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.



Let’s Talk About Monsters…



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.

But there are other dark things in the world, and some of those are fascinating. For example, here is one list of Asian monsters, and this one is specifically Japanese. Here is a list of creatures from Indian mythology.

Celtic mythology is rife with incredible creatures. They even have their own television series. Here is a list of specifically Irish mythological creatures.

African monsters are often animalistic in nature rather than humanoid.

Australian folklore has some interesting creatures to consider.

Even if you want to stick to American monsters, Native American myths are full of unusual beings.

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. 😉

Here are some resources for further study:

World Mythology

World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide

Bulfinch’s Mythology

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 75th Anniversary Illustrated Edition Deluxe, Illustrated, Anniversary Edition

The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore

Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales

The Complete World of Greek Mythology

Gods and Heroes from Viking Mythology



Finding a Home for Horror

backlit black candle candlelight

Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

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:
KEK V’s CTHULHU —  Flash fiction, Poetry, Short Stories (2,000 6,000 words)
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:

Mocha Memoirs Press

Zumaya Publications


For other short story markets, try


The Horror Zine

Horror Tree


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.

GUEST POST: Crymsyn Hart — Forest of Bones

Today, we have a guest post from author Crymsyn Hart about some of the influences behind her novel Forest of Bones. Having edited this book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Forest of Bones Inspiration

I love vampires in all shapes and forms. I’ve written a lot of vampires over the years and lost count on how many books I’ve read about the undead. I know how hard it is to create a vampire that is just a little bit different than the norm.

My vampires live in a world of magic. However, if they were human and turned into a vampire, they lose their magical ability. Sun and silver still hurt them, but they are different in the way they were created. Forest of Bones is a story about stopping the overall bad guy from destroying the world, but it’s also an origin story. Vampires are different in how the species were created. Let’s just say it involves a little bit of magic, a spell gone wrong, and the secret ingredient–which you have to find by reading the book. LOL.

Forest of Bones was born out of a couple of things. I had this dream about the main character, Kaya, while she was sitting in a tree overlooking this camp. They were the enemy and she was getting intel on them. I wrote that scene and I wanted to make her different. The vampire aspect of the book was more of a “Hey, what would happen if I threw vampires into the mix?” idea.

I hadn’t written a total fantasy novel with vampires so I wanted to figure out how that could work. From there, I thought it would be interesting to make Kaya the only hybrid of her kind. Of course, I had to discover how vampires and Kaya being a hybrid worked into the story. Throwing vampires into a world of magic, I learned there had to be consequences to how the magic worked on the vampires and the environment.

Forest of Bones is a great world I’d love to find more stories in. It’s not just about Kaya and her story. What happens after? Or what happens before her story? The vampire race is thousands of years old, so what other creatures or tragedies happened? I’ll guess I’ll have to find out.

Crymsyn Bio:

Crymsyn Hart is a multi-genre author of Horror, Urban Fantasy, and Romance. Her years of experience at Boston’s oldest psychic salon doing readings and her encounters with the supernatural have inspired many novels. She’s a lover of all things dark and goth. Vampires, grim reapers, and other paranormal creatures tend to end up in her books no matter how hard she tries to keep them away.

She currently resides in Charlotte, NC with her hubby and their two dogs. By day she is conquering the world of Commercial Insurance, but by night she listens to the voices in her head telling her which rabbit hole to go down to find the perfect plot bunny.

Find out more about Crymsyn:

Website http://crymsynhart.com,

Twitter: @Crymsynhart

Facebook https://facebook.com/crymsynhart

Amazon http://amazon.com/Crymsyn-Hart/e/B002BMJ1Z0.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/crymsynhart

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crymsyn_hart/



Things that Go Bump in the Night…

Phone Download 8-28-19 815 - Copy


Everyone is afraid of something…whether it is walking alone down a dark street at midnight or losing one’s job. These fears are real and tangible. They are depressing and often out of our control.

Perhaps this is why we gravitate to horror so readily. The monsters in a novel or movie aren’t usually real. Pennywise is not going to pop out of the sewer. Dracula is not going to swoop into your bedroom window. But the thought of these iconic creatures in our lives gives us a scare we can control–we can put It down, or pause Dracula if it gets to be too much. Campfire stories fade with the light of dawn.

When I was a kid, I would rush home for Dark Shadows. I was so in love with Barnabas Collins. Of course, fifteen years later when I watched it again in reruns, it was so cheesy and badly filmed I just laughed, but it was one of my first introductions to the horror genre. (And I still think Jonathan Frid was amazing–though Barnabas was almost his only role.) Did the camp of the series impress itself in my head even then? Is that why I like to write humorous horror most of all? Maybe.

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave was the first time I remember feeling all tingly over a vampire. He was so sexy and masculine…to the ten-year-old watching it on the couch at a friend’s house. There is just something so alluring about a cape…

So, horror can affect us in many ways. It isn’t always terrifying. It can be compelling, or attractive as well. And, while vampires and werewolves might be things of legend, I find some of the scariest horror deals with people who could live next door.

For example, Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes trilogy. Especially the first book. This story could happen tomorrow down the road. Similar stories have happened. And the only monster here is just an evil man.

This flavor of horror is almost too real. We can dismiss the supernatural as unlikely to interfere with our lives. We can’t dismiss the evil that men do so easily…

What scares you? Do you like monsters better or the wickedness of the world? What do you recommend watching or reading if someone likes to be scared in a way they can control?

Phone Download 8-28-19 1976

RIEVIEW: American Horror Story

AHS Title

Welcome to the first of the Friday RieViews. Today, I am going to talk about one of my favorite fascinations, American Horror Story. For those of you who haven’t stepped into the world of AHS, it is an anthology horror series that has been running for nine seasons and shows no sign of stopping…at least for now. IMDB has placeholders through 2022.

Starting from the top, here is the list of seasons as aired:

Murder House set in a haunted house (retroactively given a name to match the others).
Asylum — run by nuns with pasts to overcome filled with patients who don’t belong.
Coven — a group of young witches learning to harness their powers in New Orleans.
Freak Show — a group of carnival freaks dealing with the world’s perceptions of them.
HotelCalifornia hotel patterned after the Murder Castle whose owner has a secret.
Roanokereality show about the goings-on at an old house filled with restless spirits.
Cult — dealing with reactions to the 2016 election and its aftermath.
Apocalypseit’s the end of the world as we know it.
1984Summer camp shenanigans with serial killers.

I’ll give you my opinion of them from best to worst at the end of the review.

This series is fascinating for a lot of reasons. For one, it harks back to the early days of television when there were stables of stars in anthology series. It’s kind of cool to watch familiar faces in new roles from one year to the next. It’s given a lot of those stars a chance to show their chops. And given some of them mental exhaustion along the way.

Let’s list some pros and cons to the series.


  1. The aforementioned stable of characters. I love seeing the same actors year after year. I keep waiting for them to show up in the season. It was disappointing not to see Evan Peters or Sarah Paulson this year, but after the time they’d put in, I can see needing a break. Evan has a new series coming up, and, then there’s the X-Men… Sarah is also doing a new series. I do hope we may see them pop in here and there in the future. And I have to mention that Denis O’Hare’s Liz Taylor was one of my favorite characters of all time. Plus, it is worth noting that Hotel gave Lady Gaga the acting creds that helped land  A Star is Born. The cast is full of brilliance–Kathy Bates; Emma Roberts; Billie Lourd; Jessica Lange; Joan Collins; Zachary Quinto…and many more–too many to list them all.
  2. The pop-culture references. I love the Easter-eggs–like in Apocalypse when one of the witches tells BD Wong he might have seen her on a police procedural…
  3. The self-references. Several seasons have featured locations or characters from previous seasons. It adds a sense of continuity to the whole story arc.
  4. The costuming is usually period-appropriate and fun.
  5. It has some of the best music ever.


  1. Sometimes they seem to be struggling for a season’s plot hook. Not all of them are successful in my opinion.
  2. The trend of the last few seasons to split the story and have more than one arc going on. It waters things down a bit in my opinion. Especially when it jumps back and forth in time.
  3. The way they deal with ghosts. Both that the spirits are locked into one location and not allowed to move on and that they interact with human beings like they aren’t dead. It’s cool when they don’t know they are dead, but when they do and still act like they aren’t, it can get old.

Those are just my thoughts, of course. Yours may differ, and that’s cool.

Now, I promised I’d tell you how I rank the seasons–again, this is all my opinion, and yours can be quite different. From best to worst, having just watched them all again, I would list them like this:


Freak Show  — I love the way the characters are dealt with. Respectful and thoughtful.
Hotel — Lots of intriguing characters and interesting concepts in this one.
Murder House — Cool characters, nice dynamics.
1984 — Starts with a fun send-up of slasher films…but splits off to silliness.
Apocalypse — Nice tie-backs to previous seasons.
Asylum — Despite Joseph Fiennes and Zachary Quinto, it falls a bit flat to me.
Coven — The witches aren’t treated with as much respect as I would have liked.
Cult — This one edges toward ridiculous. Yes, there were people upset in 2016, but…
Roanoke — Definite least favorite. Premise dumb. Split between TV show’s seasons awful.



What do you like about the show? Or hate about it? Let’s discuss it in the comments. 🙂

That’s it for this week’s RieView.

And don’t forget–Overheard in Hell is free till Sunday, July 12. 2020.

Horror Poetry

By Candlelight            Overheard in Hell cover-FINAL

I love horror. It’s kind of addicting in a way. There are so many flavors of it. Bruce and Roxanne are silly fun, Skellyman is an attempt at gritty, serious horror. My scattered short stories run the gamut from silly to serious. But I have a deep fondness for poetry above all else, and I have two collections of dark fantasy and horror poetry, By Candlelight and Overheard in Hell.

Exploring these subjects with the economy of words demanded by poetry is a real challenge and one that I love to give myself. One of my inspirations and mentors was the late Charlee Jacobs. If you haven’t read her poetry, it is award-winning and amazing. Her encouragement has made horror one of my favorite genres.

Writing poetry is a cathartic experience. From the rigorous structure of a haiku:

Bones rattle at night
Under the full witches’ moon
As the dead rise up.

To full unstructured free verse like this:

Roll the Bones

Sit you down
Across the fire
Take a chance –
roll the bones.

Shamanistic seeds
Of power
Mystic runes –
roll the bones.

Fortune found in
Etched impression
Fueled by fever –
roll the bones.

Wisps of magic
Twists of fate
Now or later –
roll the bones.

Cast from hands
That tremble badly
Heart a-pumping –
roll the bones.

Death or birth
Fame or loss
All revealed by
one last toss –

Roll the bones.

What is your favorite style of poetry? Do you prefer rhyming or free verse? Share a bit in the comments! I’d love to see your poetry too.

And, in honor of my birthday Saturday (because I am a halfling at heart) Overheard in Hell is free on Kindle until Sunday, July 12, 2020. Have some poetry for summer!

Welcome to the Home!



Well, I’ve gone and done it. As if two daily blogs weren’t enough, I decided to start one for my horror antics as well. 

I will be talking about Bruce and Roxanne (it is their house, after all) and linking to my Ladies of Horror pieces, my horror short stories, and Skellyman…and my horror poetry…

Plus, I plan on exploring the history of horror and monsters, RieViewing other people’s books and movies. Adding bar-be-que tips and recipes…

The possibilities are endless.

Of course, that’s a lot of territory to cover…so I think that I will change things up a bit. I will be focusing on one blog a day and RieViews on Friday starting next week. (And that includes “Here’s the Clean” so maybe I will finally get some housecleaning done!)

I haven’t decided on the order of days yet, and I may rotate all of them but Fridays. We’ll see. For now, here are some of my credentials for doing a horror blog in the first place. 🙂




        By Candlelight  By Candlelight 

  (only available on Audible ATM)