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:

A Virtual Bloody Valentine

Last year, HWA COS held its first annual event on Valentine’s Day. In 2020, A Bloody Valentine was an evening event celebrating Women in Horror Month at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It featured an all-star cast of female-identifying creatives, who shared their words with guests both in-person and virtually.

A year later, and a year deep into a global pandemic, we are moving this event to a virtual format. Each week, we’ve been sharing a fresh video recording of a local Colorado horror author reading from their work. In addition, thanks to some very generous women, we are pleased to be able to again offer the entire virtual salon from the 2020 lineup presented at A Bloody Valentine! Click the links below and enjoy readings from: Linda D. Addison, L.C. Barlow, Andrea Blythe, Kate Jonez, Gwendolyn Kiste, Sarah Read, Marge Simon, and Mercedes M. Yardley.

Linda D. Addison is an award-winning author of five collections, including The Place of Broken Things written with Alessandro Manzetti& How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, recipient of the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award, HWA Mentor of the Year and SFPA Grand Master. Addison has published over 360 poems, stories and articles. 

Linda Addison reads “When You Forgive Me” from The Place of Broken Things (2019); “Forever Dead” and “In this Strange Place” from “How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend (2018).

L.C. Barlow is a writer and professor working primarily in the field of speculative fiction.  She has an MA in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program.  She has studied with popular writers, including Nancy Holder, Elizabeth Hand, Ted Deppe, James Patrick Kelly, Elizabeth Searle, David Anthony Durham, and Theodora Goss.  Her work has been published in Oak Bend Review, Flash Fiction World, Linguistic Erosion, Flashes in the Dark, Separate Worlds, Every Day Fiction, and Popular Culture Review. 

 Barlow’s fiction has reached over sixty-five thousand readers and garnered praise, including a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Awards, a winner of the Indie Reader Discovery Awards, a winner of the eLit Awards, and IndieReader’s Best Books of 2014.  On Quora, her posts have received over 1.7 million content views. Barlow’s horror trilogy – PivotPerish, and Peak – was picked up in 2018 by California Coldblood Books, an imprint of Rare Bird Books.  The first of the trilogy, Pivot, was released in October of 2019.  Perish was released in October of 2020.  Peak will be released in October of 2021. Barlow lives in Dallas, TX with her two cats, Smaug and Dusty.

L. C. Barlow reads an excerpt from her novel Pivot, the first book in The Jack Harper Trilogy.

Andrea Blythe bides her time waiting for the apocalypse by writing speculative poetry and fiction. She is the author of Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch (2018) a collection of erasure poems created from the pages of Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyers, and coauthor of Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press, 2018), a collaborative chapbook written with Laura Madeline Wiseman. She is a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association and the Horror Writers Association. Find her online at or on Twitter and Instagram @AndreaBlythe.

Andrea Blythe reads selections from her book TWELVE (2020).

Stories by Kate Jonez have been nominated three times for the Bram Stoker Award and once for the Shirley Jackson. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best Horror of the Year, Black Static, Pseudopod, Gamut and Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton.

Kate is also the chief editor at the Bram Stoker Award winning small press Omnium Gatherum which is dedicated to publishing unique dark fantasy, weird fiction and horror.

Kate Jonez reads “Carnivores” from her collection Lady Bits.

Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust MaidensBoneset & FeathersAnd Her Smile Will Untether the UniversePretty Marys All in a Row, and The Invention of Ghosts. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vastarien, Tor’s Nightfire, Black Static, The Dark, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, and LampLight, among others. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at

Gwendolyn Kiste reads “In the Belly of the Wolf,” which was originally published in Kaleidotrope, and “The Twelve Rules of Etiquette at Miss Firebird’s School for Girls,” which was originally published in Mithila Review.

Sarah Read is a dark fiction writer. Her short stories can be found in various places, including Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year vols 10 and 12. A collection of her short fiction called Out of Water is available from Trepidatio Publishing, as is her debut novel The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, both nominated for the Bram Stoker, This is Horror, and Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards. The Bone Weaver’s Orchard won the Stoker for Superior Achievement in a First Novel and the This Is Horror Award for Novel of the Year. You can find her online on Instagram or Twitter @inkwellmonster.

Sarah Read shares her short story “Still Life with Natalie” from her short story collection Out of Water.

Marge Simon is an award-winning poet/writer. Her works have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, Polu Texni and numerous pro anthologies. She is a multiple Stoker winner and Grand Master Poet of the SF & F Poetry Association. She attends the ICFA annually, and is on the board of the HWA.

Marge Simon reads “The Substance of Belief” from Sweet Poison (2014); “The Castrato’s Parade” and “The Southern Lady” from War: Dark Poems (2018); “When Again I Feel My Hands” from Unearthly Delights (2011); and “Armageddon at the Clinic” from Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet (2007).

Mercedes M. Yardley is a whimsical dark fantasist who wears stilettos, red lipstick, and poisonous flowers in her hair. She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, the Stabby Award-winning Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, Detritus in Love, and Nameless. She recently won the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for her story Little Dead Red and was a Bram Stoker Award nominee for her short story “Loving You Darkly.” Mercedes lives and creates in Las Vegas.

Mercedes M. Yardley reads her short story “Black Mary” from her short story collection Beautiful Sorrows (2017).

A Bloody Valentine Presents Shannon Lawrence

“Blind Date” by Shannon Lawrence.

Shannon Lawrence adds to the line-up of featured writers celebrating Women in Horror Month and the second annual Bloody Valentine with a reading of her Valentine’s/Lupercalia story “Blind Date.” “If you’ve never heard of Lupercalia, I recommend looking it up. Quite the naughty holiday,” says Lawrence.

Readers can find “Blind Date” in the holiday collection Happy Ghoulidays, which features stories ranging from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s, and everything in between. Lawrence also recommend her Yule story “In Flames Reborn” or her sorority power, Christmas story “Deck the Halls with Guts and Madness.” Both are included in Happy Ghoulidays.

When asked why she writes horror, Lawrence says, “I love it, and I take great pleasure in freaking people out. You can ask my younger siblings. Or my children. Or my husband. Just ask anyone, really. After a lifetime of reading horror, it’s only natural I’d write in that genre.

“As a pre-teen, it was all ghosts all the time, devouring books on the ghosts of D.C. and the Civil War (I lived in Maryland at the time). As a teen, it was all about true crime and trying to understand how abominations like serial killers came to be (I still can’t say I understand them, but maybe I’m a little closer). Mixed in there somewhere was a fascination with cryptids and mythological creatures. After having survived both a serial killer’s attempt to get my mother while I was in the car and several kidnapping attempts, there’s something cathartic to seeing what could have happened and knowing that instead I survived, both because my mom was savvy and because I was. It’s all downhill on the adrenaline train after it happens in real life.”

In 2020, Lawrence released Happy Ghoulidays and Bruised Souls & Other Torments. In 2021, she is planning to finish her horror comedy novel about killer squirrels, as well as a couple nonfiction books she currently working on. In addition, publishers are looking at her Myth Stalker series, so fingers crossed! In addition, readers can sign up for the newsletter on her website:

You can find more about Shannon Lawrence at her website:

A few of her stories can also be found online including “Dearest” and “The Rejection.”

Member Publication News (Feb. 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!

Dakota Brown adds a new Audible book to her Magic Mountain series with the publication of Demon’s Touch: A Reverse Harem Tale.

“The only thing more dangerous than being a mage is other people knowing that you have supernatural abilities. And here I am, untrained, untried, and ripe for the picking…. Trapped between parents, powers, and passion, I’m doing my best to survive, keep my loved ones safe, oh, and I still have to pass exams.” (This book is intended for mature audiences.)

Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow add a few new episodes to the series podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem: Narcosatanicos & Sink Holes, Oh My! (Jan. 6), Terrorizing the Seas & Skies (Jan. 13), Modern Missteps & Moldering Mansions (Jan. 20), and This Episode Has a High Body Count (Jan. 27).

Angela Sylvaine’s story “The Beautiful People” is featured in Dark Moon Digest Issue #42.

A small town faces a peculiar seaside problem; two teens discover an unexpected connection; a woman attempts to understand people better; a person comes to terms with their true identity; an office worker finds his own face on a milk carton; a daughter confronts a strange woman haunting her father’s grave; rival embalmers go against each other in an unusual competition; a man fails to avoid late-night construction; and an island becomes isolated from the rest of civilization.

A Bloody Valentine Presents Angela Sylvaine

Chopping Spree by Angela Sylvaine.

Angela Sylvaine starts off our celebration of Women in Horror Month and the second annual Bloody Valentine with a reading from her forthcoming novella, Chopping Spree. This novella is an homage to 1980s slashers and mall culture, and it is scheduled to be released by Unnerving Books, as part of their Rewind or Die series, in early April 2021.

“I’ve always loved spooky things and describe myself as a cheerful goth,” says Sylvaine. “I remember remember reading ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson in about 5th gray and being blown away. From there, I voraciously read Christopher Pike before moving on to Stephen King. When I first began writing, I tried many genre’s, but my plots always took a dark turn. I ultimately realized horror was where I belonged as a writer, as well as a reader.”

Chopping Spree is only one of Sylvaine’s first publications of 2021. Readers can also look forward to reading short story “The Bride,” which will be coming out in a Women of Horror anthology from Kandisha Press (publication date TBD). On top of that, she’s hard at work on a post-apocalyptic death roller-derby novella and her first young adult horror novel.

Chopping Spree can be pre-ordered and purchased for Kindle and paperback through There isn’t a preorder link yet but stay tuned for one to be available in the near future.

You can find more about Angela Sylvaine at her website:

A few of her stories can also be found online including “Be Mine” and “The Beautiful People.”