OPEN CALL ANTHOLOGY

Ladies, I want your monsters. Announcing NOT ALL MONSTERS, an anthology to be released by Strangehouse Books in the fall of 2020 that I am editing!

There are monsters in every woman’s life. And while maybe not ALL monsters are so bad, I want you to tell me about the dark and twisted ones. Give me protagonists who take no shit. Show me women who save themselves. Does the hero slay the beast, or is she the monster? All types of monsters, protagonists, and antagonists are welcome here. I am looking for speculative fiction containing strong prose with character-driven stories that convey powerful messages. I am particularly drawn to the beautiful grotesque, gothic elements, the macabre, and poetic prose, but I welcome all well-crafted stories to be submitted.

All writers who identify as women are welcome to submit.

Submissions open on November 1st, 2018 and will remain open until our approximate word count has been met.

 

Manuscript formatting should follow the Shunn style

Send submissions to: notallmonsters2020@gmail.com

Payment: $0.01/word

Expected word count: ~90K

Stories should be a minimum of 2K and up to 8K

NO reprints

NO multiple submissions

NO simultaneous submissions

See the rest of the guidelines here.

Writing What You Don’t Know

“Write what you know” is a phrase that has been following me since I started studying creative writing during my undergraduate years. This phrase would be echoed to death while I pursued my MFA, and don’t get me wrong, it’s great advice, but it’s also the mostobvious advice you could give someone. Of course we have to know something about something to even begin to write about it – so whenever someone says, “write what you know,” it makes me want to flap wildly at that person until I turn into a bat and fly away.

We all start with what we know. I’m not sure it really needs to be drilled into our heads that much because of course when I’m writing, be it prose or poetry, some subjective element of myself whether I’m cognizant of it or not is going to bleed out and into the pages. However, I think there’s something dangerously misleading about solely “writing what we know” because if we’re to live by that phrase, it risks the danger of not encouraging writers to find out what they don’t know. It risks the danger of someone becoming afraid to write about characters outside their own race or culture. I imagine if everything I wrote was forever only from the viewpoint of a white, American woman in her mid-twenties, then those stories would get horrendously boring quite quickly.

I fear the more we propel the notion you can only write what you know, especially to writers just starting their first story, then they will become afraid to write main characters outside of their own genetic make-up. I wholeheartedly believe one of the main freedoms of pursuing writing is to embrace differences, to study and research what we don’t know so we can rise above ignorance and understand how human connections span across the globe. Rather than being afraid of what or who we don’t know, we should instead interview people with different cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, etc.… than our own so we can learn, and so we can beautifully craft stories that celebrate diversity.

The thesis novel I wrote for graduate school is currently floating around in market space, so it goes, and when I created my protagonist, she was someone I knew. She is similar to me in appearance and mindset, and a lot of things I dealt with in life are things that I put into her creation. Luckily, not everyone in the book is a white American, but writing that book also made me realize how much I want to grow my ability to write diversity. So, I write this article as a reminder to myself, and to anyone else who is sick of hearing to write only what we know.

Writing should be a celebration of incorporating all people – so yes, writing what you know can be a solid foundation to start with, but do your research, too. Study, research, interview, learn. Writing is a lifelong learning process, which is probably why writing and teaching are the two fields I’m drawn to the most. Writers should fearlessly leap into the abyss of the unknown and learn as much as possible – learning what we don’t know, after all, is what rounds out our knowledges, makes us more competent to participate in social engagements and societal conversations, so it only makes sense for us to continue our commitment to learning about a range of individuals and their unique stories for the sake of our humanity and for our craft.

While we base certain settings, emotions, characters and so forth on our experiences, I hope we move forward in our stories to embrace diversity and to do it well. I hope we take those precious moments of truly learning from one another and craft it into stories worth telling, worth reading. Strive to make the unknown known, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. We’re all ignorant about something, or many things, but to brush off that ignorance and make the choice not to learn and embrace elements outside our comfort zones only ensures our writing will never reach the highest potential that it can.

So, go write something today. And more importantly, go learn something new.

*This article was originally featured on author Erik Hofstatter’s website here.

#NationalPoetryMonth: Five Ways Poetry Can Strengthen Your Prose by Sara Tantlinger

Check out my guest article on how poetry can help strengthen prose writing! Happy National Poetry Month!

Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

In celebration of National Poetry Month this April, I’m doing a small series featuring poets/poetry. Yesterday, Christina Sng stopped by and shared three of her fabulous poems! Today, Sara Tantlinger is here to discuss how poetry can help strengthen your prose writing.

I really appreciate her offering this piece, because I can’t believe how often I tell other writers that poetry, if not read for enjoyment, at the least, can be a great asset in blossoming lengthier writing. It brings me great pleasure to know that other poets out there feel the same and that she, as well, plays with words and poetry to assist with things such as character development. I’ve only met Sara online this year, but she’s a wonderful and talented human being and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her. I am super excited for her next release later this year, which is a collection of poems…

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Book review: Love For Slaughter – Sara Tantlinger

Check out this bloody good review of LOVE FOR SLAUGHTER!

Grim Reader Reviews

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I like my poetry like I like my steak….bloody. Sara Tantlinger’s Love For Slaughter certainly isn’t for the prude, nor is it for those who are put off by a little gore and guts in their verse. I had a really hard time putting this collection down and its clever mixture of shorter and longer poems really struck a chord with me. There is a smouldering, dark, sexy vibe to this collection that I really enjoyed. Let’s dig in!

I also like poetry that speaks to me; like when I’m reading stories, with poetry I still want that picture to form inside of my mind and Sara Tantlinger’s collection does this with ease. I loved the shorter vignettes: The Filth in You, Notch Post and Unstitched, whilst short they are no less shocking and cutting pieces, leaving deep marks that will take time to heal. I found they broke things up…

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More horror poetry for Strangehouse Books in 2018 . . .

Check out some info on my upcoming poetry collection, THE DEVIL’S DREAMLAND, inspired by none other than serial killer H.H. Holmes.

Sara Tantlinger’s Love For Slaughter was one of Strangehouse Books most popular titles in 2017, so we are definitely excited to show you what she has in store for readers in 2018!

For her follow-up collection, Tantlinger has chosen none other than notorious killer HH Holmes as her inspiration. Here’s a look at the (WIP) cover art:

HH Holmes cover

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From Holmes, With Love (and murder)

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Herman Webster Mudgett, alias Dr. H. H. Holmes. *source*

In 2015 I watched a documentary on Netflix titled H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer. I took notes, fascinated, wanting to do something with this savagely strange killer…a couple years, an MFA degree, and some publications later, I finally found precious time to sit down and research Holmes for my next poetry collection, The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes, which should be out later this year.

So until then, let me offer you some Valentines, H.H. Holmes style, while I continue researching and writing and dreaming in the darkness. Who better to do romance than a serial killer doctor who had three wives at once, courted mistresses, and stuffed some of them into trunks after killing them?

Ah, amour!

Actually, a couple years ago the Pittsburgh ScareHouse featured a Holmes “murder hotel” theme in their Basement that I went to for Valentine’s Day. You had to sign a waiver before entering since the Basement allows the actors to touch you. Thus, I was electrocuted, blindfolded, shoved in a safe, slightly strangled, chained up by the H.H. Holmes actor, and more! It was great!

Please enjoy these love notes from my muse, this strange, manipulatively charming,

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What do you mean everyone doesn’t have stacks of Holmes books and a Holmes coaster? (In my defense, some of these were gifts, ha.)

swindler of a man…or, of a devil, as he would have you know….Try these out on your loved ones and let me know how it goes.

*Roses are red, your lips are blue, I’ll hide your body so well, and poison your daughter, too. For Julia and Pearl

*I want to strip off your clothes and your skin

*With a body like that, you’d make a beautiful research cadaver

*I’ve never met anyone like you. Be my fourth wife? No, it’s okay, I left them alive and only killed the mistresses. I swear!

*Love isn’t refundable, now sign your property and life insurance over to me
-(Holmes was a notorious conman and loved money)

*What’s the key to your heart? *pulls out dissection knife*

*Love is like chloroform, sweet-smelling at first, but then you wake up naked and chained in the basement…

P.s. Artist Holly Carden designed this cool as hell illustration of the Murder Castle here. You should check it out.

The doctor and I bid you farewell, for now. We can’t wait to invite you back into the nightmare dreamland later…

 

StokerCon 2018 Schedule

Next month I’ll be headed to Lovecraft’s home town of Providence for StokerCon 2018. I Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.35.11 AMattended my first StokerCon last year in Long Beach, CA, so I’m excited to be attending again (and to have a much shorter flight this time around — LAX is actually made of nightmares). Here’s what I’ll be participating in:

Friday, March 2nd, 11a.m. — Reading Block: I’m ecstatic to be reading my work at a conference for the first time. My reading block is with Randy D. Rubin and Scott Edelman — good stuff! It’s sure to be a wonderful and weird time.

Saturday, March 3rd, noon, — Women In Horror Month Panel: I can’t wait to talk about my favorite ladies in horror and gush about their work, influence, and inspiration. This panel is with Amber Newberry, Kathleen Scheiner, Linda Addison, Meghan Acruri-Moran, and moderated by Carol Gyzander.

Saturday, March 3rd, 3:00pm, — Terrifying Teaching Tactics Panel: Horror in the classroom? Oh yes. This panel is going to be a blast, and I’ll be chatting with Frazer Lee, Heather Herrman, Tom F. Monteleone, and the madness is moderated by Mike Arnzen.

Saturday, March 3rd, 4:00pm, — Breaking Barriers with Horror Poetry Panel: Poetry is one of my favorite things to write, talk about, and study, so I’m thrilled to be on this panel with John Edward Lawson, Marge Simon, Randy D. Rubin, and Stephanie Wytovich, moderated by the brilliant Linda Addison.

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In between all of this, I can’t wait to attend workshops, classes, a pitch session, see old friends, and fangirl over some of the writers who will be attending this year. See you all at the Biltmore!