Women in Horror Month

February 9, 2013 at 3:06 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I’m taking a break from love and Hawthorne to commemorate Women in Horror Month. I consider myself fortunate to not only be published in the genre, but to know so many wonderful women who also write horror. There are more of us than you might expect, just as chilling and terrifying as our male counterparts. I’ve been lucky enough to participate in three women only genre productions, one of which come out later this month, an anthology called Mistresses of the Macabre from Dark Moon Books. The editor has organized series of interviews with all eighteen of the talented and spooky contributors and you can check them out along with editor, Lori Michelle’s remarks at the Last Writes blog.

This wasn’t the first all female anthology in which I’ve participated. While Mistresses of Macabre offers a variety of horror tales, my first venture into an all female anthology was also an all zombie anthology, Hell Hath no Fury from May December Publications. I can thank this publication for some enduring friendships with sisters in spirit who share a love of the genre, such as Rebecca Snow and DA Chaney. It also contains some kick-ass zombie – I enjoyed the read.

My third all female romp has been competing in the annual Wicked Women Writer competition, hosted
by Horror Addicts. It has been a fantastic experience, my first with podcasting. Writing to an odd theme has proven challenging, and my results, “Rats” and “Thanksgiving Special” were certainly interesting. I’m actually looking forward to trying my luck again in 2013. I’m also hoping WWW will attract even more participants this year.

It’s nice to see a growing presence of women in horror and the chance to celebrate female contributions to the genre. If you have a favourite Woman in Horror, use this opportunity to let her know how much you enjoy her work.

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Genre for the Holidays – Sounds for the Season

December 22, 2012 at 12:59 am (fantasy, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

One of the great oral features of the festive season is the selection of holiday episodes at my favourite genre podcasts. I thought I would share my picks and links to some winning seasonal audio tales. Here they are:

Tales to Terrify: a horror podcast with sinister flavour, this episode features a short story called The Spirit of Christmas – http://talestoterrify.com/tales-to-terrify-show-no-49-lawrence-santoro-and-james-lovegrove/

Podcastle: for fantasy fans you can find their yarn with a Christmas spin, Catching the Spirit, at http://podcastle.org/2012/12/18/podcastle-239-catching-the-spirit/

Pseudopod: Podcastle’s horror sister podcast offers a gothic Christmas tale, The Dead Sexton – http://pseudopod.org/2012/12/21/pseudopod-313-the-dead-sexton/http://pseudopod.org/2012/12/21/pseudopod-313-the-dead-sexton/

And I’ve mentioned this one before, but this year’s Wicked Women Writers competition featured holiday stories including ones for Christmas and Hanukah. You can find the full spread here: http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/horror-addicts-079-wicked-women-writers-challenge/

While they do not have any specifically holiday-themed stories, you can find some excellent speculative fiction at Drabblecast and Starship Sofa.

4 days left ’til Christmas J

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Fear

October 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm (dark fantasy, horror, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

Fear: A Modern Anthology of Horror and Terror –Volume I (Crooked Cat Publications)

I’m accustomed to the average anthology running from 14 to 20 short stories, unless they are flash fiction tales, so I was pleased that this anthology offered a double dose of scary goodness. While not all the stories matched my typical horror tastes, I still found each and every one of them entertaining in some way. With such a broad assortment of horror, thrillers and dark fantasy gathered in one book, It would take me several separate reviews to touch on every one. Instead, I’m going to focus on a few that struck me in particular and mention why they stood out for me.

“Dead Ding Donger” (Wayne Via) and “Old Mabel’s Stray Cat” (Cameron Trost)both had a hefty dose of dark humour to them, something I look for and especially enjoy in horror anthologies. While Dead Ding Donger was a little predictable, it was still very funny, and “Old Mabel’s Stray Cat” caught me by surprise with its twist ending and Mabel’s somewhat demented way of seeing things.

I liked “Breaker One Nine” (Connor Rice) for the originality of its setting and its peculiar (but frightening) monster. You could say this one was a chiller *grin*.

While not inspiring much in the way of fear in me, I absolutely loved Lyn McConchie’s “The Book”. It had more of a dark fantasy mixed with science fiction feel to it, with an epic spin, and it was a very moving story. I was so caught up in it, I almost missed my bus stop.

E.E. King’s “Synthesia” was cleverly woven, scary mixed in an odd way with whimsical and vivid imagery.

“A Cloud Over the Sun” by A.A. Garrison was priceless thanks to its fabulously jarring format – it made the story into something extraordinary.

“Seamless” (Shirley Golden) was solid science-fiction horror with an extremely disturbing ending.

There were many other very good stories, but these were the ones that appealed to my tastes the most. Be it zombies and gore you seek or suspenseful tales with a lovecraftian flavour, this book has it all. If you are looking for excellent Halloween fare, or just a good scare, I’d suggest this anthology as a worthwhile read – and the proceeds go to two great causes.

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Chivalry is Dead

May 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm (horror, Reviews, writing) (, , , , )

Chivalry is Dead – Edited by TW Brown

One would expect a zombie anthology with a male focus might have significantly more action, violence and gore, and less emotional content than its all female equivalent, but it turns out this is not the case. Many of these tales are just as touching and heart-felt as the stories in its all female companion anthology “Hell Hath no Fury”. The opening story, “Daddy’s Little Girl” is a prime example of this, its plot centred on a father-daughter relationship in the face of a zombie apocalypse.

Not all of the stories were that multi-dimensional. Some were exactly what you would be anticipating, even smacking of chauvinism in some places (but that isn’t necessarily a reflection of the author or his opinions; I’ve included moments like that in my own stories, for the sake of realism – I’ve run into instances in my own life, so I can guarantee you they exist.)

For the most part, the tales were entertaining, some very dramatic, some humorous, some downright scary – a good assortment in my opinion. My favourites included the piece by Mathew Munson, “The Life and Times of a Zombie”. The dark humour really appealed to me – perhaps because we are both civil servants we have similar senses of humour – and the perspective was…different. I also really enjoyed Chad Rohrbacher’s tale, “Camp Victory” – I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at the tale when I was asked to write the intro. It shows the extremes some parents will go to for the sake of their children and I liked the backwoods feel to it. But the story I loved the most was “Saving Mirabel” by Jerry Enni. It sucked me in and I was thoroughly rooting for Charlie by the end, sympathizing with his plight.

While there were a couple of stories that weren’t quite my thing, on the whole I felt this was another excellent anthology from May December Publications and I would definitely recommend it to lovers of the zombie-genre.

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NaNoWriMo Blog Hiatus – Guest Blog #1

November 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm (Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

NaNo means I don’t have the time for my regular blog, but no fear! One of my colleagues at Trestle Press has volunteered to help me out. I’m pleased to present to you Fiona (McDroll):

Me? A published writer? Don’t be daft…. Yet this week, it actually happened. Still can’t quite believe it but I’m loving every single minute of it. It’s been great to see the look on my colleagues’ faces when I’ve told them. Had all sorts of responses from, ‘Well, you’ll be self publishing,’ to ‘Oh, an e-book, not a proper book.’ Well, stuff the lot of them! Trestle Press is going all out to get some great writers out there so that people can read some fresh new fiction. And e-books…do you remember when we used to have to go to Woolies to buy a record? We don’t do that anymore do we?

My first collection of short stories, KICK IT has just been published this week and my goodness, I certainly did get a kick from seeing my book up there for sale on Amazon. KICK IT is a collection of 5 short noir / crime stories with a little twist of Scottish humour thrown into the mix.

Three of the stories have my favourite character, DC Gemma Dixon, strutting her stuff around the crime scene of Glasgow. New to CID, Gemma has to learn very quickly to stand up for herself in male dominated environments where as the newbie she gets some of the roughest assignments on offer.

I love having fun with Gemma as she banters with her fellow officers, making sure that she asserts herself and doesn’t take any of their cheek.

My other two stories deal with our perceptions of people and I attempt to show how far off the mark we can be when we don’t take the time to dig a bit deeper into ‘hidden stories;’ the secrets that people keep close to their chests as they go about their daily lives. So much can be going on beneath a person’s outward shell and I try to uncover some of these tales.

1. Who is McDroll?

To begin with, gong back about three years; McDroll was the silly name I came up with when I started tweeting. I wanted a name that would combine the fact that I am proud to be Scottish and indicate that my tweets would contain a certain amount of ‘tongue in cheek’ humour. Like most nicknames it kind of stuck and now that’s how most people on-line know me.

I think it’s quite memorable and a bit different so perhaps it will help me to get noticed!

When I’m not writing / reviewing, I teach and have been a primary school head teacher for the past 23 years, I know, I don’t look old enough! Cough

I live in Argyll, Scotland which is easily one of the most beautiful places in the world, steeped in history from prehistoric standing stones to Celtic crosses and castles and countless lochs and glens.

I sit at night, laptop on knees and write about murders…well, what else would I do?

2. Why crime writing?

I’ve always wanted to write as far back as I can remember and over the years I’ve had various disastrous attempts that just didn’t work. My writing was boring, bland and twee. I had come to the conclusion that I just didn’t have what it takes.

Then I joined Twitter and quickly discovered that there were lots of writers around the world tweeting about their writing. They would discuss their difficulties, the characters they wrote about and the struggle to get published.

Slowly I crept into this circle of talented people and as I have always been a rabid reader of crime fiction, I thought that if I couldn’t write then at least I could review and be a little help to those with talent struggling to get noticed.

Eventually some very kind people asked if I wrote. After the initial, ‘no, no, no,’ I decided to give the writing lark another go but this time try to write within the crime genre….and that’s all it took. My years of reading crime have somehow helped me understand how to write the type of story that people seem to get a lot of fun out of reading.

3. What’s next?

I’m hoping to have another collection of short stories KICK IT AGAIN out soon and then move onto a serialization of a novella that I’ve been working on for some time. More ‘Gemma’ stories are in the pipeline and you will be able to meet Gemma again in BRIT GRIT TOO, soon to be published by TRESTLE.

So I hope you check out my first ever e-Book and please let me know what you think!

http://www.amazon.com/Kick-It-ebook/dp/B005ZMTZBI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319826524&sr=8-1

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