Snips and Stings

June 14, 2016 at 1:46 am (writing) (, , , , , , , )

11258110_10155756421925032_9144854063756410414_oI’ve been on a bit of a blog hiatus thanks to a series of events. Prepping for summer vacations has kept me busy and we’re in full-fledged gardening season (my garden looks lovely so far), which also takes me away from my computer. Add to that jugger and some heavier than normal editing demands and making time to blog is not all that easy. I’ve also been waiting on some ToC information to share that has yet to arrive. But I’ve decided I‘ve delayed long enough for that.

So on Sunday, for a couple of reasons, jugger didn’t happen (we played in light rain on Thursday), and gardening was a no go. My daughter’s class trip has come and gone, and while I have some edits to check over and some submissions I hope to make today, I have a few moments to spare.

I had mentioned about my efforts to network, and while my efforts continue, I’ve found at least one of the forums discouraging. I see people trying to contribute in a rather brash or blunt way(some of whom are social filter-challenged), other people taking offense, some harsh remarks (downright vicious at times) and some apologies, a little joking around, some lauding of new successes with a round of congratulations, arguing over rules and regulations, and writers who are also editors complaining about submissions they receive, but very little of anything productive or helpful. And I’m physically not in close proximity to the majority of the people on the forum, so any discussions of gatherings or meet-ups exclude me because of the distance involved. I feel very much like an outsider because of this and because I am new there.

I was hoping I might see more discussions of calls for submissions, tips and suggestions, problems and advice, encouraging talk and interesting stories – there are some, but I’d have to say more negative or neutral posts so far, a few of them accompanied by a sense of superiority from some writer who thinks he’s better than another. After observing several threads, I’m loathe to comment for fear of being pounced upon and attacked, or at least drawing a passive-aggressive snide remark or two. Even quite innocent comments seem to be vulnerable. The introvert in me is telling me to start avoiding the forum because it is putting me off writing, rather than motivating me.

As much as I was looking forward to participating and broadening my contacts and knowledge, it’s pretty pointless if it deters me from writing. So I might give it a little more time, in hope things improve, but if not I’m going to go back to just doing things on my own again. Maybe that’s how it’s meant to be.

I think that’s why I like gardening. The only things there that stings are the fire ants.

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October Submission Blitz 2015

October 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm (horror, writing) (, , , , )

So as I’m staring down Halloween and our local fandom convention, I’m embarking on my regular semi-annual submission blitz. I have several stories from prior blitzes soon to make a published appearance (one fantasy, one sci-fi and one dark fiction) and that gives me plenty of motivation to do this again. I started of my blitz yesterday with a flash fiction submission to one of my favourite literary horror venues and I’ll be scoping out possible options for today after posting this.

I’ll have a few treats and tidbits to share as I go, including a few reviews and my ABC Scary Little Girl of the day.

Today’s A lass is Alessa Gillespie from the Silent Hill games/movies.  This unfortunate one has ties to cults, witches, alternate dimensions, doppelgangers and psychic powers, suffers at the hands of bullies, a molester and ignorant townsfolk and ends up severely burned during an attempt at a “spiritual cleansing.”  She is definitely a spooky little lady.

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All Was Quiet on the Home Front

December 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , )

xmas5How many times have you sent a question out into the universe and actually expected to get an answer? Usually such questions are more an act of despair, not really anticipating a response. But then sometimes life will surprise you.

I hadn’t written anything in over a week, and I did not submit the last three stories I had considered submitting. Why? This year has been a struggle to maintain motivation. I had failed to make any of the progress I had been hoping for and suffered some serious setbacks. My publisher’s managing editor had encountered some delightful success with his own writing (go him!) and his financial manager spouse had met some serious family troubles that left her wanting to cut back on her workload (my sympathies), so they decided to focus on his work and release the majority of their authors.

My novels are now all in limbo, with the exception of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. Most are just sitting on the shelf. Two are still with my old publisher but I’m expecting them to come down eventually. The others are mostly unavailable, many of them waiting on a release in writing, and a couple of them sitting with a Canadian publisher for review (they have been there for about a year.) It feels like everything has just stalled out. And it is not very encouraging.

I did have a few short story acceptances this year, but the pickings were slim. One of my stories also got picked up for a theatrical reading for Halloween, a new one for me. But mostly, I was looking at a handful of stories put on hold and then turned down by pro-rate venues (I did appreciate the “maybe”s and the feedback I did get was useful) and a big bag full o’ rejections. My creative process is fueled by feedback, preferably positive, and this year I was facing a drought.
To top it all off, I had failed at my new year’s resolution. My aspiration to get a pro-rate sale this year died with the rejection letter this month from the last pro-rate venue that still had one of my stories on hold – the one I considered my best shot. I was starting to believe the universe was trying to tell me something because my hard work seemed to be yielding little in the way of returns. There’s a saying in accounting about throwing good money after bad. The same thought could be applied to effort, especially when you find yourself moving backwards. Was all of this worth my time?

It doesn’t help that I’m not very good at marketing myself. I try, but I’m not a natural salesperson. I lack the gift of schmooze. That can make or break you in the publishing industry.

I figured I’d step back from writing until I had shaken this off. Either I’d come back to it fresh and ready to start writing just for fun again, or I’d move on to something else. I stopped blogging, wrote my last couple of short stories for a spell, and threw the question out there into the cosmos. “Is this worth it? Give me a sign?”

I’ve lived my life as sort of a cosmic joke, and this situation proved no different, because the cosmos’s answer got filtered right into my e-mail junk folder twelve days before my chance to succeed at my resolution would come to an end. Call it what you want – the powers that be…fate…coincidence or just dumb luck. Call it a good thing that I check my junk mail folder on a regular basis. Anyway, rather than finding my first pro rate sale, it found me.

There it was, mixed in with the spam about pills that could improve the size of my manhood and princes from Nigeria needing help to access their inheritance: an e-mail from a big publisher wanting to buy one of my stories, and a reprint at that.  I hadn’t even submitted anything to them.

I answered back right away. The e-mail had already been sitting there for three days. The going price they were offering was pro rate. So now it is just a matter of settling out the contract and providing them with the extra bits they need for promotional purposes (photo, bio, etc.).

If any of you were wondering why my blog had gone quiet, now you know. It won’t be quiet anyxmas1 longer. Right now I want to sing (and do a series of happy dances.) I’ll have a Christmas treat for you coming up and some links to share.

Happy holidays, and I hope you have your own reasons to happy dance as well.

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October Submission Blitz – Buried Alive

October 4, 2013 at 2:30 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , , , )

Today’s submission involved a reprint and a certain podcast which last rejected one of my stories because of my use of a southern backwoods dialect…only to offer up a story a couple of week s later with the same “undesirable” dialect. This patois that supposedly got old fast in my story was perfectly acceptable when used in a story by a big name writer with a shelf-load of awards to his name *sigh*. It’s something you get used to fast in this industry – everything is forgivable if you have a name people know. If you are unknown, forget it.

Personally, I liked the dialect – it gave both stories extra personality. And I showed them; one of my stories appeared with a story by that same writer on a different podcast a couple of weeks after that (ha!) I don’t have high hopes for an acceptance from these folks, but I’m not giving up. If they turn me down, I’ll try the story on another podcast and throw something else at them next blitz. I may be sending them a new story twice a year for the rest of my life. I should keep a collection of the rejection letters (although I deleted the first one because it was seriously nasty…downright rude, even.)

My horror trope for today is being buried alive. While it’s not the fear it used to be, more of an old one from the days where it was more difficult to assure someone was actually dead, you’ll find it in a plethora of stories and some movies are even based entirely on the concept. I especially liked one zombie story I read which began with a person who believed he was rousing to this state, not realizing he wasn’t alive but undead (and had been buried because he was actually dead). By the end of the story, it becomes obvious.

I’m hoping to finish “Better” tomorrow – we’ll see J

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10 Simple Questions – WWW Edition

September 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

with Rebecca Snow

And now a few words from a lady I consider my horror writer alter ego. It’s like she’s the horror yin to my dark and freaky yang. Someone asked me once who I’d want to finish any unfinished stories, were I to kick off tomorrow, and she’s top of the list.

1) Who are you?

I am me…Rebecca Snow. I have a super power that no one can see. Anything else I’d say here would be rambling blather and sleep inducing (sleep…what is this thing sleep? – CB).

2) What have you written and in particular, what have you written that’s wicked?

Words…I’ve written lots of words. Not as many as some, but more than others. As for being wicked, just about everything I write is wicked in one way or another (I can vouch for that – CB). Even the humor is a little evil. As for all the places I’ve had a story published, instead of type them out, here’s a link.

3) I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but why do you write?

If I don’t write, the voices get too loud. If I ignore them too long, I start to twitch (that might be kind of fun to watch – CB).

4) Do you have a preferred theme or topic (zombies, serial killers, demons, etc…)?

To read, I prefer anything that doesn’t make me roll my eyes like dice. In writing, I rather enjoy horror in general. I’ll try any topic once as long as it doesn’t make me want to scrub off my skin. I find horror to be a great way to relieve any frustration that lingers throughout the day.

5) Are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

Having had to ask what a pantser is, I have deduced that I am a pantser. Granted, sometimes I plot my pants. Most of the time, I get an idea, grab a few characters out of the closet, and throw them into the middle of things to see what they do (I always marvel at those who can do this, because it never works for me – CB). It isn’t always successful, but it is fun to watch.

6) What do you like most about writing?

I like getting the stories out of my head so other people can see them. They aren’t always well received, but I’m not the greatest vocal storyteller. It’s much easier to scribble the tales than tell them.

7) What challenges you the most about writing?

I wrestle with interruptions. I have a writing room, but the cats always know where to find me.

8) Who or what inspires you most?

Breathing (that must make life easy – CB).

9) What are your plans for the future?

Funny, other than short term, I rarely make big plans. I’m in middle of a few shorts. Hopefully, my next endeavor will be another novel that has more of a chance at being published than either of my others. (I wish I could be so laid back…I always have new unachievable goals to add to my list. CB)

10) Why Wicked Women Writers?

Why not? And the company is outstanding.

Awwww – a woman after my own heart, even if she would be likely to dig it out with a sharpened spoon. I hope you give her story consideration along with the other Wicked Women Writers. She’s #8 on the list. Read more about her at

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10 Simple Questions – WWW Edition

September 10, 2013 at 2:27 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , )

With D. M. Slate

The next Interview on my roster of Wicked Women Writers competitors – a lovely lady by the name of Danyelle:

  1. Who are you?

    Hi! My name is Danyelle, and I write under the name of D.M. Slate. I live in Colorado, but guess what – I hate skiing… 😉 (So do I. Skiing…blech! – CB) Fishing, camping and hiking are activities that I enjoy, though. I’m 31 years old (just a young’un – CB), and am married to my high school sweet-heart. We have 2 young kids, a business, and 8 pets that keep us busy! (Do chickens count as pets? If they do, I have her beat – CB)

  2. What have you written and in particular, what have you written that’s wicked?

    In 2009 my first novella was released. Day 94 is based upon world apocalypse, in the form of disease epidemic. A young family fights all odds, barricaded within their home, as the world crumbles around them. Jasmine keeps a journal of the events – until she reaches day 94…

    Isolated was my first novel, and its terror is drawn from a real-life experience that my husband and I found ourselves in, deep within the Mexican jungle. We obviously made it out okay (are you sure about that? – CB)… but my characters aren’t so lucky – muhahahahha!

    Roots of Deceit is a paranormal horror novel, stretching the span of 5 decades. Old farmer Peterson finally comes to the realization that the secrets of the past aren’t easily buried, as the tortured soul of a young girl plagues the new city folk who buy the property next-door.

    After the release of the last book, I changed focus a bit, and began writing shorter stories. Grizzly Possibilities is a flash fiction story featured in the Frightmares anthology, dealing with an unfortunate camping experience. I also have a short story in Morpheus Tales Apocalypse Special Addition called Sun Catcher. In this version of apocalypse the sun has exploded, causing a chain of events that destroy humanity. Survivors are forced to join the NWS. If they run and hide, and are found…they become dinner.

    (Woo! She has been busy – CB)

  3. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but why do you write?

    I have a VERY overactive imagination – the kind of person who scares themselves in the dark – LOL! I love the ability to create an alternate reality – and then move all the “players” around, seeing what happens. It’s almost like a game of chess, and I have to outsmart my opponent…which is really just myself. (Is she saying she plays with herself? – CB) Then, I get to weave all the complexities of the plot throughout the story, never revealing too much, too soon. I like the challenge of it all.

  4. Do you have a preferred theme or topic (zombies, serial killers, demons, etc…)?

    I like real-life situations… things that could plausibly happen, under certain circumstances. In general, I tend to write more on a psychological level… how do people react when you put them in ______ scenario. I like to focus on human nature – and the driving forces behind each of the character’s actions. (favourites of mine as well – CB)

  5. Are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

    For books, I’m a plotter – for sure. I tend to work backward. I know how things are going to end, but then I need to figure out all of the events leading up to the ending (Just like me! – CB). I make a massive “web”, linking all of my major events, before I ever start writing.

    On the short stories – I fly by the seat of my pants (Not like me… – CB).

  6. What do you like most about writing?

    Creative freedom. This is my “world”, and I can make whatever happen in the story that I want. It’s invigorating. (Like a cold shower – CB)

  7. What challenges you the most about writing?

    Finding the time to write is one of my main challenges. I work full time in addition to owning a business, and I have a family (and a small zoo) as well. Trying to find a happy balance is always difficult. Beyond that, finding the right publisher is always tricky, as well.

  8. Who or what inspires you most?

    My inspiration is a deep burning within my soul. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a child… but I’m also a logical person, so I opted for a business career, instead of writing. I’ve accomplished the goal of getting published, but that is only the 1st step in my personal journey. (This all sounds so familiar – CB) Making the switch from hobby to career is something that I strive for.
    That internal drive to succeed is what inspires me the most.

  9. What are your plans for the future?

    I have 2 current WIP’s: a survival horror novella called Moral Frostbite, and a psychological thriller novel, Oculus Sinister. My plans are to attend the International Thrillerfest conference in NY next year, and hopefully catch the eye of an agent. 😉 (with a sharpened hook? – CB)

  10. Why Wicked Women Writers?

    I love a challenge – and this caught my eye right away, especially since the theme was apocalypse. After I got my specific scenario, I was truly challenged. I had to research quantum physics to understand strange matter, and at that point it became clear that a gasmask as a weapon would do little against a black hole – LOL! My characters were unable to leave the interstate, so in the end, I chose darkness as the constraint that would keep them on the road.

    The podcast was a completely new experience for me – so I liked that aspect, as well. This was the 1st time I’ve ever recorded a story, and I learned SO much in the process. It was a really fun experience to be part of!!

    There you go; she has 10 years on me but I have 3 chickens on her …that sounds dirty 😛 Plus she picked up on the podcast thing quickly while this is my third year and I’m still a podcast dunce. Proof you can’t teach an old chicken new tricks. Such is life *shrug*

Thanks Danyelle! Find out more about D. M. at:

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10 Simple Questions – WWW Edition

September 9, 2013 at 2:53 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

With Chantal Noordeloos (aka the other Chantal)

This month I’ll be interviewing my co –conspirato…er…fellow competitors in the Wicked Women Writers challenge from Horror Addicts. I’ll begin with my namesake – a rare thing when you have a name like mine.

  1. Who are you?

    I am the great and powerful Oz… oh wait, no… I’m slightly less impressive. I’m Chantal Noordeloos, a writer from the Netherlands. If you want to know who I am on a more philosophical level… I’m not quite there yet, I need to get in touch with my ‘inner zen’. (I’ve touched my ‘inner zen’ – it recoiled away…CB)

  2. What have you written and in particular, what have you written that’s wicked?

    I’ve written a ‘bunch’ (yes really specific here) of horror short stories, some of which are particularly wicked (I prefer ‘oodles’ – CB). In fact, my story ‘Mirror Mirror’ is featured in the ‘Someone Wicked Anthology’, so I would like to think that was wicked. I’m not a horror writer per se, but I do like to write stories with a bit of a wicked twist. I’ve also written a Steampunk novel (Coyote: The Outlander) and other genre stories.

  3. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but why do you write?

    That is a favourite question(and annoying as heck, but I’m a sadistic interviewer-CB). In a nutshell, it’s an outlet of creativity. Before I wrote I turned to all sorts of hobbies to ‘fill the empty space in my soul’ (and I mean that with as much drama as I can possibly muster). Now that I write, my life is much more fulfilled. Also more wacky and stressful, but let’s not go into that.

  4. Do you have a preferred theme or topic (zombies, serial killers, demons, etc…)?

    Ehm… I really like using mythology or religion in my work. I also love fairytales and urban legends, but I don’t use those too often yet. I guess Angels and Demons are a bit of theme in some of my stuff.

  5. Are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

    YAY!! I love this question, I ask people all the time. I’m a plotting pantser (wow! Never got that one before – CB). I need a iddy bitty structure, or I lose the plot, but I tend to plot a lot, and then use about 10% of my plotted work and pants the rest. Because I just seem to like extra work for some reason.

  6. What do you like most about writing?

    Creating that little world that a reader can nestle into. (Most folks don’t want to nestle anywhere near what I write – CB) I guess I like ‘being read’ the most about writing. I like it when I can make people happy with my stories. Or miserable (when I write horror)… heck any emotion I’ll take.

  7. What challenges you the most about writing?

    Editing. I hate it… with a passion… a big stinky passion (Oooh *clap* *clap*- a kindred spirit – CB). I could start a picketing group against it. But it’s a necessary evil, and it takes me such a long time. I’m quite a fast writer, so all my extra time goes into whipping my stories into shape.

  8. Who or what inspires you most?

    *blank stare* Ehm… *wipes a bit of drool from the side of her mouth* Not just one thing, I couldn’t narrow it down. Other writers really inspire me. Having a good conversation with Apple Ardent Scott can really fuel my writing engine, but to be honest, a lot of things in life inspire me. Reading books I like (or I hate, that can be inspirational too in a twisted way) Seeing a good movie, watching people in the street… you name it (that makes my picking pictures out of floor tiles sound weird – CB).

9)     What are your plans for the future?

To try and take over the world! Narf… wait… no, wrong again. I have a great many plans for the future. I’m currently working on the rest of my Coyote series (there will be five books in total and the next will be called the ‘Clockwork Dragonfly’) and on my own horror collection (yes, a bit of wickedness will be present) called ‘Deeply Twisted’. Otherwise I’ll be working on my ‘Celestials’ trilogy angels and demons, as you might have guessed) and my ‘Even Hell has standards’ series. I have a lot of plans for my future. (And maybe get some help for that drooling problem?-CB)

10) Why Wicked Women Writers?

Well first of all, because it had the word ‘Wicked’ in there, that drew me to it immediately. Then because it was a podcast. I’ve never done a podcast before, and since I’ve dabbles with a lot of other things, a podcast needed to be on me ‘This I have done’ list J

Okay, I confess – not namesake. The name similarity was just a coincidence.But she has the same witty sense of humour that I have. I’ll have to hae her visit Word Blurb again in future.

You can find out more about Chantal here:

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Zombie: Lockdown

May 21, 2013 at 1:46 am (horror, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , )

I’ll do my best to do this anthology justice, but I’m still coming down from my Star Trek high (I just returned from watching In Darkness). Then again, this book gave me a bit of a zombie high. I really enjoyed all of the stories which, despite their common prison theme, had a surprising amount of variety and differing flavour from tale to tale. This was due in part to the spectrum of main characters, ranging from typical prison tough guy to much more placid intellectual criminal. There was gore, some of the stories quite visceral in places, but a lot of the horror came from that sense of isolation and entrapment, from hopelessness in the face of a grim and likely brief future.

Choosing favourites from this group was difficult, but there were three that slightly edged out the others (only slightly, mind you):

No God Waiting by T. Fox Dunham – I really liked the superman/experimental aspect to this story. It gave the tale a historical feel. The main character was somewhere between a creep-show comic book character and a dark champion . This was one of the more gory tales, but it seemed appropriate based on the nature of the story

Isolation by Rebecca Brown – This one offered up a real element of claustrophobia, along with deprivation and desperation. I found this one particularly chilling.

Death Row by Joseph Rubas – The story at the top of my list. The main character is both despicable and oddly moving at the same time, and I found myself quite invested in him by the end of the story. An impressive achievement, considering circumstances.

If you enjoy zombie fiction this is a great read. A firm thumbs up for this one.

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Edit Fest – Doubt Revisited

May 10, 2013 at 2:00 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , )

Editing older work is definitely a tougher job. I can see the way my writing has changed with time and it is irritating in a way. Just being able to recognize the improvements since first edit makes me wonder what more I have to do to make things better…I mean, I thought that was fine when I wrote it and went through it originally, but I know otherwise now. Will I feel the same way about my current work in a couple of years? Will perceived quality ever be enduring, or will I always be looking back with doubt and frustration?

That dissatisfaction leaches through to what I just reviewed – so much so that I went back to the beginning of Victims of Circumstance a second time after getting only a short ways in, and redid things. I know there’s no such thing as perfect, but it would be nice to get to a point where I’m not always questioning what I’ve written, or just edited. About the only thing I have any confidence in are the stories proper. I put a lot of heart and soul into those. I know not everyone will like them, but I think they are stories worth telling if I could just get the words right.


No new responses to my blitz submissions so it’s just a matter of more waiting. The waiting – that’s the worst part of submitting. I even dislike it more than the rejections, to some degree.

Maybe I’ll hear something by the end of the weekend.

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Women Can’t Write Good Horror?

March 12, 2013 at 2:26 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I don’t have my review ready this week – still immersed in Deep Cuts. I’m reading every little nook and cranny to the book, including the intro and all of the recommendations, in very careful detail. I guess I’ve been lingering so much on this because I was distraught and bewildered by something Lisa Morton says in the intro… that in almost every horror writer’s forum out there, there seems to be a thread running on the inability of women to write good horror.

Hunh? Really?

I was also disappointed to hear that only 30% of the submissions for a pro-rate anthology honouring women in horror actually came from female writers.

Have I had blinders of some kind on? Because I’ve never run into anybody who has told me I can’t write good horror because I’m a woman. I’ve had some people decide they didn’t like my writing in general, but I’ve never had anyone suggest that any problems they’ve had with my stories was a result of my gender. Do people actually think that way?

I decided to do a search on the internet to see if this was truly a common sentiment. Initially, I found a lot of postings defending female horror writers, most of them associated with Women in Horror Month. Most of them seem to be offering counter arguments or excuses surrounding the notions that female writing is too sappy and emotional for horror, or they don’t write anything that’s effectively scary or gory. I’ve never been accused of any of that either, so once again, I’m scratching my head.

By the time I was done my search, I was pretty upset. While I don’t give much heed to the odd forum entry that “chicks can’t write horror” (because I don’t value the opinion of anyone who would refer to me as a “chick” unless in jest), the reports of people on panels at conventions saying things like women were less effective at writing horror and suggesting we should stick to fluff and paranormal romance made me want to string the buggers up and whack them repeatedly in their scrota with a stick laced with rusty nails (pointy ends to flesh, of course). While I wouldn’t actually do anything like that, I was pissed off enough to consider the fantasy – not to mention it would certainly show them I mean business when it comes to horror.  I’m sure I have several female horror writer friends who might contemplate joining me.

Don’t think I can write horror that’s scary or gory? Think my work will be sappy because I’m a woman? If that’s the case, I’d advise you to check out “Wrigglers” when it comes out in the soon to be released Midnight Movie Creature Feature II from May December Publications. I don’t shy away from cruelty, gore, death or violence when it comes to my stories and I challenge anyone to give an example of a horror story I’ve written that’s “sappy”. Containing irony – yes. Offering dark humour – at times. But sappy? Never.

When I write horror, I write horror, and I mean business.

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