Eeee! Stokercon 2017!

It’s going to be so much fun. I’ll be hanging with dear friends and the Gamut staff down at the Queen Mary on Long Beach.

Will you be there? Let’s meet up! Here is my schedule:

Thu, April 27, 3pm – 4pm
Librarians’ Day Building Diverse Horror Collections
Description: International horror, horror written by women, horror about people of color. Learn how to seek out titles and authors that will make your horror collections more complete. Moderator: Mercedes M. Yardley  Panelists: Lauren Candia, Becky Spratford, Erwin Magbanua 

 

Fri, April 28, 10am – 11am
Mini Mass Signing
Description: Elizabeth Hand / Chuck Wendig / F Paul Wilson / Bill Bridges / Kate Jonez / Brent Kelley / Johnny Worthen / Ian Welke / Nathan Carson / Michael Paul Gonzalez / Mercedes M. Yardley / Richard Thomas / C.A. Suleiman / Tom Monteleone
Fri, April 28, 6pm – 8pm
Shades and Shadows Reading 
I won’t be reading, but simply attending.
Description: Shades & Shadows, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase the visibility of speculative literature in Los Angeles and beyond. Join hosts Lauren Candia and Xach Fromson for readings from a superb lineup of authors.
Sat, April 29, 11am – 12pm
Publishing Via Crowd Sourcing and Expanding the Definition of Horror
Description: Moderator: Matt Betts Panelists: Richard Thomas, Mercedes M. Yardley, Dino Parenti
Sat, April 29, 3pm – 5pm
Pitch Session (I will be taking pitches for Gamut Magazine)
Description: Pitch sessions at StokerCon 2017 are an excellent way to get your work in front of industry professionals.
Reading Matthew Kaufman / Mercedes M. Yardley
April 29, 5:00pm – 5:30pm
I will be reading from Detritus in Love.
Thursday night we’ll also have a live broadcast of Awkward Conversations with Geeky Writers, and Amelia and I will be joining from the con! It’s going to be a very cool and busy weekend. I genuinely hope to see you there! I might bring homemade peanut butter cups. Who knows?

I Was Having A Bad Day So I Made A Cake.

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It was the most glorious cake. Everything I could wish for! I found the recipe on The Stay At Home Chef’s blog, and she has the most mouth-watering pictures. I also used her Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe on the same page, and it was divine. This cake was rich. Decadent. It was easy to make, divine, and was plenty for a three layer cake.

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I gained two pounds that week, and it was so worth it. ❤ If you’re ever looking for the perfect chocolate cake, this is the one. Enjoy!

Miss Murder Asks For Help…And It’s AWESOME.

It’s perfectly fine to ask for help…unless you’re me, that is. Or, I suspect, you. If your mother, spouse, friend, or sibling needed help, wouldn’t you leap to give it? Wouldn’t you stretch out your hand instantly? And sometimes you don’t know they need help unless they ask. Why don’t they just ASK?

Because it’s hard. Because we live in this crazy society where we feel like we have to do everything, and do it perfectly, and do it alone.

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On the front porch with Marsh at 3 AM

This isn’t how societies work. This isn’t how the human animal works. Once we lived in villages and helping each other meant surviving. We didn’t hunt, gather, or parent alone. What suddenly makes us think that we have somehow evolved to do that now, especially when things are more complicated than ever?

We’re weary. We’re taught that busy is better. I know very few people who actually enjoy their lives, and many simply try to survive it.

This is me on a typical day: Get three kiddos to school. Arrange/attend appointments. Keep up with friends, “maintain a presence,” volunteer for my church and community. I try to write/read/blurb/clean/feed the pets/feed the family/feed my soul. And it isn’t working.

The house has fallen. Six hours of volunteering for church a week leaves me exhausted. My writing is stalling and I feel like an imposter who can’t do anything very well.

Help.

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Baking Banana Bread at 4:00 AM

I tried to ask it. If only people would do more around the house, or follow through their commitments at work, or listen to me when I say no the first time instead of trying to wear me down to a yes. But I’m not good at asking for help. It means I’m not pulling my weight. It means I’m not doing my best, and that means I need to try harder.

Then I ran across an awesome deal on housecleaning. You heard me. Housecleaning.

How many times have you thought, “If I were rich, I’d pay someone to clean my house!” I thought that, too. It would be a glorious thing.  But it’s something only rich, busy people do. Not people with stay-at-home careers, like me.

Except it is. My husband thought it was a great idea and encouraged me to try it. We hired them to come, and they came today.

It. Was. Awesome.

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My super shiny kitchen! I just made banana bread there a few hours ago!

Picture this: I had just gotten over either the flu or a diabetic thing, I can’t be sure. But I was weak. Thanks to anxiety about life, I had only slept an hour and a half the night before, from 5:30 am until 7:00 am. (Note exhibit A and B, with the cat and banana bread, all at weird hours of the night.) All three kids had been home for spring break, satelliting around me like drunk fireflies. I’m on a tight writing deadline. I’m pretty rachet.

So I open the door and there are three smiling women. They ask me to prioritize what I’d like them to work on. They are impossibly kind to my children. They are very patient with my son.

They are my backup. They’ve got me, boo.

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The microwave is so shiny that I’m not even ashamed when the door falls off!

These women have my back. They start on the bathrooms and I tackle the kids’ rooms. They move to the kitchen while I knock out the laundry. Four people working in tandem is a beautiful thing. And when the dust (quite literally) clears, I have my home back. I’m happy, they’re happy, and I feel a huge sense of relief.

It felt good. I feel like I gained some emotional balance. I think I’ll have them back every six months or so for a good deep clean that feels like it touched my soul as well as my walls. It took two hours for this, and that was all. Two hours. I spent more time than that on the front porch last night, petting cats and looking at Pinterest like a goon.

It was worth it.

“Help” isn’t a long word, but it’s certainly a difficult one to say. But, oh, am I glad I said it. My husband didn’t laugh. My friends didn’t laugh. My mother didn’t point at the dirty laundry and tsk. They were supportive, and it turns out the only one judging me harshly was myself.

Have a lovely day, my friends!

Writers on Writing Omnibus for 99 Cents!

Writers on Writing Volume 1 - 4 Omnibus: An Author's Guide by [Mynhardt, Joe, Ketchum, Jack, Hodge, Brian, Waggoner, Tim, Burke, Kealan Patrick, Janz, Jonathan, Wytovich, Stephanie M., Yardley, Mercedes M., Bark, Jasper, Lucia, Kevin, Kenneth W. Cain]
Massive 99c Kindle promo from Crystal Lake Publishing (all part of celebrating our 50th release at the end of this month)!

Learn the craft of writing from those who know it best.

This is the Writers on Writing Vol.1 – 4 Omnibus – An Author’s Guide where your favorite authors share their ultimate secrets in becoming and being an author.

Includes:
The Infrastructure of the Gods by Brian Hodge
The Writer’s Purgatory by Monique-Cherie Oberholzer (Snyman)
Why Rejection is Still Important by Kevin Lucia
Real Writers Steal Time by Mercedes Murdock Yardley
What Right Do I Have to Write by Jasper Bark
Go Pace Yourself by Jack Ketchum
A Little Infusion of Magic by Dave de Burgh
Confronting Your Fears in Fiction by Todd Keisling
Once More with Feeling by Tim Waggoner
Embracing Your Inner Shitness by James Everington
The Forgotten Art of Short Story by Mark Allan Gunnells
Adventures in Teaching Creative Writing by Lucy A. Snyder
Submit (to psychology) for Acceptance by Daniel I Russell
Character Building by Theresa Derwin
Heroes and Villains by Paul Kane
Do Your Worst by Jonathan Winn
Creating Effective Characters by Hal Bodner
Fictional Emotions; Emotional Fictions by James Everington
Home Sweet Home by Ben Eads
You by Kealan Patrick Burke
The art of becoming a book reviewer by Nerine Dorman
Treating Fiction like a Relationship by Jonathan Janz
How to Write Killer Poetry by Stephanie M. Wytovich
Happy Little Trees by Michael Knost
In Lieu of Patience Bring Diversity by Kenneth W. Cain
Networking is Scary, but Essential by Doug Murano
Are You In The Mood? by Sheldon Higdon
What if Every Novel is a Horror Novel? by Steve Diamond
Description by Patrick Freivald
A First-Time Novelist’s Odyssey by (William) Bill Gorman
I Am Setting by J.S. JS Breukelaar
Finding Your Voice by Lynda E. Rucker

Don’t miss the exclusive content banner early in the eBook. Just click on the banner and follow the instructions.

Are you ready to unleash the author in you?
Amazon: http://getbook.at/WoW
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33115082-writers-on-writing-vol-1—4-omnibus

Pimp a Friend Friday: Green Ronin Talent Search!

This is super cool, you guys. Green Ronin, who put out The Lost Citadel, is hosting a talent search. They are specifically looking for women at this point, but plan to do something for men in the future. Let me briefly quote what they said on their blog.

“Ultimately, one woman will be chosen to write for the Lost Citadel RPG under developer C.A. Suleiman and as part of a paid contract, but it’s my hope that we might find not just one but several new, talented women creatives that we haven’t worked with before at Green Ronin.

We will begin taking submissions on April 17th, and will post the official rules and guidelines for the talent search separately. Meanwhile, read up on the Lost Citadel and get ready!”

This sounds like a lot of fun! I had a wonderful time working on The Lost Citadel and think it’s great that Green Ronin is looking for fresh, new authors. Why not take a stab at it yourself? You can find more information here.

The Thing No Parent Wants To Think Of

 

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Comfortable? Not at all. Necessary? Absolutely.

It’s something that my husband and I have discussed for a long time. Niko is friendly, gregarious, and just as apt to sit on somebody’s lap now as he was when he was two years old. Kisses from a toddler are darling. From a teenager who can’t read the situation? Not so much.

And that’s just hugging and kissing. Growing up in Las Vegas presents a whole new set of challenges when it comes to sexual situations. I’m sure you can imagine.

I’m glad to be taking the class, but I have to admit I’m doing it with gritted teeth and a fearful heart. But we can do difficult things.

The Day of Reckoning Gamut Class!

Sign up for this online class! You know you want to. 😀

Overview

Day of Reckoning will be a one-day class that runs from 9-12 AM and 1-5 PM CST, quarterly. The current dates for 2017 are May 13th, August 12th, OR November 18th. These are all on Saturdays. There will be seven instructors who will run sessions that last for 45 minutes each, with a 15-minute break in-between (see below for more information). All of this will be on Skype. So you need a good connection, and the day clear! I will be there to help run the sessions. Above and beyond this, you will submit ONE short story to each teacher (as well as myself)—up to eight total. So, you could send eight stories to eight teachers, or the same story to all eight instructors. Or any other combination. (Maximum story length is between 4,000-5,000 words.) Each of us will give you basic feedback—ratings on a number of categories, as well as a longer explanation about one aspect that was done well, and one that needs work, and the overall impression. You know how you never get any meaningful feedback when your story is rejected? Not sure if your stories are bad, okay, good or something special? Consider this feedback to be a professional level of reading, comprehension, and advice. Many of these authors have also worked as editors. And they have all placed stories in elite publications, won awards, and been in the Best of the Year anthologies. There will not be any editing—just feedback. We will not discuss your stories in the sessions, unless they come up organically. Class sizes are small—only eight students (maximum) per class. To sign up or get more information, send an email to richardgamut@gmail.com.

Who is This Class For?

•  Any writer who has 1-8 stories that need feedback (ideally done, not rough drafts)
•  Advanced authors looking to expand their skill set
•  Brave new authors looking to hone their craft
•  Authors that write across genre—speculative and lit; realism and the supernatural
•  Authors who don’t have time for a longer class
•  Authors looking for professional feedback

Instructors

Angela Slatter (not August), Mercedes M. Yardley, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters, Nik Korpon, Lucy A. Snyder, Chesya Burke, and Jacklyn Dre Marceau (August only). Richard Thomas will only be providing feedback, but not lecturing. Other authors and instructors will fill in as needed (such as Brian Evenson) when their schedule permits. Teachers will change, and we may offer this class more often as well.

Cost

$350 per student, total. There are no additional discounts for past students or paying in full, since we have set rates for the instructors, with the additional amount going to support Gamut. All fees are payable via Paypal. It’s on a first come, first serve basis. To sign up or get more information, send an email to richardgamut@gmail.com.

Session Titles and Descriptions

Make It Emotional, Make It Personal, Make It Matter
Chesya Burke
Writers are often told to write what they know, but what if you want to write about something you don’t know? What if you want to write about politics, race, gender or class issues? Where do you start? When do you accept that you are in over your head? This section will examine how to tackle the difficult topics and when to accept that you simply are not The One.

Creating Immediate Conflict: Avoiding Death by Exposition 
Kristi DeMeester
Frequently, beginning writers bog their stories down with exposition and back story, delaying the actual start of the conflict until pages in. Learn how to avoid this pitfall and how to work any necessary back story into your story without letting your first page serve as an info dump.

Writing Sex: How to Craft Literary Sex Scenes (August Only)
Jacklyn Dre Marceau
This section will focus on writing erotic scenes. Too often writers find difficulty crafting work that involves physical intimacy, and some writers avoid the sex scene altogether. This course will help you fine tune the usage of sensory language to create work that is realistic, meaningful, and tasteful, while still inspiring arousal in your reader

Brave New Worlds
Nik Korpon
In this lecture, we’ll talk about borrowing across genres and drawing on non-intuitive source material to create dynamic and innovative story worlds. Examples include using Celtic mythology and Marxist writings for a sci-fi murder mystery, and reimagining western films in the frozen wasteland of the Norse gods.

Flensing Your Story for Fun and Profit (Not August)
Angela Slatter
We will talk about self-editing—the idea of auditing your drafts against the ideas and principles you started out with in order to polish them to a submittable standard.

And Then the Murders Began: Writing Great First Paragraphs
Lucy A. Snyder
Author Marc Laidlaw recently wrote, “The first line of almost any story can be improved by making sure the second line is, ‘And then the murders began.'” While often true, most writers can’t actually use this technique. In this presentation, Lucy A. Snyder will discuss the first paragraphs of recent award-winning short stories to show why (and how) they work to hook readers.

Turning the Paper World Real: A Lesson in the Senses
Damien Angelica Walters
It’s easy to craft a story using only visual elements. After all, you’re painting a picture for a reader to see in their mind. But there are five senses, not one, and if you utilize them all, you can create a stronger story and a richer experience for a reader. We’ll talk about adding scent and sound, taste and touch, and yes, sight, to create a world that feels real.

Working Through Distractions
Mercedes M. Yardley
We’ll talk about using a timer to focus, how to build your work sentence by sentence, and how to build yourself a flexible, effective writing environment.

Author Bios

Chesya Burke has written and published nearly a hundred fiction pieces and articles within the genres of science fiction, fantasy, noir and horror. Her story collection, Let’s Play White, is being taught in universities around the country. In addition, Burke wrote several articles for the African American National Biography in 2008, and Burke’s novel, The Strange Crime of Little Africa, debuted in December 2015. Poet Nikki Giovanni compared her writing to that of Octavia Butler and Toni Morrison, and Samuel Delany called her “a formidable new master of the macabre.” Burke’s thesis was on the comic book character Storm from the X-Men, and her comic, Shiv, is scheduled to debut later in 2017. Burke is currently pursuing her PhD in English at the University of Florida.

Kristi DeMeester is the author of Beneath, a novel published by Word Horde, and Everything That’s Underneath, a short fiction collection forthcoming from Apex Publications. Her short fiction has been reprinted or appeared in Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year Volume 9Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1 and 3, in addition to publications such as Black Static, Apex, and several others. In her spare time, she alternates between telling people how to pronounce her last name and how to spell her first. Find her online at www.kristidemeester.com.

Jacklyn Dre Marceau lives a quiet life writing and teaching on the Carolina Coast.

Nik Korpon is the author of The Rebellion’s Last Traitor (Angry Robot, June 2017), Queen of the Struggle (January 2018) and The Soul Standard, among others. He lives in Baltimore.

Angela Slatter’s debut novel, Vigil, was released by Jo Fletcher Books in 2016, and the sequels Corpselight and Restoration will follow in 2017 and  2018 respectively. She is the author of eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other TalesSourdough and Other StoriesThe Bitterwood Bible and Other RecountingsBlack-Winged AngelsWinter Children and Other Chilling Tales and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. Her work has been adapted for the screen, and translated into Japanese, Russian, and Bulgarian. Angela has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, one Ditmar Award, and five Aurealis Awards.

Lucy A. Snyder is a five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning writer who is the author of ten books and about 100 published short stories. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Czech, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, Shadowed Souls, and Best Horror of the Year. She lives in Ohio, has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Goddard College, and is faculty in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.

Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Staring Into the Abyss, Herniated Roots, Tribulations, and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and the Shirley Jackson-nominated Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and the Bram Stoker-nominated Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for LitReactor and is Editor-in-Chief at Gamut Magazine. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com or contact Paula Munier at Talcott Notch.

Damien Angelica Walters is the author of Sing Me Your Scars (Apex Publications, 2015), winner of the This is Horror Award for Short Story Collection of the Year, Paper Tigers (Dark House Press, 2016), and the forthcoming Cry Your Way Home (Apex Publications, 2017). Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including the 2016 World Fantasy Award Finalist Cassilda’s Song, Cemetery DanceNightmare Magazine, and Black Static. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescued pit bulls. Find her on Twitter @DamienAWalters or on the web at http://damienangelicawalters.com.

Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair.  She is the author of many diverse works, including Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls, and the BONE ANGEL trilogy. She recently won the Bram Stoker Award for her story Little Dead Red.  Mercedes lives and works in Las Vegas, and you can reach her at www.abrokenlaptop.com.

Easy Homemade Apple Pie Filling

My parents brought me a box of apples from our tree back home. I remember climbing this tree as a kid and throwing apples to people walking down our street. There’s something so honest and homey about feeding people, and I like it to this day.

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I washed, peeled, and cored the apples, and then used this recipe to make a simple, pie filling. The house smells divine, and the best part is that it’s freezable. Simply stick it in a freezer bag and you can pull it out at any time.

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I hope you feel inspired to make your own filling. There’s something warm and inviting about a homemade apple pie. Have a wonderful day!

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A Very Crappy Tuesday: The Universe Has It In For Miss Murder

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They say Tuesday’s child is full of grace. Apparently that isn’t so!

This morning was off to a rousing start when I slept through my alarm. Oldest had decided to go traipsing around outside in bare feet, scaring me and the neighbors. I got him settled, the power inexplicably went off (why?),and then I managed to get Middlest to her early morning honor choir. We rushed back, I got Oldest onto his bus, and then took Littlest BACK to the school for kindergarten.  I was already tired and it wasn’t 9 am yet.

Did I mention that my phone is tripping? It called my husband twice and my best friend once. It wasn’t in my purse or pocket, but sitting on the table, untouched, both times. With that, the power, and the car seat electronically adjusting itself back and forth all day without being touched, I’ve decided I have an electrical gremlin causing havoc.

Niko’s favorite blanket was left in the motel eight hours away, so I promised to replace it. I get to the store, buy my things, and come back to find that somebody has parked so close behind me that I could barely open my trunk and I didn’t have room to stand behind it to load stuff. Because of this, I was loading things awkwardly from the side, hurt my shoulder, and dropped a piece of heavy furniture on my hand. Man. That hurt. Extra points for not starting the offending car on fire for parking far too close. I think I would have been justified. When I went to hop into the car, the seat had adjusted itself so far forward that there was no way I was getting in there. Stupid gremlins.

Came home to ice my hand, which was throbbing and swelling. While carrying a glass jar I just bought, I tripped over Taco Truck (one of our two stray cats), dropped the jar, and then stepped on the glass with bare feet. I left bloody footprints as I limped off to take care of my foot, which was awesome because I still had difficulty with one hand and shoulder. But my Star Wars Band-Aids are AWESOME.

Honestly, at this point I wanted to hide in my room and never come out again, but it was time for me to pick up the three kiddos and get to gettin’. Also, I have a short story and a revision to turn in this week. And a church thing tonight where we’ll be in charge of running and jumping children. Also, my husband is out of town on a business trip and I’m holding down the fort, alone and wounded.

I’m grateful that I’ve taken some Tylenol and I have enough distance from it to realize that it’s funny.  If I was watching a movie, I’d point at the screen and yell out, “Stay in bed, you poor sap! The universe is out to kill you!”

The universe may kill me yet. We’ll see. But at least I tried, and I’d give myself a hearty high five for that except that it would hurt far too much. 😛