Member Publication News (January 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 the appearance of two new poems: “Bright Tapestry” was included in the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. VIII, and “Ars Poisana,” a collaboration with Andrea Blythe, which closed out 2021’s offerings at Enchanted Conversation. Her story “When the Darkness Calls” was also released in December 2021 in An Exquisite Corpse: A Dystopia Rising: Evolution Anthology by Onyx Path Publishing.

In other news, Carina Bissett and Shannon Lawrence will be appearing online in A Horror Panel to Die For, along with Sumiko Saulson and Clay McLeod Chapman on Tuesday, January 18, from 6:15 PM MT to 8:15 PM MT.

Dakota Brown released Book 4 in the Pizza Shop Exorcist series in December—The Price of Souls: A Reverse Harem Tale. The Audible audiobook at The Price of Possession: Pizza Shop Exorcist, Book 1 became available in January.

*This book is intended for mature audiences. 18+ readers only! It contains language and sexual situations.

The angels want an apocalypse, and the demons want an upheaval in Hell. I want my prince back and a quiet moment with my men. Only one of us can have what we desire, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure it’s me.

Travis Heermann started out 2022 with the released of the boxed set of the Ronin trilogy. “A fusion of historical fiction and adventure fantasy, the first volume of Heermann’s Ronin Trilogy is a page-turning folkloric narrative of epic proportions.” —Publishers Weekly 

Ken’ishi is a young ronin, a samurai without a master, tossed on the waves of fate and fortune, orphaned as a baby when his parents were murdered. Amid ruthless crime lords, bloodthirsty demons, and Mongol spies, his only link to his past is Silver Crane, his father’s sword, a blade that holds its secrets close… Such as the secret of the family bloodline. But some secrets best remain kept.

Sam Knight co-authored a recent story with Kevin J. Anderson; the story “Following Icarus Down” is featured in the anthology Jeff Sturgeon’s Last Cities of Earth. Knight has also opened up the publishing company, Knight Writing Press. Forthcoming themed anthologies include Magic Portals, Wishing Well, Mermaidens, and Modern Magic. See open calls on the submission page.

Do you like a good story? So do we! That’s why we like to collect them all together in one place and horde them like the treasures they are! Enrapturing Tales is an anthology imprint of Knight Writing Press. We are not confined to genres or constrained by expectations. Except for the expectation that it will be a good story! From eclectic collections of stories that needed to find a home, to stories only about mermaids, you never know what we will be up to next!

Shannon Lawrence‘s cannibalistic response to the pandemic, “Psychosis,” was included in Madame Gray’s Vault of Gore.

An absolute must-read for all who enjoy their horror with gallons of blood, lashings of guts, and dollops of severed body parts!

Madame Gray has personally selected a plethora of blood-soaked tales of terror and gruesome demise, each one brutally crafted to chill the soul and turn the stomach of even the most hardened fans of the macabre.

In other news, Shannon Lawrence and Sam Knight are featured guests at this year’s COSine event (January 14-16), presenting on a variety of panels.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Sinners or Saints? (October 13 ); Sex, Drugs, & Bullseyes (October 20); Solved, but Not Forgotten (October 27), and Family Matters (November 3).

  • Werewolves & Annihilators (November 10); Barb & Bell’s Personal Hells (November 17); Indigenous in Peril (November 24); Slay-Bells & Stockholm Syndrome (December 1); Rick & At Risk (December 8); Femicide & Santa Crimes (December 15); Shots Fired & Secret Sins (December 22); Favorites (December 29); Guest Composite (January 5).

Member Publication News (November 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 participated in the Munich-based project ARCANA 2021 with her interpretation of “The Tower.” To read more about Carina’s inspiration and her mash-up of this card’s symbolism with the motif of Maidens in Towers, check out her blog post on the subject.

ABOUT THE PROJECT: One card from the Major Arcana is drawn randomly and given to the participant. How the artist or writer responds to their, will be revealed this October 20, 2021 at 3 pm (CET) This year’s show will be presented completely online. —Hazel Ang

Carina Bissett, Hillary Dodge, and Joshua Viola are thrilled to announce the release of Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas (November 30). This high-concept anthology includes fiction and poetry by Mario Acevedo, Colleen Anderson, Kay Chronister, Sara Cleto, David Davies, Sean Eads, Anastasia Garcia, Owl Goingback, Maxwell I. Gold, Warren Hammond, Angie Hodapp, Jimena Jurado, Starlene Justice, Gwendolyn Kiste, Gerri Leen, Josh Malerman, Juliana Spink Mills, Tiffany Morris, Lee Murray, Annie Neugebauer, Gerardo Horacio Porcayo, Cameron E. Quinn, Sarah Read, Kathryn Reilly, Julia Rios, Betty Rocksteady, Marge Simon, Angela Yuriko Smith, Christina Sng, Jeanne C. Stein, Tim Waggoner, Brittany Warman, Christa Wojciechowski, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Mercedes M. Yardley, Jane Yolen, E. Lily Yu, and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro. Illustrated by Aaron Lovett.

CSW’s horror fiction podcast Incarnation Read premiered its second season on Halloween. You can read more about his inspiration and the evolution of the podcast at “Podcasts and the Oral Horror Tradition” (HWA COS). Incarnation Read is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, YouTube, Deezer, Pocket Casts, Breaker, Overcast, Radio Public, TuneIn, Podcast Addict, and Castbox. Episodes are uploaded once every other Saturday.

Sam Knight is proud to announce the launch of Knight Writing Press. Submissions are now open for Particular Passages 2. The Particular Passages anthologies are for stories that really need a home, but maybe don’t quite fit in anywhere else. Submission deadline is 1/1/2022.

We understand the “theme” of this anthology is a bit vague. We’re looking for “trunk stories” that shouldn’t have ended up in the trunk. The theme is: you just don’t know what’s behind that door until you open it. Think of it as an author showcase. There are no genre restrictions on this anthology. (PG-13).

Shannon Lawrence is pleased to announce the publication of her story “Alligator in a Sweatsuit” in the anthology Crimeucopia – The I’s Have It. This anthology of mysteries from Murderous Ink Press features twists and tongue-in-cheek fun with sleuths of all kinds.

Shannon talks horror, short stories, and the importance of writing communities on Living the Dream with Curveball, a podcast about inspiration and aspiration. You can also find her on Stories Live, which features dark readings for the season. As a featured guest, Shannon reads a creepy tale of a child who wants to meet her mysterious night parents in “Following the Rules.”

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Sinners or Saints? (October 13 ); Sex, Drugs, & Bullseyes (October 20); Solved, but Not Forgotten (October 27), and Family Matters (November 3).

Angela Sylvaine is terrified to be included in the debut anthology from Night Terror Novels, This is Not a Horror Story (spoiler- the stories are actually really scary). “Obsidian” follows a woman whose internalized pain ricochets back at those who have harmed her.

Inspired by the iconic “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” found in surrealist René Magritte’s 1929 work, The Treachery of ImagesThis is Not a Horror Story offers a collection of original fiction both abstract and haunting from fifteen bold, exciting voices writing in the genre today. Take a trip with us into this gallery of the macabre, and allow our authors to transport you into realms fantastical and terrifying; stories of the bizarre and the surreal, from deities, demons, and dictators through to tales of the marginalised and of cursed media. All of these tales are transgressive, yes—they tell the stories of the outcasts, of characters rebelling against societal norms, of the taboo and the controversial—but suffice it to say that no two are alike.

TED E. HAMSTER by Sam Knight

Copyright @ Sam Knight. “Ted E. Hamster” was originally published in Freakend Madness (February 2015). This story may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.

TED E. HAMSTER

by Sam Knight

Ted E. Hamster was a fat, fuzzy, waddling teddy bear hamster, and my seven-year-old daughter, Melody, thought he was the cutest thing ever. She made me buy the little ball of golden fur on the spot. It was my fault for trying to be a good father and taking her to the Animal Rescue. After her elementary school decided to sponsor the shelter, she said all of the kids kept talking about going there, and I didn’t want her to feel left out.

Besides, who expects to find rodents in an animal rescue? If only we had been ten minutes later … some poor sap was asking about hamsters just as we were walking out.

When we got home, Melody got on eBay and picked out the biggest, most elaborate contraption of plastic tubes for him to live in that she was able to find.

I couldn’t tell her no.

She’d wanted a pet since she was old enough to ask, but dogs weren’t allowed in our small apartment. There was no place to walk one anyway. My wife, Anne, was allergic to cats, so those were out. And fish just aren’t cuddly.

So, we got a hamster.

At first it wasn’t a big deal. Ted lived in his plastic tubular castle and slept the daylight hours away. When Melody was home, she would take him out and let him sit on her shoulder as she lounged in front of her bookcase and re-read the Harry Potter books. Sometimes she put him in the clear plastic ball and watched him waddle his four-legged penguin walk, rolling it all around the apartment. She even had a ball of yarn she teased Ted with. He chased it like a kitten.

Nights were a different story though.

My nights were hell.

Ted rattled around inside his cage incessantly while I was trying to sleep. I don’t know why it didn’t bother Melody or Anne, but they slept right through it.

I couldn’t.

The little plastic wheel built into the side of the cage had a particularly unholy squeak that set my soul on edge. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I’d get up and wander around our little apartment. Eventually I always ended up looking into my daughter’s room, where the noises came from.

Melody used a black light for a nightlight, and although Ted turned dark in the light, he was easy to spot in the glowing neon tubes making up his castle. As soon as I peeked into the room, Ted froze, his beady little black eyes locked on me, reflecting the purple light back eerily.

We would stare at each other.

The first few times this happened, I was just tired, but as time went on, I began to glare hatred at Ted. Flat out hatred. He glared the same at me. You would think I was just having projection issues, thinking the little rodent hated me because I hated him. But he really did hate me, I know it. And every night he woke me up with that ungodly squeak squeak squeak of that damned plastic wheel, I hated him more.

Eventually I stopped going into my daughter’s room. I felt guilty looking in with something less than fatherly love and concern. And I didn’t like actively hating anything as much as I hated Ted.

Worse, I’m ashamed to admit, Ted scared me. I couldn’t believe something so small was capable of emanating so much palpable animosity back at me.

I tried using spray lubricant on his wheel one day when Melody wasn’t home. I didn’t want her to be afraid the oily stuff would make Ted sick. It was all I could do to stick my hand inside the plastic cage. Ted stared at me the whole time, and all I could think about was him biting me. Sharp pain, big red bead of blood on my finger….

 I knew that’s what he wanted. I could see it in his eyes.

The spray didn’t work. It made things worse. Apparently, it is good for everything but polycarbonate plastic. The squeak got louder.

I checked the pet stores and the internet. Turns out you can’t replace the wheel without replacing the whole damned castle, and I couldn’t even find another one of those.

My nights grew longer as I refrained from roaming. Instead, I stayed in bed and fantasized about horrible things happening to Ted. I would imagine ‘accidentally’ knocking over his cage while vacuuming, and, with a flup noise, Ted would vanish into the machine. I envisioned incidents involving toasters, microwaves, blenders, toilets, and open doors.

It became my nightly routine. I would lie down, wait for the squeaking to start, and try to come up with the perfect hamster murder. I had given up on accidents I knew would never happen; no cat would ever sneak in and get Ted, he wasn’t going to get stomped on by a fat aunt who was afraid of mice, and no bald eagle was going to spot him through the open window and dive bomb his castle.

 My musings always ended at the thought of Melody in tears over her lost baby. There was nothing I found more distressing than my daughter in pain.

Except possibly that squeaky wheel.

It drove me insane, all night, every night. Squeak, squeak, squeak.

Until it stopped.

My eyes opened wide. Ted never stopped.

Wait.

Yes he did.

He stopped when I looked into the room.

He stopped to stare at me, to shoot his little rodent hatred at me through his nasty little black eyes. It had been so long since I’d looked into Melody’s room at night, I’d forgotten the sound of the silence as the abhorrence hung in the air between us.

My ears strained at the silence in the house.

What was going on? Had the hateful little fuzzball died of a heart attack? I almost smiled at the thought.

Then I heard something. A very small scratching sound.

Had Ted finally found a way out of the castle? I did smile at the hope Ted might fall into the toilet.

But then I had a darker thought.

Ted might be coming after me. 

Had he spent night after night running on his little wheel trying to figure out how to off Melody’s old man so he could have her all to himself? Ludicrous! —a hamster trying to figure out a way to kill me.

Well, why not? I spent my nights trying to figure out how to kill him. I had projected so much hatred at him that he had learned to send it back at me when I stood in Melody’s doorway. They say animals can sense things. If that were true, surely Ted knew my feelings and reciprocated them. There was no way to be aware of that much animosity and not feel it in return, if for no other reason than self-preservation.

Then I heard the other sound.

I didn’t know what the noise was. It was muffled, hidden from me, but it didn’t belong in my house. It was a foreign sound, one that set my hair on end.

Gritting my teeth, I got out of bed silently.

More skittering noises. Ted’s little clawed feet on the hardwood floor, I was sure. It was easy to imagine him running around on the floor in my mind’s eye, but that didn’t fit the sounds. There was something more….

I heard footfalls upon the floor and realized Melody must have woken up. She must have taken Ted out of his cage for some reason.  My relief melted over me like a liquid blanket. How could I have been so silly as to think Ted had gotten out on his own and was planning to kill me?

I quit trying to sneak and walked down the hallway to Melody’s room. Her light was still off, but her black light was more than enough to see by. More than enough to tell the glowing neon castle lid was open. And more than enough to make out the man who stood in the middle of the room.

His eyes were wide, the black light making the whites luminous. He brandished a long knife, the blade flashing in the purple light as he twisted back and forth, looking around for something on the ground. He hadn’t noticed me.

I panicked. “Melody!”

The man looked up. Under the black light, his skin was purple, and his eyes and teeth glowed in a terrible grimace. He lunged at me, but his feet betrayed him. Yarn had been wrapped around his ankles, tying them together, and he fell, face first onto the wooden floor with a thump that shook the room.

Melody sat up in bed and screamed the ear-splitting shriek of a little girl.

I braced myself to leap past the man and protect my daughter.

“Damn hamster! I’ll kill you yet!” The man cursed from the floor, wildly brandishing his blade at the darkness around him.

 Before I could get past him and grab Melody, her bookcase rocked forward and came crashing down onto the intruder’s head. The sharp blade fell from his limp fingers as his body jerked once, twice, and was still.

A small, quick, black shape appeared at his shoulder. I saw beady eyes flash purple hatred and sharp little white teeth gnashed at the man’s ear, drawing a shiny, dark drop of blood. Ted hopped off the man’s shoulder and turned to glare at me for a moment.

I watched in disbelief as he did his slow little penguin waddle back to his castle, climbed in, shut the lid, and resumed his nightly routine.

Squeak, squeak, squeak.

A Colorado native, Sam Knight spent ten years in California’s wine country before returning to the Rockies. When asked if he misses California, he gets a wistful look in his eyes and replies he misses the green mountains in the winter, but he is glad to be back home.
As well as having worked for at least three publishing companies, Sam is author of six children’s books, five short story collections, three novels, and over five dozen short stories, including two media tie-ins co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson: Wayward Pines: Aberration (Kindle Worlds, 2014) and Of Monsters and Men, Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone (Titan, 2016). Find more at http://samknight.com/.

Down a forgotten hallway lie rooms no one has entered.

Each room contains a world waiting to be explored.

Some beautiful and full of wonder, other dark and full of terrors.

You won’t know which until you step inside.

So take a deep breath, and open the door…

Featuring stories by Elmdea Adams, Jen Bair, David Boop, J.T. Evans, Todd Fahnestock, Arlen Feldman, Shannon Fox, Jessica Guernsey, Sam Knight, Chris Mandeville, Kim May, John D. Payne, Wayland Smith, Stephannie Tallent, and Marie Whittaker

Purchase Particular Passages HERE.

SHORT STORY SHOWCASE

It is the favorite time of year for horror writers. To celebrate all things spooky, COS HWA writers have worked together to contribute a collection of short stories for your reading pleasure. Starting on Monday, you’ll have access to a story a day through the end of October. Mark your calendars, and sit back and ENJOY!

STAY SPOOKY!

Spooky Season Story Schedule

Monday (10/25) BONES OF CHANGE by Travis Heermann

Tuesday (10/26)  CEREMONY by Saytchyn Maddux-Creech

Wednesday (10/27) THE STAGES OF MONSTER GREIF by Carina Bissett

Thursday (10/28)  TED E. HAMSTER by Sam Knight

Friday (10/29)  SERPENT’S REST by J. A. Campbell

Saturday (10/30)  THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE by Angela Sylvaine

Sunday (10/31) DEAREST by Shannon Lawrence

Member Publication News (October 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, Hillary Dodge, and Joshua Viola are pleased to announce that Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the America is available for pre-order (ebook). Hardcover copies will also be available. Hex PublishersShadow Atlas is scheduled for release November 30, 2021. Cover and interior art by Aaron Lovett.

With Fiction and Poetry by: Mario Acevedo • Colleen Anderson • Kay Chronister • Sara Cleto • David Davies • Sean Eads • Anastasia Garcia • Owl Goingback • Maxwell I. Gold • Warren Hammond • Angie Hodapp • Jimena Jurado • Starlene Justice • Gwendolyn Kiste • Gerri Leen • Josh Malerman • Juliana Spink Mills • Tiffany Morris • Lee Murray • Annie Neugebauer • Gerardo Horacio Porcayo • Cameron E. Quinn • Sarah Read • Kathryn Reilly • Julia Rios • Betty Rocksteady • Marge Simon • Angela Yuriko Smith • Christina Sng • Jeanne C. Stein • Tim Waggoner • Brittany Warman • Christa Wojciechowski • Stephanie M. Wytovich • Mercedes M. Yardley • Jane Yolen • E. Lily Yu • Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Dakota Brown recently released The Price of Magic: A Reverse Harem Tale (Book 3 in the Pizza Shop Exorcist series). This book is intended for mature audiences.

Demons aren’t supposed to be allies, let alone lovers, but here I am. Know that expression to hell and back? Been there, done that, just to save one of them. Sure, it was terrifying, but it beats meeting the in-laws. Aaron, my half-angel boyfriend, is just dying to take me home to dear old mom and dad, but I’m worried about walking into their home trailing brimstone.
Meanwhile, in the struggle to avert the apocalypse, Lucifer himself has taken an interest in me and graces my pizza parlor to give me a warning. I’m in danger from his rival, Mammon, who is trying to take over hell, but that’s old hat for me. Exorcism doesn’t make you the friend of demons, but I never expected to end up on the angelic hit list, too. Good times.
When my men find out, they’re never going to let me out of their sight. I’ll have to talk my way out of their protective bubble. With my hellhound and nightstallion to protect me, I should be safe, and the pizza parlor is warded against heaven and hell. Surely, I can go to work alone.
Or maybe not.

J.A. Campbell’s flash story “Bound at the Crossroads” was recently released in Dark Dispatch Issue #2: Deadly Love.  

This anthology features deadly romances that cross-examine the nature and meaning of love.

One story examines emotions through an extraterrestrial’s eyes as an alien meets humans for the first time. The darkest aspects of humanity are revealed when the fantasy of their love is threatened. In contrast, we witness a man haunted by the memory of his flame, yearning to connect with her—even if it’s only a delusion. We also discover a woman who is prepared to die over and over again for an immature infatuation, but is her lover devoted enough to follow?

Let your mind wander to the dark places and share your horror love stories about relationships gone wrong.

*Includes trigger warnings.

Sam Knight’s short story “The Darkest Thoughts” can now be read online in Love Letters to Poe. The story (Issue 1: A Toast to Edgar Allan Poe) is also available as a free podcast or in print form at Amazon.

Raise a glass in a toast to Edgar Allan Poe with this jam-packed gothic anthology, including 12 themed issues containing 48 short stories and 7 poems from 55 masterful weavers of gothic fiction.

Take a tour through Poe’s Baltimore home, experience “The Tell-Tale Heart” through the old man’s eyes, go corporate at Raven Corp., witness “The Fall of the House of Usher” from the perspective of a hidden Usher sibling, and much more.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Crazy is as Crazy Does with guest John H. Mudgett (September 29) and Mostly Mayhem (October 6).

Angela Sylvaine is pleased to announce the publication of her short story “Blood is Thicker,” about sisters who experiment with the occult to save their failing art gallery, in What One Wouldn’t Do:  An Anthology on the Lengths One Might Go To.

What One Wouldn’t Do for…what?

Power? Safety? Love? Revenge?

Here’s to the lengths one might go to for everything.

With dark fiction from J.A.W. McCarthy, Avra Margariti, Marisca Pichette, Stephanie Ellis, Christina Wilder, Donna Lynch, Katie Young, Scott J. Moses, Angela Sylvaine, tom reed, Cheri Kamei, Shane Douglas Keene, J.V. Gachs, Tim McGregor, Emma E. Murray, Nick Younker, Jennifer Crow, Joanna Koch, Lex Vranick, Laurel Hightower, Eric Raglin, Eric LaRocca, Daniel Barnett, Bob Johnson, Simone le Roux, Hailey Piper, Bryson Richard, Jena Brown, and Christi Nogle.

Member Publication News (September 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 poem “Fairy Tale Prohibition” is included in NonBinary Review Issue #25: Prohibition. This piece explores cautionary themes in familiar fairy tales and the consequences that come from breaking the rules.

In other news, Carina’s poem “Radiant” has been nominated for Best of the Net. This piece is a tribute to the radium girls, female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials (1917-1926). Several of these women joined forces to file a lawsuit against the factory. Their eventual win paved the way for labor rights in America and the institution of industrial safety standards. “Radiant” is included in NonBinary Review Issue # 24: Industrial Revolution.

Sam Knight’s story “The Darkest Thoughts” was recently released in Love Letters to Poe: Vol. 1, Issue 12 (Don’t Look Behind You), with the podcast version releasing at the end of the month, and will also be included in Love Letters to Poe, Volume 1: A Toast to Edgar Allan Poe, set to be released on September 20th.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Shadows, Demons, & Redheads (September 1), For the Sake of the Children (September 8), Houses From Hell with guest Patrick Hester (September 15), and Cult of Ignorance (September 22).

Join Claire L. Fishback at The Filling Station Taphouse (September 21 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm) to celebrate the release of The Gorging of Souls, Claire’s sequel to her debut The Blood of Seven, drops August 19, and Bring your copy to the event for signing, or buy them onsite!

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.

Several of our members will be at MileHiCon 53 (October 1-3). Come join us!

Carina Bissett: Tales of the Fae (reading); Who Should get a Villain Origin Story Next?; Not So Happily After

Travis Heermann: How I Write; Weird Westerns (reading); The Reading Game; Blind Slush Panel; So You Want to Do a Kickstarter?; Kaffeeklatsch

Sam Knight: Flash Fiction Chopped; Stop Fridging Me!; Blind Slush Panel; Galaxy Spanning SF (reading)

Shannon Lawrence: Revisiting Childhood Favorites; SF&F & Horror Tropes We Want to Disappear, The Art of Short Story Writing; Utopian Futures (reading)

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!

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.

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.