New Story: The Chromatic Court

‘A court of partisans crowned out around him, a wrong-angled spread of scattered colors.’

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New story alert! My story ‘The Matron in the Wood’ is featured in this incredible anthology ‘The Chromatic Court’. This anthology is edited by Lovecraftian master Pete Rawlik, who I interviewed last July. Each story is focused on a other-worldly deity from horror fiction. I’m proud to be featured alongside so many authors that I respect and admire.

Enter The Court here! I hope you enjoy the stories featured within.

Curious Fictions: Two Free Stories

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Note: No original article this week. I’m off visiting with family. But have no fear! I have two free stories for everyone!

Curious Fictions is the new hotness for authors like myself. It’s a website that allows us to post free stories and cultivate a followership. The website is clean and very easy to navigate. I’ve joined Curious Fictions to encourage me to write and get stories out into the world. I plan on using the platform to give attention to stories that I love, but may not be right for most markets.

I’ve put up two stories, both of which can be found here.

My first story, ‘The Eldritch Film Club’, is a weird little story written in the 2nd person. I love this thing to death though, so please take a look.

The second is called ‘Manifesto: Abnormality at Z33.1’. This story came about after I spent a couple of days outlining a novella idea. I saw the skeleton of a fun little story and this is what came of it. If this novella ever sees the light of day, this will serve as a perfect little prequel.

Interview: Carrie Laben

It’s the first Wednesday in March, so that means it’s time for another Interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This interview is with horror author (and birder!) Carrie Laben.

Carrie Laben Author Photo

Hello Carrie! I’m super excited to be interviewing you on my blog today! I’m going to start off today with the ultimate softball request: tell us a little bit about yourself! What made you want to be a writer?

Thank you! It’s a very exciting time, as I’m sure you can imagine, and I always appreciate the opportunity to get the word out about my work.

As far as wanting to be a writer: My parents had a dairy farm and I’m the oldest of seven children – I wanted a job that I could do indoors, sitting down, and no manure anywhere. But I still wanted to feel that I was producing something real and tangible and satisfying, and that narrowed the field of office jobs down quite a bit. Then there’s the fact that I just plain like writing and find it fun.

While scrolling through your Publications page on your website, I noticed that one of your hobbies happens to be bird-watching, which I think is pretty cool! What does bird-watching entail? And what attracts you to the hobby?

I like to say I’ve been birding since I was a toddler – my mom started teaching me the names of birds at the feeders when I was two or three. It’s the perfect combination of the collector’s impulse with appreciation of nature.

There’s hardly any wrong way to bird-watch, so long as you’re looking at birds (if you look at a butterfly or a frog by mistake, don’t worry, those are legit hobbies too!) Some birders travel all over the world trying to see as many species as possible. Some do ‘patch birding’ – where you try to spot the most species in your own backyard or local park. Others don’t focus on numbers but try to get a better understanding of local patterns – when the birds migrate, which species breed where, etc. If you’re interested, one great place to get more information is the blog 10,000 Birds, where I am a semi-regular guest blogger.

At the end of this month, Word Horde will be putting out your debut novel, A Hawk in the Woods. It sounds like the perfect ‘cosmic horror road-trip’ novel that we all need right now. What can you tell us about your book? How did it come to be?

The Hawk in the woods

A Hawk in the Woods is a combination of aspects of the genre that fascinate me, from folk horror to Lovecraftian cosmic horror to the quiet psychological horror that families inflict on each other down the generations – even when they’re trying to break free of the past. The main characters are twin sisters and as the story opens, one is gravely ill and the other is in jail. The reader gets to ride along as they go on the lam and confront their legacy, and also see how they grew up caught in a power struggle between their grandfather, their mother, and a community that knows there’s something just not right about the whole family.

The first seed of the novel was a folk song called The Cruel Mother, in which a woman is threatened with supernatural vengeance for a wrong she did to her children. There are a number of excellent, haunting versions available but I’m particularly fond of Emily Smith’s rendition, and Fiona Hunter’s.

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any general advice for any writers looking to get published?

For young writers in our genre in particular, my best advice is not to let yourself be boxed in. I’ve seen too many people get caught up in the notion that a few markets, editors, and awards are the end-all and be-all, and that the regard of a small handful of people is the key to success. This leads to cliquishness when things go well and despair when they don’t. Make friends, have fun, but remember that any particular corner of the genre is not the world and no one person has the power to make or break your career (not even you!) If you can’t get into some particular market read widely and try to find something that works a bit better with your style – as well as writing and revising like a fiend, of course!

As a corollary, I still tend to see the received wisdom that genre writers need to stick together because the literary establishment despises us. This is much less true than it was in the past. I went to an MFA program myself (at the University of Montana) and while it’s certainly not the best path for everyone, I shared classes with both students and professors who were not only open to genre work but doing it themselves. There was even a workshop completely dedicated to supernatural fiction, where I shared the first few chapters of Hawk and got a lot of valuable advice. So don’t wall yourself off from possibilities out of defensiveness or fear!

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

I’m pretty sure that my TBR pile is longer than my actual expected lifespan at this point, and I’m a fast reader! That said, some recent fiction I’m really looking forward to digging into includes Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, Mothlight by Adam Scovell, and the latest from Marlon James and S.P. Miskowski. I also read a lot of nonfiction and on that front I can’t wait to open up The Secret Lives of Glaciers by my old classmate M. Jackson, which recounts a year in the lives of Icelanders living on the front lines of climate change. That’s going to be the real-life horror that the next generation has to live with, if we don’t act fast.

Where can people find you online?

My website is at http://www.carrielaben.com, which is nice and easy to remember. I also have a Twitter presence, @pinguinus, and a Facebook author page (https://www.facebook.com/Carrie-Laben-2256476324631738/) if you want up-to-the-minute updates.


Don’t forget to purchase Carrie Laben’s debut novel on the 26th of March! Thank you for joining me for this month’s Interview, and I’ll see everyone again soon!

Monthly Review (February 2019)

Cupid’s arrow has come and gone… It’s the end of February, and that means it’s time for another Monthly Review! It’s the shortest month of the year, so I won’t waste your time. Let’s get down to some (chocolate and roses) brass tax!

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 2

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 4

Acceptances: 0

Rejections: 0

Two more submissions to add to the list! One submission, and one new story. Fingers crossed as always.

What else have I been doing?

An interview with haunted radio jockey/author Matthew M Bartlett!

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Matthew M Bartlett is one of my favorite writers working in horror. The universe that he has created is unique and fascinating. While plenty of writers create creepy small towns, few populate them with such demented characters. I urge you to follow the links in the interview and buy some of his books! His first two collections are quick reads, but they are worth every minute.

Next month’s author interview will be with Carrie Laben, who has a book releasing from Word Horde next month.

My Favorite Horror Films of the 2010s

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Another Twitter trends strikes again! In this article I sum up my favorite horror film from each year (2010-2018). It’s a new feature I’ll be following up on periodically that I’m calling ‘Decades of Horror’. It’s got a good ring to it right? Maybe? I don’t know. I’m doing it anyway.

Two stories up at Curious Fictions!

I’ve been trying my best to follow the ‘write every day’ Golden Rule. I don’t hit most days, but that’s okay. And not everything I create is solid gold, ready to battle it out in slush piles. I’ve joined Curious Fictions to encourage me to write and get stories out into the world. I plan on using the platform to give attention to stories that I love, but may not be right for most markets. My first story, ‘The Eldritch Film Club’, is a weird little story written in the 2nd person. I love this thing to death though, so please take a look. I’ll also be posting a second one this week called,  ‘Manifesto: Abnormality at Z33.1’. This story came about after I spent a couple of days outlining a novella idea. I saw the skeleton of a fun little story and this is what came of it. If this novella ever sees the light of day, this will serve as a perfect little prequel.

If you like the sound of these two stories and may want to see more, I encourage you to follow my Curious Fictions profile and maybe throw a few bucks my way.

One more thing before we go: I’ll be sending out a new newsletter tomorrow! Please subscribe to get original content and more goodness.

That’s it for now! I’ll see everyone next month!

 

My Favorite Horror Films of the 2010s

I fell in love with a  Film Twitter trend back in November. As you’ve seen in the past, I have a certain affinity for these kind of trends.

This particular trend was focused on ‘your favorite films of the 2010s’. I made my list. It took me like 15 minutes, and I had loads of fun. What are your favorite horror films of the 2010s? Think of this piece as a sequel to my tweet. Favorite Films of the 2010s: Electric Boogaloo.

2010:

Insidious

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This movie made James Wan and Blumhouse the household names that they are today. Insidious is still a fantastic horror film, crammed full of brilliant jump scares and some truly chilling settings. The mystery of The Further is still intact. The sequels (each worse than the last) hadn’t sullied it quite yet.

2011:

You’re Next

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or The Cabin in the Woods or Grave Encounters

What a fantastic year! I had to really mull my pick here over. The Cabin in the Woods is meta-brilliance. Grave Encounters is the best found-footage film ever, and it’s not even close. But You’re Next is the 2011 release I find myself re-watching the most. The violence, the music and the premise make a dark comedy sundae with a sprinkle of  some well-executed fight sequences on top. This film was a pleasant surprise in 2011, and it still remains a treasure.

2012:

Sinister

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Hello again, Blumhouse! Welcome back! And… wait… Is that Ethan Hawke there behind you!? If you’re here on my blog reading this article, chances are you like horror. And that means you know exactly what happens to characters that just have to solve mysteries in this genre. Bad things. Bad things involving a vengeful demon, evil children, and some of the most jaw-dropping fictional snuff films this side of the Mississippi. These grainy pieces are the vertebrae that forms the backbone of this film.

2013:

Oculus

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Or The Conjuring or Evil Dead

Last year, we all loved Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. If you loved that show, you’ll love Mike Flanagan’s film Oculus. The seamless transitions between memories and the present day conjure a nightmare logic that is unmatched. Great performances, great ghost design, and my favorite scene involving a lightbulb of all time.

2014:

The Babadook

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I saw this in an Alamo Drafthouse when I lived in New Mexico. Not only was it one of the nicest theaters I’ve ever been in, but this is one of the greatest horror movies I’d ever seen. Full stop. The horrors of motherhood is a horror film staple, and rarely is it as gripping and harrowing as it is in The Babadook.

2015:

The Invitation

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The worst dinner party ever? That’s a fact. Here’s another fact: this movie is a masterpiece. Well shot, well acted, with just enough visual flair and suspense to last you for it’s entire run time. The Invitation is worth it for the ending alone. Karyn Kasuma struck a cord with this film. And that’s what good horror does. It uses our fears and, more importantly, our expectations to unnerve us. The thing is, we know something is wrong with this dinner party. But it’s all about the journey.

2016:

The Void

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Practical effects with a killer Lovecraftian edge. This is an indie horror darling. While it’s not perfect (the performances are a little shaky), it is certainly a rip-roaring tentacled good time. It feels like a John Carpenter film that time-traveled to the great year of 2016.

2017:

Happy Death Day

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Fun fact: I don’t like horror comedies (save for a select few). The tonal balance usually doesn’t work for me. But Blumhouse has done it again! Happy Death Day is an utter delight. It introduces a fun new slasher villain and treats us to another stellar entry in the Groundhog Day genre.

2018:

Hereditary

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Some horror movies are fun. Hereditary is not that. But it is powerful. My mouth hung open for a majority of this thing’s run time. Toni Collette’s performance is hard to watch, but in a very good way. I think Hereditary will go down as a landmark in this genre in the years to come.

That’s the 2010s! I would like to potentially do some other decades. I think the 1980s would serve as a real challenge. I’m not sure if I could kill my horror darlings so easily…

 

Interview: Matthew M. Bartlett

Happy February! It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so that means it’s time for another Author Interview! This month’s interview is with haunted radio jockey/author Matthew M. Bartlett!

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Hello Matthew! I’m very excited to be interviewing you today! I like to start my interviews off with the lord of all softball questions: tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to be a writer? What do you do when you’re not putting words on a page?

When I was little, I wanted to write a magazine about the neighborhood kids. I named it Magazine Magazine. It never made it to even the first issue. To be fair, I was maybe seven years old. So the desire was there long, long before the ability.  That desire hit me early on, because I was a reader. I read a lot of Hardy Boys books and Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful, and whatever I could get my hands on, Reader’s Digest, books based on the television show Get Smart, stuff on my parents’ and grandparents’ bookshelves. Then my grandparents, knowing my love for the Universal Monsters (I’d never seen the movies but was transfixed by the pictures), bought me King’s Christine, and the novelization of the first Omen movie. I was on the cusp of being a teenager then. I still wanted to write, but couldn’t manage to put anything decent together. A lot of writing was intimidating; writers seemed to know a lot about the world that I simply didn’t. In college I wrote poetry for classes, and I’m proud of a lot of that stuff. I admit that I’ve pilfered some lines from my old poems for my fiction. At that time I was reading a lot of American novelists like Mailer and Kesey and John Irving, and the Beat Generation writers, too. In my thirties I found my way to Lovecraft and Ligotti and Aickman, and I read all the King I could get my hands on, still. It wasn’t until I started up a fiction page on Livejournal, writing short pieces that ended up in Gateways to Abomination and Creeping Waves, that I essentially taught myself to write fiction. That was in 2004. I was 34 years old, and I didn’t put out Gateways until ten years later. During that ten years, I didn’t really think of myself as a “writer,” because I did not have the need to write every day, or even every week. That has changed.

When I’m not writing, I’m either at my job or lounging around watching television or movies with my wife and cats. Or else I’m reading. I’m not exactly living a fast-paced, exciting life. I hope you weren’t hoping I’d say “rock-climbing” or “body-surfing” or “traveling to distant lands.”

I think your creative voice is wholly unique. I find it dream-like, each horrifying image like a flashbulb in the dark. Anyone that knows their horror can spot a Matthew M. Bartlett story from across the room. Can you talk about what goes into a short story for you? What does your process look like?

It always starts with a vague concept, or a word or a phrase, one overheard or one that jumps into my head. The way I work is, if I sit down and open up a work in progress, or open up a new blank document with an idea in mind, I write. It’s automatic. If I don’t, I don’t. So I get myself to that computer every day and I open up that document. I rarely have a map in my head of where a story will go. Most times I have only the beginning. Sometimes I have that and the end, and no middle. And I just go where my mind takes me. And I do a lot of internet and book research, sometimes just to get tiny details right. I usually have a few projects going, so if I find myself stuck on one, I bounce over to the other.

You have a novella being published by Darkscape Press later this month. It’s called If It Bleeds and it looks absolutely incredible. What can you tell us about this new book?

This is a book very much in the vein of Gateways to Abomination, in that it’s a stringing together of short pieces that connect with each other in angular ways. They all revolve around a singer, and a song, and a deal with someone who isn’t quite the devil.  There’s a visit to a home for wayward boys, a strange incursion at a Gentleman’s Club, a grisly scene in a building near the National Mall in D.C., and a lackluster performance by a local band on a town green. There are beheadings, at least one shooting, and a few stabbings. So, essentially, it’s a love song, a sing along, a homicidal radio play without a if it bleedshero. The book basically serves as a prologue to the third full-length book about my fictional radio station WXXT, with Gateways being part 1, and Creeping Waves being part 2. The third book will have a lot of stuff about the FCC, or at least my version of it, which involves corruption and black magic. Right now I see it as a traditional novel, not a mosaic novel like the first two. The book has a cover and a frontispiece by the incredible Yves Tourigny, and gorgeous interior color illustrations by Luke Spooner. Incidentally, Nightscape will also be publishing a three-book set of illustrated hardcovers including my book Gateways to Abomination, Jon Padgett’s Secret of Ventriloquism, and a book of short story collaborations by me and Jon. It’s called Secret Gateways. Secret will be illustrated by Harry O. Morris, Gateways by Aeron Alfrey, and something special is in the works for the third book.

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any advice for any writers looking to get published?

I do, for what it’s worth. A lot of it is common sense and nothing you won’t hear elsewhere. Read widely and often. Put your head down and put in the work. Write wherever and whenever you can. If you’re serious, and want to be a professional, don’t let video games and television take over your free time. Writing should bring you enjoyment, but remember that it is work.  Aim high. Don’t give away your work. If you receive feedback, try to put aside your ego and see if there’s any worth in it. Understand that if one venue doesn’t want your story, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad story; it rangel-body.jpgmight not be to that editor’s taste, or it might be not quite what he or she was envisioning for the work they’re putting together. Behave on social media. Know how to read the room, so to speak. Read what people in the writing community post for a long time before you wade in. If you have a book you want people to buy, don’t push it on them. Don’t friend writers, editors, and publishers on social media and then immediately ask something of them, like “look at my book, like my author page.” Self-promote only in spaces where self-promotion is explicitly requested. This is important because the genre fiction community on social media is smaller than you think, and we all talk to each other. Bad behavior gets around. Keep trying, if publication is what you want. Discouragement and rejections are part and parcel of writing. A thick skin and a belief in yourself are assets. Finally, and this may be a hard pill to swallow, if writing brings you nothing but misery, if you’ve given it all you’ve got to no avail, there’s no shame in stopping.

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

I’m currently reading Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias, who is a true poet and a compelling writer. The new Simon Strantzas collection Nothing is Everything is in the mail, on its way to me. I’ll soon be starting A Rather Haunted Life, a Shirley Jackson biography. I’ve pre-ordered Carnivorous Lunar Activities by Max Booth III, and Wounds by Nathan Ballingrud, who is one of my absolute favorites. I also have House of Windows by John Langan to look forward to, and I’m really looking forward to his next collection. I stalled out on Don DeLillo’s Mao II, but may pick that up again for a re-try. Otherwise, I dip into the massive amount of collections and anthologies both old and new I have sitting around my house.

Where can people find you online?

My website is www.matthewmbartlett.com. I have a Patreon site where you can see and hear not-yet-published pieces and readings. I occasionally tweet but mostly retweet at @MattMBartlett. I’m on Facebook a lot.


Thank you for joining me, Matthew! This ends today’s transmission… Try not to pay to much attention to the voices hidden in the static…

Monthly Review (January 2019)

Hello everyone and welcome to 2019! This was a pretty busy month for me. Lots of juggling of various projects and plans. Before I get into them, I wanted to briefly talk shop.

I’ll be carrying what I did in 2018 with my blog into this year! Three posts a month, sometimes more. The first one will be on the first Wednesday, and it will be an Author Interview! The second post (the second Wednesday of the month) will be a feature article of some sort. The final Wednesday of the month will be my Monthly Review, where I will do a wrap-up the month and make any further writing announcements! Okay. Enough of that. Let’s dive into submission numbers!

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 1

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 2

Acceptances: 1

Rejections: 3

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And…. acceptance. Like most story acceptances, I can’t share too many details. I will say this though: the story will be available next month!

What else have I been doing?

Writing reviews and features for High Fever Books!

High Fever Books

High Fever Books is a website created by horror author Michael Patrick Hicks, and I’ll be joined by an entire team of talented reviewers and writers! We’ll be doing features and writing reviews of the best books that horror fiction has to offer!

My first piece on the website is below! I made a master list of my Most Anticipated Reads for 2019, and this article is over-flowing with incredible reads. This includes reads from S.P. Miskowski through Georgina Bruce.

Speaking of S.P. Miskowski, I also did a review of her newest novelThe Worst Is Yet to Come! I loved it, and if you want to know more, you should pre-order the book and then read my review .

Meanwhile at logannobleauthor.com…

An interview with Trevor Henderson!

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My first Author Interview of the year is with horror artist Trevor Henderson! His found footage art is simply incredible. I’ve been blown away by the quality and depth of his work since I discovered him on Twitter. In this interview, Trevor and I talk about how he got started, and some of the challenges of being an artist!

Next month I’ll be interviewing author Matthew M. Bartlett, who is swiftly becoming one of my favorite authors.

2019, the Year of the Fungi Monsters

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I wrote up a piece talking about some of my goals for 2019. I talk about books, writing and other fun stuff. It’s always nice to take survey of my goals, whether they’re big or small.

My Video Games of 2018: Shooting Aliens and Collecting Strawberries

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It can’t be the start of a new year unless I talk in depth about the year previous! This article is about exactly what you’d think it would be about: video games! I count down my five favorite of the year, and talk about some other games that I think deserve your attention.

My creative energy is up, and I hope you guys are enjoying your first month free from the evils of 2018!