Where Nightmares Come From, The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre: A Review

Where Nightmares Come From, The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre

Review by Stephanie Ellis

This novel was received free in return for an honest review

4 out of 5 stars

As a writer gradually developing her craft I am always open to hearing and reading the views of those at the top of their game, those who have ‘made it’. Like most, I think we approach such articles in the hope that we’ll discover the magic ingredient, the key that turns a novel in the drawer into a published piece of work. I didn’t get that from this book, nor is it something I discovered from my go-to motivational source, On Writing by Stephen King, who also appears in this particular publication. What I found, which was equally valuable, was the same story from all contributors—whether they be a filmmaker, author, poet, director, publisher or editor—the rule of three: read, write and finish what you start. No exceptions. I learned from Ramsay Campbell that you don’t need different notebooks from different projects, he—like me—makes notes on one thing, goes on to another, then returns to that first project … in the same notebook! I learned that daily word counts don’t always matter—unless you’re trying out for that annual marathon, NaNoWriMo. I learned that you should write for yourself. I mean, if you don’t enjoy it, why bother? In truth, and in my heart-of-hearts, these horror giants were merely stating what most of us already know, the only rule is that rule of three. Whilst the book was geared towards those who write in the horror genre, much of what was said can be applied to writers across the whole range of fiction and even non-fiction. And when it comes to nightmares—everybody is different but the contributors reinforce the idea of developing horror from the everyday and mundane, from the what ifs? There doesn’t have to be blood and gore, it can be subtle, darker and slow-building—again, another reassurance as that is the style of horror I prefer. So what did I take away from all this? A lot of reassurance and a reading list … oh, and the determination to keep on writing. And now I’m off to read Patricia Highsmith’s The Snail-Watcher.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

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#NGHW News Episode #144

Hello, Addicts!
This week was way more brutal than I think we or the contestants thought it would be. Creating an original character can be tough, but having to write 900 words, mostly of clear character description and have some story to it … that, my horror-addicted friends, is super difficult.
But our writers still did it. They saw the challenge through, even though it lived up to its name – “challenge.”
Episode #144 brought us six semi-finalists.

  1. Silt and bone by Jess Landry
  2. Kerry Anne by Harry Husbands
  3. Changeling by Daphne Strasert
  4. Dr. Sonya Quillius by Jonathan Fortin
  5. Selkie by Adele Marie Park
  6. Cerebus by Sumiko Saulson

This week’s mini prize was pretty awesome. Using the description the author gave, an anime sketch will be drawn of the character they portrayed. This will be done by the amazing artist, Alyca, from Pixel Ghost Creations.

Creative jobs, although they may seem fanciful and relaxed, can be some of the toughest out there and artists often do not get the recognition they deserve. Artists have to create something out of nothing, giving life to where there was none before. Then they have to sit back and see if people like it or even see it at all. Wading through the sea of criticism and self-doubt searching for the buoys of validation can be exhausting and as much as we say we don’t need validation, sometimes it is a necessary evil. Artists have to eat too.

This can be doubly difficult when life happens to us. As it does to all of us. Whether this means your day job getting in the way, relationship issues, sickness, and all the other stray, flaming, Frisbees life likes to throw at us while our backs are turned, this can all inhibit creativity.

Which brings us to this week’s question! This time, I asked our Evil Eleven, “Do you have anything to help you stick with your writing? Even though it is something we love to do and can be therapeutic, when life happens it can be hard to make the time. How do you adult and be a writer?”

“I write on my phone using google docs while I’m on the train to work in the morning. Try to find the little moments in the day to get a little done.
Sometimes I write more if I think of everything else as “that thing I have to do,” rather than my writing. Maybe someday there’s an episode of a show I want to watch. I think of the show as “that thing I have to get done,” and then my writing becomes an act of fun rebellion against myself. It’s weird but effective.” – Jonathan
“I stick with my writing because my heart desires. It wants me to write my dreams down, and to express the things that it deems interesting. The need to create and communicate is what drives me forward. It is my passion, after all, to tell stories.

Also, maybe my secret is that I don’t adult. Sure, my body has grown, and as time goes by, I have a better understanding of things and situations, but I’ve always tried to remain young in my heart and mind. Also in my soul, if such a thing exists. I try to keep things as simple as possible, never take anything too seriously or personally, and remember that growing up is a thing we never stop doing.” – JC

“I eliminate all distractions. No TV. No Facebook. No internet (unless it’s for research). No husband walking around without his shirt on. (In fact, my husband is required to dress in loose, long-sleeved shirts until I have finished writing for the day.) no cute children in the room, no cute puppies or kitties, and no cute ice cream cones or cherry bonbons.” – Naching

Our finalists for episode 144 were, in no particular order, Jess, Daphne and Sumiko. The judges were also quite taken with Harry and Jonathan’s entries also, but the points decided the contestants.

Last week, Daphne took home her first win. This week, there was another first for this comp. Daphne took home her second win! One win after another. Congrats, Daphne! You can read Daphne’s full entry here.

The scores are getting very close. Jonathan is still in the lead, but Daphne is now hot on his tail with only eight points between them. Third place is a tie between Jess and Naching with 29 points between them and Daphne. But it could still be won by anyone. One turn of the tables and everything could change.

So, until next episode, stay spooky!
Hugs
Adelise

#NGHW News Episode #143

Hello Addicts,

This episode opens up with a little more sad news. We are down to eleven contestants now. Timothy has now left us. But hopefully it will not be the last we hear of him.

We do still have our Evil Eleven and competition is getting fierce.

Episode #143 brought us some true stories of horror that the contestants personally experienced. And the mini prize was full publication on this very blog.

So, let’s get straight into this episode’s seven semifinalists, shall we?

  1. Black Death by Naching T Kassa
  2. A Day at The Beach by Harry Husbands
  3. Calling The Dead by Cat Voluer
  4. Sin Scope by JC Martinez
  5. Into The Grave by Daphne Strasert
  6. My Life as a Young Adult Urban Horror Heroine by Sumiko Saulson
  7. Dogs and Sand by Jonathan Fortin

It is so important for authors to blog, these days, and it is good to see such talent and honesty in our Evil Eleven. It is difficult for most people to be honest and open with someone that you are close to, let alone be open and honest with the world. And that is what the contestants have demonstrated here.

Unfortunately, we only got a snippet as always, but I think it was enough to get a feel for the piece and the writing style. Plus, we got to hear our authors’ voices, real voices. They spoke about why they deserve to be the next great horror writer, and the difficulties they have had to face.

Next episode will show the 8th challenge. It is a 900-1000 word Horror Character description. The Eleven have to describe an original character in a story telling way. So, it cannot sound like an instruction manual. The winner of this challenge will have the amazing prize of having their character brought to life by the amazing Anime artist Alyssa from Pixel Ghost Creations. Seeing their character in front of their eyes and not just in their head would be amazing.

Which brings me to the question I asked the contestants this week. I asked the contestants about book covers. We all know that old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but do any of us actually follow this? As exciting as it may be for an author to see their characters brought to life, having a character on the cover of a book can be distracting and, sometimes, deceiving. Here is what some of the authors think.

“I’m picky about book covers. I know they say not to judge, but you only get one first impression. If an author (publisher, etc.) took the time to create a good cover, then I assume they took that same care with the story inside. I love covers that show a character, but only if they’re well made. I’m not a fan of stock photo manipulation. Artist renderings (like those for Patricia Briggs’ novels) are my favorite.” Daphne

“Graphic design is my day job, so covers are definitely very important to me!
As far as the design of the book covers, I think whatever fits the story best is a-okay. If your cover shows a character–great! If not–that’s great, too! But the readers should definitely get a sense of what your novel is about based off its cover.” Jess

“I think readers often make determinations about whether or not to buy a book based on its cover. When I answer calls for submissions for anthologies, the cover art is often a factor. The cover art for Mocha Memoir Press “Death’s Cafe,” Colors in Darkness “Forever Vacancy” and HorrorAddict’s “Clockwork Wonderland” attracted me to those anthologies – I have work in all three.” Sumiko

“I look at a book cover much like an album cover. A bold exciting cover will get people’s attention, holding that attention is then all up to the content. Put shiny wrapping paper on a gift it’ll catch people’s attention but what’s inside is what they’ll remember. No one remembers the wrapping paper once the gift is opened, all they remember is what was inside.” Feind

“Book covers are very important. Even though they tell you not to judge based on them, covers are what catch your eye, and in a world where there are so many choices, covers are the first thing that sets your book apart from others.
Truth be told, I’ve never given too much thought to character-centric book covers. I think the most important for me is that a cover has an understanding of the content of a book, and accurately conveys it with simple yet powerful images.” JC

“They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, many people do. Most won’t even read a book unless the cover intrigues them. Good art does a lot for a story. Bad art can hurt one.
Suppose you’ve written a story about a brave Knight battling a dragon and you illustrate it yourself. Unfortunately, you have no talent when it comes to dragons. Every time you draw your cover, the dragon resembles a mutant spider fighting a stick-figure with a top hat. You publish the story with said cover and no one buys it. Do you need to wonder why? Bad art shows a lack of quality. It’s a disservice to your work. You may have written the best thing in the world but no one will touch it because they think it’s about a man with a hat walking his spider.
By the way, this never happened to me. If it did, I was much younger and my access to art supplies consisted of three crayons, two of which were broken.” Naching

“I am so picky about book covers. I LOVE pretty book covers but ugly covers can detract from the entire experience of reading or make the book seem less professional. I can’t stand covers where we see the character, but not their eyes or forehead. Or only from the neck down. Anonymous Naked Man Chest is also a variety of this. Some of my favorite books have decidedly boring covers (American Gods, Perdido Street Station, Name of the Wind)–covers that aren’t necessarily BAD but aren’t exactly GREAT either. On the other hand, when I see an absolutely BEAUTIFUL cover it makes me want to buy the book. Original, well-crafted, aesthetically pleasing works of art created specifically for the book are my favorite.” Jonathan

What are your thoughts on book covers? Do you agree with any of the contestants?

Our finalists this episode were Harry, Daphne and Jonathan. And don’t forget, addicts, that every challenge brings points to every contestant. The points are close and the big prize of a publication contract could still be anyone’s. You can check out the overall scores here.

Without further delay, if you didn’t already know, I will reveal this episode’s winner. #TeamDaphne got her first win of the series! Congrats to you, Daphne! You can go and read the whole blog post right here.

Come and join in the discussion at the HorrorAddicts.net Facebook page, a community of freaks, weirdos, goths, vampires, and general horror fanatics. We’d love some fresh meat. (insert maniacal laughter here) but seriously, come and have a chat, talk to the contestants and the staff and other addicts in the community.

Until next episode, Addicts, stay spooky!

Hugs xxx

Adelise

#NGHW News 138

 

Hello, Addicts!

Well, how good were this week’s stories! I can’t tell you how happy I am that our judges did not agree. This way, we were blessed with seven stories instead of the promised three. And oh my Odin, what stories they were!

So this week’s challenge was to write 250 words about a monster. Seven monsters we were given, three survived to the next round and then one was picked and deemed worthy of the mini prize – Professional audio production of the winning short story.

Our stories, this week were:
1 LARVAE #teamsumiko
2 THE PET #teamdaphne
3 LINGUA #teamJC
4 BLOODWORM #teamjonathan
5 THE ODDMENTS MONSTER #teamadele
6 THE LAUGHING MAN #teamnaching
7 ALWAYS HUNGRY #teamcat
You can read and/or listen to all these brilliant stories here.

In the discussion after the stories were read, we learned some juicy deets about our beautiful, spooky host, Emz. Our leader into the night is scared of insects and monkeys! And even though the contestants have been warned, it will be interesting to see if any of them draw on this info for their next projects. Knowing what spooks the judges could give them a leg up or tear them down. Only time will tell if any of them dare to scare our dearest Emz.

But this discussion leads me to think … What do our fearsome fifteen fear? What makes our makers of fear jump in the night? I simply had to ask. (And if you’re wondering what scares me, it’s koalas.)

We had some super interesting answers. AE Kirk – our archaeologist – was freaked out by skeletons as a child. Sumiko – the author of LARVAE – has an irrational fear of maggots, which may explain her monster. Naching – our winner for this week’s challenge (oh, had I not mentioned that yet!) – is claustrophobic. Ten points to who can guess what JC is scared of …

One story, which I really wanted to share with you, was from our sweet Daphne. I will let her tell you the story…

“I am TERRIFIED of ladybugs. Yes, the little red and black beetles that populate gardens and children’s story books. I wasn’t always afraid of them–I wore a ladybug dress to my first day of kindergarten–but that all changed when I was ten.
My parents, after twenty-plus years of marriage, finally built their dream home in the Missouri countryside: a magazine-worthy log cabin situated on five acres of wooded land. All was well. The house was completed and we moved in. But at some point during the construction process, ladybugs had laid eggs in one of the interior rooms–specifically, what would become my room.
After a few weeks, the eggs hatched. Thousands of them. While the room had been open to the environment when they were deposited, it was now sealed, locking the beetles inside the house along with me. They were everywhere: in my bed, my clothes, my hair. Their tiny armored bodies blocked out the light that streamed through my windows as they swarmed toward what they thought was freedom. My father would vacuum my room every day (taking the wriggling, writhing mass of insects outside for disposal), only for more ladybugs to appear in their kin’s place. This continued for months before a significant majority of the monsters had been rehomed outside (where I assume they went on to reproduce more of their abhorrent kind). Yet, to this day, when visiting my childhood home, I, without fail, find one of them creeping over a couch cushion or across my arm.”

So, back to the contest. The top three stories this week were BLOODWORM by Jonathan Fortin, THE PET by Daphne Straset and THE LAUGHING MAN by Naching T Kassa. But I totally already spoiled it by telling you that Naching won. Her story, set in a war zone and crossed with creepy bedtime tale, won her this week’s mini prize which you can also hear on the podcast.

Next week on the #NGHW contest is challenge number 3! Write a 450-500 word, non-fiction, blog post about anything horror. This is to test our fearsome fifteen’s ability to blog which is a super important asset for any writer’s career. This is a very different challenge that may see some different contestants take the limelight. It will be really interesting to see how the contestants handle non-fiction. They will be judged on:
• Blog ability. What will appeal to the readers.
• Topic interest. Is it something horror addicts are interested in today.
• Writing quality.
The winner will have their subject discussed on a prominent horror podcast.
So, who will you follow? Perhaps you will be on #teamjonathan – the gothic, demon lover with a taste for the unique and bizarre – or #teamfeind – Cthulu’s best friend and our favourite metal head – or #teamquentin – our filmmaking fan of Frankenstein’s monster – or #teamriley – the beautiful cosplaying gal who loves herself a little bit of Freddy. Let us know in the comments or on the social media.

Stay spooky!

Hugs xxx

Adelise M Cullens

Serial Scribbler : Tips This Season From the Serial Scribbler

This season on Horror Addicts, I’m going to focus on how to build your brand, as well as giving you some tips for building your business as a writer. Below is an outline of some of the things we’ll cover. I hope you’ll get something out of it, and let me know how they work for you!

  • How to build your brand
  • Should I get/be a mentor? What are the benefits?
  • Should I give/get critiqued? What are the benefits?
  • Pointers for building a successful website, and is it necessary to have one?
  • Do’s and Don’t’s for engaging your audience
  • Is Self-Publishing for you?
  • Should I get an agent?
  • What to look for in a publisher
  • I got a one-star review, now what?

Have a question for me and would like to have it answered here? Email me at vasquez@stitchedsmilepublications.com! Don’t forget to put “Horror Addicts Question” in the subject title!

 

 

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Lisa Vasquez is an author (The Unfleshed: The Tale of the Autopsic Bride, The Unsaintly) and CEO of Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. She volunteers for the Horror Writers Association as the Publisher’s Liaison and is a mentor to authors both there, and with her own company. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies which can be found both on Amazon or on her website: www.unsaintly.com

David’s Haunted Library: Writers On Writing Volumes 1-4

David's Haunted Library

writers-on-writing-omnibus-193x3002xHave you ever thought about being a writer? There are lots of places where you can go to get advice on writing. You could take classes, buy books on the subject or find websites dedicated to the craft of writing. With all the different places to go for information, it may be hard to find what works best. That being said, the best place to go for advice is to authors that have already been published. Writers on Writing Volume 1 – 4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide from Crystal Lake Publishing is a great resource for newbie writers.

Some of the subjects covered in this book include how you can learn from rejection, making time for writing, character building, finding your voice, how to network, what to expect from writing your first novel and much more. In Brian Hodge’s article, The Infrastructure Of The Gods he gives tips on getting started. Such as getting rid of distractions like turning off your wi-fi and remembering that instant gratification is not something you get from writing a novel. Brian also gives good advice on never giving up because new authors are always breaking through into the mainstream.

Another one I liked was What Right Do I Have To Write by Jasper Bark. Jasper talks about how the circumstances are never right for writing. There are always excuses not to do it but the only thing you can do is make the time and let nothing get in your way. I also like how he shoots down the fantasy that writing is a dream job. He says its fun sometimes but you are working under nightmare conditions, you may spend up to a year completing your first work and even the pros laugh at the idea that writing is a dream job.

One beneficial article in this collection is Finding Your Voice by Lynda E. Rucker. I would  have thought that finding your voice would come natural but in reality it takes awhile. Lynda mentions that it took a long time for her to create a voice that wasn’t an imitation of another author’s voice. She then states that finding your voice is the same as finding your identity. The way to find it is by realizing you have something to say and what you think is important. One thing I learned here is that there are several important aspects to writing.

Even if you’re not a writer and read this book you can get a lot out of it, such as a whole new respect for writing as an art form . My favorite part of this book was entitled A First-Time Novelist’s Odyssey by William Gorman. William takes you all through his five-year journey in writing his novel from doing research, living with the characters in your head, and getting their story just right. He talks about the struggle to find his voice and the massive amounts of revisions before the book was finally published. Writing maybe the most complex art form there is and Writers On Writing is a book that can help you on the path to being a better writer and possibly getting published too.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

You Have To Make Up Your Mind

SerialScribbler

As a publisher, I see this every day. People making excuses for not writing.

“I’m very busy.”
“I have kids.”
“I have a full-time job and go to school.

Stop.

No, seriously. Stop. If you have time to post status updates, and catch up on DVR’ed shows and/or movies, you have time to write. I challenge you today to find out how many minutes you spend posting, typing statuses and how many words you’ve typed in the Facebook (or other social media) vortex.

Is that number over ten? You have time.

Are you watching at least one show a night? You have time to write.

Are you vegging out doing nothing for thirty minutes a night? You have time to write.

The real question is, “Is writing a priority to you?”  That’s where you need to make up your mind. Writing takes hard work, dedication, and commitment. There’s no boss over your head most of the time making sure you’re not slacking off. You have to be in it, every spare moment that you have. If you can DVR a show and catch up with it at night or for a few hours on the weekend, you have time to commit, you just aren’t doing so.

If you sit down to write and someone can talk you out of it, you’re not committed to it. They don’t believe it’s a priority because you haven’t set the standard or the boundaries.

Writers that are serious about their craft do not allow interruptions. Friends and family will learn that it’s “Do Not Disturb” time and eventually, you will have time to write.

Recently, with my publishing company we held a meeting and discussed what our slogan for the month would be. We chose, “Are you all in?”

Well, are you?