About RieSheridanRose

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.

Guest Post: Loren Rhoads

Today we have a guest post from my friend Loren Rhoads promoting her new book This Morbid Life. Enjoy,

Near Escapes

by Loren Rhoads

When I first moved to San Francisco, there was a little one-woman tour company that arranged guides for tours of the local cemeteries, went “backstage” at the grand historic hotels, slipped inside the towers at the Golden Gate Bridge, explored the Stanford Linear Accelerator, toured San Quentin Prison, and much more.

I went on so many tours with them! This excerpt from my new book of essays, This Morbid Life, https://amzn.to/3mhZajO, reports the first tour I took with them.

Burning Desire

At the back of the warehouse stood the cremator itself. The Neptune Society used British equipment, which was acclaimed as top of the line. A computer controlled the temperature and length of burning time. The cremator had four doors, two above and two below, so that bodies could be cremated simultaneously and their ashes commingled. Before anyone could ask, Steve assured us that California state law prohibited cremation of more than one body at a time, so that ashes couldn’t get mixed by accident.

The “ovens” themselves were built of fire-resistant brick. A metal rack slid out, onto which the body was placed. Before the operator inserted a body, the cremator would be preheated to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. As we toured the building, the ambient temperature rapidly became torrid. The ovens were warming. Apparently, at 1800 degrees, the inside of the oven glows red-hot.

Natural gas was used for the heating process. A human body provides its own fuel and will burn on its own at a high-enough temperature, so the cremator was preheated, the body placed inside, and the gas switched off to prevent overheating. Toward the end of the cremation, the gas was turned on again until the bones became calcined and brittle.

Someone asked Steve how they knew when a body was done. He recommended sticking it with a fork. Sobering up, he added that, on average, it took between one and two hours for a cremation at the Neptune Society, with an additional half hour for the oven to cool down enough to remove the cremains. All bodies burned differently, due to their levels of fat or moisture. Both cancer and AIDS deplete the body’s fat reserves, so victims of those diseases had less fuel value. Those bodies required more gas and a higher heat and might take longer to reduce to ash.

The different compositions of people also produced a variety of colors as the body burned. Sometimes the flames turned green or blue, but generally they were orange or red.

When the cremation was complete, human remains were white and very brittle. Any other discoloration implied that the cremation was unfinished. The bones might have shrunk or twisted, but they were still quite recognizable. The cremains were scooped out of the retort with a tool like a hoe. They were placed in a machine with a drum like a clothes dryer that used heavy iron balls to pulverize the remaining bones. The process was complete when the remains fit through a sieve.

I asked if I could see real human ashes. With a shrug, Steve found a beige cardboard box that was maybe five inches on a side. Inside a plastic wrapper, the cremains looked like Quaker Oats and weighed as much as an old-fashioned solid-body telephone. No one else in the tour group was interested in holding the box. In fact, they all took a step back when I held the box out to them.

…Continued in This Morbid Life https://amzn.to/3kcFlrP

***

Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She was the editor of Morbid Curiosity magazine and the book Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual. Her most recent book is This Morbid Life, a memoir comprised of 45 death-positive essays.

What others have called an obsession with death is really a desperate romance with life. Guided by curiosity, compassion, and a truly strange sense of humor, this particular morbid life is detailed through a death-positive collection of 45 confessional essays. Along the way, author Loren Rhoads takes prom pictures in a cemetery, spends a couple of days in a cadaver lab, eats bugs, survives the AIDS epidemic, chases ghosts, and publishes a little magazine called Morbid Curiosity.

Originally written for zines from Cyber-Psychos AOD to Zine World and online magazines from Gothic.Net to Scoutie Girl, these emotionally charged essays showcase the morbid curiosity and dark humor that transformed Rhoads into a leading voice of the curious and creepy.

“Witty, touching, beautifully written, and haunting — in every sense of the word — This Morbid Life is an absolute must-read for anyone looking for an unusually bright and revealing journey into the darkest of corners. Highly recommended!” — M.Christian, author of Welcome To Weirdsville

I Feel Horror-ific!

Rising up from the grave of 2020!

Let’s face it. Last year I didn’t write ANYTHING but my Ladies of Horror flash pieces. I did do the bookmarks for my Etsy shop, and made a few sales there, but on the whole, it was a wasted year of binge-watching and take out.

THIS year, however, things are looking WAAAAAY better. For one thing, I was accepted into SFWA and HWA. (I know, I know–shut UP about that already!–but I can’t help it. Dream come true time.)

Also, an old friend got tired of not being an editor and started a new venture Gravestone Press as an offshoot of Fiction4All. She is paying decent money for short stories, exposure for flash, and has several anthologies looking for stories at the moment. This has proven inspirational for me as I have written several new things for her and sold her a couple of reprints.

Remember, horror is where you find it. I am toying with a collection of stories based on song lyrics, and when you really think about some of the stories those songs tell–there is definitely a chance for horror. Like Lyin’ Eyes — what lengths does she wind up going to to “hide her lyin’ eyes”? or Bitter Green — such a haunting story. What songs inspire you? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

A Quick Tip for Inspiration

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.

I first learned about this trick with the Ladies of Horror Flash project, where we are given a picture each month and asked to write about it.

I used it today for a flash fiction call.

Here’s an image to play with. Try it for yourself!

Let’s Have a Toast!

(My allergies were bad last night, so I am going to share something Bruce wrote for Roxanne instead of getting too creative. This was the toast he gave at their wedding…)

Bruce’s Wedding Toast to Roxanne

Flowers are pink.
Flowers are green,
Your eyes are the prettiest
I’ve ever seen.

You stand by my side
Through thick and through thin
Including that time that
The zombies broke in.

The way that you hit
That one guy with a pan—
I knew then and there
That I was your man.

And when we moved to the hill
To that rickety house
My heart said “C’mon, you fool,
And make her your spouse.”

When you said yes,
My heart it did sing,
Though you got pretty mad
When I bought that earring.

‘Course, our adventures—
They were not done yet.
We flew off to Ireland,
And leprechauns met.

The wedding got closer
But there was a hitch—
That pretty young thing
Who became a real—witch.

But today is the day—
So what if it’s raining?
The clouds hide the sun,
So the vamps ain’t complaining.

Yes, today is our wedding,
And I wrote down this verse.
Roxanne—you’re my lady—
For better or worse.

(if you’d like to know what the hell he’s talking about, you need to check out Bruce and Roxanne from Start to Finnish from Yard Dog Press!)

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!

That IS Horrific!

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. 🙂

GUEST POST: An Exploration of Death — Lee Andrew Forman

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.

Collecting Horror Ideas

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.

GUEST POST: Patience, Persistence, and Partnership — Ken MacGregor

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:


PRE-ORDER the full serial plus audiobook here: https://payhip.com/b/CTP7

PRE-ORDER Book 1 only here: https://payhip.com/b/M85X

PRE_ORDER Book 2 only here: https://payhip.com/b/JEHz — Rie]

Horror Doesn’t Have to Be Horrific

red monster night eyes closeup

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.

RieView: What We Do in the Shadows

Bats flying on white background

Having had a chance now to watch both the original movie and both seasons of What We Do in the Shadows, I am well and truly smitten.

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.

Bats