Did you miss out on our Haunts and Hellions Book Events, Horror Addicts? Well, never fear. Here’s your last chance to see what you missed.
Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter.
Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant and staff writer for Still Water Bay at Crystal Lake Publishing.
Her story, “She Woke at Midnight,” appears in Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.
How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?
NTK: My interest in Gothic Literature began The Hound of the Baskervilles, but my interest in Gothic Romance began with the movie, Jane Eyre, starring George C. Scott and Susannah York. I loved the ambiance of the film: the candlelight, the moan of the wind outside a frosted window, a fireplace whose light keeps back the gloom. It inspired me to read the book by Charlotte Bronte. I love how Jane is torn between doing what is right and her love for Rochester. I also love the supernatural aspects of the story. From the Red Room to the moment when Jane hears the voice of Rochester calling her from miles away.
How do you define “romance”?
NTK: To me, romance is abandoning selfishness and giving your all for another person. It’s riding your bike twelve miles to your loved one’s house just to see them for an hour. It’s giving something to a person and expecting nothing in return. It’s being there for them when they’re at their best AND their worst. My favorite films are about people who fall in love and through that love, become better people. I think true romance is love that brings out the best in us.
What is your favorite Gothic horror story?
NTK: Dracula. It’s the best Gothic horror story ever written.
Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?
NTK: Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s so dark, and lush, and beautiful. I love the settings, the beautiful costumes, and the plays on light and shadow. It’s the best adaptation of the novel ever made.
Are your characters based on real people?
NTK: When I first started writing, they were. But now, they’ve taken on a life of their own. The best characters do.
Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
NTK: Definitely by the seat of my pants. I love surprises and an outline is far too rigid and inorganic for me to adhere to.
Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?
NTK: My characters have absolute free will. I gave up trying to decide their fate a long time ago. Their behavior and their path are decided by their actions.
What are you most afraid of?
NTK: Flying sandwiches with vampire teeth. I was terrified of them as a child.
What is your favorite romance?
NTK: It’s a tie between Groundhog Day and The Family Man.
Who is your favorite horror author?
NTK: Dean Koontz. He has a beautiful style, he scares the heck out of me, and his stories are filled with hope. I like my darkness tempered with light.
What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
NTK: I’ve written several Sherlock Holmes stories and they’ll be published in the next year. I’m reading my story, “The Darker Side of Grief,” at Stokercon. (The anthology it appears in, Arterial Bloom, has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award ®.) I also write for the fiction series, Still Water Bay, on the Crystal Lake Publishing Patreon page. You’ll find some exciting stories there. Finally, I’m editing a mystery/romance anthology for Meant to Be Press. Look for it in November.
We surveyed our staff to see what Monsters scare them.
Mark Orr – Historian of Horror
When I was maybe three or four, my dad was watching a show about the Golden Age of Hollywood on TV. This would be in the very early 60s. I sat down with him but when it showed Lon Chaney Jr changing into the Wolf Man, I ran out and hid under my bed. So, yeah, werewolves.
Daphne Strasert – Review Director/ Daphne’s Den of Darkness
I HATE zombies. I don’t need hoards of the undead running after my tasty tasty brains, thank you. If the zombie apocalypse ever comes, I’m out!
Naching T. Kassa – Head of Publishing/ Chilling Chat
The monster that scares me most is the Teke-Teke. It’s a Japanese Urban Legend about a kid who was cut in half by a high-speed train. The kid became the Teke-Teke, a creature without legs who drags what remains of its torso behind it. The torso makes a “tik-tik” sound so you know the creature is coming to get you and make you a Teke-Teke too.
Kate Nox – Blog editor
The monster that scares me most is Old Baldy, the former caretaker of a camp I attended in the mountains of Northern California. You can hear him rustling through the trees at night waiting to kill campers and staff who cross his path.
What monsters scare you? Leave us a comment below!
The audiodrama “They Wound Like Worms” by Naching T. Kassa from last season is now available in full! You can listen either in audio (see below) or on YouTube (see further below). Relive the story all in one sitting.
“They Wound Like Worms” by Naching T. Kassa
voiced by Cedar George
theme music by Valentine Wolfe
“They Wound Like Worms” by Naching T. Kassa is from the anthology, Dark Divinations edited by Naching T. Kassa
It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in the gas-lit streets, while in the parlor, hands are linked. Pale and expectant faces gaze upon a woman, her eyes closed and shoulders slumped. The medium speaks, her tone hollow and inhuman. The seance has begun.
Join us as we explore fourteen frightening tales of Victorian horror, each centered around a method of divination. Can the reading of tea leaves influence the future? Can dreams keep a soldier from death in the Crimea? Can a pocket watch foretell a deadly family curse? From entrail reading and fortune-telling machines to prophetic spiders and voodoo spells, sometimes the future is better left unknown.
Choose your fate.
Choose your DARK DIVINATION.
With stories by: Stephanie Ellis, Hannah Hulbert, Daphne Strasert, Ash Hartwell, R.L. Merrill, Alan Fisher, Michael Fassbender, Joe L. Murr, Naching T. Kassa, Emerian Rich, Jon O’Bergh, Rie Sheridan Rose, Jeremy Megarge, and HRR Gorman
How to Conduct an Interview
By Naching T. Kassa
Welcome to HOWCON 2021! I’m Naching T. Kassa, and I conduct Chilling Chat Interviews on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog. I also interview for the Horror Writers Association Newsletter.
Why should you learn to interview? Here’s the answer. You can meet many people through interviewing and, for a writer, meeting people is essential. We need to network to get our work and skill out before the right people. Also, it gains the attention of potential publishers. Publishers look for websites and blogs which conduct interviews to showcase their writers. Think about it. Someone could come to your blog for the interview you’ve done and stay to look at your books.
The following are two lists. The first is a DO list. These are things you should do to conduct an interview. The other is a DON’T. Avoid these things at all costs.
- CARE—Whether you are assigned an interview or whether you write one up for your blog, always—ALWAYS—care about your subject. This is a person you’re speaking to and not a lump of cheese. You’re not Oprah or Barbara Walters. You’re not Geraldo Rivera. The subject is doing you a favor by granting an interview. Don’t ask them what kind of underwear they wear and what color. It’s rude and creepy. The least you can do is care about your subject. Treat them with respect.
- CONTACT YOUR SUBJECT—Always contact your subject prior to the interview. Don’t just turn up and start asking questions unless they suggest it. Give your subject options for interviews. Ask them what date and time are best for them. Since all my interviews are done online, I make it clear they are text only and we will not be speaking on the phone or through Skype. I then ask whether they would like to do a text interview through Facebook Messenger or e-mail. (Facebook Messenger is my preferred way of interviewing. It shortens the time taken to conduct the interview, is easier to transcribe, and allows you to see whether your subject is finished writing or in the process of writing their answer.)
- PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW—This is a VERY important step. A successful interview depends on your research. If this is an assignment, read the information you are provided with. If there is none, or you are interviewing on your blog, Google your subject. Look at their website. If they’re a writer, check out their Amazon page. If they’re an actor, check out YouTube or watch their movie. If they’re a musician, check out their music. If you don’t know your subject, you won’t ask pertinent or interesting questions.
- WRITE OUT A LIST OF QUESTIONS BEFORE THE INTERVIEW—Always write a series of base questions before you conduct an interview. (Since I interview people involved in the horror genre, I like to ask them how they became involved in horror, what they’re favorite horror movie is, etc.) You can use the base questions to keep you on point. I tend to go off on tangents when interviewing because my questions are organic and are reliant on the subject’s answers.
- ALWAYS INTERVIEW THE SUBJECT ON TIME—Make sure you contact your subject at the agreed time. First impressions are important, and you are conveying professionalism and trust by being WHERE you’re supposed to be, WHEN you’re supposed to be.
- HAVE FUN—Interviews often start stiff because, usually, neither you nor the subject know one another. Be sure to ask questions which are interesting to your subject. This will engage them. Let’s face it, you don’t want an interview where all the answers to your questions are either yes or no.
- –OPTIONAL—HAVE A CONVERSATION ON THE SIDE—I like to converse with my subjects during the interview. How do I accomplish this? I speak to them in parentheses. At the beginning of the interview, I tell the subject that nothing within the parentheses will appear in the interview. Then, as I ask questions, I can give them my true reactions. I interviewed Nancy Holder—the well-known horror writer and Sherlockian—and throughout the interview, we discussed how much we adored Sherlock Holmes. None of this appeared in the interview. It was just a fun conversation that made both of us feel more at ease. Someone who’s having fun will tell you more than someone who isn’t. And, don’t feel bad if the person doesn’t message you back in parentheses. You’re letting them know how you feel. People appreciate that.
- ASK PERMISSION—If a subject tells you something in private conversation, and you think it would be good for the interview, ask permission to add it.
- SHOW APPRECIATION—Once the interview has concluded, thank the person for their time. Again, your subject deserves care and respect. Plus, you may want to interview them again one day.
- EDIT YOUR INTERVIEW—What I mean when I say edit, is make sure the grammar and spelling are correct in your interview. (You don’t want to post an interview where you misspelled your subject’s name, do you?) Also, read it over carefully. If some tangent questions could fit in a better place, and they will not ruin the context of the question, then move them.
- E-MAIL INTERVIEWS WITH A SET SERIES OF QUESTIONS—Sometimes I have to interview multiple subjects on a deadline. When this happens, I usually come up with a series of ten questions which I send to all of them. This is not my preferred way of interviewing. It’s a bit too impersonal for me. However, many people do it and do it well. It’s all a matter of taste.
- TELL THE SUBJECT WHEN THE INTERVIEW POSTS—It is essential you tell your subject when and where their interview will appear. I like to inform my subjects the day of and I like to share the link with them. Your subject will then share for you, bringing attention to your site and your work.
Ok, we’ve covered the good stuff. Here’s the bad.
- DON’T MAKE THE INTERVIEW ABOUT YOU—An interview is not about you. The subject isn’t here to talk about your new book or your website. Don’t ask questions that pertain to yourself.
- DON’T STALK YOUR SUBJECT—Researching a person is not the same as stalking. Do not be Snoopy McSnooperson and go to their Facebook account to investigate their friends, relatives, and pictures. Only research what is essential to the interview. Again, unless you’re Oprah or Barbara, you don’t need to know about their personal life. Not unless they bring it up and give you permission.
- DON’T GET OFFENDED—If you are an easily offended person, interviewing is not for you. Some people may be grumpy or difficult. Be professional at all times.
- DON’T MOVE ANSWERS OUT OF CONTEXT—When editing, do not move the answers out of context or add to the answers. You are there to report what the subject says. You are not there to put words in their mouth.
- DON’T BE MERCENARY—Do not ask your subject to like your Facebook page, write a review for your book, or otherwise endorse your work. Networking is all about reputation and if you do this, you’re creating a bad reputation for yourself. The subject will let you know if they’re interested.
Remember: the most important rule when interviewing anyone is to CARE about them and RESPECT them. It’s the best way to network and the best way to be—well—human.
Submitting Your Short Story
By Naching T. Kassa
Welcome to HOWCON, everyone! My name is Naching T. Kassa, Head of Publishing for HorrorAddicts.net. Today, I’ll be discussing the fundamentals of the submission process and what every writer must know in order to increase their chances of being published. I’ll talk about preparing your story, guidelines for submission, market lists and submission trackers, and throw in a few words of wisdom at the end. There will also be some advice from a pretty awesome horror writer, so be sure to pay attention.
I. PREPARE YOUR STORY—Have you ever prepared for a job interview or a first date? You showered, right? Combed your hair? Brushed your teeth? You know how important a first impression is. And, making the right first impression on an editor or publisher is everything.
A.) PROOFREAD YOUR STORY—Would you show up to a first date with stinky breath, uncombed hair, and an unshowered bod? Of course, you wouldn’t! (Not unless you’re a werewolf.) So, why would you send your manuscript off in an unkempt state? When you send out a manuscript, it should be your best work. It should be polished, all the “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed. Everything should be in the correct tense and point of view. Check, check, and recheck. Have a Beta Reader go through it. Or, use a free online program to improve your manuscript. Here are the ones I use. If you can afford it, you can even pay for premium services.
a. GRAMMARLY —The free version of Grammarly helps with spell checking, grammar, and punctuation. Make sure you use common sense when viewing the suggestions it gives you. Sometimes, Grammarly acts drunk and you must send it home.
b. PROWRITINGAID—The free version of ProWritingAid is terrific when you need to check for Passive Voice, Repeated Sentence Starts, Grammar, Spelling, and all things writing. The only drawback to the free version is it only checks the first 500 words and you must continually delete 500 words to check the entire manuscript. Of course, you can try the free trial version or buy the premium if you like.
B. READ YOUR STORY ALOUD—I recommend reading your story aloud to a recording device before submitting. (Many phones and tablets have apps you can download.) Reading your story aloud will help you catch misspelled words and clunky phrases you may have missed while reading silently. It will also help with rhythm and smooth out the choppy areas.
C. WHAT EDITORS DON’T WANT—When writing a short story, stay away from these areas:
a. HEAD HOPPING—“Head Hopping” means jumping from one character’s head to another, or several changes in Point of View. Many short story editors despise “Head Hopping.” They find it confusing for the reader and the mark of an amateur.
b. PAST AND PRESENT TENSE ISSUES—If you choose a tense, stick with it for the entire story. Again, it’s confusing for the reader if you don’t.
c. A STORY WHICH NEEDS TOO MUCH EDITING—This is the main reason for this entire section. If you submit an unpolished story it could be rejected, no matter how good it is.
II. READ THE GUIDELINES—The guidelines editors and publishers set are the rules you must follow when submitting. Many writers have been rejected, their manuscripts unseen by editor’s eyes because they failed to follow these guidelines.
A. COMMON GUIDELINES—Guidelines consist of the following items, though many vary according to publisher. SHUNN format is the standard used by most.
a. COVER LETTER—Most publishers ask for a cover letter to go with your submission. Usually, this is the first page of your document. A good cover letter should be brief. It should introduce you, your story, word count, and any achievements. Sometimes, a publisher may ask for a brief bio as well. (Always write your bio in the third person.) When submitting by e-mail, I usually copy and paste my cover letter into the body of the e-mail.
b. DOCUMENT FORMAT—The publisher will specify whether the document should be in DOC, DOCX, RTF, etc.
c. FONT—The most requested fonts are Times New Roman and Courier. 12 pt. is preferred.
d. SPACING—Most publishers prefer double-spaced. (It’s easier to edit.)
e. HEADERS—SHUNN formatting recommends using headers and page numbers.
f. E-MAIL—The publisher may ask you to include information in your e-mail. You may be asked to provide a biography as well as links to your website and social media. Make sure you include all information and write the subject line the way the publisher requests. If you fail to do this, your e-mail may become lost, or it may find its way into the spam folder instead of the slush pile.
B. UNUSUAL GUIDELINES—Some publishers will request single spacing, different fonts, or a pint of blood, depending on how they present their publication. (Ok, I made that up about the blood. It’s spinal fluid.) Here are a few examples of unusual submission guidelines.
a. BLIND SUBMISSIONS—No, this is not the Bird Box challenge of the submission world. When you make a blind submission, you are scrubbing the story of all personal information related to yourself. You DO NOT include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, or affiliation with any writers association on the manuscript. It should contain only the body of the story, the title, and the word count. All other personal information should be included in the e-mail.
b. MAIL-IN SUBMISSIONS—Most publishers have moved on to Digital Submissions, but a select few have elected to stay with the mail-in submission. Here are some quick tips for mailing:
1.) Do not fold the manuscript when mailing.
2.) Place the manuscript in a folder before putting it in a 9×11 envelope.
c. WAYS OF SUBMITTING—Some publishers won’t accept e-mail submissions. Instead, they require the writer to submit to a submission website. These sites allow them to read and organize large volumes of submissions. You’ll need to create an account if you wish to use them.
1. SUBMITTABLE—Submitting through this site is easy. The publisher will provide you with a link to their submission and, if you have an account, you’ll simply go from there. All the guidelines are on the page. You even have a spot for a cover letter which can be used as a template. It will appear each time you use Submittable and you can adapt it to your needs. Submittable also tracks these submissions for you and, if you check in with the site, you’ll see whether your submission has been received, is in-progress, has been rejected, or accepted. The submission will also be archived under these categories. So, you can delight in your acceptances or sob over your rejections.
2. MOKSHA—Moksha (which means “freedom or emancipation from the cycle of reincarnation” in Hindu) is fairly easy to work with. You simply fill in the blanks with your info and are notified by e-mail whether you’ve been accepted or not. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction uses this site.
III. MARKET LISTS AND SUBMISSION TRACKERS
A. THE HORROR TREE—This is the best market site for horror writers. If you subscribe to their newsletter, you’ll receive new listings in your inbox every Friday.
B. SUBMISSION GRINDER—This market list site is also a submission tracker. You can search for horror markets and then log submissions to them. The site keeps track of how long the submission has been out and, if you are rejected, will search for similar markets to resubmit to.
C. LITERARIUM—Another market list and submission tracker site. You do much of the work inputting info here.
D. DUOTROPE—This site tracks and lists markets. It also requires payment. You can pay $5 a month or $50 a year.
IV. AUTHOR ADVICE
A. JG FAHERTY’S TIPS FOR SUBMITTING TO PUBLISHERS—JG Faherty is the author of Carnival of Fear and The Cemetery Club. He’s been gracious enough to provide us with a few words on the submission process.
1. Always make sure your manuscript is in tip-top shape, whether it’s a novel or short story. Proofread, and then do it twice more, and have another writer or professional editor look it over as well.
2. Make sure the story is a good match for the market. Don’t assume that every horror magazine is going to like every type of horror. Some specialize in weird fiction, some in traditional horror. Some don’t want vampires or ghosts; others don’t want excess bloodshed. Do your homework. This goes for book publishers, too.
3. Read the submission guidelines very carefully and follow them to the letter. If the publisher or editor wants stories formatted in a certain way, do it. If they say only send 3 chapters, don’t send more or less. If they want a synopsis, send it. The surest way to end up in the rejection bin is to not follow the guidelines.
4. Always include a cover letter, unless the market specifically says not to. That cover letter should contain all your contact information, the word count of the story or book, and a short paragraph detailing your professional credits. For a book submission, you can include a paragraph or two about the novel and what makes it unique. For short stories, never tell about the plot, just give the title and that’s it.
5. Some editors still prefer hard copies to be snail mailed. In those cases, make sure to use a 9×11 envelope, either padded or place your manuscript in a file folder so it doesn’t get wet or bent. Never fold the document into a small envelope.
6. Always be polite and professional. Don’t make weird jokes in the cover letter, or threaten the editor, or criticize their work. Don’t offer bribes, even as a joke. It is okay to say you’re a fan of their work, but certainly not necessary.
7. Sometimes we finish right before the submission deadline ends, but always do your best to get the story to the editor before then. Submission periods exist for a reason, and most markets strictly adhere to them. If you miss the deadline, you can try to request a 1-day extension, but don’t be upset if it’s not granted.
8. Never publicly criticize a market or editor, or write a scathing response, if you get rejected!
V. WORDS OF WISDOM—You’ve learned how to prepare your manuscript, follow guidelines, and where to submit and track your submissions. Just a few more words of wisdom.
A. DON’T GIVE UP—Whether you’re applying for a job or beginning a relationship, there is always the threat of rejection. Writing is no different and, if you don’t develop a thick skin (or borrow one from your favorite neighborhood cannibal) you won’t make it very far. If you’re rejected, look the story over and try again somewhere else. Remember: J.K. Rowling received many rejections before she found a home for Harry Potter. Can you imagine how those publishers feel now?
B. TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM—If you receive feedback from an editor and they’ve taken the time to give you some constructive criticism, don’t freak out. Take it and apply it. It could vastly improve your work. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
Thank you for joining me today. Good luck and keep submitting!
The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference has several workshops, videos, and inspirations from locals near and far! Here’s a list featuring some of our Guest Authors:
Of course, our HorrorAddicts.net staff has come through with several horror articles and general writing tips, too:
There’s just so much to see and do out HOW! We’ve already decided to keep using the Forum and the ShoutBox Chat for more HorrorAddicts.net perks and events! Browse our Online Conference today, tomorrow, at your own pace anytime – and be sure to tell us What You Think of HOW!
Did you ever want to start a podcast but don’t know how?
Do you want to submit material but don’t know what the editor wants?
Never fear! At The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference, our Podcast Hostess Emerian Rich and our Head of Publishing Naching T. Kassa have answered your questions in two live chat sessions via our HOW Forum.
Missed the chats, did you say? HOW Con has you covered once again with our chat transcripts! Emerian discusses podcasting, publishing, and the changing trends in horror while Naching, editor of the upcoming Dark Divinations anthology, shares insights on the submission process and the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.
Both transcripts can be found in HOW’s Horror Workshop section alongside more articles and tips from authors including Dina Leacock and Mercy Hollow and video interviews with witch author J.L. Brown and vampire writer Brian McKinley. There’s so much to see and read at HOW!