Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!
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FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Krampus (2015)

Krampus is Disappointing Holiday Horror Fare

by Kristin Battestella

 

If you think your December is bad, consider the anti-Saint Nick killer of the 2015 horror comedy Krampus. Though starting strong with relatable holiday family sarcasm and budding snowbound scares, this PG-13 combination tale never embraces its unique monster potential and fizzles into disappointing, pedestrian fare.

Young Max (Emjay Anthony) wants his parents (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) to have some Christmas spirit again. Unfortunately, arguments with his visiting Aunt Linda (Allison Tolman), Uncle Howard (David Koechner), and his nasty cousins make Max tear up his ridiculed letter to Santa Claus – creating an invitation for the evil, ancient spirit of Krampus to descend their chimney instead…

 

Writer and director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat) starts Krampus with promising seasonal satire and jovial Bing Crosby holiday tunes winking at the December mad dash shopping. The out of hand festiveness increases thanks to crying kids on Santa’s lap, stressed and glum employees, and fighting customers tasered by security while the crowd videos it all on their smartphones. A Christmas Carol is on the television, mom’s obsessing over the perfect crème brulee, and the War on Christmas peppers the news – Krampus is up front about its holiday honesty with debates over Santa being a cheap marketing ploy to sell Coca Cola and cruel tales of his crashed sleigh and Big Nick eating his reindeer to survive. Arguments at the table worsen every year, and the hope of the holidays being like they used to be can’t be overcome by one’s DNA. The destruction of an admittedly preposterous letter to Santa summons a thunderous snowstorm and blackout – no heat, water, or electricity and twelve crabby people. The usual holiday tiffs turn into worse bleak as mysterious snowmen surround the isolated house and thumps on the roof aren’t the sleigh they expected. Scary attacks from under the snowbanks and jack in the box decoys create suspense as do abandoned trucks, echoes lost in the blizzard, and footprints suggesting an upright goat walking on its hind legs. While under siege, the family re-discovers sentimental ornaments and recalls late relatives – there’s nothing like a monster attack to bring everyone together at Christmas! Gunshots break the silent holiday night and people go missing as the sub-zero temperatures drop. These are realistic scares, and the family asleep about the fire will soon be privy to the evil coming down the chimney with baited hooks and sinister presents to lure children for punishment rather than giving. Initially accurate wisecracks and understandable difficulty in believing Krampus is at work help the self-aware mix of interior drama and terrors amok. Unfortunately, Krampus is surprisingly lacking in its own folklore flair and descends into a busy, supposedly cognizant but unintentionally laughable lag trading what should be innate fears and the uniquely sinister for rowdy action or juvenile delays. The misleading comedy label becomes an excuse for silly animated accessories, undercutting the terror of Krampus waiting within the walls ready to emerge and abduct. Shooting at what they don’t understand, falling asleep when they must stay awake, not heeding the Krampus tale when they hear it – perhaps a united spirit or singing a carol might vanquish the monstrous invasion, but Krampus instead divides its family in a hollow finale asking for a do over on the sorry not sorry.

Likable dad Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) isn’t traveling for work but he’s still on business calls, creating a supposed marital strain and leaving his son to watch Charlie Brown alone. Tom’s sardonic wanting to get the holiday over with turns into action as the scares mount, and he uses his town knowledge for a fighting advantage and plan of attack to proactively protect his family. Sadly, the adults in Krampus are under developed clichés –ironic place holders learning how to make sacrifices for a happy holiday just because the plot says so. We never know what Tom’s job is, where they live, or why the marriage is troubled, compromising any relatability the stars have. Toni Collette’s (United States of Tara) Sarah tries to make Christmas perfect by having everything super clean, but her decorating is considered to be “Martha Stewart threw up in here” over the top. She has some moxie when her kitchen or fancy food are criticized, but her angel on top of the tree saccharin doesn’t add the spirit Krampus needs. Though too brief, Krista Sadler (Lena Rais) provides Old World strength and wisdom as the German-speaking grandmother Omi, and she respects the past when cultural ethnicity and traditions mattered instead of celebrations without meaning. Omi crosses herself once – the only time Jesus is referenced in a Christmas parable about sacrifice – and does what needs to be done but Krampus remains too modern and mainstream bland, generic rather than Germanic. The titular potential is neutered by stagnant characters who never really learn but drop in quick succession – almost as if they knew the ninety minutes were up and an absolutely wrong time and place joke was due to deflate any meaningful foothold. I almost want to see Krampus from his point of view, watching as his nasty influence and take rather than give plan reveals everyone’s true colors.

Emjay Anthony’s (Chef) Max wears a bow tie, annoyingly repeats everything his grandmother says, and claims he’s smart and old enough to know what’s happening – never mind that his torn up and tossed to the wind letter is what brought the wrath of Krampus upon them. At thirteen he’s too old to believe in Santa Clause, and Max even gets in a fight defending the Jolly One before writing him seeking help for his family. If Max truly wanted Christmas to be as it was, he could have gone ahead with their traditions and reminded everyone of their holiday memories instead of bitching over his letter to Santa being read aloud. That’s the worst thing that has ever happened to him? That embarrassment is worth cursing your family to damnation? Unfortunately, Max thinks he can fix his fault by asking for a reset, and Krampus sacrifices its Scrooge scared straight possibility in favor of the very millennial blasé it warns against. Likewise, daughter Stefanie LaVie Owen (The Carrie Diaries) is irrelevant alongside too many gross, mean, disposable cousins and a baby who’s initially forgotten in a tricked out Hummer named Lucinda. I think the family dog gets more screen time than some of the non-speaking kids! Sarah’s sister Allison Tolman (Fargo) is made little woman simple while her redneck husband David Koechner (The Office) forges an odd friendship with Tom. He has useful skills and calls it like it is, but Krampus makes him smart or stupid as needed. Conchata Ferrell’s (Two and a Half Men) Aunt Dorothy gets through the scares with some peppermint schnapps – Krampus liking schnapps is never mentioned, boo – and her drunken sarcasm should be the only requisite quipping comedy. Unfortunately, Krampus goes overboard with ill timed laughs and puns in all the wrong places. Does this bitter family deserve what Krampus brings? We never know them as anything more than script proxies, so the audience can’t be sure.

Blowing snow, aerial shots, and weather effects give Krampus a fitting brr alongside holiday music and other bells, chimes, and diegetic sounds of the season. Fine blackout schemes and blue patinas work well – a chilly to contrast the yellow firelight and candlelit glows. While the leaping from house to house and rooftop flying effects are messy CGI, the thumping landings and howling echoes match the horned silhouette, giant hooves, and beastly furry cloak. Brief binocular sightings, unseen creatures attacking under the snow, and abandoned, frosty homes with trashed wreaths and destroyed fireplaces invoke fitting fears alongside trees on fire and ruined presents. Krampus uses practical designs and doesn’t reveal the full enormity of the monster – leaving the caressing, pointed nails and long, too close for comfort tongue to suggest the sinister. There’s minimal technology as well – tablets and smartphones are used until their power dies – but the gingerbread men effects are poor, even stupid along with unnecessary jesters and animated toys, hectic attic battles, confusing flue action, and intercut household sieges. Krampus himself doesn’t do very much as his trying to be humorous but ultimately laughable little minions run amok. The notion of his Santa mask having something hidden underneath is disappointing up close, and minimally used evil elves abducting children, a sack of souls collected by Krampus, and his ghoulish sleigh are better reversions on the theme. The retro animated flashback is also an old school anchor for Krampus, showing the bleak loss of seasonal spirit and giving in terrible times with a sad narration and the scared reaction of one little girl. Unfortunately, the fiery finale leaves some audiences confused, and the production mistakenly relies on alternate scenes or commentaries – absent on the rental blu-ray, naturally – and companion books to explain Krampus when a film must take care of itself.

 

Instead of wasteful ignorance and apathy, perhaps a prayer or some faith could have given Krampus a stronger battle of wills? The neither here nor there tone inadvertently embraces both anti-religion by not mentioning anything creche yet also admonishes audiences for treating Christmas like a going through the motions date on the calendar. A straight forward family holiday drama or full on horror one or the other decision may have served Krampus better – breathing room to trust its own dark, sardonic allegory instead of dampening good horrors with a humorous overload. What’s supposed to be so funny about Krampus anyway? This is a divisive, anti-Home Alone, and Krampus’ need for commercial safety, weak jokes, and trite action combines for an uneven parody and try hard “oops my bad” disappointment that inexplicably underutilizes its own ominous folklore.

Paranormal and Horror Author Panel – South Jersey Writers Conference

Moderator Brian McKinley joins authors William Gold, Christine Norris, J.P. Simmons, and J.L. Brown to discuss vampires, science fiction, young adult, paranormal, steampunk, urban fantasy, witches, and much much more on the writing process, world building, social media marketing, and author brands at the South Jersey Writers Conference November 10.

 

 

Videos also available from the South Jersey Writers Conference include Networking Night with mystery author Ilene Schneider and the NaNoWriMo address from speculative writer K.A. Magrowski.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/southjerseywritersconference/

Fiction and Genre Panel – 3rd Indie Author Day Event

Moderator and horror author Brian McKinley is joined by science fiction writer William Gold, humorist Loretta Wish, mystery and thriller author J. Lauryl Jennings, dark fantasy author Kristin Battestella (yes that’s me! Your trusty Kbatz!), and urban fantasy storyteller Laura Kaighn for the Fiction and Genre Panel at the 3rd Indie Author Day hosted at the Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ.

You can see the entire 7 part video below or also view the Childrens and Non-Fiction Panel from the Indie Author Day.  For more photos and author events, visit the South Jersey Writers Conference, Facebook Page.

 

 

 

How Not to Make a Spooky Spell Book – A Kbatz Kraft!

How Not to Make a Spooky Spell Book

by Kristin Battestella

Inspired by having extra tea stained pages from my Spooky Bottle Labels project, Old Kbatz here decided to make a Spooky Spell Book. Not having some of the right materials, however, led to some time consuming mistakes.

First I selected a book to decorate. Many bibliophiles and macabre folks love the idea of these often expensive stacks of creepy looking books but none of us really want to damage a book to make one! You can go to a local library sale of thrift store and choose an old outdated encyclopedia or reference book. However, even after purging my books for a move, I still had several cookbooks I wasn’t using.

This one was large enough on the front to do the design I had in mind on the outside and I intended to stick my tea pages in the middle of the book. In theory, it’s still perfectly usable as a cookbook should I ever need some kind of hamburger recipe that can’t be found online. I sketched out my wording with a marker and then traced over the lettering with Tacky Glue. Maybe the hot glue gun would have been quicker, but Tacky Glue allowed me a little more time with a toothpick as I perfected the letters. If you’re doing this with the kids, it might be easier to paint first and then make some lettering with a more friendly glue and some glitter, however I didn’t want this to be sparkly glam, just an old innocuous book with a goofy plastic scorpion I glued on the front.

Once the glue was dry, I colored over the white glue with black marker so it would stand out more as I painted the rest of the book. It was okay if I got some on my letters or scorpion, because I intended to go over them at the very end with a final coat of black. Using red paint, I went over the book cover. Unfortunately, the red paint peeled and chipped off as it dried, and another coat did the same thing. I wondered if there was a sheen to the book that should have been sanded first or if it was the paint itself. I liked the contrast of the bright red with the black, but this poster paint kept peeling and never had good coverage. I debated doing a third or fourth coat and having to go buy some kind of artist spray sealant. By time I did all that, I could have just bought a spooky spell book!

The next day, I let all the red paint chip off and decided to try using a smaller tube of acrylic paint I had called Berry Wine. I did small sections on the back of the book and let them dry – sticking and with better coverage! I like the aged, deeper color more than the bright red, but I thought because I had a smaller quantity that there wouldn’t be enough for the book. Instead, the acrylic paint covered more and went further without all the terrible peeling. After a few coats of the berry paint dried, I went over the lettering and scorpion with one coat of black. Lesson learned: I’m not an artist at all, and knowing which materials work together and having the right supplies to do a project is paramount.

Now I was able to work on my interior pages. At first I was going to trace assorted ye olde symbols, but that is also out of my artistic area of expertise and I didn’t want anymore mistakes. Instead I wrote Macbeth quotes on the pages in colored pencil making slightly oldeth calligraphy style lettering before going over the wording again in brown marker. Here I was careful of the order I wanted for the pages and which quotes I wanted to be showing when the book was opened flat. I also didn’t use both sides of the pages or use the marker when they were stacked together lest any ink bleed through. It was back to the Tacky Glue as I made a line down the left side of the pages one at a time, gluing them together to be inserted in the exact middle of my cookbook. I trimmed the right side of the pages so they wouldn’t stick out as much and made a line of glue on the inside of the book to insert the pages.

This was a spur of the moment project that took several days longer than it should have thanks to my painting errors. It looks great now that it is complete, and once I realized which paint worked best, I was able to make another spellbook that took less than a day. Although I had gotten rid of several old Writer’s Market editions in my move, I still had a beat up hardback 1997 edition on my shelf that was thick enough to do some spine wording. Again I sketched my letters and traced them in glue. This time I used a green marker to make the lettering stand out, for I was painting this book with black acrylic paint that covered in less than two coats. For the letters, I wanted a contrasting yellow, however, the yellow paint and green marker have blended together to create a creepy looking color. I may go over it again to make it more golden, but I kind of like the icky look. This book I can also use again if I wanted, however I’m tempted to use it as the base of a spooky cloche – but that is another Kbatz Kraft!

Batty for Bats – No, Really!

Batty for Bats – No, Really!

By Kristin Battestella

 

 

I knew I couldn’t stay for the whole program, but when the Free Public Library of Monroe Township posted about a special presentation called Batty for Bats, well I knew I had to take a gander!

Ms. Mary, a naturalist from the Rancocas Nature Center, 794 Rancocas Road, Westhampton, NJ 08060, quizzed local children at the library on what they knew about bats and tested them with some true or false statements. When I asked Ms. Mary if the kids attending these programs were usually creeped out, she said that the snakes and reptiles were actually quite popular – and the youths tonight agreed that bats were “cool.” After all, bats groom themselves just like cats do!

The children – and let’s be honest the parents there, too – were curious to see some of the bat materials on display. Facts on bats such as wing span and heartbeats per minute were hit home for the kids by donning some costume wings to test their own wing spans and putting on stethoscopes to hear their own heartbeats in a “How a Bat Compares to Me” activity. Everyone had a good laugh while learning the basics about bats from Ms. Mary – who confessed to not actually being a bat expert because she prefers bugs.

Based in Burlington County within the 200 acre Rancocas Park and formerly part of the New Jersey Audubon Society, The Rancocas Nature Center puts on a variety of nature and educational programs in South Jersey. For more information, visit rancocasnaturecenter.org or follow facebook.com/FriendsofRNC to support their programs.

 

And no, there are no vampire bats in New Jersey, thanks for asking.

 

A very special Thank You to Ms. Mary, the Rancocas Nature Center, and the Monroe Library for allowing me to stop by the program and take a few pictures!

Creepy Cloches – A Kbatz Craft!

Creating Creepy Cloches – A Kbatz Kraft!

By Kristin Battestella

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz here again to show our Horror Addicts Community how to make your very own Spooky but affordable cloches for Halloween or year round macabre décor!

For us alternative folks, it really pays to shop at thrift and second hand shops to find off the beaten path accessories. I lucked into finding two actual cloches, one large and one small, at two different Goodwill stores. The smaller cloche was $1 and already had the orange floral décor inside, so I put a fun orange spider from a Dollar Store party favor pack inside, keeping the orange theme for Halloween rather than something more realistic like a black spider.

The larger cloche was $3 – a steal when more elaborate Halloween cloches in stores cost $10 or more for whatever generic creepy is inside them. This actually had an unusual Good King Wenceslas doll inside that looks slightly creepy itself. I don’t trust him, so he’s going right back inside a homemade Christmas cloche! Once he was out, I put a Dollar Store skull on a pedestal inside and used hot glue to surround the skull with glittery Dollar Store branches and stems. I originally wanted to fan the branches all the way around, but obviously, the glass lid has to fit over the design, so the branches became a more compact bunch with smaller pieces in front going inside the skull’s open mouth for full effect.

Naturally I intended to have a bat perched on top the skull, but it was too big for the glass and I used a plastic ant instead. Next I used Dollar Store moss to cover the pedestal base. Some of it sits where I need it, but other places I again hot glued strategic moss in place. As this is a three dimensional glass display, the back must look just as nice as the front. I planned a realistic spider below in front to create visual balance. However, I found the large stick inside my moss bag and went with it as a perch for a bug from my spooky favors assortment. I could have gone outside and used natural leaves, moss, and branches, but I’m quite pleased with how this cloche came out. It looks like a skull was once preserved, but it’s as if something grew around it and died – a pleasingly morose display I might keep out year round!

In addition to these two lucky finds, I also saved several large party mix plastic barrels to make homemade Halloween cloches. Truly, the most difficult part of all these DIY crafts was getting the darn labels off these jugs! Fortunately or unfortunately, the most expensive thing in all these projects for my wallet and waist was eating these snacks! Instead of trying to fit everything through the jar opening, I cut the top off so I could turn it upside down. The edge didn’t have to be perfect because I would cover it with moss, but I did get cut doing this. It’s official, I’ve bled for HorrorAddicts.net! I put a Dollar Store glow in the dark skull on top of more natural green moss with glittery green branches and added glow in the dark spiders. My base for this was a simple plastic plate, and it is a little flimsy compared to the wood bases of the real cloches. In the future I might get wooden plaques available at the craft store or natural rounds. One can set a homemade cloche on something fancy like a silver platter or cake stand, but obviously we’re not permanently gluing the base with those.

To cover the lingering label lines on my jar, I strategy placed more moss as if it was growing up the outside and top of the cloche complete with a glow in the dark bat as the piece de resistance. My idea here is that this was something alive but now overgrown. Naturally, the cutting and hot glue are not family friendly crafting, and different materials can be used if a child has any allergies. Since this is fairly lightweight, I wouldn’t put it where kids or pets may knock it over or keep it out year round – and be warned the moss may attract real spiders and the like! I quite like how this cloche turned out, however, side by side with the real glass cloches, you can tell it is plastic and homemade. Then again, in cutting off the tops of two party mix jugs and putting them together, I ended up with a bonus orb which, as I posted on our Horror Addicts.net Facebook community, I was unsure how to use.

I debated using bloody drips to make it look like something bloody escaped or filling it with spider webbing like there was something cloudy and unseen inside before filling it with assorted plastic bones. I glued brown ribbon on to cover the jar rims and seams and then tied rustic yarn around it for an apothecary style, adding a ‘Do Not open until October 31’ tag and leaving off the top lid. My theory is that something was alive inside, but opening it early turned what was within to bones. Although that might not be immediately apparent, the beauty here is that it was a free bonus project that can be changed next Halloween.

By being thrift savvy and using affordable materials, I have several creepy cloches providing the most bang for my Halloween buck, and I hope you have some ideas for your own one of kind cloches, too!