Posts Tagged ‘Horror Writers Association’

Two items today, to look for in the near future:  The first is courtesy of Steph P. Bianchini’s blog THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, reminding us that the Cassini space probe will be sending its last signals to Earth just eight days from now.  Or from, as it were, the horse’s mouth, “on September 15, with its fuel tank now almost empty, the probe will make its final dive straight into Saturn, heading for the gas giant’s surface.”  And so, via THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, this sendoff:  “Cassini’s 13 Years of Stunning Saturn Science — In Pictures,” by Alexandra Witze on NATURE.COM.  To read (and see), press here.

For the second, we hark back a couple of months to an email from artist, poet, and sometime blog commentator Marge Simon:  Would you have a couple of vamp poems previously published that you could let Kathy Ptacek use for the HWA October newsletter?  If you’ve got an illo to go with it, great.  Maybe something we did for VAMPS?  The reference is to my poetry collection, VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), hopefully to be coming out in a second edition but for info on which, for now, click on its picture in the center column, and so I sent Kathy three favorite poems plus two of Marge’s illustrations.

So then a few days ago came the reply:  thanks, james! I appreciate you sending these to me!  and that’s great that marge sent the artwork for them!  this is going to be a fun issue, I think!  heh!  The issue in question will be the October Horror Writers Association NEWSLETTER with an extra flourish to celebrate the coming Halloween.  And the poems (with initial publication information):  “Night Child,” TOMORROW SF, Feb. 1998; “La Méduse,” ASYLUMS AND LABYRINTHS (Rain Mountain Press, 1997), with a note that it also serves as sort of a foreword to my THE TEARS OF ISIS (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013); and “Bon Appétit,” GOTHIC.NET, Aug. 2002).


While Saturday started off a bit cool and clouded for my taste, the sun had established itself by a little past noon and Sunday followed sunny and warm too, a beautiful weekend for this year’s Bloomington 4th Street Festival of Arts & Crafts and, with it, the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage (cf. below, August 30).  Along with a number of poets both days, Saturday also brought Bloomington High School South’s Poetry Out Loud (getting the new generation on our side), children’s theater with the Merry Mac Players, FRANKENSTEIN as presented by the Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players, and poetry “band” Shakespeare’s Monkey.  Then Sunday introduced more prose fiction readers, including Joan Hawkins and Shayne Laughter who we’ve met before (cf., e.g., various First Sundays Prose readings, for which in a way today’s Spoken Word session was a substitute), and . . . somewhat late in the day at 3:30 p.m., me.  In my case, I read three excerpts from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, the back cover blurb and the introduction to Section II — by way of a sort of introduction — followed by the Section II story-chapter “The Last Dance.”  This was the same as the reading I presented last July at NASFiC in Puerto Rico (see July 13) and it seemed to go over well to an audience that started out on the small side, but grew as I continued, a good sign as these things go.  Next month, also, I’ll probably read the same first two parts but a slightly shorter story-chapter for October’s First Sunday.

Then speaking of TOMBS, Saturday’s email brought an “eligibility check” from the Horror Writers Association for works submitted to the Bram Stoker Award(R) Jury.  This consisted of questions concerning publication date, length and content, and prior publication (if any) of parts of the contents, all of which I was able to answer in the affirmative and send right back.  While this will be checked by the Jury people, with an official “acceptance” probably not for two weeks, one possibly ambiguous thing has been decided.  Although TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is a novel-in-stories, akin to Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES or Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB, under the technicalities of the Stoker rules, it will be voted on in the Fiction Collection category.

So what that means in the here and now:  If you’re a HWA member and have read TOMBS, and have a hankering to recommend it for a Stoker, please do it for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”  But even if you’re not a HWA member, while/if the spirit moves please also consider reviewing it for Amazon and Barnes & Noble (both of which are offering wildly discounted prices on TOMBS, by the way, while they last), as well as on Goodreads.

. . .  because poems work on rhythms and sounds, the same as music, even without having tunes to accompany them. One hint, though, when reading poetry, try reading it out loud. Or at least (if, say, there are people around you and you don’t like being stared at) pronounce the words under your breath, the way you’re taught not to read in school. Because the point of poetry is not just what it says, but the way it says it.

So there’s rap music, too. And poetry slams. And, when I was much younger, poets sometimes read poems with jazz in the background. A muted piano, stand-up bass, a drummer for accents with cymbals and brush, an alto sax, maybe, while the poet recited the words over it, not as lyrics, but for their own sake, the musicians having the job to make sure their own sounds worked with them.

So there! (said I) to answer the rhetorical question, if you like music why should you like poetry too?  Of course I go on with it a little, and even throw in an example or two, and that was the essay, “It Begins With the Sound,” that we might recall was one of those featured in this Fall’s issue of ILLUMEN (see November 5, October 8), along with another by fellow poet and poetry essayist Marbloodspades_logoge Simon.  But Ms. Simon is also editor of the “Blood and Spades:  Poets of the Dark” column in the HWA NEWSLETTER and, as it happens, asked for reprint rights for the January 2017 issue (cf. November 12) to spread the good word to the horror writers.  And so, today, for pre-New Years Eve readers, the January NEWSLETTER has just come out.

Of course there’s a catch.  To read it there you have to be a member of the Horror Writers Association yourself.  It is, incidentally, at least the third poetry essay I’ve had published in “Blood and Spades” (I think actually the fourth, the first being one on Edgar Allan Poe many, many years back, but pretty well lost in the dust of history) and quotes in part from one by me in June 2010, “Edgar Allan, Allen Ginsberg, and All that Jazz,” which is noted in the current issue too.  (Then, for completists, there is one yet more recent, “Vamps:  The Beginning,” that appeared in January 2012.  Both this and  the 2010 one, incidentally, can also be read by clicking POETRY (ESSAYS) in the PAGES column on the far right.)

However, for those who aren’t members of HWA, “It Begins With the Sound” can also still be read in its ILLUMEN version, which can be purchased by pressing here.

I don’t know if this is quite carved in stone yet, but there is a schedule now for panels and other intellectual goodies at next month’s World Horror Convention in Atlanta GA.  For me, I’m on two official panels and also expect to be part of Linda Addison’s Thursday night informal Poetry Open Mike reading.  A warning, however, one of my panels is at 9 a.m. and I also have a prose reading at 9 a.m. on Sunday, so please plan not to party too late the nights before.  My other panel is at a more comfortable 5 p.m. Friday (pack in a sandwich for dinner if needed, I won’t mind) and I’ll also be at the autograph session more or less just after on Friday at 6:30 p.m. (just enough time for me to sneak in a sandwich for myself).  The entire schedule as it exists now can be found here, while for easy reference to where and on what and when I’m scheduled, see just below.


8-9:30 PM     Reading:  Horror Poetry Open Mike – INNSMOUTH

Moderator:  Linda Addison.  Various attending authors.


5-6 PM            Panel: SCAREBIZ:  Just the Facts, Monster:  How to Dig Deeper than the Internet for Accurate Storytelling   – R’LYEH

An incorrect fact or detail in a story can pull a reader right out of your narrative and destroy the impact of an otherwise excellent piece of fiction.  Writers who also are research professionals (librarians, archivists or journalists) share their insider tips to help you avoid the factcheck trap.  Topics covered will include Net and bricks-and-mortar resources you may not know about, how to approach experts, how to vet sources, maximizing a trip to an archives or library, and more?  What was their greatest research challenge and how did they solve it?

Moderator:  John T. Glover.  Panelists:  Courtney Alameda, James Dorr, Cynthia Lott, Loren Rhoads, Matthew Weber

6:30-8 PM       Mass Author Signing – THE BARRENS

Convention guests and attending authors will be available to sign their books.


9-10 AM          Panel:  TERRIFYING TROPES:  Urban Fantasy: It’s Selling Like Hellcakes,  But Is It Horror? – DUNWICH

When is a vampire not a vampire?  When is a werewolf more of a beast or less of one?  Should witches be sexy or scary or both?  A lot of the same creatures and processes are used in writing the tales but are the lines just blurred or are they really separate genres?

Moderator: James A. Moore.  Panelists:  James Dorr, Yvonne Navarro, Jana Oliver, Lucy A. Snyder, James R. Tuck


9-9:30 AM       Reading: James Dorr – INNSMOUTH

Today I played hooky from the Writers Guild’s Last Sunday Poetry Readings (cf. September 29, et al. — and apologies to this month’s featured poets Tony Brewer and Erin Livingston) in part for poor weather, the end of a warm spell but with lots of rain and my feeling a possible touch of a cold, but in larger part to complete a story I’d been working on.  However, perusing my email afterward, I ran across an article from ELECTRIC LITERATURE, courtesy of Tim Waggoner via the Horror Writers Association Facebook page, that in its own way could be just as much fun.  Erudite, fascinating, the piece by J. W. McCormack, originally published on October 30, is titled “31 Fairly Obscure Literary Monsters.”  It can be found (albeit with a slightly, in my opinion, overly long introduction, but scroll down, scroll down!) by pressing here.

Try it, it’s worth reading (and the introduction, if longish, is fun in itself too).

A short bit to note that the Horror Writers Association has announced its establishment of a Dark Poetry Scholarship program for member-poets.  Sponsored by Eldritch Press, this is intended as a supplement to its already existing Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Horror Writers Association Scholarships.

To quote their announcement:  “The first Dark Poetry Scholarship will be awarded in 2015.  Thereafter, the scholarship is given annually.  The scholarship is designed to assist in the professional development of our members writing Horror and/or Dark Fiction Poetry

“HWA President Rocky Wood explained that the intent of the Dark Poetry Scholarship is to bring into prominence the very real importance and influence Dark Poetry has had on the Horror genre, ‘It is very clear to the HWA that there are real barriers limiting the amount of Dark Poetry being published.  At the same time the HWA exists to extend the horror genre in all its aspects, so we are establishing the Dark Poetry Scholarship, which is open to all our members.’”

More information on the new scholarship, including a link to the rules for those interested in applying, can be found by pressing here.


We may recall meeting Mercy Brown, the last of the recorded American Vampires, on these pages only last month on September 23.  But as Halloween slowly approaches, as trees turn the color of blood and fire, as the wind blows chill and nights turn dank, can it be surprising if other vampires crowd into the light of a wan moon as well?

Or, actually, I was perusing the Horror Writers Association’s “Halloween Haunts” blog, one they present with a post every day from HWA members during the month of October (for which, in the spirit of full disclosure, I may not have an entry myself this year, but I was there in 2013 with a review of the Québecoise film DRACULA:  ENTRE L’AMOUR ET LA MORTE on October 13, for which one may press here), and which on this October 15 had a piece by writer Michael J. McCann on “The Enduring Popularity of Vampires” — and

Musidora in LES VAMPIRES, a fictional vampire from 1915

Musidora in LES VAMPIRES, a fictional vampire from 1915

for which, one may press here.  But the thing is, while these blog spots are necessarily short, Michael included links as well to two articles by Abigail Tucker in SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, the first on “real-life” vampires and the second, which goes into some depth, on what was believed to be vampirism in 19th century New England.

So for those who wish, herewith an introduction to “Meet the Real-Life Vampires of New England and Abroad” by pressing here, and for those who would like a further chat with our American cousins of the blood-drinking persuasion, for “The Great New England Vampire Panic” press here.

Then of course Mercy Brown gets her turn in the darkness in the latter piece, but one can also check the one I cited in September by pressing here, while for the whole sequence of HWA “Halloween Haunts” entries for 2014 (though most of these more into recollections of Halloweens past than monsters per se.) one need but press here.

Today was a big day for literature, consisting not only of the Bloomington Writers Guild First Sunday Readings (cf. March 2, February 2, et al.) but, one hour before, a discussion on “Embrace the New:  21st Century Poetry” at the county library.  Presented by Dory Lynch, the hour touched on trends such as prose poems and haibun, “New Formalism,” postmodernism and language poetry, and use of political themes.  Examples were given in a handout “Poetry Sampler” as well as readings of favorite poems by some of those present.   And then for First Sunday at Boxcar Books (roughly a block from the library making for an easy commute), the featured readers were Richard Durisen with flash fiction as well as some poetry, Michelle Hartz with short zombie fiction, and Alisa Alering with an excerpt from her YA novel-in-progress PONYPOCALYPSE, with about five more of us aftrward for the open mike session.  My offering for the latter was a brief  introduction to “bizarro” fiction in the form of  an as yet unpublished short short, “Rocky Road,” about ice cream, cannibalism, and hair styles.

And then, for an abrupt change of topic, perusing my email at the library prior to “21st Century Poetry,” I found a note by HWA President Rocky Wood.  To quote directly:  “A couple of months ago there was a discussion on various FB pages about what HWA does/achieves.  At that time we committed to compile a list and publicise [it] widely.”  The compilation now exists and serves, I think, as a reminder for all similar groups (another list I’m in, for instance, suggested  questions about SFWA, and there’s also the MWA, RWA, etc. — if you’re a member of any of these you know what the letters mean).  Dues cost money which, at times, can be short.  So what do the dues I might pay help accomplish?

In the case of the Horror Writers Association, to find out press here.

It all appears below, actually, in March 19’s preview post, with the HWA “submittable” link now live, but if you missed it: April is National Poetry Month and, celebrating, Writers Digest Poetry Editor Robert Brewer will be publishing a new poetry prompt every morning for thirty days. Along with this are chapbook and/or contest opportunities . . . you’ll just have to explore Robert’s blog to see for yourself. In my case, I and another poet write poems based on the prompts, gather them up, and have a two-person reading/comparison once a week, thus making it into a sort of competition as well as a chance for semi-instant feedback. From there, who knows? Of course, some of them go to various publications where some do get published –

Medieval Jester playing a lute --  Source: Judith Leyster [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Jester — Judith Leyster (1609-1660)

but possibly even more important is simply the goad to get creative.

Then the Horror Writers Association (no April fools they – sorry, couldn’t resist it) has also decided to celebrate April with their first HWA Poetry Showcase. What’s that, you ask? Here, let them explain it:

“We are looking for more than ‘blood, guts, worms,’ etc. Just being ‘Icky’ isn’t enough. Poetry to fifty lines. Free verse preferred; no forced rhyme or cliches. Unpublished poems only (though previously published poets are, of course, welcome).

“For example, these are some contemporary poets of darkness that we admire: Ann K. Schwader, Wendy Rathbone, Mary Turzillo, Bruce Boston, Gary Clark, Robert Borski.

“Submissions will be accepted via Submittable from April 1-30, 2014 and all rights will remain with the poets.  One poem per poet.

“In addition, at the judge’s discretion, an electronic chapbook of qualifying poems will be considered for publication under the aegis of HWA. Each poem chosen for publication will be paid $5.

“For the 2014 Showcase the judges will be Marge Simon, Peter Adam Salomon, and Jonathan Maberry.”

For the link to submit to the HWA Showcase, poets should press here; to check out the Writers Digest prompt of the day press here.

For horror poets and poets in general here are two announcements that may be of interest.  The first is from the Horror Writers Association via David C. Kopaska-Merkel and the Science Fiction Poetry Association (excerpted from the HWA’s press announcement):

“To celebrate National Poetry Month, the Horror Writers Association will be holding their inaugural HWA HORROR POETRY SHOWCASE in April 2014.  Open to all poets, the SHOWCASE will be accepting submissions throughout the month of April with four poems chosen by HWA member judges to be honored on the HWA website.

“We are looking for more than ‘blood, guts, worms,’ etc.  Just being ‘icky’ isn’t enough.  Poetry to fifty lines.  Free verse preferred; no forced rhyme or cliches.  Unpublished poems only (though previously published poets are, of course, welcome).

“Submissions will be accepted via Submittable from April 1-30, 2014 and all rights will remain with the poets.  In addition, at the judges’ discretion, an electronic chapbook of qualifying poems will be considered for publication under the aegis of HWA.  Each poem chosen for publication will be paid $5.

“For the 2014 SHOWCASE the judges will be Marge Simon, Peter Adam Salomon, and Jonathan Maberry.”

Then April is also the month of WRITERS DIGEST Poetry Editor Robert Brewer’s Poem-A-Day challenge (see November 1 2013, et al.), in which he supplies poets with a daily prompt to use as a springboard, resulting (for those who take the bait) in thirty new poems at least drafted by May.  In my experience, some of these will be crummy, some good, and a lot potentially good with a bit of judicial rewriting — but rewriting is part of the game anyway.  Perhaps more to the point, a number of poems I’ve written for these challenges have ultimately resulted in sales.

Brewer offers a similar daily challenge each November as well as, for the off-months, a weekly poetry prompt every Wednesday.  For more information — or to try it out (it’s run as a part of Brewer’s regular blog, so more goodies may sometimes be found there too!) — poets may press here.

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