Monday, February 12, 2018

Zenna Henderson & Quiet Horror - WIHM Guest Post - DeAnna Knippling

This month I'll be featuring several women in horror as guest posters in celebration of Women In Horror Month! Today, we have DeAnna Knippling, a prolific, multi-talented Colorado author who also happens to be one of my daughter's favorite authors and a friend of mine.

If you haven't signed up to help with my book release, please consider doing so by clicking HERE.

Zenna Henderson & Quiet Horror

The sci-fi writer Zenna Henderson died in 1983, which was years before I was given the short story collection The Anything Box by my cousins, and devoured it with such a passion that the front cover fell off. I eventually read the stories she was more famous for, her People stories, but I never really gelled with them the way I did with the stories in The Anything Box. 

Here’s the general idea behind most of the stories:

Once upon a time, there was a teacher. (Or a housewife, although in one particularly memorable case it’s a husband.) Something strange intrudes into her perfectly ordered life. She doesn’t know what to do about it. So she tries to pretend it away. This doesn’t work. Jeez Louise, this is weird, she thinks. I mean, if this is true, it changes everything. She tries to make it go away again…and again…but in the end, it’s useless. It’s not going to work. In the end, she either admits that the world wasn’t what she thought it was, or she gets killed.

But usually offscreen. The stories were written in the ’50s and ’60s. Slasher films and splatterpunk hadn’t happened yet. But there were definitely gory, shocking horror stories back then. Psycho was written in 1959. Lord of the Flies was even earlier, in 1954. The pulps were still popular, and they practically dripped with blood. 

So what was going on?

Zenna Henderson was writing what we would now call quiet horror—a horror where all the important things are happening inside the mind and spirit, not outside with a serial killer and an ax. It may or may not be relevant that one of the places she taught—she was a teacher—was in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. And if that’s not a setting of quiet horror, I’m not sure what would be.

Quiet horror never really becomes terrifying; it never really gets loud or outwardly, obviously violent, although if it does, the character assumes it was all a dream or something so they can more or less stay calm about it. Quiet horror just sits there at a low-key level, humming to itself in a corner, as it were. And often it’s just plain weird. Reality is broken and things have gone off the freaking rails, not that you’d really know it, since everyone’s acting like it’s business as usual. John Harwood’s books, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “The Monkey’s Paw,” Charles L. Grant’s stories, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Peter Straub’s novels, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Robert Aickman’s supremely odd novelettes, Rosemary’s Baby

On the surface, quiet horror just putters along. It’s not until you take a step back that you get struck by what’s going on.

The essence of quiet horror seems to be the statement, “Wait…what?”

In “Hush!” a woman’s vacuum cleaner comes to life and murders her. In “The Last Step,” a teacher interrupts a group of children playing in the mud as their community prepares to evacuate from an alien invasion, not understanding that the children’s play directly controls everyone’s future, and she’s doomed them all. In “The Anything Box,” a teacher literally takes away a child’s imagination and shoves it in her bottom drawer. And in “The Grunder,” a husband who is becoming physically abusive to his wife is driven to catch a possibly magical fish that might take away his urge to hurt her ever again, rather than have to change.

Each situation, when you step back from it, is monstrous, horrible, intolerable. But on the surface, the characters tolerate their worlds with almost perfect equanimity. Definitely nothing gets as tense—let alone as bloody—as a single throwaway murder in something like the Saw series, even when the vacuum cleaner reaches for the housewife’s throat.  

I think this is because Ms. Henderson, like most quiet horror writers, laid the responsibility for feeling horror on the reader. She was willing to provide the story, but if you wanted to get wound up about it, that was up to you. Take it or leave it. 

I chose to take it. The quiet horror stories of Zenna Henderson’s The Anything Box are still some of my favorites.

DeAnna Knippling definitely hasn't been up to any funny business lately.  Rather, she's been writing stories.  Some of her latest stories are One Dark Summer NightOctober Nights: 31 Tales of Hauntings and Halloweenand The Clockwork Alice, none of which should be regarded with suspicion, dread, or that spinny feeling you get after turning in circles very quickly.  She promises that she has put down the knife, locked the cursed music box back in its cabinet, and erased your name out of the book with all the murderers' names in it.  You know the one.  You can find her at  She lives in Colorado with her spouse and daughter, and nobody else in the basement at all.

Thank you, DeAnna! I hadn't heard of Zenna Henderson, but her stories sound like they'd be right up my alley. A bit Twilight Zone. Also, The Tell-Tale Heart is one of my all time favorites.

Now for some links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Twisted Publishing is seeking horror for the Twisted Book of Shadows. 3000 words and up, though payment capped at 5000 words. Pays $.06/word plus royalties. Deadline February 28.

Copper Nickel is seeking poetry, fiction, essays, and translation folios. Pays $30/printed page. Deadline March 1.

Chizine is seeking speculative Christmas stories for War on Christmas. 500 to 5000 words. Pays $.08CAD/word. Deadline March 4.

Gehenna & Hinnom Books is seeking speculative fiction for Hinnom Magazine. Up to 5000 words. Pays $15. Deadline March 15.

18th Wall is seeking supernatural stories set in the 50s for Sockhops and Seances. 4000 to 20,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline March 15.

Transmundane Press is seeking stories for Dreams, Nightmares, Visions, and Hallucinations. Up to 6000 words. Pays up to $20. Deadline March 15.

Deciduous Tales is seeking horror and dark fiction. 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. 

Asymmetry Fiction is seeking speculative fiction and creative nonfiction. Up to 3000 words. Pays $5.

Of Interest:

In celebration of Black History Month, StoryBundle has put out a Black Narratives Bundle

How do you feel about quiet horror? Have you ever read Zenna Henderson? Have you signed up for my book release? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG: Help! WIHM & Links

It's the first Wednesday of February, so it's IWSG time! Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer's Support Group is a place for writers to gather, talk about our insecurities, and lend support to our fellow insecure peeps. Anyone can participate by clicking on Alex's name and following the directions.

This month's co-hosts are Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte! Be sure to stop by and say hi.

The optional question of the month is: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

If you've been around here at all in the past, I'm sure you know I could talk about that forever, so I'll keep it short. The genre I most often write in is horror. It gives me the freedom to examine humanity in a way I wouldn't without the genre. To explore the darker side of life in a safe way. And it brings me devilish delight.

Okay, my insecurity for the month. For anyone who's ever self-published their first book, you probably know the laundry list of insecurities I'm feeling right now. My short story collection comes out March 15. I've got so much to do before then! If you're willing, please sign up at the link below to help with my book release for Blue Sludge Blues and Other Abominations. I'll bake you virtual cookies!


I've got a couple different options on there, so choose whatever works best! I'm so behind where I probably should be right now, but luckily it's my first time, so I won't know how behind I am until it's too late.

February is women in horror month (WIHM). To celebrate, I'll be featuring three female horror authors this month on the blog. The schedule will be as follows:

February 12: DeAnna Knippling
February 21: Ashley Dioses
February 26: J.H. Moncrieff

I hope you'll hop by and visit!

To get you started, here's a list of twenty women in horror.


Stat time. Each month I go over my submission stats for the previous month. It keeps me accountable. In January:

Submitted 6 short stories
Placed 2 short stories (Yay!)
Got 4 rejections (two of which asked me to send them something else next month)
I currently have 9 pieces on submission

Not too shabby! The funnest part is that I got my first acceptance for 2018 on January 1. The second acceptance was the second to last day of the month. Nice bookends!

Link time. Please note I am not endorsing these markets, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Things in the Well is seeking water related horror stories for Beneath the Waves: Tales From the Deep, an anthology. 5000 to 8000 words. Pays $50 AUD. Deadline February 28.

Body Parts Magazine is seeking short stories with the theme Primal Fears. Up to 8000 words. Pays up to $20. Deadline March 1.

The Literary Hatchet is seeking dark fiction short stories and poetry. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays up to $10. Deadline March 1.

World Weaver Press is seeking short stories about Baba Yaga for an anthology. 7500 to 20,000 words. Pays $50. Deadline March 1.

Upstreet is seeking literary fiction and creative nonfiction for its next issue. Up to 5000 words. Pays $50 to $250. Deadline March 1.

Spring Song Press is seeking fantasy/speculative stories in noblebright, grimdark, nobledark, etc. with the theme of shards. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline March 1.

Inkubus Publishing is seeking M/M erotica and romance with a pirate theme for A Share of the Booty. 500 to 10,000 words. Pays $15. Deadline March 1.

Goblin Fruit is seeking fantastical poetry. Pays $15. Deadline March 3.

Mslexia is seeking poetry, prose, and short scripts in the theme of Weather. Up to 2200 words. Pays a small, undisclosed payment. Deadline March 5.

What's your favorite genre? Who is your favorite woman in horror? What are your current insecurities? Any of these links of interest? Are you submitting? How'd January go? 

May you find your Muse.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Horror List Book Review: Invasion

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.)

This week I'm reviewing Invasion, by Robin Cook.

This was Cook's first foray into science fiction; normally he writes medical thrillers. He writes an open letter about it in the introduction. It shows in the basic layout of the sci-fi/horror elements, but he brings something new to it all with his knowledge of medical topics, which led to some fascinating information throughout.

I was frustrated with how stilted the writing came across at times, especially in the almost complete lack of contractions. Even the character dialogue was done without contractions, which made it come across as wooden. It slowed my reading.

The pacing was a bit slow to start with, though the aliens take their first victim right off. The slower build up seemed legitimate for the most part, though, as the invasion at first seems like an odd flu virus at first, making it so authorities wouldn't listen when people got wise to the fact that those who recovered from the flu virus acted oddly afterward. This did a good job of isolating the characters and making them fight on their own.

Overall, it was an interesting book. The writing might have gotten to me more if he hadn't done a good job with the characters, the conflict, and the medical details. There were times the characters came across a bit cliched, but for the most part they were done well enough to make me root for them and stay interested in the story.

I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It seems a bit simple, considering how long the book was. However, sometimes there's a satisfaction in the simplicity of a cure.

My Top Ten remain unchanged:

My Top Ten:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
5. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. Needful Things (Stephen King)
7. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
8. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. 20th Century Ghosts (Joe Hill)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

My next book review will be of Ghoul, by Brian Keene.

Have you read anything by Robin Cook? Does he use contractions in his other books? If you've read both his medical thrillers and his science fiction, how would you compare the two?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Year in Review: Year 3

This will be my third year doing  a Year in Review. It's fun to look back through my posts and save some of my favorites, or the ones that seemed most useful, by putting them out in a review post. It comes in handy to have a reference post, but it may also come in handy in case someone wasn't looking for a particular topic when I posted it, and now they need that information.

Before I jump into the reviews, I'm putting out an invitation to women in horror to hand over my blog to you one day in February, Women in Horror Month. It would have to be an actual post, something informative or interesting about horror, but it doesn't have to be horror fiction. And you are, of course, welcome to include a little something about your most recent release or an upcoming release, as long as that's not the entirety of your post. Just drop a comment below if you're a woman in horror interested in doing a guest post in February.

Speaking of which, I'll be putting out sign ups to help with a blog tour for the release of my short story collection. Coming soon!

Okay, now for the review. If you'd like to see last year's, click HERE. There's a link in that one to the previous year.

February 6

Check out these awesome women in horror, from Ripley to the Soska sisters.

March 22

This stemmed from a conversation about horror on Facebook, and spurred more conversations for me, as well as a workshop that I've now done for two different writing organizations. I've continued learning since this post, researching horror through the decades and how it's been classified (gothic romance, dark fantasy, supernatural thriller, etc.)

May 24

Wherein I continued the soul searching and research started in the March 22 post. All about pigeonholing horror. Hey, no one wants to be misunderstood or forced into a cliche.

July 19

A hopefully encouraging post about changing up your routines or writing methods to get yourself "unstuck."

September 13

I answered questions about short stories people had left in comments. Includes where to submit short stories, structure, etc.

September 27

About how I'm using a free online software meant for to-dos and daily chores and goals for my writing.

October 19

Some horror film recommendations from my month of watching a horror movie each month (October).

I did fewer posts in 2017 than 2016, and had fewer posts to pass along today. I figure I'll have plenty of posts on my first foray into self-publishing in the upcoming year to post in a review post in 2019.

Now for links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing them, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence when submitting.

Accepting Submissions

Ninth Letter is accepting short fiction, poetry, and essays. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 per printed page. Deadline February 28.

Darkhouse Books is seeking cozy to cozy-noir short stories involving librarians for the anthology Shhhh...Murder! They're also seeking poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and creative nonfiction with the theme of sanctuary, refuge, asylum, or shelter for Sanctuary. Up to 5000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline February 28.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories for The Best Advice I Ever Heard. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline February 28.

The Future Fire is seeking short stories and poetry for Making Monsters. They want retellings of classical monsters. Up to 5000 words. Pays £50. Deadline February 28.

Red Rabbit Publishing is seeking action filled sci-fi short stories for Red Rabbit Presents. Up to 6000 words. Pays up to $180. Deadline February 28.

Have you looked over your posts for the last year? Have you slacked off on posting? Any of these publishing links of interest? Anything to share? Are you a woman in horror who would like to guest post?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jennifer Lane's Twin Sacrifice Cover Reveal

Twin Sacrifice
by Jennifer Lane
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Release Date: February 28, 2018

My twin brother is determined to kill himself, but I won’t let him. 

I just discovered the sacrifice he made for me when we were young.

Now it’s time I return the favor. This time I’ll be the one with the secret.

Psychologist Matthew Durante’s twin brother, Justin, has struggled with mental illness since their parents died in a house fire. After Justin is accused of setting off a bomb that killed an innocent woman, he lands in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

In the face of Justin’s unrelenting suicide attempts, Matthew grows frantic to keep him alive. And as the pieces of their past fall into place, Matthew decides bold action is his only choice, no matter the cost.

Set against the backdrop of weapons manufacturing, terrorism, and a dark family secret, Matthew and Justin fight for survival, redemption, and most of all, for each other.

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun.

Jen loves to create sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez finds her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Spiked (Blocked #3) features Lucia’s younger brother, Mateo, and completes the series.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good BehaviorBad Behavior, and On Best Behavior. Her current project is a psychological thriller, Twin Sacrifice.

Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Horror List Book Review: John Dies at the End

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.)

This week I'm reviewing John Dies at the End, by David Wong.

This is going to be another brief review, because I actually read the book months ago, forgetting it was on my list, and gave it away at a Halloween book exchange, so I can't even reference it. Whoops!

"John Dies at the End" is an oddball journey with Lovecraftian themes. There are some real creepy moments, but also a lot of humor. This was originally published online, if I'm remembering right, and the spelling and grammar shows it, but the voice of the author is enjoyable enough to ignore that (for the most part). David Wong is not only the author (a pen name), but the main character, and he's relating to you in first person what occurred when he and his friend John got dosed with soy sauce, a drug that does insane things to their brains. Suddenly, they're seeing things in a whole new way, things that others can't.

It's juvenile and raunchy at times, but still funny. It's crazy and random. I figure it's worth a read for the fact that it's different than other books out there, though you won't come away feeling like you've read great literature.

As I've changed my ratings to only keep a Top Ten, nothing has changed this week. My Top Ten are still:

My Top Ten:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
5. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. Needful Things (Stephen King)
7. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
8. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. 20th Century Ghosts (Joe Hill)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

Not sure what I'm reading next, but I've got a stack, so yay!

Have you read this or seen the movie? What did you think? Will you be reading the sequels?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 Goal Setting & 2017 Review

I haven't had to date any checks yet, but the title of this blog post briefly threw me, so I'm expecting some incorrect dates coming up.

Now that it's a new year, it's time to review my goals for last year and see how I did. Much like last year, I set the goals then never looked back at them, so let's see how it went.

In 2017, I submitted 95 short stories.
I sold 6 short stories.
4 short stories were released.
I still have 12 stories pending that were submitted in 2017.
I withdrew 5 stories from consideration.
I had...are you ready for it? 80 rejections. Yeesh. Still not up to 100 rejections yet.

My goals for 2017, set back in January, were:

  • Final revision on Novel #2
  • Query Novel #2 in April at PPWC
  • Finish Novel #3
  • Write at least one new short story per month
  • Finish current pending revisions
  • Continue to book speaking/signing opportunities (so far, I have 1 definite and 2 possibles)
  • Evaluate Novel #1 to see if I want to continue pursuing it or trunk it for now
  • Continue submitting short stories - aim for 100 rejections and 12 acceptances this year
  • Write for at least two themed issues or anthologies that are outside my normal comfort level
Not too bad! I not only finished Novel #2, but am currently querying it. I queried it at PPWC and got an ask, but I've never heard it back since submitting it, so that's a no. I wrote at least one short story per month, with one a week for a short time, and finished the revisions I had pending by the end of January.

As far as appearances, I ended up appearing at 7 events, all of them so much fun! I've booked one so far for 2018, with some additional possibilities. Though I did not reach 100 rejections and 12 acceptances, I made the effort. And I wrote several stories outside my comfort zone, both of which were accepted! One has already been published, and the other is coming out in the coming year.

That leaves the things I didn't accomplish: finishing Novel #3 and evaluating #1 to see if I want to trunk it or move forward with it. Those will continue as goals this year.

For 2018, I'm setting the following goals:

  • Write a short story or flash piece each week (this is majorly pushing it for me, but I'm going to try.)
  • Read at least one book each week.
  • Finish Novel #3.
  • Start Novel #4.
  • Continue submitting short stories (aim for 100 rejections and 12 acceptances.)
  • Write short stories in at least three genres.
  • Write more nonfiction.
  • Query craft book.
  • Self-publish short story collection.
  • Evaluated Novel #1 to see if I want to pursue or trunk (though it's obviously trunked for now.)
  • Take more pictures.
  • Send workshop proposals to one conference new to me.
Of course, these goals are all well and good, but they are also fluid. I'll see what continues to be realistic, and I'll allow life to change things as needed. And, hey, I finished the short story for week #1, so yay!

Now for links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

The First Line is seeking flash and short stories that start with the line, "Leo massaged the back of his neck, thankful the meeting was finally over." Open to all genres, including nonfiction and poetry. 300 to 5000 words. Pays $5 to $50, depending upon story type. Deadline February 1.

ChiZine is seeking alternate history short stories for Other Covenants: Alternate Histories of the Jewish People. Open to all submitters. 500 to 15,000 words. Pays $.08/word CAD. Deadline February 4.

Subprimal is seeking poetry and flash fiction. Word counts vary. Pays $20. Deadline February 15.

Electric Athenaeum is seeking sci-fi and fantasy short stories, articles, poetry, and interviews with the theme "For Future Generations." 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays 50 GBP/story. Deadline February 15.

Circlet Press is seeking erotic stories inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $25 for the e-print, and a possible $25 later for print. Deadline February 15.

Any of these links of interest? Did you set goals for 2017? How did you do? How about 2018? Most importantly, are you working your dream?

May you find your Muse.

*New Year Flags by OCAL,
*Dart Board image by OCAL,