Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thankful Writers Pass the Turkey

Let's get some November thankfulness in here on the ol' blog. I'll set the virtual table with imaginary turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce, but I'll need you to bring the thankfulness. (And don't even try to touch that mac and cheese. That's all mine. LOL)

What are you most thankful for this year as a writer? 

Ef Deal: Thankful to be writing with ease. It's as if a dam broke and the stories keep pouring out of me. I don't write many things, but I am three and two-halves into a paranormal pre-steampunk series that I just love, and book one has been contracted for publication.

Robert Krog: My first published novel.

Bobby Nash: I think I wrote some good stuff this year.

Brian K Morris: An overabundance of work.

Jason Bullock: That I survived Covid related complications when so many others didnt last year or this one.

Tamara Lowery: The invaluable source of information the author community here on FB has been in my journey to re-release my Waves of Darkness series as self-published. You guys ROCK!

Gordon Dymowski: Managing to balance creativity, work, and caregiving for Mom.

Krystal Rollins: Inspiration from you.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

[Link] How Dystopian Fiction Became A Coping Mechanism For An Entire Generation

by Daisy Woodward

From zombie apocalypse dramas to totalitarian regimes of the future, dystopian stories have long captivated readers with their ability to entertain and terrify in equal measure; to fantastically speculate and ominously warn – and in recent years their popularity has reached unprecedented levels, spanning books, films, TV series and podcasts. One of our latest obsessions in this realm is the new BBC Sounds podcast, Forest 404, part sci-fi thriller, part ecological drama, which imagines a world in which nature no longer exists. Futuristic? Of course. But also worryingly plausible as our planet plunges ever deeper into a global warming crisis.

The addictive 9-part series, written by Timothy X Atack, takes place in the 24th century in the wake of a data crash known as The Cataclysm, and centres on a 28-year-old sound archivist named Pan (voiced by Doctor Who’s Pearl Mackie). From her dark office block, situated four hundred levels below available sky, Pan listens to the terabytes upon terabytes of sound files recovered from before the crash – an era dubbed The Slow Times. "Data costs, that’s what our ancestors didn’t get," our heroine tells us, and so it’s up to her to sift through "the total pits of history" and patiently assess the value of these ancient noises in the modern age (The Fast Times).

It’s a task at which she excels, tuning into everything from Obama’s speeches on global warming to Neil Armstrong’s moon landing and rendering most of them deletable in the blink of an eye. That is until she stumbles across a sound that pierces her very core. At first she thinks it’s a type of music but soon realises it’s something much more profound. It is, the listener is instantly aware, the hum of the rainforest, replete with the sounds of chirping birds, trickling water, the buzz of cicadas. But for Pan, who has never experienced nature in any form, it’s a strange reawakening to a past that feels somehow familiar, although she can’t begin to imagine why.

Soon we are following our determinedly curious heroine deep into the underworld, and down into the murky depths of what remains of the ancient past (our own present day), in search of answers. She, in turn, is being pursued by her interfering and conflicted boss Daria (Tanya Moodie) and the so-called Hands, sinister agents of the new world’s ruling powers who are determined to derail her quest to unearth the truth. The resulting story – told across three interweaving narratives and set to powerful theme music by Bonobo – is a spellbinding and eerie meditation on what the world would be like if all semblance of the natural environment were wiped out, and how our future might unravel if the artificial intelligence we create should achieve an autonomy of its own.

Dystopian fiction emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction to early utopian novels and the visions they conjured of paradisal societies. In modern terms, according to writer Jill Lepore in her 2017 essay "A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction", the genre can be defined as something "apocalyptic, or post-apocalyptic, or neither, but it has to be anti-utopian... a world in which people tried to build a republic of perfection only to find that they had created a republic of misery." So why has this gloomy genre tightened its grasp on modern audiences in recent years, with a wealth of new stories such as Forest 404 holding listeners in their grasp?

Read the full article: https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/bbc-sounds-forest-404-dystopian-fiction

Friday, November 19, 2021


New Short Story Ebook

I turned my latest short story, Kris Kringle: Monster Hunter, into a standalone ebook. This was a lot of fun to write, and I'm going to be doing more in this series. Stay tuned. Here's the blurb:

Santa Claus. St. Nicholas. Father Christmas. He goes by many names, and one night a year spreads joy throughout the world. But in the offseason, he has another job: helping the US government dispatch evil beasties that bump in the night. He is Kris Kringle: Monster Hunter.

An Ancient Evil. A Timeless Magic.

In this exciting debut short story, Kris is roused from a deep sleep in the dead of night. Creatures are stirring, and he must travel the world dispatching all manner of foul horrors, before a final confrontation at the North Pole, where an ancient pile of ruins holds a dark secret.

Is the world doomed? Can eight tiny reindeer and a Desert Eagle named Snowflake save Christmas? Find out in...


Check out the ebook here: https://www.amazon.com/Kris-Kringle-Monster-Hunter-Short-ebook/dp/B09HWLY4Q5/

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Mocha Memoirs Press Focus #12: Alledria Hurt

This month I'm following up the previous series (eSpec Books) with a new one -- this time the amazing writers of Mocha Memoirs Press. Meet Alledria Hurt! 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My current work in progress started with one sentence: You are always outlawed until you’re needed. It’s the story of the last necromancer left after a culling and how she gets drawn into a royal scandal by being asked to bring a dead princess back to life. That’s tentatively titled “Holy Land”.

The most recent piece I sold was a cyberpunk romance called “Dreamless” which is a story set in a world where human beings have to be assisted to dream because they have become essentially 24/7 consumer drones. It’s a little weird, but it was fun to write.

But my latest published work came out last year (2020) that's "ALICE". Sometimes the one you need most is your mother. Alice is a superwoman in the middle of a zombie apocalypse leading a band of misfits to where she thinks the end of the trouble will be in the East. There are zombies and a cult and even an Elder God.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer? 

Some kind of dark unmentionable trauma I’ve fully repressed, I’m sure. Or it could just be I was always praised for being able to string words together. Something like that. I had a teacher who assigned a creative portfolio in my 8th grade year and she said I had a very good head for prose and thus I started thinking, maybe. It would take a few years and a good natured dare before I would write my first book. It’s a trunk novel that I don’t even want printed posthumously.

What inspires you to write? 

A lot of things. Mostly the gremlins in my brain. There are many and they have a desire to have their adventures told. So I’m really a glorified scribe for my imaginary friends. It’s a lot of fun.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work? 

I revisit family, both found and blood, a lot. I’ve had the good fortune to be blessed with a fine blood and found family over the years and think those dynamics are really fun to watch play out.

What would be your dream project? 

Funny you should ask that, my dream project is usually whichever project I’m working on because my dreams keep running and I keep chasing them down. However, if I had to say there is a project that I don’t feel ready to tackle yet, it would be an opus like the Dark Tower saga from King. I’m not ready for that yet, but one day I will be and then there will be an epic written with my name on it.

What writers have influenced your style and technique? 

Definitely Stephen King because I’ve probably been reading him the most consistently of anyone who I have read. I started on my King journey when I was eight years old, much to my mother’s dismay. Other writers I have unabashedly fangasmed over: Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, and S.M. Stirling. I actually had the honor of meeting S.M. Stirling once. I hope to meet King one day.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do? 

I honestly wouldn’t because I believe my projects are all part of who I was at the time they were written. Not quite fossilized, but like museum pieces. I can see their flaws and their virtues, but changing them would intrinsically change the piece itself. Now, would I take some of the underlying bones maybe and make them dance to a different tune, perhaps, but I wouldn’t go into it trying to fix something I already wrote.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?  

I believe writing is an art with some science underpinnings. I mean, the way we construct sentences and paragraphs and overall stories is repeatable in the way a science experiment is repeatable but despite that repetition, you would still come out with something a little different each time. It’s like observing it changes the outcome. The piece being read by a different person changes the perception. Therefore, writing like medicine is as much an art as a science.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? 

The most difficult part of my artistic process is making myself look at something a second time. I’m a discovery writer and I have a tendency to write myself into corners. I do this quite often and yet I still have the hardest time making myself go back and look at work I’ve already written. I want to be better about it, but I fear that I have to kind of let someone else point out the flaws and then make myself go back and fix it then rather than trying to make myself go back and read it without any kind of outside intervention.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not? 

My writer friends remind me that I am not alone in doing the work. Sometimes, it certainly feels that way, but I get together with

them about once a week and we shoot the breeze and talk about our projects and use each other as Kleenex for our pity parties. However, on the flipside of that, I get more work done with these others around me than I truly ever did on my own. Plus, my writer friends introduce me to neat opportunities to talk about my work and myself, so bonus.

What does literary success look like to you? 

Wow, for a girl who never thought she would get the first book published, having more than ten out feels like success. Speaking at DragonCon which was the first convention I ever went to and the convention I had on my bucket list to speak at feels like success. The bar is moving, I’d like to make enough to write full-time and run my bookstore, but I’m not there yet, so literary success at this point is winning an award like a Hugo or a Dragon and making enough off my writing life I can afford to give up part of my non-writing life.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug? 

At current, my upcoming project is my bookstore, Sista Ghoul Booktique, which is currently a pop up bookstore in Savannah, GA. I’m working on getting inventory in for it now. I love reading almost as much as I love writing and I want to share the work of my friends, some of whom may never be in a bookstore, with others. You can check it out at http://www.sistaghoul.com.

For more information, visit: 

You can catch me on Twitch a lot of mornings as NoirLadyLuck -- http://www.twitch.tv/noirladyluck

Check out my website at http://www.alledriahurt.com

Or drop me a line through my bookstore at http://www.sistaghoul.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The End (Or Not?)

It's a really simple question this week for the writer roundtable. 

Do you write "The End" when you finish your story?
If not, what, if anything, do you do?

I ask because I'm curious. I've known so many who swear by "The End" as if they can't let the story go (symbolically) if those words aren't actually typed. And I've known so many who are adamant that the words aren't necessary and simply ending the story itself is enough. 

Personally, I tend to use marks I learned in the magazine and newspaper business, where I was taught never to write "The End" after an article, but to indicate it with hash marks or "-30-" instead. 

But enough about me, what do you do and why?

John Linwood Grant: Really simple answer: If there's a 'hanging' final sentence which implies more, but that's not part of this particular story, or if there's any question of there being another 'theoretical' page, I mark it to show they have the full copy.

Tamara Lowery: I don't unless I intend the story to be a stand-alone. Most of what I write are parts of a series, though.

Gordon Dymowski: Unless a publisher asks for it, I omit it.

Maya Preisler: I try to write an ending that brings a sense of finality, whether through repetitive language or circular storytelling, or both. I want my reader to reach the end and have a sense of completion and just enough closure to feel satisfying.

John French: Unless the editor who asked for the story requires it ends with The End, That's all folks or something like that, I just end it without comment.

Jamais Jochim: I don't type anything, although I have debated :30:.

Lonni Susan Holland: Same here and I do like the idea of -30-.

Brian K Morris: I write "THE END" when I conclude the first draft, leaving it for the editor to take it out or not. I used to type "--30--" as I'd been trained to do in my newspaper days. This practice continued until non-newspaper educated (or should I say "paper trained?") editors would grill me like a murder suspect as to the meaning of the number.

John Morgan Neal: Ya know, I honestly don't know. Both?

Bobby Nash: I write The End.

Susan H. Roddey: I usually do (or put some snarky variation thereof) because it's symbolically done for me. Whether the publisher chooses to use it or not is up to them.

Barry Reese: I type THE END every time.

Ruth de Jauregui: Bitter is the start of a series, so I end with "Until next time..."

Danielle Procter Piper: No one jumps out and says, "The End" after an event in your life concludes. No one recalls events in their life and says, "The End" every time they talk about them...unless they're five years old or trying to indicate what was related is beyond further discussion. So, no, I don't state the obvious at the end of my books. That, and who knows? Maybe it's not over. Maybe I'll write a continuation one day.

Matt LaRock: I've always thought it was kind of stupid but then from time to time I find myself writing it on the last panel of the last page. lol.

HC Playa: I now don't remember and feel the need to pull up all my manuscripts. 😳 I think I do, but not certain

John Pence: Depends on the piece; sometimes it needs a “the end,” and sometimes that would be a terrible idea. I also like a good “fin” or in comics, “fin du chapitre.”

Charles Gramlich: I never put "The end." The lack of any further words seems clear enough. And published books have no such statement

Ernest Russell: I just end the story. Many times, particularly with my short stories it isn't "The End."

Mark Barnard: I don't until they go to audiobook versions, where they frequently request you add that on short stories. Ran into that a lot as a narrator.

Peter David: I write three hashtags because that’s how you end newspaper stories and it stuck.

Bob Ingersoll: I end my “The Law Is an Ass” columns with — 30 — because that’s how newspaper reporters indicate the end of the story in copy that is being submitted for editing.

Bernadette Johnson: I just end the story. Usually with dialogue.

TammyJo Eckhart: Nope. I don't think I've ever typed or written "The End" unless it was when I was little. That doesn't mean that I think it is a childish thing to do, I just haven't felt the need to do so nor was I taught to do so.

Larry Young: Signal 30 is what all the cool kids do. I love that there are all sorts of reasons from the Bible to Civil War telegraph code or the Roman signifier of X at the end of a sentence, XX at the end of a paragraph, and XXX at the end of a story. The Ohio vehicle fatality code is my favorite, though. Talk about THE END.

Ed Keller: A Creative Writing teacher of mine encouraged all of us to be as “unique” as possible in what she referred to as our “sign-off.” So, I stole a line from Chuck Berry’s song, “Little Queenie” and ended every story with “Meanwhile, I was still thinking… !” I no longer do. I just stop writing.

Lucy Blue: I type "the end" because I started submitting stories when that was a necessary component of pro formatting. It doesn’t have any particular emotional or artistic resonance for me.

Van Allen Plexico: I put the date I finished it.

Elizabeth Donald: Nope. They’ll know the story is over from the sobbing.

Jessica Nettles: No The End. However, if I ever write something that resembles a French New Wave film, I will end with Fin.

MA Monnin: Yes.

John Hartness: I do because I write in series and it's important to let the readers know that an episodic story has reached the end of an episode.

Aaron Rosenberg: I do write "The End" at the end of each book. It is symbolic, absolutely--it's my cue to myself to put the manuscript down now, at least until I can read back over it. Otherwise, there's always the danger of wanting to add just a little bit more. 🙂

Ef Deal: I do. Probably because I obey rules, and good manuscript format guidelines always say to write it, I suppose because that way the editors aren't looking for the next page that may have gone astray. Kind of like the time tv stations didn't bother showing the last season of Briscoe County, Jr., because Briscoe and Bowler got executed at the end of the previous season, and they figured that was the end. Half the fans in America were left stunned.

B. Clay Moore: I usually write "end."

Sunday, November 14, 2021


Airship 27 is proud to announce the release of the 8th chapter of writer Nancy Hansen’s pirate queen saga; “Jezebel Johnston – Revelation.” In India, employed by the Maratha Warlord Shivagi, Jezebel Johnston directs the captured ship Mastiff in its battle against a superior British warship and wins the contest. To show his gratitude, Shivagi frees the mulatto pirate and her two friends, dancer Zuri and African warrior Amaka, while granting them whatever they desire. Though her companions only wish for their freedom, Jez request the ship and its captured crew.

Using her learned manipulative skills, she quickly gains the trust of the sailors representing mixed nationality and soon is sailing westward back to the Caribbean and her home in Tortuga. Little does she realize what she will find there and the challenges it pose to her new career as a Pirate Captain. Once again writer Nancy Hansen delivers a taut wonderfully realized story of high adventure with a cast of truly remarkable characters you won’t soon forget.

Award winning Airship 27 Production Art Director Rob Davis provides both the interior illustrations and the dazzling cover of Jezebel in action.


Available from Amazon

Saturday, November 13, 2021

[Link] How to outline a novel in five steps

by Desiree Villena

When you set out to drive somewhere new, you don’t just hit the road and hope you’ll make it there eventually. You look up directions and establish a route to get you from point A to point B. The same logic should be applied to writing a novel — just deciding one day to sit down and write a book might work for a handful of “pantsers,” but for most of us, such a big achievement can only be accomplished by setting course before we take off.

In this post, we’ll break down the five key elements of outlining a novel, using The Wizard of Oz as an example throughout.

Read the full article: https://darlingaxe.com/blogs/news/outline-a-novel-in-five-steps

Friday, November 12, 2021

Fresh Snow this season! -- From BEN Books!

Check out the latest #Snow release from BEN Books! Snow Shorts Vol. 2 is here!

Press Release:

SHORT STORIES! BIG ACTION! Declassified at last! Snow Shorts delve into the adventures of Abraham Snow, his family, and his friends in short, bite-sized action/thriller tales. Volume 2 contains stories featuring Abraham Snow, Tom “Mac” McClellan, and Archer Snow.

Snow Short #4: Snow Ambition featuring Abraham Snow by Brian K. Morris.

When an ex-flunky devises an insane scheme to get back on the good side of crime lord Miguel Ortega, he finds James Sheppard who could make the plan succeed. Unfortunately, Sheppard is really Abraham Snow, to say nothing of allegedly being dead. If Snow walks away from the plan, his family could die. If he goes along with the scheme, he could die, this time for real. Ambition can be a real killer.

Snow Short #5: Angel in the Storm featuring Tom “Mac” McClellan by Mark Bousquet.

When a cargo plane explodes over Atlanta, investigators are dispatched to deal with the fallout, both literal and judicial. Everyone except FBI Agent Tom McClellan. On his boss' hit list again, Agent McClellan finds himself saddled with a detail that's a waste of time, at best. Even worse, Mac comes under fire from a former lover, now a lawyer for a prominent crime family, and hired killers looking to put him and his case in the ground for good. How does all of this connect to a plane crash? That's exactly what Mac has to figure out before it's too late.

Snow Short #6: Snow Haven featuring Archer Snow by Bobby Nash.

Archer Snow wakes up in a small hospital in the tiny seaside community of Crest Haven, the victim of a tragic car crash that took the life of his aide and almost his own. Archer doesn’t believe it. He has no memory of the accident, only meeting his high-profile client to make security arrangements for a Top-Secret project. Convinced something sinister is afoot, can he thwart their plans or will Crest Haven be Archer Snow’s final destination?

Snow Shorts Vol. 2 is available from Amazon.

Snow Shorts Vol. 2 audio is scheduled to debut December 7, 2021.

Written by Brian K. Morris, Mark Bousquet, and series creator, Bobby Nash.
Cover illustration/design by Jeffrey Hayes of Plasmafire Graphics.
An audiobook narrated by Stuart Gauffi is currently in production.
Edits by Ben Ash Jr. and Michael Gordon.
Published by BEN Books.

Learn more about Snow at www.abrahamsnow.com where it's always #TheSummerOfSnow!

Snow Shorts Vol. 1 is also still available in paperback, ebook, and audio.


Are you ready for #FreshSnow? Now available for only $0.99! Snow Shorts #7: Snow Heart written by Charles F. Millhouse.

Press Release:

Trouble finds Abraham Snow, even when he’s not looking for it. When the Granddaughter of a Baltic State President needs a heart transplant they travel to the United States under tight security. When the child becomes the plot of a terrorist’s revenge, Snow must race against time and an old enemy to save her life.

From the pages of the SNOW series written by Bobby Nash comes a new Snow Short featuring Abraham Snow.

Snow Shorts #7: Snow Heart is available at the following retailers:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09L5CR8N3
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09L5CR8N3
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09L5CR8N3

Find more links and learn more about Abraham Snow at www.abrahamsnow.com

Published by BEN Books. www.ben-books.com

#TheSummerOfSnow continues… Every day is a #SnowDay! #Snow #SnowShorts 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Mocha Memoirs Press Focus #11: Lisa Wood

This month I'm following up the previous series (eSpec Books) with a new one -- this time the amazing writers of Mocha Memoirs Press. Meet Lisa Wood! 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Telecommuting is a psychological horror novella from Mocha Memoirs Press that shows the unsettling side of being alone.  It is particularly hard-hitting considering the state of the world and what many people experienced in the beginning months of the pandemic.  It is dark, it sits too close to home, and it is scary.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

Birth.  😊  I have been writing since I was five years old and always strayed toward the darker side.  Not so much the blood and gore, but the psychological twists and turns.  This has made me a fan of thriller novels and suspense, as well as horror for as long as I can remember.  I can’t recall reading anything like that when I was young, but the moment I sat down to write, that is what came out.

What inspires you to write?

Everything!  I write regardless of my emotion at the time; my stories don’t usually lend themselves to that kind of introspection.  I can find inspiration, motivation, and interest in the rain, the look on someone’s face when they don’t know anyone is watching, a song lyric.  I never know when inspiration will hit and that is one of the things I love most about my writing process.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I like ghosts and vampires so I tend to use those antagonists often.  Psychological horror is often about an internal struggle, so I find that I like to play in that space as well.  Otherwise, I really like to mix things up and try new things.

What would be your dream project?

The next project is my dream project!  I tend to fall in love with the current thing I am working on and nothing else matters or can ever measure up until I type "The End" and meet the next love of my life.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Ira Levin.  Anyone who has not read Levin and decides to after this interview is in for a treat.  You only think you know The Stepford Wives from the movie.  Wait until you read it.  His voice is so compelling, you don’t even realize that you’ve made it through most of a book in one sitting.  I would also add Shirley Jackson for her ability to make something so incredibly creepy that you almost feel like you can’t sit still in your chair any longer.  And Stephen King for confirming that I was not the only person who wondered what was wrong with the crack in the sidewalk when everyone else was walking over it without a care in the world.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I don’t believe in going back – when you do that you are changing what was right at the time.  A novel that doesn’t come together is that way for a reason – perhaps there was more research needed or maybe you weren’t ready to write the novel at that time.  Maturity, new experiences, all sorts of things impact how a story comes out and if you go back to “make it better” you are destroying the thing that made it what it was the first time.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t revisit projects or ideas but I believe that one should do so with the understanding that they are creating something brand new in the process. I don’t normally go back, but I have taken pieces of something that just wasn’t right and used them later, putting them where it probably belonged all the time.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Writing is an art – it is imprecise and immeasurable – metrics fail when applied to it.  It is creative and impulsive and unique to each person.  Art is life and life is art.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I think that varies for everyone.  I try to embrace every step.  If an idea won’t come, it isn’t ready to; if I can’t find the words one day, I’ll come back when I can.  I don’t force it so I don’t find it difficult.  That’s not to say that I like editing!  LOL!  But there is a beauty in editing as well.  I can often add 5,000 new words to a piece that I was supposed to just be editing because they fit.  I think the artistic process is only hard when someone forces themselves to do something.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

I don’t think they make me a better writer, but they are the people who understand me when I say I am in the middle of something or if I daydream in the middle of a conversation.  The people in my life who don’t write understand that now as well, but it took some time.  I view my writer friends as people on the same path as me – we don’t need to talk about the rock in the road ahead because we both see it and will sidestep it when necessary without needing to say a word.

What does literary success look like to you?

Knowing that my work has impacted someone, brought some kind of emotion – that is literary success.  Having the respect of my peers as well.  There’s a feeling that comes with experiencing those things that cannot be described. 

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Yes!  Mocha Memoirs Press and I are coming out with a realistic horror story in early 2022 called The Black Hole.  It’s a novella about a group of friends who go out for some much-needed stress relief and get more than they bargained for.  Before that part two of my The Realm series will be coming out – this one is a psychological horror sci-fi action mashup that keeps you on your toes as you move through an afterlife that is unlike anything we have ever conceived of, rushing alongside Patrick as he tries to save his family in a race against time.  Fun stuff!

For more information, visit:  

Check me out at www.lmariewood.com, where you can sign up for my newsletter or on Twitter: @LMarieWood1 and Facebook:  www.facebook.com/LMarieWood

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Movie Reviews for Writers: Ghost Land

I won't lie to you. Ghost Land (or Incident in a Ghost Land on Netflix), like a typical movie by Pascal Laugier, is an intense and violent film. And it could be triggering because of it's equating sex and violent behavior. It also uses two of the oldest and potentially most damaging tropes in the horror genre -- the two killers include a crossdresser (there's no context of being a trans-woman in this case) and mentally disturbed man with the functionality of the young child. 

That said, it's still just as impactful and important a film as Laugier's now classic Martyrs.

It's also a truly difficult movie to review without spoilers, so be warned. I'll try not to spoil to much, but to be fair, you have had several years to see it by now. 

Beth and Vera are moving to the country to their late aunt's house. Of course it's creepy and filled with dolls because, well, just because. Vera is slightly older, into boys, and the "cool" sister while Beth is younger, on the verge of becoming a woman physically (i.e., getting her period), and writes horror stories inspired by her idol H.P. Lovecraft. The news reports about serial killers who are invading homes, killing the parents, and trapping young teenage girls. So, when the inevitable happens and the aunt's creepy home is attacked, Beth and Vera's mom fights back. 

Cut to years later, and Beth is a successful horror novelist while Vera is a broken soul who lives with her mom and has a room padded with mattresses to keep her from hurting herself. 

This is where it gets weird and harder to avoid spoilers. And where it brings us to the movie's first message about writers:

Writers recycle pain into stories. 

Beth's newest book, considered her best by reviewers, is called Incident in a Ghostland (also giving the movie its title), and is all about the night she, her sister, and her mother were attacked. 

She has taken all that emotion from the events and transformed it into a novel that can help her move past it, set it behind her, help her live a less traumatic life. 

Like interviewers tend to do, one asked Beth is the story is based on reality. Beth responds, "Do you want to know if it's autobiographical?"

Of course it is. A little bit of everything in our work is. Maybe ours isn't as dramatically parallel to our truth as Beth's, but there are bits from the text and characters that are. Because as writers we are also stealing from reality and stitching the elements of our lives into our work. 

Now for the second, and more important, message this movie tells us about writers:

When writers retreat, we retreat into stories. 

This is where the review dives headlong into Spoilerville, so be warned. 

It's all just a story. The truth is that in response to the trauma of the attack, she had created a story in her head and has escaped into it. A wonderful husband, a cute kid, a mom who remains home and takes care of Vera -- it's all just a story. In the real world she's still in her aunt's house, still captured by the two killers, and still being tormented and dressed as a doll for their sicko amusement. Her mom is dead, and she and her sister aren't too far behind judging by the bruises and damage they've taken. 

No matter the story she continues to escape into, Vera is always there, and always calling her to come back, to help her, to return her to the real world. 

When I said earlier that writers retreat into stories, thankfully it's not as damaging or traumatic as Beth's retreat. But we do, either into reading or writing. And both are typically positive outlets for dealing with stress and worries but can be abused. 

Inside her story, at her new novel release party, she even has the opportunity to sit down beside her idol and hear him praise her work. When H.P. Lovecraft himself tells her how amazing her work is and possibly better than his own, it's the greatest temptation to remain in the dream. 

Of course it's a common fantasy among writers. We would love to have our favorites tell us we're worth it, our work is good enough, or great even, and it's a sort of closure we rarely get. No wonder the temptation is so strong for her. 

But, after all is said and done, when Beth is being taken away in an ambulance, she remains committed to her stories, in spite of her ordeal. As she is loaded into the vehicle, she spies the typewriter on the ground, left where she had through it through the window to escape. While they pull away, the EMT asks her if she plays sports, especially to be so strong to make it through what she had survived. 

She shakes her head. "I write stories," she says. 

In the end, it's something we all have as writers, regardless of what we live through. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Mocha Memoirs Press Focus #10: Maya Preisler

This month I'm following up the previous series (eSpec Books) with a new one -- this time the amazing writers of Mocha Memoirs Press. Meet Maya Preisler! 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

The Laws of Entanglement is a ghost story about love after death and how love teaches you about yourself. It’s Donnie Darko meets Practical Magic

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

Honestly, trauma. Writing has always been a form of escape; a safe place to explore myself, relationships, emotions… anything that I might feel nervous expressing in my waking life. 

What inspires you to write?

Life, usually. There have been definite moments that I’ve made note of and said, “This is going to be a story one day.”  

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

The red string of fate, ravens and crows, love transcending death, returning from the dead, vengeance, empowerment, and transformation. 

What would be your dream project?

I’d love to write a short story for one of the Valdemar anthologies; it would be an honor to contribute to the world of Velgarth. Of course it would be a childhood dream come true to write for Star Wars. Otherwise, an epic Xianxia style fantasy series. 

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Anne Rice and Alice Hoffman. 

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Probably one of the fantasy novels I was writing in high school; The Children of Compromise. The concept of gods stealing each other’s children to raise as their own is still fascinating to me. Though I think this time I would delve into the intergenerational ramifications of colonization and the conflict of being a product of both sides; my protagonists wouldn’t be the children of Welsh deities stolen by the British ones, they would likely be the children of the Americas, Africa, India, and any place the British Empire once held hold. 

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I would rank it on the art end of the continuum. As a visual artist, my best training in the language of symbols came from my high school English teachers. Whether you are creating static visual art, a time-based piece such as film, or a written piece — the level of complex thought and multi-layered communication is the same. Science is a method; a system for analyzing the world around us in ways we can all agree upon. Art is language; a form of communication of complex ideas.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Prioritizing creativity. I tend to place everything else in my world first. The drawback of being a professional creative is that my own personal projects tend to be pushed so far to the back burner that they fall off the stove and live underneath it with the dust bunnies. 

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

Peer pressure. For the longest time, I was under the delusion that I could either be a visual artist or a writer, but not both. Unfortunately, writing is contagious. Authors love to hang out together and goad each other to write and submit things. And the next thing you know you’re signing each other’s books. True story. 

What does literary success look like to you?

Having my own category of Fan-Fiction on AO3. At the point that people love your creation enough to want to play in their sandbox instead of their own, you’ve left a mark on the collective unconscious in a positive way. 

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I always have something brewing. Right now I’m working on an actual play Star Wars RP podcast as well as a sequel to and a parallel universe exploration of The Laws of Entanglement

For more information, visit:


Sunday, November 7, 2021



With a licensing agreement with the Heirs of Norma Dent for anthologies of all new stories of characters created by Lester Dent, Pro Se Productions proudly announces that submissions are being accepted for THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE BLACK BAT.

“Yes,” explains Tommy Hancock, “there is a third Black Bat from the Pulps, and this one is not only an aviator involved in espionage, but he happened to be created by Lester Dent! Although he’s known for being the genius behind Doc Savage, as well as other known characters, this one came as a surprise even to me.  Although not immediately considered a writer of aviation pulp, Dent’s early career is peppered with the publication of such tales in various pulp magazines. The Black Bat starred in just one of those stories, but even in that brief tale, Dent introduced a mysterious character whose face was unknown to anyone that took his spying and fighting to the airways! This is such a fun character for writers to get an opportunity to be a part of. Dent packed a lot of style and details on this aviator hero into one tale while also leaving a lot of room for writers to explore while respecting the original work.”

Writers interested in proposing for one of the six slots available in THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE BLACK BAT should contact Hancock at editorinchief@prose-press.com to request the bible for the anthology. Proposals must be 1-3 paragraphs long and must include the entire plot of the story, these are not elevator pitches or back cover blurbs. The stories should be approximately 10,000 words and payment will be on a royalty basis. 

For more information on this announcement, email editorinchief@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

[Link] Illustrated Book Shares Little-Known Facts About Famous Writers and Their Novels

by Emma Taggart 

Our favorite books contain captivating tales within their pages, but there are often fascinating backstories to how the writers conceived them. That’s why Mental Floss decided to publish a book dedicated to telling the stories behind famous novels. The Curious Reader: A Literary Miscellany of Novels & Novelists—edited by Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy and the rest of the Mental Floss team—is full of little-known details about some of history’s most beloved authors and their literary works.

The Curious Reader will delight bookworms everywhere,” says Mental Floss. “Readers will learn about George Orwell’s near-death experience during the writing of 1984; meet the real man who may have inspired Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy; discover which famous author kept her husband’s heart after he passed away; and learn about the influence of psychedelics on Dune.”

With all of that fascinating information packed into one illustrated book, The Curious Reader is sure to come in handy for trivia nights and dinner party conversations.

From: https://mymodernmet.com/the-curious-reader-mental-floss/

Friday, November 5, 2021



Author Jim Doherty takes on a superhero trope in Pulp fashion in Pro Se Productions’ latest release-THE ADVENTURES OF COLONEL BRITANNIA -- now available in print and digital formats.

As the world reels from events that will soon lead to World War II, Commander Frederick Wentworth, RN, separated from Anne Elliot, the girl he loves, by class prejudice, decides to throw himself full-bore into his profession. Qualifying as both a commando and a fighter pilot, he volunteers for a potentially fatal medical procedure, one that, if successful, could make him something more than a soldier.

It could make him a symbol.

Reuniting with Anne, now an RAF nurse, and emerging from the experiment improved to the peak of human perfection, Wentworth adopts the persona of “Colonel Britannia,” the UK’s answer to the flamboyant Nazi military leader, Das Silberne Skelett, “The Silver Skeleton.”

In the course of the War’s early years, Wentworth will not only embody the spirit of his home country and all that stands for right during the war, but he will save an entire convoy from a sub attack, take on the Skeleton at every turn, become the UK’s top ace during the Battle of Britain, and fight with everything he has to stop the Nazi menace. If he’s good and lucky enough.

THE ADVENTURES OF COLONEL BRITANNIA by Jim Doherty with stunning cover art by the legendary Joe Staton and print formatting by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina is available in print for $12.99 at https://tinyurl.com/49zwyzxw

This superheroic collection is also available on Kindle formatted by lo Iacono and Marzia for $0.99 for a limited time at https://tinyurl.com/h9r4c2ma. Kindle Unlimited Members can read this thrilling adventure for free!

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email editorinchief@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Mocha Memoirs Press Focus #9: V.G. Harrison

This month I'm following up the previous series (eSpec Books) with a new one -- this time the amazing writers of Mocha Memoirs Press. Meet V.G. Harrison!  (Well, Marcia Colette writing at V.G. Harrison.)

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My latest is from the Slay anthology and it's called "Message in a Vessel," where I'm writing as V.G. Harrison. It's about what happens when the vampire world runs out of food and has to look to the stars to figure out where their next meal is coming from. 

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I was on the subway in Boston and read everything I could get my hands on until I couldn't find anything that interested me anymore. So, I started writing my own. Back then, nobody had coined the name urban fantasy.

What inspires you to write?

Movies and other stories. I enjoy putting my spin on the what-if question and seeing where it takes me.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Anyone can be a hero and you don't have to be a brooding jackass for it to be believable. Brains win out over brawn, which is why my heroines rely on their wits more than anything else. They're pilots, mechanical engineers, scientists, etc. Sometimes, all it takes is for them to be in the right place at the wrong time or vice versa.

What would be your dream project?

Anything that stands the test of time like Star Wars or Star Trek.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Kelley Armstrong, L.A. Banks, Tananarive Due, Stephen King, John Saul, and Bentley Little to name a few. 

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

The Light at the End of Judgment and Day. I would like to have made it longer, since it's a novella. I had a lot of fun writing that book. The fun where you don't want it to end so soon.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Oh wow. For me, I'm right in the middle. As V.G. Harrison, I have fun crafting a story and making it seem as close to reality as possible. But I weigh and measure certain aspects of my story to make sure there's just enough fact for people to forget that it's fiction.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Seeing an idea through to the end. I forget I am my first and most important fan. Everyone else comes second. If I lose interest in an idea, then that means I'm not having fun with it anymore and neither will readers. I've tried both plotting and pantsing and it doesn't matter. 

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

Their success makes me want to succeed. I see how much they enjoy writing and how passionate they are about their stories, and I want to feel the same way about mine. That's probably why I LOVE hanging out with them at conventions.

What does literary success look like to you?

Being able to do this as a full-time career rather than having to work my life around it.  

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I just got a contract for my next sci-fi novel, Engine in the Sky.

For more information, visit: 


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Movie Reviews for Writers: Shortcut to Happiness

Remember "The Devil and Daniel Webster"? Do you remember the part where Daniel Webster takes over a publishing house and helps a writer who sold his soul to the devil, played by a particularly minx-ish Jennifer Love Hewitt? No? Me neither. 

Still, this "inspired by" story has a lot to say about both the desires of writers and learning to be satisfied with one's lot in life. And about the longing to be remembered. 

Jabez Stone (Alex Baldwin), jealous of the success of a fellow writer and in the middle of one of the worst days of his (or anyone's) life, offers his eternal soul for happiness and success. Of course, the sultry and ever vigilant Satan (Hewitt) shows up at his door with the answer to all his problems and masterfully twists his wishes in classic Faustian style. 

When she first asks Jabez what he wants from life, he answers from the heart:

Jabez: I want to write great books that last.

Devil: I can't help you with that. That's a matter of talent.

Can you identify with that? I certainly can. I've long said that my goal as a writer is to write stories that are studied by future generations. I too want to write stories that last, stories that matter, stories that outlive me to keep me alive (in a sense). And I have a feeling I'm not alone in that. 

Of course when the Devil (through the business of publishing books) gets a hold of his goal, she turns his definition of success into something more measurable in dollars and sales and lifestyle achieved. She twists "books that last" into "achieving celebrity through writing." 

Devil: You want to be a success.

Jabez: Yes! (excitedly)

Devil: Your want to be a success so you can write great books and people will appreciate your talents,  is that right?

Jabez: Yes. (less excitedly)

Devil: Then you've come to the right person. 

And she lives up to her bargain. Jabez gets a huge book deal, a hefty advance, a new apartment, women wanting him... but he isn't happy with his work. He knows it's crap, but the publisher keeps him so busy with publicity and constantly changes his work to make it more commercial and his ideal dream of success falls away to feed the machine. His work isn't recognized by critics, nor are the films received well at all -- outside of the box office. Money isn't the problem. 

The problem is that (pardon my use of the business cliches) his cheese moved, or his goalpost shifted. 

He's so busy keeping up a writer's persona that he can't write the kind of stuff that he dreamed of having stick around to be his legacy. 

When he confronts the Devil about that, she quickly corrects him, reminding him that, "You're successful, aren't you?" He nods, and gives a less than enthusiastic response, to which she replies, "This is not some fantasy where you sit in a rocking chair and write essays about the human condition."

But that's what he wanted all along. To matter to readers, not to matter to the machine. 

I won't spoil the whys but suffice it to say that later in the film, Daniel Webster (played by the brilliant Anthony Hopkins) defends Jabez's original dream in front of a jury of writers that includes Jacqueline Suzanne, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Mario Puzo, Oscar Wilde, and other famous writers. 

What he says in that defense perhaps matters most of all to us as writers:

But when Mr. Stone came to her, or rather when she came to Mr. Stone, what my client really wanted was readers. He wanted people to read what he wrote. He's a writer oh, that's what writers want. An audience, an audience for his words, for his vision, for his truth, if you will.

Read that again. If it doesn't hit home for you, then maybe you're just feeding the machine too (whichever level of machine you write for). 

Then, to drive the point home, Webster adds: "It's good to have someone around to remind us."


One other point I want to mention from this cool flick. We all need a Mike in our lives. 

Before his deal with the Devil, Jabez was friends with a group of writers who were all struggling for that first sale to a publishing house. Among that group of friends is a guy named Mike. Unfortunately, that relationship between Mike and Jabez doesn't fare too well in the midst of all the business and success Jabez experiences. 

When accepting an award for his latest novel, Jabez interrupts his acceptance speech to indulge his regrets instead. 

When I was younger he was the first guy I'd show my stuff to. Mike was a tough critic. He had a great bullshit detector. But when he liked something, well, that was a good day.

When he lost Mike, he lost his way. When he lost his soul, he lost the very thing that drove his writing to be something other than "shit." It's a lesson he learned too late -- quite often the success we think we want isn't the success we really want.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


Are you ready to meet Hunter Houston: Horror Hunter?

Now available: Hunter Houston and the Molten Menace! The first of four novellas featuring Hunter Houston: Horror Hunter is now available in paperback and ebook for your monster-battlin’ pleasure. Paperback is only $5.99! What a deal!

About Hunter Houston and the Molten Menace:

When the South’s preeminent monster hunting badass vanishes without a trace, it’s party time for the weirdest, creepiest, most menacing things that go bump in the night. Is there anyone strong enough, brave enough, or stupid enough to fill Bubba’s shoes?

Hunter Houston is the Horror Hunter, the South’s Number Two Monster Hunter. He’s the guy who handles the small stuff. He’s not the hero we need, but he’s the hero we’ve got. When Bubba and his team vanish, Houston has to step up and handle the extra load. If only it wasn't so much like work.

When the war between two unknown cryptid armies breaks out beneath Atlanta, Georgia, the entire state is in deadly jeopardy. Diving deep beneath, can Houston put a cork in this situation before it spills out into the city streets?

Hunter Houston and the Molten Menace is available from Amazon (paperback). 

Hunter Houston and the Molten Menace
Written by Bobby Nash.
Cover by Tony Elwood.
Published by Falstaff Books.