Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. A lot. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vols. 1 and 2, and Killing It Softly. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs. She tweets as @RieSheridanRose.
Only a few minute to write today before the next thing on my To Do List must be done. Thought I would share a tip that really can spur the imagination and get the words flowing.
If you are staring at a blank page, and really have no clue what to write, go to one of the stock sites (Pixabay is free) and look through the images. Find one you like, and start telling its story. Even if the finished product has veered worlds away from the image you started with, you have the juices flowing again.
And since I can’t get to any conventions at the moment to pass them out for free…if you would like one of Bruce’s certification bumper stickers, we will slide on the actual examination and send you one for $1 to cover postage and handling. This may be the last batch ever printed, as Bruce is tired of working so hard…so don’t miss out. Just use paypal.me/RieSheridanRose and be sure to include your address in the note section so I can ship out the sticker!
I just looked at the last post, and it was a guest post from September! I severely neglected everything for the final quarter of 2020, but I am back to work on all fronts and hopefully will be keeping up better now that the dumpster fire is on its way out.
That being said, I haven’t been doing a lot of horror stuff lately–hardly anything at all, but pushing more horror into the reality that was so gut-wrenching felt even worse. I did my Ladies of Horror pieces each month, but that was about it. If you are interested in seeing some of those, here’s a link.
Haven’t even watched a lot of horror since the news was bad enough, but I did start a re-watch of The Walking Dead to try and get back into it. I’ve stalled out for the moment in Season 7, which is close to when I stopped watching it before. I wonder if that’s a sign…
Still need to watch the last four episodes of Supernatural, but I’ve kinda been putting that off for the opposite reason. I don’t want to see the end of something I’ve loved.
We are keenly awaiting the final episodes of Lucifer (though IMDB listed a 6th Season…what’s THAT about?)
Oh, and for Halloween, we watched Hubie Halloween, which was…odd. I don’t know if I recommend it or not, but it was fun.
So, I guess I did do a few horror-related things while I was hibernating. See if you like any of them. 🙂
Hey horror fans! My name is Lee Andrew Forman, and I’m primarily a horror and dark fiction writer. First, I’d like to thank Rie Sheridan Rose for hosting me on her blog, The Rogers-Vincent Home for Wayward Spirits and Bar-B-Que Grill! Next, I’d like to talk a little about my latest book, The Bury Box.
The Bury Box is an exploration of death through the eyes of a child.
As a young boy, I found myself delving deeply into the macabre. Much like Reggie, the main character in the book, my natural tendencies were a bit on the strange side. As a child, I was consumed by the thought of death; what was it, what did it mean, and what happened after a person died? The idea of a body being put into the ground intrigued me to no end. Because I was so young, I hadn’t grasped the terms coffin or casket yet, so I called them exactly what they were, bury boxes.
When I started writing horror, I had a driving need to explore that childhood curiosity which had followed me all my life. And while my book is fiction, there are grains of truth between the pages; some of what takes place in Reggie’s world actually happened. With those things in mind, my journey into The Bury Box began.
Over the course of 7 years or so, I’d find myself putting my current writing project on hold and tapping out a few pages of the story that had been chasing me for so long. Eventually, I realized that I was spending more time with this manuscript than any other writing project. The story was telling me it was time, and I needed to get it out and share it with the world. While that might sound a bit dramatic, keep in mind I am a writer, and prone to living through my words as much as in the ‘real’ world.
My hope is that I’ve managed to convey not only the fear and anguish of those much earlier years, but also to take you, the reader, down a path you might not be expecting. I know I wasn’t expecting the story to veer in the direction it did, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.
Thank you, Rie, for hosting me on your blog, and I hope your readers are as fascinated with bury boxes as I am.
We’ve talked a bit about where to submit horror, and some inspirations from folklore, but horror is all around us. (Just look at the headlines…)
Keep a notebook of ideas with you at all times. Whether it is a small physical notebook; a larger spiral; or an app in your phone like Notebooks Pro or Evernote. Have sections for names–both for characters and creatures; settings–like haunted houses you might read about or abandoned asylums; and bits of plot that might occur to you.
You can add other sections as you see fit. Folklore that strikes your fancy. Photographs that inspire you. Song lyrics or poems that create an appropriate mood. Textures, like fabric swatches, that bring in a tactile element.
You never know what will create the moment you are looking for to move along the story. Write down your nightmares. Scribble bits of conversation. Always be collecting those bits of inspiration. You never know when you might need just that one little spark you found last year.
Horror is all around you. Keep your eyes open for it.
Way back in 2013, I came across a call for submissions looking for collaboration between two writers who’d never met in real life. I reached out to Kerry Lipp, whose writing style and sense of humor I admired, and asked if he wanted to write a story with me. Neither of us had ever done that, so we stumbled our way through 3900 words of a ridiculous tale of a man who wakes up physically dead but still mentally sharp. It was creepy, disgusting, and hilarious. We sold it.
I asked is he wanted to do another one, and he said, “Sure! Whatcha got?” So, I sent Kerry this scene I had written but didn’t know where to go with. It featured an aging (but bad-ass) bounty hunter interrogating a punk. He loved the character, Johnny Headcase, and wrote another couple thousand words. We went back and forth, each trying to leave the other on a mad cliffhanger or an “impossible” situation for our heroes to get out of. We laughed and said “holy shit!” a lot, and overall had a blast writing this thing. At some point, we realized that we’d been at it for a while and checked the word count. We had written over 25,000! We’d made a novella! This was kind of amazing, as we had only planned on writing a short. However, the story wasn’t done yet, so we kept at it. Somehow, we blasted past 50,000 words and…we had a book!
One of the characters, Gavin the Werewolf, was still under contract with a publisher (they had first rights of refusal), so we offered the novel to them. They loved it, worked with us to edit it so it was publication-ready, and we were stoked. Unfortunately, the publisher, after much soul-searching deliberation, realized that this book, while a hell of a fun read, did not, in fact, fit the demographic of their readership. They produce horror and romance books, and this was neither. Sure, it had monsters: vampires, trolls, goat-demons, and more. Sure, it had sex (rather a lot of fairly graphic sex). But it wasn’t really horror. It wasn’t romance. It was this weird hybrid, genre-jumping, unclassifiable thing. So, they gave it back.
Kerry and I sent it out to a couple of other publishers who passed on it. We tried not to take it personally. Then, I asked my publisher, LVP Publications, for whom I am the Managing Editor of Collections and Anthologies (impressive title, no?) if they’d take a look at the book. They said okay, to send the first chapter. The first chapter is crazy short. So, they asked for the first five. And then they asked for the rest of the book. Then for character descriptions. They accepted it!
Kerry and I had written an origin story for one of the four main characters: Lydia, a half-human, half-demon warrior, and asked if they wanted to include it as a sort of coda. They read it and asked us to write one for each of the other three. We were like, “Oh. Okay. Sure.” And, somehow, managed to crank these out too. So, after five years or so, HEADCASE is finally about to see the light of day. It’s being released serially, one quarter at a time (with an origin story attached to each), in both eBook and paperback. There will also be an audiobook available, once all four sections have been published.
This is a series of firsts for me: first novel, first time having anything serialized, first audiobook. I couldn’t be happier with the responses we’ve been getting so far! People are excited about this crazy little book. No one more so than me and Kerry, of course. We started the sequel, so you know. Hopefully, it won’t take another five years to get this one out!
So, because I took a chance and asked a virtual stranger to write a story with me, I have not only a debut novel imminent but also a solid friendship with someone I genuinely admire and get along with well. You never know until you reach out. Thank you for listening.
Here’s a link to the book trailer. If you think it’s something you’d like to read, the preorder links are in the YouTube video’s comments. You can order just the first section, the first and second, or the whole shebang.
[Since the new WordPress editor embedded the really cool video, here are the links for your convenience:
Horror ranges from the silliness of Scooby-Doo to the terror of The Ring. But some of the most interesting and insidious horror comes when an everyday object becomes unexpectedly evil.
Look at Cujo. The book, and subsequent movie, are visceral and terrifying–and yet, they are about a rabid dog, not some demonic creature. Any dog can be bitten by a rabid animal and go on such a rampage. The story terrifies because it could happen to any household in any neighborhood.
Would Child’s Play have as much impact if Chucky were not a doll? One of the most innocuous toys possible…something in any little girl’s room.
If you are setting out to write horror, don’t think only of the monsters. Think of the mundane items in your world and see if there is something you can turn into the catalyst of your story. Perhaps the water fountain in the square suddenly starts poisoning people. Why? Is it a human intervention, or is there something more devious at work? Perhaps a vengeful water spirit?
Maybe a pet songbird suddenly starts singing words–words that prophesize murder. (Wait…I think I want that one…)
The point is, horror doesn’t have to be full of ghosts or demons or vampires to bring a shiver to the spine. And, sometimes, it is better when it isn’t.
The mockumentary genre can be very hit or miss. Sometimes, it works; sometimes, it doesn’t. I would say, in this case, it is about 90% spot on. There are a few scenes that make you wonder about the size of the film crew that must be involved…but it generally works.
Looking first at the movie, the geniuses behind the “script” (according to the IMDB site, it was mostly improvised around an outline), Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi also directed and starred in the film, along with Jonny Brugh. The three vampires walk the film crew through a few days nights in their undead lives. It’s a fun romp, but I think the dynamics of the household work better in the TV series because of the introduction of a female perspective.
The introduction of Nadja into the house gives a lot of new possibilities to the action. The relationship between Nadja and Lazlo is really interesting to watch. Natasia Demetriou is delightful, and I always love Matt Berry. I had never seen Kayvan Novak before, but I like his style. I think having the familiar be part of the household is also an interesting twist.
The call-back to the movie in the episode “The Trial” is also nice, having the original vampires be part of the Vampire Council, as well as some other familiar faces, was a lot of fun.
Part of the charm of the franchise is the discovery, so I don’t want to give away too many details. I would definitely recommend both the movie and the series, and give the whole franchise 4 Bats.
Monsters. The mainstay of horror, aren’t they? Vampires, werewolves, mummies–these are the creatures that everyone turns to when they hear the word “monster.” Perhaps that should be qualified–these are the stereotypical creatures that American readers/writers turn to automatically. And that’s why they inundate the pages of books and the frames of films we are familiar with.
The point is that there are so many under-used monsters in the world that putting aside the vampires, mummies, werewolves, and ghosts for awhile and exploring these lesser-known creatures in our fiction and film might be to everyone’s advantage. 😉
Horror is a lot of fun to write, but not always easy to find a home for. However, there are several small presses that feature the genre, and I thought I would highlight some of them for potential contributors. The houses below are all publishers that I have worked with personally and would definitely submit to again.
First of all, I’ll tout the house that I edit for, Horrified Press. Though we can be a little slow and the pay is based on sales, I think the product turned out is quite nice. I am actively looking for submissions for my specific imprint, Thirteen O’Clock. The following are the open calls for Horrified–and basic details of Thirteen’s calls. Our maximum word count is 5k. There are further specifications at the above link:
Twisted Time — What can go terribly wrong in the realm of Time Travel? No obvious Doctor Who fanfic, please. All of Time is at your fingertips. Let me see how time travel goes awry.
Blood in the Cogs — A steampunk anthology! Terror in the time of Victoria! There was a lot going on during that long reign of hers. (Don’t send me ALL Jack the Ripper stories! Let me clarify–I don’t mind a mention of the Ripper, after all, he was the big news of the day. I just don’t want only stories about that one case. There were other horrors of the age…)
Dark Emporium — What is sold there? And what does it cost you? The Old Curiosity Shop you stumble into while exploring a new city; the frenetic mall with that odd shop in the bottom corner; the online venue swearing they can accommodate all your desires….the Dark Emporium takes many forms as it seeks your soul!
Chains –- Who’s chained, where are they, what are they, what are the chains holding down/stopping escaping/securing against robbers… Chains. We see them, we use them, now write about them. A good one to exercise your imaginations! [This one is almost full–one or two more stories at best.]
Horrified is also reading for the following call which I have nothing to do with:
A god has risen. An elder god of chaos. A god that the Dark Land of Egypt once knew. A frog-headed abomination that dwells–where? In the gloom of the collective unconscious? In the crazy depths of the internet? In the minds of conspiracy theorists and muddle minded political fanatics? As insubstantial as a dream–or a nightmare. In a world increasingly fragmented, where right and left, atheism and religion, sanity and lunacy struggle for supremacy, who is the true manifestation of KEK?
Horrified specializes in anthologies, but if you have longer works to submit, you might try one of the following:
I also found this list in my research. It is a couple of years old now, so I suggest researching any market that you are interested in to make sure they are still in business and actively seeking submissions. And there is another list of magazines that accept horror here. Horror Tree also maintains a list of open calls.
Another place to look for markets actively seeking submissions is ralan.com. It lists all types of markets in an easy to use format. I’ve found many submission opportunities there.
These are by no means exhaustive lists. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.