Member Publication News (July 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett is pleased to announce her return to poetry with the publication of “Radiant,” which came out in Nonbinary Review #24 Industrial Revolution. Carina’s research on the radium girls has been mostly cut from her novel-in-progress, so she’s especially pleased to share these women’s story in this issue published by Zoetic Press.

In other news, Carina’s story “A Seed Planted” was issued as a reprint in The Society of Misfit Stories published by Bards & Sages.

Dakota Brown has a new dark fantasy novella in her line-up in her Reverse Harem series. Rose Amongst the Sagebrush was originally published in the anthology Cupid in Love.

Austin, Cassidy, and John Nash are half brothers and mustang shifters working for Harris Abney as his ranch hands. With secrets to keep, and their heritage to protect, they try to keep to themselves. Despite that, they find themselves head over heels for the same woman. Will they be able to answer their hearts and keep their secrets safe?

Fleeing an unwanted and dangerous suitor, Rose Abney heads west from her comfortable city life to spend time on her uncle’s cattle ranch in the shadow of the southern Colorado mountains. What she finds is far more than she bargained for, but will love be enough to protect her when her past chases after her?

Claire L. Fishback is accepting pre-orders for The Gorging of Souls, the second novel in the Origin Codex series.  

 Eight and a half months after Detective Ann Logan and seven-year-old Maggie Hart prevented Yaldabaoth from unleashing terror upon the world, all is quiet in Harmony, Colorado. But when Teresa Hart escapes from Mountain View Mental Hospital, Maggie’s perpetual nightmares intensify, and the mysterious marks that link Maggie and Ann burn to life, signaling the presence of a new evil—or the return of an old one. The ancient war between the servants of darkness and the servants of light is far from over. Once again Maggie and Ann, bound together by destiny, hold the space between the delicate balance of life as we know it and eternal horror. The fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

On the filthy tattered sofa in the abandoned funeral home at the edge of Harmony, something evil has pushed its way into the world. And it is hungry.

Travis Heermann‘s story “Pagliacci’s Joke” can be read in Unmasked: Tales of Risk and Revelation, the newest anthology published by HWA member Kevin J. Anderson at WordFire Press.

Pull back the mask to reveal 21 tales from seasoned and award-winning authors, of magical masks, gas masks, death masks, superheroes, secret identities, disguised robots, alien symbionts, a Napoleonic thief, a swindling demon—even a hidden clown.
Who will take the risk?

Explore the masks we wear, the mysteries they conceal, and the price we pay when they’re stripped away. Join us in our unmasquerade as we revel in—revelation!

Sam Knight’s story “Whoever Writes Monsters” is one of the 23 tales included in the anthology Monsters, Movies, and Mayhem, which just won the 2021 Colorado Book Award. This anthology was published by HWA member Kevin J. Anderson at WordFire Press. Congratulations!

Sometimes you go to the movies. And sometimes, the movies–and their monsters–come to you. At any moment, without notice, monsters once relegated to the screen become a reality. Aliens and demons, dragons and ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and seemingly ordinary people who are just plain evil.

Join award-winning authors Jonathan Maberry, Fran Wilde, David Gerrold, Rick Wilber and others for 23 all-new tales of haunted theaters, video gods, formidable demons, alien pizza, and delirious actors. Each story takes you to the silver screen with monstrous results.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Witches & What Happened (June 2), Circling the Truth (June 9), Flies, Lies, & Sweet Scams (June 16), Alabama Slammers with guest Laura Hayden (June 23), and Shining a Light (June 30).

Angela Sylvaines story “Cyclone Sisters’ Traveling Circus” was included in Welcome to the Funhouse, an anthology of carnival horror released July 1st. This story is a reprint and originally appeared in Dark Moon Digest.

Welcome to the Funhouse is the fourth anthology from Blood Rites Horror and the first edited by Kelly Brocklehurst and Jamie Stewart. With twelve grisly stories of coming-of-age terror, carnival cruelty and fairground frights, this collection brings together the best and most exciting talents in the horror community.

Joshua Viola is pleased to announce the publication of “The Disciple of Many Faces” in Birdy, Colorado’s premiere arts, comedy, and culture magazine.

“Let there be darkness,” the disciple said. He pierced the wretch’s eyes, and it was good.

Marie Whittaker includes her take on Strong Female Leads with her story “TR.8C.” This story is part of a powerhouse line-up featured in the anthology We Dare: No Man’s Land, edited by Jamie Ibson and Chris Kennedy.

Whether it’s changing an engine on the outside of a spaceship’s hull or chasing SimNACs through the jungle, these heroines have only one goal in mind—to win at all costs! From defending asteroid bases to searching giant space stations, these women get the job done!

What makes female leads great? Does it matter—these women are incredible! Be warned though—they may be referred to as the “fairer” sex, but don’t cross these ladies, or you’re gonna get what you have coming!

Member Publication News (June 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett is pleased to announce that her story “Twice in the Telling” is included in the fairy tale mash-up anthology Upon a Twice Time, published by Air and Nothingness Press.

They say I killed my sister, that I pulled her over the railing into the swollen river. They say my sister struggled up until the very end. They say I crushed her bones with my strong brown arms, scalped the shining hair from her skull. Some claim I’m an ogress, a kelpie, a nokken, that I’m no sister at all.

Dakota Brown released The Price of Exorcism: A Reverse Harem Tale (Pizza Shop Exorcist Book 2). This book is intended for mature audiences.

I was an exorcist, one of the best. I thought I’d accidentally banished Sabian back to Hell, along with the demonic prince, Ezra, who’d been possessing me at the time. Turns out, the enemy snatched my incubus away from me as leverage in the upcoming war. Mal, my vampire boyfriend, and I try to summon both Sabian and the demon prince, failing at every turn. When we’re at our wits’ end, Prince Ezra shows up in person with an offer I can’t refuse: help him with a small task and he’ll take me to Hell to rescue my incubus. Terrifying? Sure, but what isn’t these days? *This book is intended for mature audiences.

Hillary Dodge takes on the alphabet with her story “N Is for Needlepoint,” which was published in ABC’s of Terror, Volume 3 by D&T Publishing.

A painting that watches you as you walk by. A doll that isn’t quite the way you left it. A music box that continues to play a haunting tune. Inside these pages are 26 stories, from A-Z, about the things that people left behind. Or maybe they left a little piece of themselves behind, as well.

She also contributed writing advice in Mark My Words: Read the Submission Guidelines and other Self-editing Tips by Angela Yuriko Smith  and Lee Murray.

Travis Heermann continues his work in the Shinjuku Shadows universe with the publication of his novelette “Heart Magic and Cardboard People,” which was included in the anthology Street Magic, edited by Lyn Worthen.

Heermann is also currently running a fundraiser for his debut film Demon for Hire. For more details, check out the blog post From Author to Screenwriter to Filmmaker.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: D is for Dangerous  (May 19) and Mommy Issues & Monsters (May 26).

Joshua Viola and co-writer Keith Ferrell are pleased to announce the publication of “Flashpoints” in Birdy, Colorado’s premiere arts, comedy, and culture magazine.

Gothic Horror: A Quick Overview

by Sam Knight

Gothic is a big idea. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. Wait. Sorry. Those were Douglas Adams’s words, talking about Space. But calling Gothic a genre is kind of the same thing. And that means it can be kind of hard to grasp. So, don’t sweat it if you don’t. People argue over what it is—and isn’t. I don’t want to argue, so I will just tell you what I think it is, and you can use that as fodder to build your idea of what it is or isn’t.

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of, when I think of Gothic, is The House. I don’t mean that to be a title of a story or a movie, I mean it to be a Major Character in a story that fits my idea of gothic. The building, or house, or estate, or village, or city used as a setting for gothic stories is almost always brought to life as nearly a character in its own right—sometimes literally. But it doesn’t have to be. That’s just what I think of. Probably because my first real exposure was House on Haunted Hill (1959), starring Vincent Price.

Instead of The House, it could easily have been something else that makes me think of Gothic. In fact, as I’ve grown as a storyteller, I’ve realized it should have been something else.

The idea, of what Gothic is, is more complicated and harder to define than you might think. Having little to do with the “goths” of my younger years, it is much, much different than people painting their fingernails black, having pale skin, wearing black clothes, and trying to act like they creepily don’t give a crap about anything not considered “dark.”

But they got those ideas from Gothic. That’s why they are (were?) called goths.

Gothic is as much a feeling as it is anything else, which is why it lends itself so well into horror, but that is also why it can be hard to pin down. The truth is, depending upon how you define the Horror genre, I’m not sure you can have a Gothic story without horror elements. In fact, the Wikipedia page implies Gothic Fiction is synonymous with Gothic Horror. Personally, again, I feel that depends upon how you define Horror. I’ll let you decide that for yourself.  The thing is, there are many elements of Gothic stories that are easily recognizable as Gothic, but then, oddly, you can leave almost all of them out and still manage to have a Gothic story.

To elaborate on that, I’d like to toss around some elements often seen, but that probably can be left out. But how do we figure out what those are? Well, let’s look at the origins of the Gothic Genre.

First, the name. Where does that come from? I am not going to claim anything to be for sure, as I am neither a historian nor an expert (see suggested reading below, regarding The Castle of Otranto), but it seems to come from Gothic architecture. Why? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I suspect because it is overwhelming and fits the feeling I mentioned earlier. I doubt anyone ever saw Gothic architecture and felt overwhelmed with love and contentment. That makes those old castles, monasteries, churches, and such to be the perfect settings for the kinds of stories that created the Gothic genre.

And what kinds of stories were those? Well, depending upon how you research it, Gothic started out as a form of Dark Romanticism (which, again, like Gothic Fiction and Gothic Horror, is often considered to be Gothic, and then argued it is not). As that origin fits well into my ideas, I haven’t tried to disprove it. Basically the idea that Gothic stemmed from was Romanticism was too…well… romantic, I guess. (Remember to consider the definition of romantic to not be “love” so much as appreciation for beauty, intellect, accomplishment, etc.) So, terrible things were added to it. Things like horror or terror. Anguish and torment. Guilt and atonement. The romantic ideals of Good Things were turned upon their heads, and Bad Things trounced upon them, spoiling their happy-go-lucky romance stories and making them…Dark Romanticism.

And it went from there.

Like anything, this idea grew beyond its origins and became its own thing. By doing so, it gained new tropes, new ideas, new elements that, as it moved beyond Dark Romanticism, became recognized as part of the Gothic genre. A genre often considered darker than Dark Romanticism. Elements like ghosts, monsters, and supernatural things that go bump in the dark became ghosts, monsters, and supernatural things that go bump in the dark to ruin you and everything you love. And worse, human things that came bumping for you in the dark were never rescuers or savior, and if they were…God have mercy upon their souls for what was to become of them.

Many credit Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus as being the first Science Fiction novel, others say she created the entire Horror genre with it. I can’t attest to either of those, but nearly everyone agrees her novel was Gothic. All in all, things kept getting added to the Gothic genre until some of those things became their own genres as well. Like Lovecraftian Horror.

Or, to get quite specific, how about, Women Running from Houses. I recently (2020) participated in an anthology based upon this genre. (Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 4: Women Running from Houses). It was based upon a flurry of Gothic novels in the 1960’s and 70’s with cover art all following the formula of…women running from houses. Of course, being the kind of person I am, I had to subvert that idea, and I gave them a story about a woman in a wheelchair. Sorry not sorry.

With all of that in mind, let’s consider why Gothic is so hard to pin down as a genre. It started out as anti-Romanticism, often became an introspection of the dark side of what it means to be human, created not only Science Fiction but the modern Horror genre as well, and influenced nearly all ensuing forms of fiction writing. Then, somehow, probably because it consists of generally scary/creepy stories, it has often come to be considered a sub-genre of Horror.

So, if it is somehow both progenitor and offspring of Horror (fittingly creepy, don’t you think?), then what the heck is it?

It’s okay if you don’t know. Most people don’t. Definitions often don’t match up. Gothic ends up being an “I know it when I see it” kind of thing.

So here are some commonly accepted elements of the genre:

  • Intimidating/menacing/scary setting. This could be the architecture, like the mansion, the castle, the ruins, the graveyard, or it could be the caves hidden in the cliffs, or anything really. Sometimes it’s a whole town. (Think Derry in Stephen King’s novels.)
  • Unknown/sinister/terrible history (of the land, a building, or characters, etc.). Usually, it is some form of a hidden history, slowly revealed in a traumatic or terrifying way.
  • Supernatural happenstance. Bad omens. Bad dreams. Things that go bump in the night. Just generally creepy, unexplainable things. Even if they are only in the character’s mind.
  • A general overall feeling of ominous foreboding. Foreshadowing dropped into the text to let the reader know Bad Things are going to happen. (Even if they aren’t! This could all be in the character’s mind.)
  • Woman running from the house. Not really, but you get the idea. The helpless/defenseless/innocent person caught up in it all. They may or may not be the protagonist. If they are, they are often also an anti-hero. In fact, the main character is often an anti-hero.
  • The Bad Guy. Might be supernatural, might be human. Might be Dad, might be an ancestor who died in 1237AD, might be the gardener. Might be The House. (Might only be in the character’s mind.)
  • Romance of some sort, no matter how tenuous. Can just be friendship or imagined. Mostly it needs to be there because the helpless/defenseless/innocent person needs to have some kind of hope that can eventually be ripped away from them just to make things even worse.

You may have noticed that some, or all, of those things can be elements of stories that are not necessarily of the Gothic genre. Even from this point, you can add and/or subtract quite a few elements and still have what people will consider a Gothic story. That definitely to the confusion about what the Gothic genre is.

Personally, I think there is one thing still missing from the list. It is the thing I mentioned earlier, when I said that, as I’ve grown as a storyteller, I’ve realized it should have been something other than The House that I thought of when I thought of Gothic.

Strangely, I’ve never seen it on any other lists of things that comprise Gothic stories. I’m not saying others haven’t noticed it, just saying I’ve never seen, or heard, anyone else list it. So, with that in mind, feel free to disagree with me. Maybe I’m wrong.

To me, the one element you have to leave in, and lean into, in order to make sure your story is Gothic, is the terrible constraints put upon the main character by their beliefs and societal obligations. Their inability to overcome religious, family, and/or societal expectation and obligations and the like, are what keeps them mired in the terrible situation they find themselves in. Those are the reasons that something an ancestor did 400 years ago is still so terrible and can still ruin the present day. Those are the reasons why actually running from the house and never looking back is not an option, and if it were, it’s not a solution. Those are the reasons why they can’t just bitch-slap the bad guy and yell, “Boo-ya!” Those are the shackles that hold the characters down, make them oppressed, make them subservient and slave to their situation, and prevent them from prevailing.

Keeping that in mind, you may start to see why the Wikipedia page implies Gothic Fiction is synonymous with Gothic Horror. Can you have that kind of a situation and not have horror?

Well, again, I will leave that up to you.

I think a good rule of thumb is that if the character doesn’t know/understand what’s going on, doesn’t know who or what their antagonist is, and isn’t sure if they’ve gone insane, it’s probably Gothic. And then all you need to do is find a way to make them even darker, even more horrific, more helpless, hopeless, and inescapable, and you’ll be on your way to a Gothic Horror story.

Suggested reading:

 Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, of course. Don’t settle for a movie version. Even the rare faithful versions don’t live up to it if you want to understand why this is Gothic and what Gothic is.

The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole. I haven’t read it, but everyone credits it as being the first Gothic novel (though elements of the genre are much older), so I kind of had to recommend it. It is also considered by many to be the first Horror novel. It was originally released as a “found” novel, supposedly written in the 1500’s. When it became popular, Horace Walpole finally took credit and the second edition was re-titled The Castle of Otranto, A Gothic Story. This may be a good indicator of the origin of the term Gothic, in relation to the genre.

Edgar Allan Poe. Any of them. Pick one at random. There is a reason he is considered American Gothic writer. If you can’t pick just one, try The Fall of the House of Usher.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is a reason the Horror Writers Association call their awards the Bram Stoker Awards®

There are tons of others, The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but those are where I would start, if I wanted to understand the real, psychological meanings and expectations behind what comprises Gothic Horror.

The Colorado Springs Chapter is currently working on a Glossary of horror sub-genres. Currently there are live entries on Gothic Horror, Ghosts, Humorous Horror, Occult Horror, and Weird Western. Keep an eye on our page as we continue to add to the offerings. And if you have a suggestion for a sub-genre we might have overlooked, feel free to drop us a line.

Member Publication News (May 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Wild: Uncivilized Tales from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers edited by Rachel Delaney Craft and Natasha Watts (RMFW Press) is a finalist in the category of anthology for the Colorado Book Awards. This anthology includes stories by three members of the Colorado Springs Chapter of HWA: Carina Bissett, Rick Duffy, and Angela Sylvaine.

Read more about these authors’ creative process in the blog post Writing for a Themed Anthology. An excerpt of Rick Duffy‘s story “Castles in the Sky” can also be read at The Colorado Sun in the feature article “’Wild: Uncivilized Tales’ collected stories from more than a dozen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.”

Travis Heermann’s story “The Avenger” was published in StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

A suburban man lives through endless millennia through his strange dream-connection to an eons-old horse deity, only to discover the deity is not what he thought it was. — “The Avenger” by Travis Heermann

Heermann is also on the lineup of authors reading at StokerCon 2021, and he is currently running a fundraiser for his debut film Demon for Hire. For more details, check out the blog post From Author to Screenwriter to Filmmaker.

Angie Hodapp’s story “Collateral Damage” was published at Birdy Magazine online in conjunction with the magazine’s interview with John Palisano and Joshua Viola about StokerCon 2021. “Collateral Damage” is also included StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

When drug dealer Marcy lands a real job—thanks to her probation officer—at a kiosk inside Denver International Airport, she discovers one particular souvenir has the power to kill. — “Collateral Damage” by Angie Hodapp

Hodapp will be accepting pitches by appointment at StokerCon 2021 for the Nelson Literary Agency.

Sam Knight’s story “World by the Horn” can be found in anthology Particular Passages. When a woman’s long life comes to an end, she finds herself reunited with a make-believe friend from her childhood who has never forgotten his promise to her. This anthology also features Marie Whittaker’s creative nonfiction essay “Folly,” a stream-of-consciousness reflection from the point-of-view of a child.

Knight is also on the reading line-up at StokerCon 2020, and his story “The Curse of the Dreamcatcher” is included in StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

Standing watch over Denver International Airport, the giant Blue Mustang locally known as Blucifer acts as a dreamcatcher, helping people forget their troubles as they journey out into the world. But what happens to those captured dreams, those nightmare troubles? What if they were whispered back…into your ear? — “The Curse of the Dreamcatcher” by Sam Knight

Shannon Lawrence is pleased to announce the inclusion of her short story “Watched” in I Is for Internet (A to Z of Horror Book 9). I is for Internet, the ninth book in an epic series of twenty-six horror anthologies. In this book you will find a collection of thirteen unsettling tales from some of the most imaginative independent horror writers on the scene today. Each story takes a new look at the potential horrors of the online world, from stalkers to cyber-demons, artificial intelligence to predators. I is for Internet will plug you straight into the mainframe and have you desperate to pull the plug.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Death Finds us All  (Apr. 7), Murder & Maple Syrup (Apr. 14), Banana Sandwich: Chicken Coops & Vampires (Apr. 21), and Of Towers & Typhoid (Apr. 28).

We are also pleased to feature new releases and information for HWA’s Denver Chapter!

Maria Abrams is thrilled to announce the release of her first novella She Who Rules the Dead. Henry has received a message: he needs to sacrifice five people to the demon that’s been talking to him in his nightmares. He already has four, and number five, Claire, is currently bound in the back of his van. Too bad Claire isn’t exactly human.

Jeamus Wilkes discusses his work with The Horror Writers Association as Co-Chairperson/Denver, his writing, and the upcoming StokerCon in Denver (via ZOOM this year) at the podcast Burial Plot, Episode 1.

From Author to Screenwriter to Filmmaker

At about the time when I started writing my first novel at age twelve (a 250-page single-spaced Barsoom-esque epic), I was also dreaming of making my own movies. My mom found an old, silent 8mm movie camera at a garage sale, so we took to making home movies. It came with a bank of blinding floodlights that were necessary for indoor shots, so whenever we used it indoors, everyone was constantly shielding their eyes. But I dreamed of making movies with it. I tried to do some stop-motion a couple of times, but it just didn’t have that capability. And in the middle of nowhere Nebraska where I grew up, there was no such thing as film school.

I loved movies so much, but it was like their creators existed in an entirely different realm, one I could never reach myself. And then I went to college, got in a relationship, and life took over.

I’ve always had a storytelling instinct. Writing is a big part of that, but over the course of my life, GMing roleplaying games for years also scratched that itch. Even tabletop wargaming filled that space for me, because battles were a story, especially if I had spent many, many hours hand-painting my own armies. The writing was always important, but often it took a back seat to a weekend’s Call of Cthulhu or Vampire: the Masquerade session.

It was in my late 30s, when I was in grad school, having just spent three amazing years in Japan , that a close friend gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way, and we decided to do it together. For the unfamiliar, The Artist’s Way is basically a twelve-step program for re-awakening and re-connecting with our innate creative drives. I strongly recommend it for anyone who loves walking a path through the arts, no matter what media. During one of the exercises, I was asked to think about what kinds of things I would be creating if there were no limits on time, opportunity, money, any of the myriad of things or circumstances that hold us back.

For me, one of those things was screenwriting. I pondered this for a while. My first script was one I was actually paid to write as a freelance project. It was a fun little sci-fi feature, and I discovered quickly that I loved the format of a screenplay, and I loved the idea that I was actually writing something that could become a movie. As far as I know, it never went anywhere, but it was a great learning experience.

I ran into my buddy jim pinto (who hates capital letters) at GenCon and we cooked up the idea to write a screenplay together. So working virtually we cooked up a romantic-dramedy that formed another great learning experience.

There were several things I didn’t realize at first about how this works.

First and foremost, it’s all about belief. Belief in oneself, first and foremost, belief that it can happen.

The same can be said of writing fiction. Part of a fiction career is building up your skills, but it’s also about believing you can make it, believing that your skills are there, that you have stories other people should read. So you send that query. You publish that first book. You submit that short story to your dream publication. And you cultivate insane levels of perseverance.

The walls to enter the film and TV industry are even taller than in publishing, and the gatekeepers are far more brutal and careless. In the publishing industry, you can get an actual rejection. In film and TV, all you get is…crickets. And disingenuous crickets at that.

Gatekeeper: “Wow! That story sounds amazing!

Me: “Can I send it to you?”


It was jim and I’s next script, a Lovecraftian horror-western, Death Wind, that flung wide the doors of belief for me. It won the Grand Prize in the screenwriting contest at the Cinequest Film Festival, an award that came with some actual cash, and told us we had a story with some legs. No one picked up our script, but we subsequently adapted it into a novel I’m really proud of.

But then my screenwriting dreams went fallow for a while, it seems. It was 2017 before I threw myself into it hard again, adapting my novella Where the Devil Resides to script and submitting it festival contests. Its first reward was a trophy plaque and my name in Famous Monsters magazine (which felt like a huge milestone for my little monster-lovin’ heart), and an amazing weekend at the Silver Scream Horror Film Festival, where I got to meet and hang out with John Russo, who wrote Night of the Living Dead, share birthday cake with Ricou Browning, the Creature from Black Lagoon, who had just turned 89, and have a wonderful hang-out with Barbara Crampton, scream queen star from Re-Animator and From Beyond.

If my 17-year-old self watching those movies would have known I’d someday hang out with the lead actress and she’d be really gracious to me, I might have keeled over and died.

Since then, I’ve been to some great film festivals. Shriekfest, Crimson Screen Horror Festival, Genre Blast. Just this month, the Where the Devil Resides script is a finalist at the Filmquest 2021 Film Festival.

Through submitting my scripts to those festivals and scoring some more wins and finalist placement, my belief that I CAN DO THIS has solidified incrementally. Not unlike a fiction writing career as one builds recognition and publication history.

And the single most fun, most important aspect of going to those festivals, like for writers going to conferences, is meeting other filmmakers. They’re a slightly different breed than fiction authors, more outgoing, but passionate from head to toe. I’m really fortunate to have been accepted into that circle of wildly creative people.

Through those levels of acquaintance, acceptance, and mutual geekery around genre films, hanging out with other filmmakers, I realized I now know people with whom I could make my own movie.

It was like a long-buried fossil idea emerging from desert sands.

Because here’s the next most important thing after belief: having that network of friends who are filmmakers is how your movie gets made.

There’s a reason producers and directors work with the same actors and crew over and over again.

Filmmaking is a small, incestuous industry, abounding with flakes, poseurs, and hangers-on. Finding reliable people you enjoy working with is how your movie gets made. Because, at the opposite end of the spectrum from the solitary, introverted pursuits of a writer, filmmaking is the most collaborative artistic venture in existence. Any given MCU movie has literally thousands of people in the credits, because they all had to work on getting that behemoth made. If you start digging just a little, there are tons of amazing movies that didn’t get made (e.g. earlier attempts at John Carter and Justice League films), that stalled or had the plug pulled somewhere along the tortuous process.

At Genre Blast in 2019, where my short script That Long Black Train won a cool trophy, one of the screenplay judges, Sam Kolesnik (who’s now one of those awesome filmmaker friends) came up to me and struck up a conversation.

As I recall it, the conversation went something like:

“Your writing is really good!”

“Hey, thanks, uh….”

“What you need to do now is just make a movie.”

“Uh, me?”

“Yes! Just do it. It will probably suck, but that’s okay. Do it anyway. It will still be awesome in its own way. Because that’s what everybody here is doing. Just making their movie.”

And if we extrapolate from a fiction career: then when that one’s done, if you love it, do it again.

That conversation apparently stuck with me, because the idea emerged full blown from the COVID-desiccated sands of my pandemic brain back in February—2021 would be the year I make a movie. So I contacted some friends I had made at film festivals, who had made a number of indie shorts and features, and they jumped on board. That was the beginning of our production team.

So I wrote a short script that mashes up some of my favorite things: cosmic horror, comedy, (m)uppets (don’t tell the Mouse I used that word), and cool creature effects. And voila, we have Demon for Hire, the story of a demon private detective who helps mortals with their problems while corrupting them to the Dark Side.

Aside from collaboration, you know what else is required to make movies? Money. There’s no two ways about it. Films can be done on micro-budgets with enough ingenuity and chutzpah, but everything has a price. So, once again, we turn to crowdfunding in the hope that enough people will think this is a project worth doing.

We hope you’ll think so. We’re launching the crowdfunding campaign on Seed & Spark on May 11, where it will run for a month.

Even if you’re not interested in helping out monetarily (which is totally okay!), a simple FOLLOW is a huge help. If the campaign garners enough Followers, Seed & Spark unlocks some really helpful promotion and distribution bonuses. You can also share the campaign with someone who might love to help. Your siblings, your roleplaying group, your Bad Movie Buddies, anybody who you like to geek out with about horror movies and indie filmmaking.

Just click on the image below. We could really use your help making this happen. Thank you for your support!

Freelance writer, novelist, editor, and award-winning screenwriter, Travis Heermann is the author of fifteen novels, including Tokyo Blood Magic, The Hammer Falls, and The Ronin Trilogy, plus short fiction in Apex Magazine, Cemetery Dance, and others. His freelance work includes contributions to the Firefly Roleplaying Game, Battletech, Legend of Five Rings, and EVE Online.

Member Publication News (April 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett‘s story “Serpents and Toads” is included in Gluttony: An inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires (Seven Deadly Sins Book 6), which was published by Black Hare Press.

This retelling of the fairy tale “Diamonds and Toads” was originally published at Enchanted Conversations.

“Sign here.” Painted a lurid scarlet, the dark-haired woman’s lips spread into a thick smile. She tapped a red fingernail on the paper she pushed in front of me.

“That’s it?” Now that the promise sat in front of me, I was hesitant to take the next step. What if this was like all of the other false miracles I’d tried? But then again, what if it actually worked? What if I could be as thin as the women I envied? “That’s all I have to do? Just sign this paper?”

M. H. Boroson recently completed the screenplay for his award-winning novel The Girl with the Ghost Eyes.

“A fun, fun read. Martial arts and Asian magic set in Old San Francisco make for a fresh take on urban fantasy, a wonderful story that kept me up late to finish.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs

“An impressive first novel set in a beautifully realized world of Daoism and martial arts… One of those books you can’t wait to get back to.” —Lian Hearn, author of the international bestselling Tales of the Otori series

“A brilliant tale of magic, monsters, and kung fu in the San Francisco Chinatown of 1898… This fantastic tale smoothly mixes Hong Kong cinema with urban fantasy, and Li-lin is a splendid protagonist whose cleverness and bravura will leave readers eager for her future adventures.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Travis Heermann is pleased to announce the arrival of Tokyo Monster Mash, his newest novel. A yakuza warlock butchered his family, but that was just the beginning…

When Django Wong discovers the Black Lotus Clan murdered his family, he vows to destroy them, but the Council of Five Elders forbids it.

But then the Black Lotus starts a gang war in Tokyo, wielding terrifying new magical powers. Django must team up with three witches—and a snarky alley cat who’s not really a cat at all—to find the source of the Black Lotus Clan’s power. If they can prove the Black Lotus Clan is behind the plague of soul sucking vampires, the Council might just let him have what his honor demands.

Perfect for fans of Bleach or Fullmetal Alchemist, Tokyo Monster Mash brings you mind-bending magic, femme fatales, savage monsters, martial arts action, and powerful cultivation.

Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem: Murder & Mispronunciations Galore (Mar. 3), A Little Morphine & A Little Monster (Mar. 10), Harbingers & Hags (Mar. 17), Missing & Murdered Moms (Mar. 24), and Flying Under the Radar (Mar. 31).

Angela Sylvaine is excited to announce the release of her debut novella, CHOPPING SPREE, #27 in the Rewind or Die series from Unnerving Books.

Eden Hills, Minnesota is famous for one thing—its ’80s inspired Fashion Mall. When high school junior, Penny, lands a job at one of its trendy stores, she notices her teen coworkers all wear a strange symbol they won’t explain. Suspicious but wanting to belong, she agrees to stay after closing for a party in the closed store. Her fun turns to terror when Penny discovers a mortally wounded boy and learns there is a killer loose in the mall. Soon the teens are running for their lives. Will Penny discover the truth behind the mall cabal and survive to slay another day, or will she fall victim to the galleria of gore?

I Love the 80s

I love the 80s. Not just the VH1 series of the same name (though I do love that, too) but the decade itself. The 80s were my formative years and the years that inspired my love of horror. For me, it was a time of neon colors, mix tapes, and telephone party lines. I watched MTV sitting in front of my family’s gigantic box TV (anyone else still vividly remember the video for Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”?). My friends and I jammed to Cyndi Lauper and spent our Saturdays cruising the mall, being strongly of the opinion that girls really do just want to have fun. 

Now, I know the 1980s weren’t actually perfect. But as a kid, things like the Challenger explosion, Iran Contra, Exxon Valdez, and the AIDS epidemic happened in the background. I was young and didn’t have to pay much attention to the brutal reality of the real world. As a Gen X (or Xennial, to be exact) latch-key kid, I also had relatively little supervision. 

This meant I could get away with watching, basically, whatever I wanted. And we had HBO, so I watched the good stuff. Much like Carol Ann in Poltergeist, you couldn’t tear me away from that TV. I was about seven when I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Freddy started to appear in my nightmares. Around that same time, little Drew Barrymore made her appearance in Cat’s Eye, and that little troll started sneaking into my bedroom, too. Later, I watched The Lost Boys on repeat (Haim and Feldman 4 Eva), and my dreams turned to vampires.

Horror in the 1980s was scary but really fun, and I’ve never lost my love for those films. So, when I heard that Unnerving Books was seeking manuscripts for their Rewind or Die series, I knew it was a perfect fit. They agreed, and my debut novella, CHOPPING SPREE, was born. The book follows Penny, a teen girl who stays late at the mall to party with her coworkers, and ends up running for her life from a masked killer. Think Chopping Mall but with a plot. If you are a fellow lover of 80s horror, check out CHOPPING SPREE and all the other Rewind or Die books. 

Now I gotta go. I’m rewatching April Fool’s Day. That Muffy throws a great party. 

Angela Sylvaine

Member Publication News (March 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett‘s story “The Certainty of Silence” is included in Twisted Anatomy: A Body Horror Anthology.

“The locksmith has examined every piece he’s removed from my form, so I’m not surprised when he opens my blighted voice box with surgical precision. The first notes creep out to tempt my bridegroom. The net is cast. I smile.”

This piece is a Bluebeard/Little Mermaid mash-up written as a protest against domestic violence. Proceeds from this anthology benefit the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Dakota Brown is pleased to announce the release of The Price of Possession: A Reverse Harem Tale (Pizza Shop Exorcist Book 1).

“Darius was the only guy I couldn’t say no to, the one who dragged me into the world of the occult in the first place. When he shows up and begs me to assist with an exorcism, I reluctantly agree. Before I know it, I’ve got an incubus in the living room, a hellhound marking around my yard, and a demon prince who can’t decide if he wants to kill me or… you know. Normally I wouldn’t work with the supernatural, but we all have a common goal. Prevent the crime syndicate from summoning a demon prince and becoming more powerful than we can hope to handle. If I can keep my cool, it will be a miracle. If I can hold on to my soul it’ll be an even bigger one.”

This book is intended for mature audiences.

J. A. Campbell is a contributor to Crash Philosophy: Third Collision.

From Nerdy Things Publishing, Crash Philosophy collides unusual characters and settings to bring you one-of-a-kind reading experience. If you want to gain the entire set of choices, be sure to grab the First Collision and Second Collision, too!

The third installment in the Crash Philosophy series brings you 32 new stories from 17 authors. You never know what style of storytelling you’ll get, what genre you’ll enter, or what adventure you’ll take on when you choose from the new entries. The world is in your hands, what combinations will you choose?

Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem: The Fights for Civil Rights (Feb. 3), Of Love & Lunacy (Feb. 10), Freaky Florida: Apparitions & Alcoholics (Feb. 17), and Mama Bears Gone Terribly Wrong (Feb. 24).

Several of our members are featured in StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

A dying star is a beautiful and petulant thing, lashing out at the great, unfeeling chill of the Universe. Behold, the Devourer of Stars. — “The Devourer” by Josh Viola

A suburban man lives through endless millennia through his strange dream-connection to an eons-old horse deity, only to discover the deity is not what he thought it was. — “The Avenger” by Travis Heermann

When drug dealer Marcy lands a real job—thanks to her probation officer—at a kiosk inside Denver International Airport, she discovers one particular souvenir has the power to kill. — “Collateral Damage” by Angie Hodapp

Standing watch over Denver International Airport, the giant Blue Mustang locally known as Blucifer acts as a dreamcatcher, helping people forget their troubles as they journey out into the world. But what happens to those captured dreams, those nightmare troubles? What if they were whispered back…into your ear? — “The Curse of the Dreamcatcher” by Sam Knight

Other HWA COS content contributors include Carina Bissett, who interviewed past HWA president Lisa Morton, Hillary Dodge, who wrote about the history of the Colorado chapters including the formation of the Colorado Springs Chapter (HWA COS), and Dean Wyant interviewed Joe R. Lansdale and also composed an essay on the history of Hex Publishers.

A Bloody Valentine Presents Claire L. Fishback

“The Doll Room” by Claire L. Fishback.

Claire L. Fishback adds to the line-up of featured writers celebrating Women in Horror Month and the second annual Bloody Valentine with a reading of the title story from her short story collection The Doll Room and Other Stories.

Hi! I’m Claire L. Fishback, author of horror and more-er!

I’ve been writing since I was around six years old but started writing horror when I was around eleven. Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books inspired me. I also didn’t really like my 6th grade teacher, so in my daily journal I wrote scary stories to scare her. *evil grin*

I dabble in other genres, too, hence the “more-er” above. Fantasy, a little science fiction, and supernatural suspense to name a few.

In the video above, I’m going to share with you the title story from my second short story collection, The Doll Room.

The stories in The Doll Room were mostly written in 2020 after I suffered a traumatic brain injury. I talk a little more about in the book’s introduction. “The Doll Room” was the first story I wrote after suffering this mild head injury, so I thought it would be a good one to share with you, again, to give you a taste of what to expect in the rest of the book.

All my books are available from online book retailers world-wide in print and eBook formats. I recommend using an independent book seller for print copies, such as or to help support small and local book sellers.

This year, I’m working on the sequel to my novel, The Blood of Seven (a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in 2020), due out in the last quarter of 2021. I’m also working on a few shorter pieces to offer as bonus content.

You can find more about Claire L. Fishback at her website:

Sign up at my website above to stay in the loop!

I hope you enjoy the video!

A Bloody Valentine Presents J. A. Campbell

Jada of the Raptors by J. A. Campbell.

J. A. Campbell adds to the celebration of Women in Horror Month and the second annual Bloody Valentine with a reading from her novella, Jada of the Raptors. “This novella is loosely based on one of my favorite books as a child, Julie of the Wolves, combined with my love of dinosaurs and my enjoyment of future dystopian stories, says Campbell. “I chose to read it for my selection this year because I feel it combines hope with escaping a bad situation, something that I think most people can connect with this year. Also, dinosaurs.”

Fleeing forced marriage and subjugation to the man who murdered her husband, Jada escapes into the wilderness – even though she’s ill-prepared to survive on her own. Jada knows she needs help, but refuses to go back to humanity, so she turns to the wilderness’ greatest survivors: a pack of Utahraptors. Genetically engineered, then freed during the war that destroyed civilization, the dinosaurs are her only hope. If they don’t kill her first.

You can buy a copy of Jada of the Raptors HERE.

Campbell writes horror and dark fantasy because it’s what she enjoys reading. In addition to writing her own books, Campbell also cowrites a series with Rebecca McFarland Kyle. “We take the dark fantasy route to explore things like acceptance of self, acceptance of others, and fighting for what is right.”

“I write quite a bit of different genres,” says Campbell. “I have a young adult fantasy series I’m hoping to continue working on this summer, along with another of my dark fantasy books with my coauthor. I also have a couple of short stories I’d like to write.”

In addition to her work as J. A. Campbell, she also writes paranormal romance under a pen name.

You can find more about J. A. Campbell at her website: