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Women in Horror Month: Tabitha Thompson

Tabitha has chosen to submit some of her writing. Below are two short pieces: “Sacrifice” and “Highway 54” for readers of Women in Horror Month.

Sacrifice

It was that time of year again. My body caught the flu, which sent my mom into a cleaning frenzy. Whiffs of pine cleaner, bleach, and even her homemade disinfectant entered almost every room, letting everyone who entered know that her house was not just clean, but immaculate. I’ve always loved my mother and she was always willing to help me get better. Each day, she used just a bit of disinfectant to take all of the germs away.

From what I’ve been told, I was a happy baby. My parents had the brightest smiles in the room when I was born; but the good times didn’t last. By the time I was eight, my dad got real sick and died. Mom tried her best to make him better, but by the time the doctors helped him, it was too late. The flu they said was the cause. Since then, my mom made it a mission to keep the house clean, so we won’t end up like Dad.

Five drops here, five drops there, Mom used her disinfectant. I had become used to the smell of lavender and lemon, which was always more soothing than the pine and lemon. Mom enjoyed when I complimented her on her cleaning and creativity, so she would make my favorite soup.

Chicken noodle. Smelling the rich, warm broth fill my nostrils always made me feel instantly better before I even tasted it. Bit of carrot and potatoes to make sure that I got my vegetables, and chunks of chicken. Every gulp made me smile even more, and made Mom very happy. But one day she wasn’t as happy. She told me she just missed Dad and how she ached for his love. I knew that she missed him, which I shared too, and she promised that we’d all meet each again someday.

Mom said it had been two weeks and I was still sick. My cough was getting worse, making Mom more concerned. More soup, more cleaning. The scents became heavier, but she said she wasn’t cleaning hard enough. From two times a week to almost every day, I heard the rag in the bucket or the sink and Mom’s voice hum a tune. She said she was having another one of her “days,” so cleaning happened every hour and she started making nothing but soup for me.

Although I didn’t mind, my taste for the soup started to wane. Mom hated when I complained and said soup was going to be my only meal. I hated making her mad; it made her clean more. Gulp by gulp, the soup became almost inedible, but I had to be grateful for what I had, which included the love of my mother. After all, I was her only child. The taste of lavender hit my lips and she explained that it was a new twist on the soup to make me more relaxed; but all it did was make me cough longer. Perhaps I was allergic to lavender but all I knew was Mom’s standard five drops of disinfectant became daily capfuls of usage.

Perhaps my immune system wasn’t strong enough to fight off the cold, and I reunited with Dad. Perhaps I wasn’t Mom’s love after all, especially once Dad’s and my life insurance policy dropped into her bank account.

Highway 54

Brown teddy bear with standard stitching and right eye removed, soaked from the rain on Highway 54. It was then his life changed. It was only a few miles from where he figured that for once his life would finally come back together, but during that moment it was replaced with fear, something that he never knew until he looked into the eyes of his son. Everything except the smells were a distant memory. The smell of the air thickened in his nostrils as it happened, the smell of the rain kissed with humidity, and the smell of blood. From his lips and nose to his glass covered car seats and his son, the scent was all around him, a constant reminder of that particular moment.

As he clutched the now tattered teddy bear in his arms, he tried to forget, but it was inevitable, the final moments in the car with his son were still there, including the tiny shards of bloody glass hidden in the creases in the road. Blue and red lights were in the distance, and as they came closer, it sank in. He wanted nothing more than to have the love of his life back, their lives filled with laughter and love. Improper placement of the car seat is what he would tell the police. He had no choice, it was the only way he could keep his marriage.

Tabitha Thompson is a lover of writing words that become horror stories, reading, coffee, rock music, and video games while residing in Florida as a college student. Her work is featured in publications such as Sirens Call Publications, JEA Press, and Mocha Memoirs Press. When she’s not writing, she spends time with loved ones. Always inspired, always creating.

Twitter ID: @Tabicat90 Instagram: http://@tabby_t137

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Women in Horror Month: Katie Berry

Sometimes, people ask me, “Why do you write what you write, Katie Berry?” I usually respond, “I don’t know.”

The question is a good one. I have always loved reading horror stories and fantastic fiction. My earlier forays into the unknown and unseen came through the works of such legendary writers as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and Bram Stoker, amongst others.

It was when I was in my middle teens that I discovered more current writers, such as one with the last name of King, and also a gentleman named Koontz. It was overjoyed to find this amazing treasure-trove of phenomenal tales conveniently located under the letter “K” in my local library. After that, I delved into writers who don’t have a last name starting with “K” and discovered such greats as James Herbert, Graham Masterson, V.C. Andrews, Robert R. McCammon, Anne Rice, Gary Brandner, Michael Crichton, and the list goes on.

But that is more of a who’s-who instead of an explanation as to why. Sometimes, at this point, someone will ask, “Maybe it the environment in which you were raised? Or perhaps it’s a genetic predisposal due to some childhood trauma?” Fortunately, there was very little trauma in my actual physical environment during my early years that would have triggered my predisposition toward horror. I think really think that distinction would have to go to my mother, bless her little heart. However, where she got it from, is anybody’s guess.

As a child, I shared her enjoyment of classic horror movies from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s right up into the 1970s. Universal’s Monsters were our favourites, along with the Hammer Films of the fifties and sixties and the Corman-Price pictures from the same period. This was around the same time I discovered reruns of Dan Curtis’s The Nightstalker on the Late Show on CBS. After seeing that show, I wanted to be an investigative journalist, just like Darren McGavin. I actually took journalism in college, and though I never worked for a news service, the research aspects that I learned through those courses have been something that has aided my writing greatly over the years. I had also begun reading some of my brother’s old comics, such as DC’s The Witching Hour, House of Mystery, etc. And though too young to appreciate the original EC Comics of the ’50s, I was able to enjoy them through reprints I came across in later years.

Comedy mixed in with the horror is something I remember enjoying very early on in life. And so, it was inevitable that Mom and I also watched Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, then The Wolfman, followed by The Invisible Man. Humour and horror mixed together have always held great fascination for me. I find that the two go together like a fine wine paired with a lovely aged cheddar (or yes, chocolate and peanut butter)—just the right amount of each is a very pleasurable experience. When I write, I try to inject a little levity into all of my stories. I find the moments of lightness help to enhance the moments of darkness, so it’s really a win-win for me!

This isn’t to say my writing is outright horror-comedy or anything like that, far from it. But I feel that nothing beats a good chuckle after having the crap scared out of you, as I am sure many of you might agree. According to some readers of my stories, I have succeeded in that regard. And that, for me, is everything. To know that I have helped someone get away from their everyday life, if only for a few hours at a time, and step into another world filled with thrills, chills and chuckles is a wonderful feeling, and I feel very blessed to be able to do so.

I like the analogy that a good horror story, or any dramatic story for that matter, is like a roller coaster ride. You have your peaks of excitement and dips of despair, along with some curves and corkscrews thrown in for good measure to keep things interesting. The sort of story that, when you put the book down, you have that same feeling of excitement and regret that you do exiting the rollercoaster, that it was overall too quickly.

If a writer can give that ride to a reader and add in some believable and relatable characters, they will have succeeded. As one reviewer said of my novel, CLAW, “What a great adventure! Loved the characters, the creatures, and the humor of this great story. Everything felt so lifelike. This is one of those books that you don’t want to stop reading and pull you in deeper and deeper from page one…”  

That comment is the kind that makes my long hours, lack of social contact, and sleepless nights, all more than worthwhile. If you tell your tale well, and you’ve done your job, you’ll scare the bejeesus out of some unsuspecting reader and perhaps even make them laugh a little at the same time. It is the ultimate compliment for any horror writer.

However, I will say this for sure; I do not view what I do as a job. Writing is a lifelong passion that I have fortunately turned into a career thanks to years and years of practice before even thinking of publishing my first novel. These days, I am fortunate to look forward to the morning slog to the office, even if it is only over to the next room; a place where I can dream as I write and then turn those dreams into an exciting, and hopefully terrifying reality for my readers.

In parting, I would like to thank Colleen Anderson for the opportunity to write a few thoughts for her blog today. It has been a pleasure to talk of writing and horror in general like this. In the future, I hope some of you reading this might consider visiting a small fictional town located near me in the Kootenays called, Lawless, BC, home to CLAW: A Canadian Thriller. Or, if something a little less outdoorsy is more your style, then perhaps you might want to consider checking-in for a stay at my latest creation, the Sinclair Resort Hotel, the location of my upcoming novel, Abandoned, releasing this month. Until then, I hope your frights are filled with fear, and that your thrills have plenty of chills.

Katie Berry is a Canadian Author of Thrillers. Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Katie moved west to British Columbia during a family migration that occurred during the later half of the 20th century.

A long-time writer and voracious reader, Katie enjoys a variety of creative and recreational activities when she’s not absorbed in the written word. With many years of keyboard experience, Katie is an avid digital musician, and has been involved in several musical theatre and stage productions in the beautiful West Kootenay region of BC over the past few years.

An eye for detail helps Katie capture many magical moments with her camera as she interprets the natural beauty of the world that surrounds her through its lens. Always looking for something new to advance her artistic experimentation, Katie is also an accomplished sketch artist. She specialises in detailed drawings of friends, family and fur-babies, such as cats, dogs and the odd ferret.

After a lifetime of experience in numerous fields of endeavour, Katie now spends her days, and most nights, doing what she loves, bringing stories to life for people who enjoy a tale where the everyday suddenly becomes something much, much more…”

Titles by Katie Berry: CLAW, CLAW Emergence: Caleb Cantrill, CLAW Emergence: Kitty Welch

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Women in Horror Month: LindaAnn LoSchiavo

Today, from New York, I introduce LindaAnn LoSchiavo, writer and thinker. LindaAnn was nominated for the SFPA’s Elgin Award last year, for a collection of poetry. She has many works to her credit.

Handmaiden to the Dark Side

A bogeyman, like the one lying in wait under your bed, is likely to be unprepossessing. Beauty in folklore reflected inner worthiness, kindness, and morality. Conversely, fantasy’s evil-doers―goblins, trolls, demons, and miscreants―are born beastly: grotesque, misshapen, stunted, lacking sex appeal.

Tweaking that stereotype, Bram Stoker [1847-1912] decided to depict his iconic bad boy and animated corpse as a humanoid shapeshifter, erotically charged, his fangs coexisting with a sensual mouth. A charming cosmopolitan, Count Dracula is a tall, strong, mature aristocrat with the ability to regain youthfulness via blood-sucking. Stoker’s wealthy Transylvanian confirms his passion for real estate and ancient architecture, explaining, “A new home would kill me.” He’s courtly, too, holding the door open―for his guest’s untimely departure.

Our favorite creature of the night.

Dracula, the 1897 bestseller that’s been a model for supernatural horror writers, is one of the titles that thrilled me during my formative years. I read prodigiously as a child, one library book a day, memorizing poems and whatever caught my fancy.

Introduced to grand opera as a toddler, and taken to Broadway shows since I was four years old, I was not shielded from menacing adult themes onstage. For instance, since I had devoured Henry James’ gothic horror novella The Turn of the Screw as an elementary school pupil, I was taken to a performance of Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera adaptation. It featured two evil spirits who prey on the children; sexy, demonic Peter Quint and his cohort Miss Jessel, whose beautiful costumes and vocal chops dispelled some of their inherent Jamesian monstrosity.

Narrative and drama padded my girlish dreams. At nine, I had a poem accepted for publication and staged my first one-act drama in New York City (adapted from Alcott’s Little Women), my script typed six times for cast members. My nine-year-old self never heard of the sleight-of-hand trick of photocopying. 

Whether writing or reading, what captivated me were the transgressive characters, who dared to be different, whether it was Jo March, Queen of the Night, Peter Quint, or Count Dracula. But whenever I put pen to paper, unlike Bram Stoker, I gave villainy a long leash. No intrusive vampire hunters in my stanzas. 

My speculative poetry collection, Elgin Award nominee, A Route Obscure and Lonely [Wapshott Press, 2019, 62 pgs.] dances to dark music, featuring, for example, Black Sabbath rites, sinister deeds, and the Grim Reaper, who’s kept busy.

Two of my poems focus on vampires and what they vibe to: real estate and rejuvenation. “Unquiet House,” a dramatic monologue, is voiced by a vampire, posing as a house-hunter.

  Unquiet House         
 
 Dilapidated house. The broker’s keen
 To pitch the property to newlyweds
 From out-of-state, which we pretend to be.
  
 Maria’s chatter is distracting him,
 Eyes showing gleams of true engagement, winks.
  
 I slip out ― for a photo, I explain ―
 Meticulously cautious. Quiet shoes.
  
 How many bargain hunters have been here,
 Inspecting dirty cellar walls for clues
 Of water damage, not suspecting mold
 Is not the worst homeowner’s legacy?
  
 The deck is clouded. Spiders overhead,
 Suspended from dead vines, await a broom
 Knifing through filaments spun secretly.
  
 Unnatural deeds carry threads forward
 Like the black widow spider, breast-stroking
 Through gossamer voids under ragged moons.
  
 Sweet blood’s in undiscovered special rooms,
 Unconquerable sorrows tendon-taut.
  
 The “For Sale” sign nods back and forth as if
 It recognizes me through my disguise.
  
 No longer called a conjuror, my steps
 Still carry the pulsations of lost hearts.
   
 The agent doesn’t realize what’s right
 Behind him, why he must be sacrificed.
  
 Maria’s eyes meet mine, a message swept
 Across in spidery blinks of eyelash.
  
       The undead must have dreams for which to wait.

Published in Bewildering Stories, Issue # 827, October 7, 2019
You Tube Link: Unquiet House  ― as a video-poem   

Published by Wapshott Press

Of the thirty-three poems in A Route Obscure and Lonely, twenty-six were written in 2019 for this collection and composed with some symmetry. For instance, “The Mermaid’s Lament” was paired with “What Mother Failed to Mention about Dating a Mer-Man;” a chant royal “Persephone in January” was mated with a dramatic monologue on Persephone’s abduction “The Son-in-Law from Hell;” “Samhain” set on October 31 was offset by a spookier vision inspired by Mussorgy’s 1867 orchestral tone poem: “Night on Bald Mountain, St. John’s Eve, June 23.”

Then, ready for another round of vampire versifying, I retrofitted Dracula as a player in a Regency romance in the vein of Jane Austen. The first line of Pride and Prejudice―about “a truth universally acknowledged,” inspired the epigraph to “The Tale of the Vintner’s Daughter.” Her family’s vineyards depend on sun, whereas “he shuns daylight, potato-like.” Could Dracula’s real estate portfolio be date-bait?

           The Tale of the Vintner’s Daughter
  
                         “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a foreign bachelor,
                         in possession of a drafty castle, must be in want of a wife.”
  
 She overheard her parents mentioning
 A vast estate, long vacant, just changed hands.
 Inheritance. Fortunate foreigner,
 Related distantly. A gentleman ―
 Aristocrat ― whose bloodline staked his claim,
 Will take possession soon of Mount Ardeal.
  
 Townsfolk with daughters gave approval, sight
 Unseen. A bachelor! Well-circumstanced!
 Considering an heiress gets respect
 At any age, she was insulted when
 Her father dared to call her “an old maid.”
  
 Inspecting manicured and chaste white hands,
 Aware there’s merit in matched wedding bands,
 Realities of warring unmet needs
 Upbraid the tight lips of virginity.
  
 Receptions will be held, bite-size buffets.
 This heir, unknown, is suddenly “a catch.”
 The vintner’s daughter can sense life’s about
 To change once she’s in a relationship.
 Enchanting friendships could lead to courtship.
  
 Her early childhood memories were filled
 With bone-dry men admitting they had come
 To slake their thirst, which is unquenchable,
 She learned, while watching mother pour and pour.
  
 Vacationing at vineyards tutored her.
  
 She watched the women kneeling to tie off
 Vines ― how their expertise was in the knots
 Not grapes ― enduring, bending, bowing low,
 And salving calloused hands at quitting time.
  
 Admiring the fruitfulness of their
 Harvest on horseback, they see an ornate
 Black carriage pass, its curtains tightly drawn.
 It must be him, the heir they’ve heard about.
  
 Born in Romania, this bachelor
 Inherited five castles, acreage.
  
 Unlike the grapes, their ripening athirst
 For sun, he shuns daylight, potato-like,
 Basks in his soft cocoon of native soil.
  
 Their fete won’t start till red horizon’s drained
 And autumn air’s electric with decay.
  
 Assuming his disguise, Count Dracula
 Arrives, polite, attired properly,
 Seductive, well turned-out considering
 He can’t see his reflection. Mirrors won’t
 Hold him. Avoiding long engagements, he’ll
 Tell ladies he prefers to sleep alone.
  
 Echolocation guides his strong black wings
 To candle-lit bed chambers. Milky white
 Breasts, pleasure’s playthings, don’t stir his manhood.
 Sharp fangs seek virginal smooth necks. Always
 His type, blood’s sustenance is what he craves,
 Imagining the process from the grave.
  
 He’s parched when entering the ballroom.
 Delaying satisfaction sweetens it.
 Unmarried females study him, inspect
 His gold ancestral jewelry engraved
 Impiously. Flirtatious words affect
 The vintner’s daughter, nodding glassy-eyed,
 Intoxicated. His gaze penetrates
 Until she’s under his hypnotic sway.
  
 The heiress has arranged to meet the Count
 In private. At eleven they will mount
 Their horses, undetected, take a ride.
  
 Discreet, she’ll hide in the orangerie,
 Alerting him to the romantic grove
 By a rose-petalled trail, a daring ruse.
  
 Excited to imagine his caress,
 The dark dissolving inhibitions, she’s
 Startled by flapping wings overhead.
  
 Peculiarly, her petals were consumed.
  
 Spotting a white handkerchief on a chair,
 She rests her rosebuds there ― a silent prayer. 

Published in Bewildering Stories, Issue # 825,  Sep. 16, 2019 

Dark poetry is not a road to warm refuge. Death occurs often in these pages and never in service of a higher purpose. Yet contemplating the eternal quietus is bracing. For away from the abyss, all height’s revised.

N.B.: Some poems have a video version.

You Tube Link: The Son-in-law from Hell  ― as a video-poem   
You Tube Link: Poe and His Women  ― as a video-poem   


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Filed under Culture, fairy tales, fantasy, horror, people, poetry, Writing

Not White Like Me

Copyright Toronto.com John Rennison

I don’t have a TV and with working from home I haven’t been hearing as much news as before, but even so I know of the riots and protests and yet another murder of a person of color, of George Floyd. It makes me angry. I want to cry and it feels like nothing has changed since slavery was abolished. That’s partly hyperbole because things have changed, but the continual abuse of people of color, the fear under which they live and the treatment of them all as guilty first has not changed. The license to be more racist has certainly been given under the auspices of the racist, bigoted, misogynistic sociopath who is supposed to be leader of the US. But it certainly didn’t start with him and he’s a sign of an ongoing disease.

I live in Vancouver, BC. Canada is known for being polite, being a little more placid than some countries. Port cities throughout the centuries have always been more tolerant due to the many cultures that would flow in and out of the seaports. Though Vancouver is a port city, that does not mean we are free of racism. We have significant numbers of people of Chinese, Indian and Indigenous descent. There are other Asian races as well and black people though their numbers are higher in central and eastern Canada. However, we are naive if we think we don’t have racists and bigots living amongst us. There is still a percentage of people who think their whiteness makes them better than others. What we are though, is more privileged than many people of color.

Last night, in my quiet East Van hood I went down to a local bar for a drink. We’re still spaced for social distancing purposes but around the corner from where I sat at the bar was a woman of color. We got talking about COVID, as one does these days, and then moved off to other discussions of language and culture and countries. She’s a brown woman, born and bred in East Van but her cultural background is from India and Fiji and she identified herself as a brown dyke living in East Van.

I asked her if she’s ever experienced racism or police stereotyping and her answer was, hell yeah. She was taught that the moment you hear the whoop whoop of a police car, you put your hands above your head. She’s been stopped three times by police when she was going home from work. She’s been questioned and searched. She carries a pocket knife, partly because she works in a hardware store and uses it on the job, but it’s not illegal to carry a knife. She’s missed taking her bus home as she sat at a bus stop because police were asking her what she was doing and where she was coming from, and all because her skin is brown.

Taken from a 2014 post at Skepchick Nothing has changed.

I kept hearing about white privilege and didn’t feel that privileged. I’m not rich or elite or superior, but what I have that people of color don’t is that I have never had to worry about being shot, or beaten or questioned because of my skin color. I haven’t had to fear a police car. My parents did not have to teach me to live in caution and fear of the police, those who are supposed to protect all citizens equally. Sure, as a woman, I have to face other fears; that a man might overpower or rape me and I have experienced sexual abuse in the past. But I have not had to face this as a woman of color.

I’ve listened to news interviews and reports of people in other parts of the country and their experiences. In Toronto where there is a larger black population; CBC interviewed people about their experiences and they all had known someone who was shot or killed by police. I told this woman that I almost wanted to be with her to film these intrusions she’s had, but just by being there and being white, I would legitimize her, probably stopping the police from questioning her, which is a terrible thing to have–that a person is not seen a legitimate unless someone else of another class vouches for them. Sounds a lot like slavery, doesn’t it?

I’ve heard the stories where police would drive Indigenous kids to the edge of town in winter and make them walk home, sometimes with inadequate clothing as well. Some of those kids never made it. I’ve heard of Asians in Vancouver being verbally and physically attacked because of COVID 19. It’s here and it’s now.

Not all of this racism is perpetrated by police and not all police are terrible. In fact, I’m sure the majority in most places are good and upstanding people. But when you have a gas leak, it affects everyone in the area. And if you let racism leak in or flood those who are supposed to be upholders of justice and the law, then everything is tainted. People fear those who should be protecting them and there are far too many cases of people in police custody who have died from mysterious or downright blatant cases of violence. Justice stands for “just behavior and treatment.” To be just is to be fair and not be biased in any way.

Vancouver’s rally, from CTV News

I don’t believe in painting any one group with the same brush, and that goes for cultures, races, religions or even police. But as long as this blatant racial stigmatizing goes on, it will affect trust and incite anger. I worry about my friends who are not white, and what I don’t even know they have to face. I’ve lived in a protective bubble that I didn’t even know I had. My bubble shouldn’t have to pop but it should be so large that we’re all inside it being treated equal.

When those who have the power to uphold the law are the worst abusers of that law we will erode into a police state, where everyone lives in fear. Right now, for a significant portion of North America’s population, it is already a police state. Black lives matter: stop treating them like fodder.

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Women in Horror: Angela Yuriko Smith

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?WiHM11-Scalples-wv

The first poem I remember reading was “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. I think I must have been around 2nd or 3rd grade. I was going through a bandits and pirates obsession and the way Noyes put together the story as a poem intrigued me. I was breathless after absorbing such an intense tale distilled into verse. Not long after I stumbled across “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. I fell in love with him and the way poetry could cut the fat from prose and leave the reader with only the essentials. In my mind, poetry heightened the reader’s discover and could play outside the normal rules of fiction.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because some stories need to be told that way. I love the way you can show an alternative perspective with poetry and turn a few thoughts into something to mull.  Poetry sparks revolution, soothes pain and reawakens the spirit.

Dark Matters

It’s all dark matters
in the space between the stars.
Inverted brilliance.

## 2019 winner of SFPA poetry contest in dwarf form

smith clawsWhat do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

Finding an authentic voice and staying true to it. Allowing the poem to be what it wants to be makes me nervous sometimes. Often I tell a poem “You can’t say that!” but until I let the poem say what it wants in the way it wants, it won’t let me rest.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

A lot of my poetry (and prose) hopes to give readers a different way to look at fears. Are monsters, death and destruction really so terrible? In my poetry, it’s often just the way you look at it. I’ve been told this is how “the Antichrist” communicates and I find that immensely flattering.

Parade of the Raven Prince

He stands at the head
of a carnivalistic parade…
hungry and bizarre with
hollowed, craven eyes.

His sharp beak pierces
the dark side of my heart.
His ebon feathers tickle
my fancy and I blush.

His misshapen troupe
watches from behind
licking cracked lips
waiting for reactions…
will I run or stay?

I stay, hypnotized
by his compelling dark
gaze laden with promises—
annihilation for adoration
seems a good exchange
in the woods at night
when face to face with
the Raven Prince and
his possessive posse.

His stance says enough.
I am already owned. He
is the scavenger of souls…
the claimer of carcasses.

Boneless, helpless
I drop to the leaves
adding my humanity
to the detritus there….
cast it off like a girl’s
outgrown, faded frock
and open my chest
inviting him to dip his
razor beak into my soul
and drain me to a husk.

Somewhere, a witch’s tears
mar her silver scry as she
witnesses wilted and sad
girlhood fall forgotten to
the forest floor and her
child prisoner rise to join
a different twisted family.

I see her eyes in the mist
watching me from shadows
cast from my new master.
With no love lost I wave
soft and secret for her
that watches, blinded
as her monkey joins
another circus.

##

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

Speculative poetry is the mirror we hold up so we can safely see Medusa. The world is Medusa. The speculative genre allows readers to dip into unsafe worlds where there are no rules, protections, or assurances and view our own through them. A fictional viral zombie apocalypse allows us to think about the very real coronavirus, but in a safer way. We can dip our toes into our fear, have a peek into its eyes and see how we might slay it.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

My next poetry collection is Altars and Oubliettes which is an exploration of the things smith bookwe want to remember on our mind’s altars and the things we’d rather forget. I’m currently working on a collection I’ve called Sugar Skull Songs about the darker side of femininity. I am nearly done with the follow up to my Bitter Suites, my 2018 Bram Stoker Awards finalist and of course Space and Time magazine keeps me busier than I ever thought possible. I have a few short stories popping up in different anthologies and magazines over the next year as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about horror or poetry or other dark inspirations?

One of the areas I look forward to exploring in the next decade is my Okinawan background. Family lore has stories about my relatives there, the Ryukyuan religion they followed and how they were yuta, a kind of female medium or shaman. These influences were important factors as I grew up. I’m planning a trip to Okinawa in the next few years to visit some of these places and perhaps get some personal answers that I’m sure will show up in my writing.

smithAngela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards Finalist. In 2019 she won the SFPA’s poetry contest in the dwarf form category. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit SpaceandTimeMagazine.com or AngelaYSmith.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelayurikosmithsmith pain
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaYSmith
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angela_yuriko_smith/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/dandilyonfluff
Amazon: amazon.com/author/angelaysmith

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Women in Horror: Michelle Scalise

WiHM11-GrrrlWhiteMy guest today is Michelle Scalise. Her poetry punches hard and all the more wrenching for its reality.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I was taught dull, unrelatable poems in grade school but when I started high school I discovered Edgar Allan Poe on my own. “Annabel Lee,” in particular, made me obsessed with the art form. My work now is influenced by everyone from Charles Baudelaire to Sylvia Plath to Anne Sexton.

Why do you write poetry?

Besides poetry, I also write short stories but I can express myself and my life through poetry in unique ways. I love the way poetry lets a writer play with the sounds of words and the rhythm they make to create an image and feeling.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

The most difficult part of writing is getting the feeling across to the reader but leaving enough room for them to relate to a poem in their own way.

MISTY WAS AN UGLY DOLL

When she grew weary
stubbing out cigarettes
on the old lady,
who paid dearly for
adopting a sewer rat,
Mama would come for me.

She’d lift me onto the stepping stool.
It didn’t help to beg and weep,
humiliation was a sound for the weak.

With giant antique sheers,
She’d chop off my hair muttering,
“Pretty girls are blonde like me.”

Upstairs in the shadows,
a box with my favorite doll
“Beautiful Misty” it read in bold print.
But they were wrong,
her hair was red
and grew long with the turn of knob.

Misty cried when I cut her locks.
I had no mercy for a toy that lied.

Sometimes Mama slapped too hard
but I couldn’t make Misty bleed.
So I colored bruises on her cheeks.
Now she’s dead inside like me.

## from Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

scalise bookMy latest collection, DRAGONFLY AND SONGS OF MOURNING (LVP Publications 2019) is about the death of my husband, novelist Tom Piccirilli, of cancer. Most poets who write in the horror genre use death a lot but this is personal. It was also the only work I’ve ever done that was painful to write. My last collection THE MANUFACTURER OF SORROW (Eldritch Press) doesn’t have a theme. I am always writing about scarred childhoods and turning the image of mothers into monsters. That’s my way of fighting back at my past. Both of my short story collections also contain poems.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

Life is dark and awful for everyone at times. There is something soothing about reading a poet one can relate to.

WORDS HE REMEMBERED

He couldn’t see her anymore
Morphine shuttered his eyes
And cobwebs hung from his lashes
But he heard her whispering
And her prayers became a chapter
On the white walls of his cell.
Words dripping from the ceiling
To languish on the cracked linoleum floor.

His writing was his hunger.
Words black as the poison inside him
Spun into strings of sentences.
Both the horror and the beauty
He longed to type.

Ideas drowning in an IV bag.
Page after page
Streaming from his brain
Too quickly to catch.
He cried watching them fly away.

But he didn’t grieve his own loss,
She’d do that for him.
It was the stories
He’d forgotten to tell
That ran like deer in the mountains
Through the silence he’d leave behind.

## from Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I have started something new but it won’t have an actual theme, at least so far. When I go back I may discover something similar running through the poems.

Is there anything else you would like to say about horror or poetry?

My love for horror began when I was a little girl. I would watch old horror movies with my father. He died young but his memory is always in my work.

Since 1994, Michelle Scalise‘s work has appeared in such anthologies as Unspeakable ScaliseHorror, Darker Side, Mortis Operendi I, Dark Arts, The Big Book of Erotic Ghost Stories, Best Women’s Erotica, and such magazines as Cemetery Dance, Crimewave, Space and Time, and Dark Discoveries. She was nominated for the 2010 Spectrum Award, which honors outstanding works of fantasy and horror that include positive gay characters. Her poetry has been nominated for the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award. Her fiction has received honorable mention in Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her fiction collection, Collective Suicide, was published by Crossroad Press in 2012. In 2014, Eldritch Press published a collection of her poetry, The Manufacturer of Sorrow in paperback and ebook. It became a bestseller in the women writers category on Amazon. In May of 2019, her latest collection of poetry, Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning, was published by Lycan Valley Press. It has made the preliminary ballet for the Bram Stoker Award. Michelle is an active member of the HWA and the SFPA.

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Women in Horror: Sara Tantlinger

WiHM11-Scalples-wvToday’s guest in Sara Tantlinger, another pretty amazing poet.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

Like many others, Edgar Allan Poe was one of the first writers to really lure me into the world of poetry. I remember reading “The Raven” in middle school and having the imagery stick with me for a long time. Additionally, Sylvia Plath, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman were my biggest classic inspirations that took me deeper into my love of poetry. My more contemporary inspirations are all the wonderful horror poets out there, along with Sierra DeMulder and Richard Siken.

Why do you write poetry?

I love that poetry forces you to create something sharp and poignant in a small space. You have a short amount of time to grab the reader’s attention, exploit the senses, create vivid imagery, and hopefully, have the reader go back to the beginning and discover new aspects of the poem on a second or third read. I love those types of poems that you can come back to multiple times and feel all over again. When I write poetry, I want to evoke all of that within a reader.

Blood Clot Passenger

1886, late summer, early morning
a man steps off a train
thirty-five years old, five foot eight
blue eyes
striking against
miasmic city filth
striking against
his well-dressed body

hearses roll by, iron-clad wheels rattling,
urging city rats to scamper
past bluebottle flies
hovering over animal corpses
littering over the city streets
like masses on an artery

a man walks through the city
as summer rots
locomotive steam pluming upward,
conjoining with polluted clouds,
soot and smoke
thickening a blockage from the sun

1886, late summer, early morning
a man steps off a train,
the clot breaks free, travels through
Chicago’s body,
this dark-mustached swindler,
this charmer who pied the snakes
swallowed them whole,

emits musical poison from his throat
walks past death without blinking
thirty-five years old, five foot eight
blue eyes
hungering over
the sight of maggots
wondering how squirming larvae
would look
inside the body of the pretty woman
he had sat next to on the train.

First published in The Devil’s Dreamland, Strangehouse Books, 2018

##

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

It can be difficult not to rely on the same words or imagery, especially in horror. It is a fantastic challenge to study new words and think of innovative ways to describe something like blood or death or darkness, but I always have to watch and edit myself for how many times I might rely on a certain word or image. The last thing I want to do is check over a collection of my poems and realize I used the same word 70 times or something like that!

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I love themed poetry! Lately, historical horror has been the niche I’ve been drawing a lot from. I also really enjoy nature-themed poetry. Taking something beautiful or terrifying from nature and turning it into a horror poem is always a delight.

My first collection Love For Slaughter centers around obsessive, bloody love. It was inspired by the idea of “madness shared by two” and I’ve dubbed it a “horrormance” collection — a little romance and a lot of blood.

The Devil's Dreamland full rezAnd then my collection The Devil’s Dreamland, which won the 2018 Bram Stoker Award, was inspired by the life and lies of serial killer H.H. Holmes. The poems dip into his point of view pretty heavily, but I also included poems from the perspective of his victims, the city, and his murder castle in 1800s Chicago.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

Dark and speculative poetry is such a great rabbit hole to get lost in. I’ve heard from many readers before that they weren’t really into poetry until they discovered horror poetry. While I love an array of poetry, from classic sonnets to more contemporary free verse, I can understand why studying certain poems in school might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but dark poetry offers something a little different. The poems are like bite-sized bits of horror that readers can digest and then come back to for more.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I am currently working on my third poetry collection titled Cradleland of Parasites. It will be out this fall from Strangehouse Books, and it draws inspiration from the Black Death and other plagues! I love historical horror, so this project has been a fascinating one to work on so far. Coming up, I have a few poems in Burning Love and Bleeding Hearts, a charity anthology to raise funds for the Australian bushfire victims — all sale proceeds will be donated to the Australian Red Cross and matched dollar-for-dollar by Microsoft (up to $50k) as part of their Giving campaign.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about  horror or poetry?

Though it isn’t poetry, my first edited anthology will also be out this fall from Strangehouse Books, Not All Monsters. The collection is made entirely of stories by women in horror, and it features some of the most stunning artwork from Don Noble. I am so proud to share the authors’ stories. Keep an eye to the horizon for pre-order info and other things soon!

Sara Tantlinger is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil’s Dreamland: Tantlinger2020Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes. She is a poetry editor for the Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s MFA program, a member of the SFPA, and an active member of the HWA. Her other books include Love for Slaughter and To Be Devoured. Her poetry, flash fiction, and short stories can be found in several magazines and anthologies, including The Twisted Book of Shadows, Sunlight Press, Unnerving, and Abyss & Apex. She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraJane524 and at saratantlinger.com

 

 

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Women in Horror: Amanda Crum

WiHM11-Scalples-wvAmanda Crum is my next poetry guest for Women in Horror Month. I’m not the only one who thinks she’s talented. See for yourself and enjoy her poem as well.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I started writing poetry as a kid, but I always disliked the rhyming kind that was so prevalent in children’s writing. I loved Shel Silverstein because his use of language was so different to me. He was writing for the daydreamer kids like me.

Why do you write poetry?         

Poetry is a way to pull all the best words from the atmosphere and play with them. I love that. I love that it can tell a story or just a fragment of one.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry? 

For me the most difficult part is getting organized, because I have so many ideas that it’s hard to distill them all into something cohesive.

From my book of horror poetry, Tall Grass, which made the preliminary ballot for a Crum coverBram Stoker Award nomination this year. “Sheets On A Line” is inspired by Dolores Claiborne.

Sheets On A Line

It comes to you as you hang the last piece,
knuckles cracked and bleeding
in the glacial air:

there are no borders too hard to fracture,
only cages with keys.
You’ve been hemmed in,

wary and circuital,
but even the cons at Shawshank
can’t be held forever.

There’s no weapon forged
that could do the job cleanly,
but these hills whisper

with every wave that breaks cliffside.
They say that opportunity is
veiled inside their curves,

that the sun holds shadows to her breast
that are yours for the taking.
Your eyes rove east to west,

regarding the line of billowing white sheets
laid out like a ligature across the landscape.
They twist in the wind, content to stay secure

even if it means dodging brutal currents,
but now you can see how easy it is
to break the pins and set them free.

##

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I like to get into the motivation behind things, and I tend to write a lot about grief and facing mortality because those are things that are on my mind a lot. With my latest book of poetry, Tall Grass, I took a look at a lot of famous horror characters and tried to get into their minds a bit. What was Dolores Claiborne feeling when she first thought of a way out of her abusive marriage? I want to look at the stories and characters that shaped us through a different lens.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it? 

So many of us are living with anxiety, we’re waking up to awful news everyday, and the thought of getting lost in beautiful language and stories that carry us away is too good to pass up.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?   

I’m working on a full-length horror novel, and it’s my first attempt at something like that so it’s exciting and terrifying. I want to do it right!

Amanda Crum is a writer and artist whose work has appeared in publications such Crumas Eastern Iowa Review, Barren Magazine, and Corvid Queen, as well as in several anthologies such as Beyond The Hill and Two Eyes Open. Her books of horror poetry, The Madness In Our Marrow and Tall Grass, have both made the preliminary ballot for a Bram Stoker Award nomination. She is also a nominee for the Best of the Net Award and the Pushcart Prize. Amanda currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.

https://twitter.com/MandyGCrum

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2904138.Amanda_Crum

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Women in Horror: Lesley Wheeler

WiHM11-Scalples-wh

I’m quite blown away by the talent of the writers I’m featuring for Women in Horror Month. Today, another multi-published, amazing writer joins me: Lesley Wheeler. I’m sure you’ll see why she’s been honored so many times.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I’ve been obsessed with poetry since childhood—I always had a strong attraction to the sound of it. Studying Romantic poetry in high school, Modernism in college, and late-twentieth-century poetry in graduate school shaped my aesthetics pretty strongly.

Why do you write poetry?

I can’t help it. When I don’t make time for it, too, I feel bad and even have nightmares. Working centers me and helps me focus my attention like prayer and meditation.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

Closure! Finding an ending that is both satisfying and surprising is really, really hard. Sometimes you have to dig into your most uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to get there, too.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

Wheeler coverI’ve always been interested in sound, place, gender, and the question of what’s real (when and for whom, too). The fifth and latest book, The State She’s In, epitomizes those obsessions: it takes on what it means to live in Virginia right now, in light of the state’s terrible history and its beautiful more-than-human features. There are some spell poems—I’m still writing those, maybe for the next book?—although a good share of the horror is political. It’s also about menopause. I’m here to testify that turning 50 has some terrifying moments and can be major hinge in a person’s life.

From The State She’s In, first published in Cascadia Subduction Zone Vol. 8, No. 4, 2018

Racketing Spirits
Brownsburg, Virginia, 1825

She careened from kitchen house to dining room,
bare brown feet quick in the frosted yard, crying
of the old woman with her head tied up. Nobody’s
chasing you, Maria, Dr. McChesney chided, helping
himself to a glistening slash of ham. His daughter
Ellen giggled and pinched Maria under the table.
Mean. Also eight years old but freckled as a biscuit.
Free. Maria cast a chilly eye on her, stepped away
from the fragrance bread makes when you break it.
Nobody’s here, she thought, and soon you’ll know it.

A few weeks later, charred rocks began to fall, sharp
as fists, scorching hot. They volleyed against the roof,
blackened grass, cowed the family. Bewildered,
the McChesneys sent Maria to nearby cousins.
She strolled the miles so slow she could almost see bloom
come to the Judas trees, till the final rise. Then twitched
and charged, wailing of witchery. She found the Steeles
already stirred, starring the lawn, their backs to her,
as they stared toward a clatter in their house. A peek
showed furnishings piled up like sticks, of a sudden,
in the parlor, cupboard glass smashed by stones
from nowhere. Mr. Steele commanded her back home.

Now the whole county gossiped. Mischief likes
ventriloquy. If Dr. McChesney peered out the door,
earth-clods pummeled him. His sister, Miz Steele,
kept visiting even when rock cut her scalp to the bone.
Almost dear in her dumb persistence. When Maria howled
of being pricked with pins, slapped by invisible hands,
Miz Steele clutched her in whispering skirts and flailed
to beat off an unholy presence. It didn’t work.
Nothing worked. Her hands as soft as pudding.

Nobody stopped food from going missing, or
the field hands’ tools. Bottles of madeira danced.
Embers jumped from the hearth to bite ankles. The doctor
retreated to his fireless upstairs room, his rows of books
and guilty medicines. In the closet, a skeleton. Whose?

For peace, they sent Maria across water. Not the sea.
The muddy green of the Mississippi, supposed to short
her electricity. Clever spell they conjured, the sale
to Alabama. Some say she fell on the way and died.
Girl with a scar on her head, and what a mouth.

She lasted longer than Ellen, anyhow, who married young
out of the fancy carriage envied by neighbors. Unfolded
those red velvet steps, pranced down, and chronicles
mislaid her. Like Maria, who could negotiate with land itself,
persuade the stones to rise and heat and hurtle
in revolt. There are other powers, better, though
they may not get your name engraved in books. Some say
she acquired them. Returned to haunt the child she’d been,
head tied up in red, to stop the future burning through.

##

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

The former poet laureate Tracy K. Smith once said something to the effect that we’re metaphysical people. We’re always asking ourselves what’s real, what matters, and other peoples’ answers help us figure out how to live. Speculative literature can be really, really good at giving us new angles on those big old questions. Plus people need song and story to survive.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

Aside from the new poetry book, my first novel, Unbecoming, will be published by Aqueduct Press in May 2020. It’s a weird tale involving a changeling and a woman who thinks she’s developing magical powers with menopause. I think it straddles that interesting boundary between so-called literary and genre fiction. I’m really excited to see if people like it. In 2021 I’m publishing an essay collection called Poetry’s Possible Worlds about world-building in contemporary verse and I’m exciting to share those ideas with people, too.

Is there anything else you would like to mention about horror or poetry?

I think the campus I teach at is probably haunted; Robert E. Lee’s crypt is just downhill from my office. It’s haunted by a horrifying history, for sure.

Wheeler (002)Lesley Wheeler is a writer and professor born in New York, raised in New Jersey, and residing in Virginia. Her first novel, Unbecoming, is forthcoming from Aqueduct Press. Tinderbox Editions will publish her next poetry collection, The State She’s In, in 2020 as well as an essay collection, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, in 2021. She is Poetry Editor of Shenandoah. Wheeler’s previous poetry collections are Radioland (Barrow Street Press, 2015); The Receptionist and Other Tales (Aqueduct, 2012); Heterotopia, selected by David Wojahn for the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize in 2010; Heathen (C&R, 2009); and the chapbooks Propagation (Dancing Girl Press, 2017) and Scholarship Girl (Finishing Line, 2007). Heterotopia was a finalist for the Library of Virginia Award. The Receptionist was named to the Tiptree Award Honor List and nominated by Ms. Mentor at The Chronicle of Higher Education for an Ackie (both rarely given to speculative campus novellas in terza rima). Her poems and essays appear in Gettysburg Review, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Cimarron Review, Ecotone, Crazyhorse, Poetry, Strange Horizons, and many other journals. The Henry S. Fox Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, Wheeler has held fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation (New Zealand), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the American Association of University Women. In 2011, Wheeler received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. She teaches courses in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first century poetry in English as well as creative writing and speculative fiction.

 

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Women in Horror: Sèphera Girón Part II

WiHMX-horizontal-WhiteSèphera’s back today, talking about earning a living as a writer and specifically about Patreon and how it works.

One of the things that help people like me, single people who don’t have a partner to support me financially or emotionally or even with posting a tweet and trying to figure out how to earn a living and keep all the balls in the air and get the work flowing again, is a Patreon.

Nowadays, a lot of people can turn to fund-raising events like a Go Fund Me or a Kick Starter for a specific project and things like that. I myself had a very successful Go Fund Me a few years ago. I had hoped to go to the Stanley hotel for a writers’ retreat to try and get back on track with my writing and I wanted to pay my own way, but the recession was huge here with no jobs at all, not even Starbucks would hire me. I took Amanda Palmer’s advice and laid out some of my story on Go Fund Me and asked for help. People were very generous and kind and understood how important that this retreat was. It wasn’t just me trying to go to a retreat every year and make people pay for it. It was important for my mental health to really try to get there to be with horror peers and to see where my favorite book originated, there was rumour of casting for new horror TV show, and things like that. So, I got to do the retreat through incredible generosity from the horror community and I have been very grateful!

I saw another platform called Patreon which seemed to be a different approach. The first Patreon I started, I was trying to do it more like a Kick Starter and that was not successful at all. I was trying to write a book about ghosts and ghost hunting with major emphasis on the Lizzie Borden house and I also wanted to do a New England tour. I was trying to get funding for that through Patreon and I didn’t. Patreon is not for those things but back then it wasn’t really clear what Patreon was.

Giron_APennySaved_VR3I found Patreon because I kept seeing Amanda Palmer coming through the various aspects of my social media talking about “don’t be afraid to ask for help.” I saw her blogs and TED talk and she talks all the time about not being afraid to ask for help, being on Patreon, interacting with fans and so on. For those of you who don’t know, Amanda Palmer is married to author Neil Gaiman, so theoretically he reaps the rewards of her hugely success Patreon platform.

I tried my Patreon again, taking her words more to heart than I did for the Go Fund Me and the first Patreon attempt. I restructured my Patreon and I’ve had it for over three years now.

When I first started it, I thought, “OK, I’m too depressed to write horror and so I’m going to write science fiction and I’m going to work on a space opera.”

For the first year I wrote a chapter a month for my space opera and I had one patron for the longest time (and I didn’t even know him in real life!) but then I started to realize from reading market reports that where I want to send it won’t take work that is previously on the Internet and specifically named Patreon as being previously published so I removed my monthly installations from my Patreon.

Now, my main goal is to show people the crazy writer’s life that I lead since a lot of people tell me my life is weird and it is and so I share my life with my patrons. I write or video several blogs a week, I talk about if I’m on a TV show or movie, I discuss what’s Giron2bugging me, I am disgusted with my weight, weird things happened to me such as I burned myself waitressing. Patrons of a certain level got to see pictures of my horrible burns and scars. I get weird allergies, so my patrons get to see my face all puffed up with hives and silly things like that. I might sing or do other stuff but it’s all part of the writing process, part of the being a creative human being process and so I like to amuse my patrons with various things. Sometimes I’m able to share short stories I’m working on, depending on which market I’m writing them for. Sometimes I’ll just put up rough drafts. Sometimes I’ll just put up the cue cards for the character notes, it depends on the project. There are three books I keep working on and off on for over the last few years. When they are finished, my patrons of a specific level will be acknowledged in the professionally published books. All of my patrons are thanked whenever I can on some YouTube videos. I did thank some patrons in a couple of books I republished that had been published long before I ever had a Patreon (A Penny Saved, Captured Souls, Gilda and the Prince). My patrons got to see the rough version of this blog post!

A lot of people consider Patreon to be begging. This means they don’t understand what it’s about. There are, I think, over a million creators on Patreon now. When I joined, there were a couple thousand, now there are over a million.

There are a lot of very important famous people on Patreon who have thousands of patrons in that they make thousands of dollars a month on Patreon. There are huge writers on Patreon who make thousands of dollars a month. Everybody expects something different with what they want to give and with what they want to receive.

I like to think that since I do a lot of things, I offer different experiences. Patreon is only one of many ways I attempt to earn an income so that I can get back to the business of creating actual novels and other entertainments for people. I do love to entertain other people. But when I see people calling Patreon creators “beggers” I always find that upsetting.

Patreon is more like a subscription service. There are writers who write books in a month on there. There are musicians who will create songs for you. Artists who will draw for you. YouTubers who will mention you. It’s endless in what you can offer and receive. I would bet many of us creators on Patreon work pretty hard for your subscription.

Giron7I look around on Patreon sometimes. You can only see so much if you’re not actually paying however, I do notice that some writers have Patreons and they haven’t even posted for their followers in over a year, sometimes many months, and yet they still are getting thousands of dollars. So this shows that those of you who are thinking about setting up a Patreon but not sure what to offer, some fans just want you just to get those books written and out in the world and they don’t care if you actually post on the platform, they just want to support you in your career and help you get some dental work done or see a doctor or whatever.

Speaking of which…here in Ontario, yes, we have free health care as in going to the doctor but if anything’s wrong with you, you have to deal with it. I’ve been be so grateful to my patrons that I’ve been able to get prescriptions when I got bit by a dog, had to get various prescriptions and bandages for burns and allergies, when I didn’t have money in my bank account for such things. I dream of the day I can see the dentist for the first time in ten years if my teeth stop falling out so that I have some teeth left to fix. Whether it’s through an influx of pledges from Patrons (I’d need a few hundred patrons!) or whether it’s from advances and royalties from work I’ve been inspired to create because I have patrons rooting for me doesn’t matter.

I have some health issues, a shaky hand for a few years that is growing worse every day, so my waitressing days are over. One can’t discount the impact that emotional illnesses can have on a creative person and yes, we have free “healthcare” here in Canada, but we have to pay for dentists, eye doctors, prescriptions of every kind, birth control, psychiatrists and psychologists, therapy, counsellors, chiropractors, and more. We can get diagnosed by a family doctor and can get “free” surgery, but god help you if you have anything you need to take drugs for and don’t have insurance. I’ve had dozens of jobs over the decades and have never once had insurance as it’s not a given widely here as it is in the States. I’m supposed to be on a few prescriptions like anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication and something related to the gall bladder operation, but I can’t afford them, so I just plow on through and lose days/weeks/months of work when the Black Dogs bark.

When you’re going through trauma, “going out and getting a job” isn’t so easy and when you have no present-day skills and are over fifty, well…

These days, everyone is an editor and the fees that hobby editors charge are destroying the industry much as writers who write for free destroy opportunities for all writers to get paid better. It also seems that everyone is now a tarot card reader as well so my tarot business has also been destroyed when people can get cheap/free tarot readings everywhere including from apps instead of paying a proper wage for skilled, professional work. My safety guard backup careers are just as unreliable as writing at this point. Background work pays minimum wage and I usually work one day a month. So, what do you do when you’re pushing sixty and divorced and lost everything you ever had?

So, my longwinded point in this blog, is that, ladies, especially single ladies (even if you’re married) who get nothing from the government, nothing from any spouses−I don’t get any support from anyone except my patrons−ladies, consider starting a Patreon. Patreon is a blessing for me, emotionally and financially.

I’m happy to see more people join the platform. Everyone who has joined my Patreon has stayed on the ride. Only one person ever quit on me ever in all the time I’ve had my Patreon.

Giron5So maybe I’m doing something right. I don’t know but it’s a fun platform for me. It keeps me from being depressed and from spending days going “what the fuck is my life?” because I have to answer to my patrons. I do make schedules and I try to hit them. I take pictures and videos at events, knowing I’ll be sharing them with my patrons. It’s helping me get back on my feet, really helping me focus on having most of my space opera finished, most of my next Witch Upon a Star book is nearly finished and I’m almost halfway through my next horror book.

My Women in Horror Month wish for all of you is to start a Patreon if you don’t have one. And if you have some extra money kicking around, consider supporting an artist or two on Patreon. Even if you sponsor for $1, when one hundred people give $1, that’s $100! (minus Patreon fees, of course!)

Be warned, you cannot find someone on there. Their search function sucks. There is no way to look for writers or anyone else, even if you punch in their name! The only way you can find someone on Patreon is if you already know they are there. Feel free to add your links at the bottom of this blog.

Patreon is a really great tool for getting focused and organized, building your fan base and rewarding your fan base. You can create whatever rewards you want depending on whatever it is you do and your finances.

Interesting that three times I put a call out on my Facebook for people, women, to post their links for a Women in Horror Month article I was writing about Patreon. I was hoping for lots of women for this article. But much like calls for horror stories and novels, men are quicker to respond. In a nutshell, you can see by the Patreon response, how it likely reflects horror writer submissions.

Even though I have nearly four thousand Facebook friends, you can see here, how many people shared their links.

Do we need a Women in Horror Month? I’m still not sure. But I do know that some of us sometimes need a helping hand to get back on our feet, or maybe to get on them for the first time. Keep writing and more importantly, submitting. Don’t worry if you’re a woman; you’re a WRITER! Use your real name and stand proud behind your work.

First, let’s acknowledge Amanda Palmer who drew my attention to this ride:

https://www.patreon.com/amandapalmer

http://www.patreon.com/sephera

https://www.patreon.com/GaryABraunbeck

Http://www.patreon.com/monicaskuebler

https://patreon.com/maryrajotte

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=1002984

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2887829

https://www.patreon.com/ObnoxiousAnonymous

https://www.patreon.com/westonochse

GironSèphera Girón is an author, actor, tarot card reader, and mom. She has over twenty published books. Watch for Taurus in the Witch Upon a Star series to be released this year from Riverdale Avenue Books. She has stories in Dark Rainbow, Dawn of the Monsters, Abandon, Group Hex 1 and Group Hex 2, Intersections: Six Tales of Ouija Horror and more. Sèphera is the astrologer for Romance Daily News. Be sure to watch for her monthly horoscopes at https://www.romancedailynews.com/ Sèphera lives in Toronto.

Drop by Sèphera’s Twitch TV channel and get a free daily tarot card reading. Be sure to follow so you know when she’s online. Click Witch Upon a Star for her series. Sèphera can also be found on her website, her Tarot Card Reading website, Instagram, and Twitter. Check out Sèphera on YouTube. Be sure to follow so you know when the next video is uploaded!

Sèphera’s courses are also available on Udemy!
https://www.udemy.com/secrets-of-a-background-performer/?couponCode=BGYOUTUBE3
https://www.udemy.com/read-tarot-cards/?couponCode=TAROTCARDYOUTUBE
https://www.udemy.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-horror-writer/?couponCode=BLOGHORROR2

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