to tell stories. I started with a BFA in Illustration, and 10 years later got my MFA in Sequential Art (comic books!). My storytelling preferences turned me towards books & prose, though, starting about 4 years ago. Right now I’m happy to keep art and stories separate. I sell fine art and get illustration & graphic design commissions.
“A painting is never finished, it simply stops in interesting places…” (Paul Gardner) The same probably holds true for books & stories!!
I’m also fond of things like “perfect is the enemy of the good / done” / “done is the engine for more.”
“This multi-layered, darkly poetic tale of a what initially appears to be a haunting in Maine is Morgan’s first novel. It will be released by Bloodshot Books in July, just in time for its debut at Necon.”
Last night’s panel event was both fun and interesting. I joined John McIlveen, Bracken Macleod, Tom Deady, Pete Kahle, Andrew Boylan, and my Tuesday Mayhem Society cohort April Hawks at Pandemonium Books for a lively discussion of the horror genre, writing stuff, and other topics. I didn’t get pictures myself, but someone else snapped this one.
This is the blog I contributed to the Women In Horror Month series from the New England Horror Writers. Link is here.
The first time I really paid much attention to Women in Horror Month was back in February 2015, during the kerfuffle now known in the horror community as #HagGate. Basically, several Maine authors—particularly us ladies—found ourselves being belittled and insulted by another local writer. This did not go over well, especially seeing as it was WIHM. What started as a storm into a teacup turned into a tempest that spread throughout the horror community. However, some good came out of it, at least for me. I realized that we have a wonderful community of horror writers—both male and female—that for the most part want to lift each other up. That’s so much stronger, and more important, than a few rude comments.
I don’t think being a woman in horror is something to overcome. I think it’s something to celebrate. If you are a writer—or a musician, or a painter, or any sort of artist—sooner or later, someone is going to say something nasty about you or your work. Criticism—whether constructive, harsh, or downright rude—is not just something women in horror have to deal with. It affects all artists, in all fields and genres. And maybe it’s not all bad. After all, any piece of art that was adored by absolutely everyone would probably be utter crap. Fortunately, most what we see around WIHM is not derogatory or critical, but is instead a loving signal boost for the many talented ladies in this field. As it should be.
But who are we? Who are the women in horror?
We’re mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, co-workers, bosses, teachers, students, and neighbors. It would be impossible to paint us all with one brush. We’re all very, very different, and I dare say most of us are probably at least a little bit mad. (In a good way, of course, as all the best people are.)
At least, that’s who we are in real life.
Behind the pen (or the keyboard), we are the mother, giving birth to stories and characters and poems, to tales woven from blood and ash and fire. We are the maiden, exploring new worlds, finding ourselves, discovering our voices, setting forth into the unknown, venturing into misty woods or haunted caves or dark alleys. And we are also the crone, the witch, keeper of secrets. We don’t all have grey hair and wrinkles yet, but we are earning those, one day at a time. Our characters dispense the wisdom we’ve fought to gain, word by word, page by page, book by book. We are flesh and blood and bone, wrapped around fountains of images and phrases that we spill onto the page or screen. We’re the ghost in the forest, the madwoman in the attic, the bag lady holding the poisoned charm, the witch in the well, the queen sipping blood from a teacup, the rape survivor, the banshee howling in the blizzard. And we, like our male counterparts, use our work to ask hard questions of the world, to wonder what if?
As we age, our stories change. And sometimes, our stories change us.
As writers, it seems we are always trying to describe our world, to trap it in words, to somehow make the whole universe fit into an alphabet. We may live in a broken, beautiful world, but we are lucky to live in an age where we can pretty much do what we want, within reason. (I probably would have burned at the stake had I lived in Europe a few hundred years ago.) Today’s women writers are reaping the rewards of the work our predecessors have done. Shirley Jackson, Daphne Du Maurier, George Eliot, Maya Angelou, Mary Shelley, Anne Rice, and others broke the trail already. Our job is to widen it and take it in new directions. But we are also tasked with tasked with making sure the paths our forebears made for us don’t grow back in.
Art is always, to some extent, a commentary on the times it was created in. I don’t have to tell you that we are living in strange, dark days. We seem to have reached and passed a tipping point, and we’re now in this weird, surreal place where we are somehow simultaneously slipping back towards the dark ages and living in a time of technological wonders.
Tomorrow’s women in horror may be writing from hovels, or from spaceships. Or both. Either way, they’ll probably have their own detractors to face. No matter who you are or what you do, there will always be someone wanting to knock you down. That’s just a fact of life. We can’t change that. But what we can change is what we do for them.
If you want to make this crazy, broken, beautiful world a better place, improving arts and literacy programs for children—particularly those in impoverished areas—is a great place to start. Below is a list of literary and arts programs for kids. Feel free to add to it. (You can also mentally add your local library to this list.) And since I have your attention, I’m hoping that some of you will take a moment to help the future women—and men—in horror, and give them the tools they need to capture their time in words, to tell their own stories, regardless of medium, and also to read our work and perhaps understand our era. We’ve split atoms, gone to the moon, unlocked the mysteries of DNA, and harnessed electricity, but if we continue slashing arts, literacy, and education, we may only be offering these things to a generation of automatons.
We cannot pay our predecessors back for what they did for us. But we can pay it forward.
If even one person reading this helps—even if just by donating old books—you’ll have made my day. And, to be honest, it would be kind of awesome to replace #HagGate with something a bit more positive. Like #HelpGate, maybe.
Go on …
From E.J. Stevens:
Let’s celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year with fabulous prizes. Today we are giving away a HUGE dark faerie themed prize pack.
We are giving away a Dark Faerie Prize Pack, including a coloring book, faerie necklace, book, earbuds, and more!
To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to the US, UK, and Canada. Giveaway begins December 15, 2016 and ends December 31, 2016.
New England has a rich, dark history with the supernatural. From this region many writers of dark fiction have fueled their stories. One chapter in history has been the stuff of legends and nightmares: the Witch. Look to ancient mythology or your next door neighbor and you will find them, practicing arts both Dark and Light. The New England Horror Writers proudly present a new anthology which pays tribute to those whose ancestors were accused, hung, pressed, drowned, or burned at the stake. Enter these pages, wander the hard roads of Colonial America or modern corporate boardrooms, to face the Witch.
Wicked Witches, fiction from New England’s most talented writers: G.D. Dearborn, Barry Lee Dejasu, Peter N. Dudar, Jeremy Flagg, Joshua Goudreau, Catherine Grant, Jan Kozlowski, Patrick Lacey, Izzy Lee, Nick Manzolillo, John McIlveen, Paul McMahon, James A. Moore, Errick A. Nunnally, Ogmios, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Doug Rinaldi, Rob Smales, Morgan Sylvia, K.H. Vaughan, Morven Westfield and Trisha J. Wooldridge
Click here to order
Introduction by Penny Dreadful; Cover art by Mikio Murakami
Angry writer is angry.
I’ve pretty much held back from ranting, as I didn’t want to fuel the fire. When the NEHW post that started this whole thing began, I typed out several nasty replies, but deleted them, because I hate drama and just thought that what was at the time a few snarky comments wasn’t worth it. When I woke up the next day, the whole thing had gone nuclear, and the threads had been deleted. It wasn’t hard to figure out what happened next, since it’s now all over the writing world.
I have to say my piece, since some of the comments coming from Angry Writer were directed at me. At least, the initial comments. Now the thing has spread to include pretty much all women horror writers, goth writers, bald writers, and tattooed writers, whoever doesn’t fit the proper image, I guess. I’m one of the handful of writers in the Maine writing groups that Angry Writer initially bashed. I was part of the library reading that was mentioned in another snarky post. I was one of seven writers at another reading that he also made rude comments about. And yeah, the bad perm comment? That was pretty clearly directed at me. Yep, I’m a curly girl, and I battle frizz. The comment about horror writers that dabble in witchcraft? I have no idea who that one was meant for, but I’m quite obviously pagan so there’s a good chance that one was also pointed at me. Whether it was or wasn’t, I take issue with that as well. And don’t even get me started on the hag comments.
So now we have publishing credits, library readings, another reading, sex, appearance, religion, hairstyle, tattoos, and subculture in the mix of things being thrown out against us.
Many of the comments directed at us were very rude, extremely insulting, and in some cases flat out lies. The above-mentioned comments were nothing short of cruel. But the ones that really pissed me off were the insinuations that we were/are some sort of wannabe, talentless hacks.
Writer in question has one book out. So do I. Actually, most of those he was bashing have been published. Actually, there are some really great writers involved, including a Stoker nominee. Some have more creds than others, but whatever.
According to Angry Writer, we aren’t “real writers”. We haven’t “paid our dues”. We’re untalented clueless idiots who support other untalented clueless idiots.
Sure, I’m further down the ladder than I’d like, but I write for a living, asshole. I spent five years on an obituary desk. I was first published at age seven. (Ok, unicorn story, but still.) No, I don’t have a huge, long glowing list of creds, but I’ve got a few decent ones under my belt and no, I didn’t self pub. I’ve sold more than was actually released, and I’ve walked away from bad contracts. Whatever. I’m getting my work out there. I found out the other day that one of my poems was discussed in a college class (see last post). I don’t need someone else’s judgment on whether or not I’m a “real writer” or if I’ve paid enough dues.
This isn’t about me. This is about someone just grasping at straws and hurling insults to take shots at others. Trying to bring people down.
Um, shouldn’t we be doing the opposite? Supporting one another? Sure, there’s plenty of beginning/self-pubbed/bad writers in the world, and yeah, there are some issues there. Everyone has their opinions on the situation. Nothing new there.
To clarify, there are two Maine writers groups involved. One is the Tuesday Mayhem Society, which is a handful of serious writers who, between us, have multiple credits and decades of experience. Only one member is unpublished, and she’s damn good. I’m extremely proud of TMS, and am honored to be part of it. I heart my writers group.
The second group is The Horror Writers of Maine. This is a less formal group that was open to all Maine writers, of all levels. It’s not big, or super active, or anything formal. There’s a website, and a Facebook group. The man who runs the group has been extremely kind and supportive of TMS and of Maine writers in general. HWM is just a network of people in Maine who want to meet other writers, so we could meet and get to know one another. This was what set off Angry Writer, and led to all of the rude comments about self-pubbers and wannabes and whatnot. How horrible. We were all somehow wrong for wanting to meet other local writers. How dare we try to connect with people with similar interests? How dare we try to find the handful of other horror writers in Maine and support one another? How dare we (gasp) connect on Facebook?
Who the hell made you king?
One thing that has gotten lost is that this is actually the second round of drama with Angry Writer that us Mainers have dealt with. In Round One, Horror Writers of Maine was bashed, and that whole thing got pretty ugly too. Angry Writer did not approve of the group. Didn’t think it was professional enough. Or exclusive enough. He posted that no one had any creds, that we had all either self-pubbed or not pubbed at all. The problem with that is, it just wasn’t true. In my case, there is a bit of benefit-of-the-doubt here, because at the time the website with member bios was incomplete. I was listed under my real name, but write under a pen name. So maybe he did a search by my real name, which would of course turn up absolutely nothing. Whatever. He knew me, though, at least a little. The guy is from my hometown. We’d had a few decent chats before all the ugliness started. Maybe he didn’t remember me, didn’t know me that well. Don’t know. Don’t care. But there were several other writers lumped into this insult, incorrectly.
I’m angry, but I’m more disappointed. The amount of hostility has grown ridiculous.
I really don’t give a crap what Angry Writer or anyone else thinks of me. So why am I writing about this? Because I’m a writer, and that’s what we do. That’s how we deal with things.
Do I care about his approval? Nope. Don’t think I needed it for anything. But it does go straight to the point of one thing writers deal with all the time. The human condition. The human mind. The fact that the world is full of assholes, and people who love to judge and bash and hate on others. People who love to point fingers. People who love to hate.
You’re no better than anyone else, dude. Get over yourself.
I don’t feel sorry for the guy, who is now getting completely shredded. If you put hate out into the world, you get hate back. Had things played out differently, he would have had a great support system here. Instead he decided to announce our “unworthiness” to the world, and only ended up announcing his own vitrol.
One thing you hear about the writing world is that you need a thick skin. Holy fuck, whoever said that was not kidding.
So, I’m on a writing spree in a beach hotel.
I come home Friday after happy hour, all happy and whatnot, only to find out that the electric company cut me off. I was two days late. TWO DAYS. And I didn’t have an old balance or anything; I had paid my last bill in full less than a month ago. I paid immediately. But, in a flex of the ‘we-are-machine-and-you-are-weak-and-helpless-pitiful-mortal-workerbee’ muscle, they don’t reconnect on weekends.
My thought process went something like this:
Brain:!@&#$^&@^! Ok, think. Too late to sort out tonight so just deal with it. Tomorrow you’re booked anyway … stay out really late? Go to Mom’s? Stay with a friend?
Muse: It’s off season. And you need to finish Seas anyway. Full moon. SUPERMOON. You are much overdue for some night beach moonbathing.
Brain: Indian Rocks.
View from my WIP is something like this:
My bff used to manage a condo out here, and she was able to use it when it wasn’t booked. We used to get to stay at the beach house free for weeks. Then the bubble burst, and now we have to pay for the view. A night here and there isn’t the same. I’ve really missed this strip. I love IRB.
This definitely falls under the blessings in disguise category. I’ve been working on an ocean themed collection for a few years. I don’t mean I’ve only been doing that. I do a pass, leave it for a while, come back, do another pass, leave it for a while. That sorta thing. I’ve holed up for days on end with laptop or notebook while Netflixing every ocean-related doc I could find, and then not touched it again for months. It’s pretty close to done, but I have always wanted to hole up in a beach hotel and just work on it with the sound of the waves. I don’t think I could have considered the collection done if I hadn’t done this. It’s as if I wanted to give the ocean a chance to offer input.
I walked down the beach last night and found a perfect circle in the sand. Sat down for a while under the supermoon. Got some equilibrium back. Oh, and about 5 more poems, including one creepy snippet that might actually be a story. Not sure yet.
Sometimes writing isn’t about following the writing rules. Sometimes it goes far deeper than that. At least for me.
There is a secret language spoken here
The voice of the mother whispers in wind and waves
Now I just need to convince the Arabs running this place to let me check out late. Assuming the elevator doesn’t kill me. (It looks and smells like it was made in 1972.) I guess after I head home I’ll take a leisurely lunch in one of the cute little seaside cafes, go check on the kitty just in case she got through the ten million water dishes I left her, then probably take the laptop to Starbucks or B&N for a few hours. I prefer writing in solitude but whatever. I guess I’ll be coffee shop writer girl for a day. I have one rough night to get through, and my power will be back on tomorrow.
Note of grr: Some idiots were out there with flashlights despite the fact that there are signs EVERYWHERE about it being turtle hatching season and to keep the shoreline dark.