Tag Archives: female writers

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.


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

Leave a comment

Filed under horror, people, Writing

Women in Horror Month Begins

The last few years I’ve featured female writers and did a set of interview questions for February’s Women in Horror Month. Last year I focused on poets. But this year, well, we have everyone living in horror and my juices have been sucked dry. This horror is more a slow building of dread and fear in the Lovecraftian sense as we live through the unending pandemic, the small blips of hope, the plummets of despair and fear, the isolation and feelings of insignificance and dread. Sound familiar?

If there is one good thing to be said of a global pandemic, it’s that everyone can understand what people are feeling no matter where in the world they live. We’ve been holding our breaths so long, hoping this will end, that we’re passing out from it and waking with brain damage and to discover that the living horror has not ended. We’re still in it. There is no place to escape to. Who needs invading aliens when the alien virus is among us? There is no massive conflict for space but inner conflicts of people enduring in silence.

Many people are living in prisons called care homes, or even their own homes. We all wear masks into banks, at airports, in stores, when just 2 years ago you would be arrested for doing so. When and if this virus is under control with a vaccine and if it just doesn’t spawn a new variant, the repercussions on global economy, mental and physical health will be seen for a long time to come.

S&T 137

Now, if that isn’t a horror we can relate to, I don’t know what is. Some writers have probably been hit with crippling malaise (as has the world) while others struggle on. I know that in an isolation I’m not handling so well, and coupled with grief of losing 2 family members 2 consecutive years before covid, and with feelings that I’ve become a ghost and a criminal, I have turned to writing to handle the gaping, hungry maw of loneliness. Is it any surprise I’m writing poems about becoming invisible, and about apocalypses? “Divinity in the Afterglow” was published last year in Space and Time and was probably one of my first pandemic apocalypse pieces. We are after all, informed by the world in which we live, even if we imagine other times.

The image for this year’s Women in Horror Month says it all. The hottest fashion item of 2020 was a mask. Everyone has one, young or old. We might have many. I should be talking about my writing here, as a woman in horror, and to feature our works. I should have done it months ago. I should have post this on Feb. 1, but the creeping malaise takes its toll. We’re experiencing covid fatigue with feelings of despair, sadness, confusion and anger. This SF horror movie isn’t ending and who knew that the greatest antagonist would be boredom?

I will be featuring a few women through this month, so check back. I might even post more about what I’ve been doing. If I can say one thing about writing; it’s been my outlet as I try to hold onto sanity and funnel my emotions into something creative. Welcome to Women in Horror Month.

And here are a few publications that have come out in Dec. and Jan. and in which I have some pieces. “The Metallurgist’s Dream” in HWA Poetry Showcase VII, “Telltale Moon,” nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Dreams and Nightmares 116, “Dragon’s Hoard” in The Fifth Dimension, “Offering” and “In Feline Grace” in Illumen, and the phobic story “Mousetrap” in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias II.


February 5, 2021 · 12:38 am

Women in Horror: Trisha Wooldridge


Today’s guest poet for Women in Horror Month is Trisha Wooldridge who has had fiction in the EPIC award-winning Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad, and Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory. She also won the Eye on Life prize for her poem “To Me, You Are Holy,” in 2011.

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

I discovered poetry in my childhood through nursery rhymes and nursery rhyme collections, many of which have surprisingly disturbing poems! I was probably only about six or seven when I read Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” and I was physically ill from the thought of eating that school of baby oysters. On the other hand, I couldn’t stop rereading it because I sensed that there was a Deep Truth to the nonsense: you couldn’t trust people; not everyone has your best interests in mind; people will hurt you to their benefit. In fact, if you look at a lot of children’s nursery rhymes, they talk about horrible and true things. London Bridge falling down, the plague, children getting hurt, being unable to heal from injuries… And then in grade school, we had Shel Silverstein, who also dealt with complicated and sometimes dark issues with nonsensical verse: being lazy, being bullied, things going wrong for no reason, dealing with the fair and unfair consequences to actions… So, from a young age, poetry was where I found a place to explore complicated and scary emotions.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry to process my most complicated and difficult emotions. While I love prose, poetry works on more levels than linear storytelling. With poetry, the white space, line breaks, punctuation are as much the message as the words—and word choice and word order carry more meaning than in a prose construction. So often emotions or situations—dealing with death, betrayal, self-analysis, pain, truest love—don’t fit into just words or just sentences. They need more—more dimensions, more meanings, more places to fit meanings. Poetry is a gift and tool for such feelings and experiences.

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

Honestly, everything! If I’m writing a poem, it’s because I already have a complex, possibly painful or achingly beautiful—relationship with a topic. But the construction of a poem is also a challenge. Some poems are meant to be shorter free verse, others are 5,000-word rhymed and metered monstrosities! Some poems need a haiku, so you’re limited with an exceptionally short and rigid form. So, writing a poem is not only doing a deep-dive into emotions, it’s painstakingly finding the right form and then working it into that form. And then making sure it might hopefully make sense to someone else.

If I can share a bit of a story behind this one? It’s currently unpublished. I wrote it as a challenge to myself when I was diagnosed with ADHD about two years ago: I would to record the first month of taking Adderall by writing a poem about mental health every day. It was my most productive and poetic month; I’ve actually found myself able to write more poems overall since the diagnosis. At some point, once I edit them all, I plan on collecting all 30 poems and some other ADHD related ones into a chap book.

Poetic Coping Strategies – An Adderall Poem

I’m reading three
books of poetry—
one whimsical songs of birds, death, and dinosaurs;
one exploding, burning galaxy that equally loves and tears asunder;
one a musical road trip of drugs, sex, murder, and suicide—
       not always in that order.

They are different sized books
       with different textured covers,
 and I read from each in parts
       and in succession,
 and together they make sense
       in the coils and tangles
            wiring my brain.

I’ve written more poems
       than there are days
            in these past months.

Last time I hyperfocused
       on poetry,
Death was on the lines—
       past and future.
That then-present medicated haze
       left me leaving
metered and rhymed
       text messages
It rewired my brain—
       not that it was
       factory setting normal
       in the first place.
Or ever.

But that was then—
      an emotional fractal
      honed by a deadline I didn’t
      want to miss—
 And this is now—
      a mental fractal
      tasting medicine
      enhanced by the
            of opportunity.

No less
      an interest-based
No less
      a force of nature.More me,
      being the me
            I want to be.

## Due to WordPress issues and to preserve the formatting–which is not spaced as Trisha wanted it–I could not get this to show in the same font.

If I can share a bit of a story behind this one? It’s currently unpublished. I wrote it as a challenge to myself when I was diagnosed with ADHD about two years ago: I would to record the first month of taking Adderall by writing a poem about mental health every day. It was my most productive and poetic month; I’ve actually found myself able to write more poems overall since the diagnosis. At some point, once I edit them all, I plan on collecting all 30 poems and some other ADHD related ones into a chapbook.

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

I do tend to write in themes. A lot of my poetry explores mortality and the relationships people have with death and mortality through faith, spirituality, and religion—and how faith, spirituality, and religion can be positive or toxic to one’s life before they die. I’ve also recently been having quite the unwelcome roller-coaster of emotion in relation to health, mental health, the American medical culture, and the social culture around women’s health and overall mental health, so I’ve written a LOT of poems on that recently. I also love writing about the weirdly or eerily or creepily beautiful things in nature. And I have always been drawn to speculative topics—to magic, to monsters, to mythology, to the fae. So, while I do have some poems that are specifically fantastical or speculative, a lot of speculative elements work their way into my poems. As far as I’m concerned, magic is real and all around us, so most anything can and should acknowledge that.

Woodridge book

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

Everybody has things they are afraid of; speculative anything creates metaphors, thought experiments, that let people explore their fears from a safer distance than actually experiencing those fears; and poetry pushes the brain to think and comprehend the message in a different way than prose. Dark speculative poetry gives people a means to explore their fears, and thus give them some measure of power to handle those fears, through the use of metaphor and thought experiment in a form that both creates distance from the fear but also forces them to think about the fear in a different way. And in thinking about the fear differently and from a distance, a person can further empower themselves and perhaps see new ways to deal with that fear.

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

I’m really bad at putting together poetry publications. Usually I submit single poems to particular markets, and I currently haven’t got any poems I know are coming out soon. However, I am editing the next New England Horror Writers anthology, Wicked Women, and we are open to poems. It’s open to women who are current members of NEHW with a deadline of February 29. So, if you’ve got women readers in New England, they should check out the NEHW organization, join if so moved (it’s free!)… and send me some work! That should be out this October. Also, my contribution to New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, also coming out this October, is poetic prose. As for what I’m working on, poetry-wise, I have a collection of Ekphrastic cards (poems paired with photos) that I’ve been bringing to events; I’m very proud of those. And I’m currently going through a set of poems I wrote when I was diagnosed with ADHD that deal with mental health and putting that together in likely a chapbook collection.

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

I went for some years just writing fiction and non-fiction, focusing on those for publication, and then I happened to hear Linda Addison read at a SF/F convention in Long Island…and I like to say she broke my brain in the best possible way. I bought one of everything she had that day and consumed it all. Since then, I’ve actually had the honor and pleasure of getting to know her through the horror community, so I can’t recommend her enough. But once Linda set me right and back into poetry, life was altogether better. Besides Linda, I love the poetry by Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, whose poetry may or may not get employed by Unseelie courts to entrap humans. Stephanie Wytovich’s poems cast amazing and beautifully profane spells that shatter reality into lacy spiderwebs. Donna Lynch (who I first discovered through the band Ego Likeness, which everyone should also check out!) will eat you alive, heart or liver first, with the jagged teeth of her poems, while you sing along. Um…many more. But those three happen to actually be in my line of sight while I type this. Check out the HWA Poetry Showcase collections!

wooldridge bio

Trisha J. Wooldridge (or child-friendly T.J. Wooldridge) writes novels, short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about bad-ass faeries, carnivorous horses, social justice witches, vengeful spirits—and mundane stuff like food, hay-eating horses, social justice debates, writer advice, and alcoholic spirits. Her publications include stories and poems in all of the New England Horror Writer anthologies, The HWA Poetry Showcase Volume 5 and Volume 6, the Pseudopod podcast, and The Book of Twisted Shadows, The Jimmy Fund charity anthology Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and the upcoming New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, as well as three spooky kids’ novels. Her poetry and art have been featured in the Blackstone Valley Artist Association Art-Poetry shows of 2017, 2018, and 2019. She is also editing the 2020 New England Horror Writers anthology, Wicked Women, open to all NEHW members who identify as women. Rare moments of mystical “free time” are spent with a very patient Husband-of-Awesome, a calico horse, and a bratty tabby cat. Join her adventures at www.anovelfriend.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Leave a comment

Filed under entertainment, fairy tales, fantasy, health, horror, poetry, Writing

Women in Horror: Jeannine Hall Gailey


It’s Women in Horror Month, where we show the world that women have talent to dig into the deep pits of memory and experience and pull out the viscera. Last year I featured women who wrote dark fiction. This year, I have chosen to feature women who write dark poetry.

If you’re interested in exploring other ways that Women in Horror Month is celebrated, you can check out the site that lists many women in the arts and the projects going on. Just click the link above and check it out. You might find you already like more horror than you thought.

To start, for Feb. 1, I have Jeannine Hall Gailey, tears of the Disney layer on fairy tales. You’ll find information about her writing here, plus several poems to read.

From Field Guide to the End of the World

Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales

The body is a place of violence. Wolf teeth, amputated hands.
Cover yourself with a cloak of leaves, a coat of a thousand furs,
a paper dress. The dark forest has a code. The witch
sometimes dispenses advice, sometimes eats you for dinner,
sometimes turns your brother to stone.

You will become a canary in a castle, but you’ll learn plenty
of songs. Little girl, watch out for old women and young men.
If you don’t stay in your tower you’re bound for trouble.
This too is code. Your body is the tower you long to escape,

and all the rotted fruit your babies. The bones in the forest
your memories. The little birds bring you berries.
The pebbles on the trail glow ghostly white.


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

I started writing when I was about ten years old. I liked e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay. In college I discovered Sylvia Plath, Rita Dove, Dorianne Laux, Louise Gluck, and Denise Duhamel. I found my true home when I found out speculative poetry was a thing –thanks to editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, who included my work in their early anthology, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (and I will always be grateful!)

Why do you write poetry?

I’ve always liked shorter forms–I’ve tried plays and fiction, I worked as a tech writer, copy editor and journalist, but I’ve always come back to poetry as my one true form.

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

The challenge is finding an audience. I’ve never had trouble writing–I tend to write more under stress, not less–but finding an audience for that work, that’s a little harder.

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

Gailey villainess

Yes, my interests have always included mythology and women’s transformations – fairy tales, pop culture, video games – all have been inspiration. My first book is all about the journey from princess/victim to villainess (hence the title, Becoming the Villainess.) My latest book was all about the apocalypse, about a fiction female survivor of an apocalypse who is constantly posting postcards to people that don’t exist anymore. That’s what Field Guide to the End of the World was about.

From Becoming the Villainess:

Wonder Woman Dreams of the Amazon

I miss the tropes of Paradise – green vines
roped around wrists, jasmine coronets,
a thousand rainbow birds and their incessant chatter,
the improbably misty clothing of my tribe.

I dream of the land where they celebrated
my birth, named me after their patron Goddess;
they said I would be a warrior for their kind,
blessed me with gifts before my eyes lost the cloudiness of birth.

I still dream of my mother,
Hippolyta, shining golden legs,
the strength of her arms –
before her betrayal and death.

In my dreams she wraps me tightly
again in the American flag, warning me,
cling to your bracelets, your magic lasso,
don’t be a fool for men.

She’s always lecturing me, telling me
not to leave her. Sometimes she changes into a doe,
and I see my father shooting her, her blood.
Sometimes in these dreams, it is me who shoots her.

My daily transformation from prim kitten-bowed suit
to bustier with red-white-and-blue stars
splayed across my bosom is less complicated.
The invisible jet makes for clean escapes,

The animals are my spies and allies; sometimes,
inexplicably, snow-feathered doves appear in my hands.
I capture Nazis and Martians with boomerang grace.

When I turn and turn, the music plays louder,
the glow around me burns white-hot,
I become everything I was born to be,
the dreams of the mother, the threat of the father.


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

I think that definitely the mood of our current age is one of apocalypse–there’s a reason there are so many disaster movies and superhero movies. We look to the mythological and the epic to try to make our own stories make more sense.

Gailey Field Guide final cover

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

I have two book manuscripts in circulation to publishers and I have a speculative poem coming up in the latest issue of Ploughshares called “Irradiate” and an upcoming poem in Poetry called “Calamity.”

Is there anything else you would like to say about horror and speculative poetry and fiction?

I am really glad the horror and speculative communities exist and I’ve made friends within the SFPA (The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association) and the HWA (Horror Writers Association) that are really important to me. Often, we can be treated as “outsiders” in the literary world, but we aren’t really outsiders–I guarantee there are more poetry fans of speculative and horror work than people think.


Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. She’s also the author of PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing. Her work appeared or will appear in journals such as American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.

They Are Not Regenerating

We are not zombies, thrown into a pool
of dubious origin and coming back beautiful
but decaying
unsure of how to live – pretending to swim,
eat yogurt like regular girls.

We are not clones, despite being drawn to specifications
(36-26-36) and bearing bouffants and bikinis
we might hack each other to pieces
but we are not confused about our identities

(living or not living) we continue
in this shape we were given
our cells cannot regenerate and the scientist
names us “Dead”
we are not regenerating we cannot reproduce ourselves we cannot be anything
but the fulfillment of your fantasy, flesh-eating or not.


Books by Jeannine

  • Becoming the Villainess, Steel Toe Books, 2006.
  • She Returns to the Floating World, Kitsune Books, 2011. Reissued in 2015 by Two Sylvias Press.
  • Unexplained Fevers, New Binary, 2013.
  • The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, Mayapple Press, 2015.
  • Field Guide to the End of the World, Moon City Press, 2016. (Won the Moon City Press Book Prize and the 2016 Elgin Award.)

1 Comment

Filed under entertainment, fairy tales, fantasy, horror, myth, poetry, Writing