The Ladies of Horror Fiction team is pleased to present the 2020 Ladies of Horror Fiction Award Nominees for Best Poetry Collection. The nominees are: Burials, Jessica Drake-ThomasA Collection of Dreamscapes, Christina SngA Complex Accident of Life, Jessica McHughCradleland of Parasites, Sara TantlingerInto the Forest and All the Way Through, Cynthia Pelayo Burials by Jessica…LOHF Award Nominees for Best Poetry Collection — Ladies of Horror Fiction
Mid-Year Recap 2021
End-of-year recaps stress me the hell out, but I enjoy having them completed and posted on my blog. They’re like a time capsule that can also be used for reflection, not just at the end of that year, but any future years, too. Taking the time to reflect on our goals and plans as writers, for me at least, has been quite helpful in realizing where I want my focus to be in upcoming years.
This year, I decided to try a mid-year recap instead to make the inevitable year-long review in December a little easier on myself. I also thought this would be a great time to talk about the upcoming women in horror anthology, Chromophobia, and what I am hoping to see from those submissions! Before I get into it all, I want to say thank you as always to the horror community for your support, the constant inspiration you provide, and for all the amazing material you keep writing, even if my wallet doesn’t thank you, but it’s a good problem to have to keep buying all of your books!
Social media is…sometimes a firestorm of heartbreak, confusion, and anger. It is often a tough place for conversation since intent and tone can get muddled in tweets. However, I hope our community continues to come together and lead with kindness and patience, and on the other hand, remember you don’t owe that kindness to anyone who has abused your trust or friendship, or who has proven their one-time apologies were not sincere. Social media drama is not worth your exhaustion. As a writer or reviewer or any creator within horror, you determine your own value. No one can take that from you, and you do not need to be validated by anyone, especially anyone who would rather shout hot takes on social media for the sake of stirring people up.
Of course, it’s important to be informed. Do I want to know when a writer or publisher or reviewer is spouting off hate speech? Absolutely. That’s not someone I ever want to work with. At the same time, you don’t have to spend hours sifting through confusing threads and guessing who people are talking about and never even knowing for sure. I’ve tried. I want to be informed. I don’t want to interact with abusers, but when the whisper network rules and half of us don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, you can’t take all your anger out on people who have tried to know and are simply remaining in the dark because they cannot find the information. I’m pretty done with it. I’m here to write, and I’ll avoid harmful people to the best of my knowledge, but like all of you, I don’t know everything about every single person in this industry. So, I’ll write, I’ll support and encourage others, and I’ll continue to celebrate the amazing world of horror fiction.
Speak out when you need to and feel comfortable doing so, but also don’t beat yourself up for removing yourself from the situations, either. There’s a whole real world out there, and while social media is important to help get our work out into that world and support each other, it is so far from being the most important thing in anyone’s life. Seek out your peace and your joy. Hold onto it, cherish it; life is too short to do otherwise.
Mid-Year Recap 2021
2021 was off to a good start! I was a guest on Visited by Voices and my flash fiction piece “Dewdrops and Blood” was published in Campfire Macabre. I also started my third semester as a mentor for the HWA Mentorship Program! Working with mentees this whole year has been such a joy.
February saw the release of the Spanish translation for To Be Devoured (Ser Devorado). Working with Dilatando Mentes Editorial has been an exceptional experience. They did such beautiful work with the translation, and I am forever grateful.
I participated on a really fun women in horror month panel hosted by the HWA and moderated by the wonderful Gwendolyn Kiste!
I posted some Horrormance recommendations over on my blog!
My interview with This Is Horror was released. Doing this interview was a huge career highlight for me. I had such a blast! The interview is in two parts below.
My flash fiction “Unspooling Screams” was published in Twisted Anatomy and my ghostly short story “Moonflowers” in The Horror Collection: Yellow Edition
I had a blast meeting up (online) with our Pittsburgh HWA Chapter, and I did a really fun interview with The Horror Club!
My poem “Etched in Autumn” was published in a great charity anthology, Like Sunshine After Rain, put out by RDSP and edited by Heidi Ruby Miller.
Cradleland of Parasites received a great review over on Cemetery Dance!
April came with the announcement that I’d be one of the guest judges in this year’s HWA Poetry Showcase! Angela Yuriko Smith and I will be judging the submissions alongside editor Stephanie Wytovich. As I’m writing this, we are all currently reading through the poems, and wow, so many good, gory, gooey stanzas! Some tough decisions ahead for sure. Thank you all for the solid submissions.
For National Poetry Month, I wrote an article hosted by the wonderful Ladies of Horror Fiction in which I talked about what poetry means to me, some inspiring collections, and I created a list of poetry prompts!
I had such a blast with Hailey Piper and the Last Bookstore Horror Book Club as the members read To Be Devoured and Hailey’s The Worm and His Kings. It was a delight to hang out with everyone and discuss our books!
I announced a few poetry acceptances, as well. “The Rattling Howl” will appear in the forthcoming WereTales, and “To Bloom in Blood” and “Shredded Alterations” will appear in Under Her Skin.
I was honored to have a flash fiction piece inspired by Eliot’s “The Waste Land” chosen as one of the winners for April’s issue of Cemetery Gates Society (they do flash fic contests each month, check it out!). My story “To Garden the Bodies” appears alongside wonderful tales by Red Lagoe and Shane Douglas Keene, plus an interview with Jessica Ann York and an article by Gabino Iglesias with publishing tips!
I also got fully vaccinated this month! Hooray!
In May we announced Chromophobia! The next anthology by women in horror published by Strangehouse Books.
Thank you to the wonderful team at Altavoz Cultural for having me as a guest in their first international interview to chat about the To Be Devoured and its translation!
A new Delicious Horror post! Patrick Tumblety chatted with me about Laurel Hightower’s Crossroads novella and made such a great treat to pair with the heartbreaking book.
*Please keep sending me submissions!!!
I chatted with The New Panic Room Radio Show and had so much fun talking with Xtina Marie about all things poetry!
Virtual StokerCon! I was and am still so absolutely honored to have Cradleland of Parasites and Not All Monsters nominated for Stokers. It’s amazing and I’m forever grateful. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees! I had a great time at the online event and participated on the Steel City Horror panel, Horror as a Fairy Tale panel, and I read from my Stoker-nominated poetry collection. Thanks to everyone who checked it out and left such kind words!
I was honored to contribute a little advice in Mark My Words: Read the Submission Guidelines and Other Self-editing Tips, an excellent guidebook created by Lee Murray and Angela Yuriko Smith.
The Devil’s Dreamland received a great mention on this very fun list by Gwendolyn Kiste of “5 Fictional Horror Books Based on True Crime Stories.”
I did a little traveling for my birthday in May, too. I am now in the last year of my 20’s…I don’t want to talk about it…but I had a great time seeing the beach again 🙂
The Stoker-nominated Not All Monsters is finally going to Kindle! From the publisher: “NOT ALL MONSTERS finally makes the jump to Kindle, and you can pre-order the Halloween release HERE. We are offering the Stoker-nominated anthology for 9.99 but ONLY during the pre-order window. After Halloween, the Kindle price will be raised to its regular retail price.”
Otherwise, June has been packed with the day job, things going on behind the scenes, and just me trying to organize my life, as always. I did, however, venture into Pittsburgh twice — the first time since lockdown! I visited the very cool Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru event and got a new tattoo (pictured above).
Now, let’s talk about the forthcoming Chromophobia: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror. Submissions open August 1st — please read the guidelines carefully here and remember this is a limited demographic (which I mention since I have had a few well-meaning cis men express interest in submitting, I appreciate you guys, but Strangehouse focuses on uplifting the voices of women in horror).
Chromophobia refers to the irrational fear of/aversion to colors, but the stories can really do whatever you want with color. It does not have to exclusively focus on the fear of colors. I want writers to feel free to take the general theme in any direction they want, as long as it’s horror.
I am so excited to read the submissions for this. I love the way color can play such interesting, important parts in stories, especially with horror. Don’t be afraid to get weird here. I’m hoping to be surprised — as horror writers, we might tend to use colors like red and black often, so terrify me with pastels and watercolors, too! (Definitely not opposed to stories where red or black are the focus, though). I’d love to read stories of how colors are seen and used in different cultures and parts of the world. What would a world devoid of color be like? What if one color tried to take over other colors? Keep asking those “what if” questions and come up with something wonderful or horrifying or completely bizarre. Colors laced with poison. Historical horror. What will colors in the future look like?
Need some musical inspiration? I made a Color Theory playlist on Spotify!
Whether color is the main focus or something more subtle, really aim to have fun and tap into a story only you can tell. I want diverse stories from a plethora of writers, whether you have dozens of stories published or you’re seeking your first publication. I’ll be reading every single story to fill the slots — this is not one of those anthologies that’s already pre-filled with just one slot remaining (don’t even get me started on that subject…). While it will take me some time to go through all of the work, please know I read everything, consider it carefully, and really think about how the stories flow and fit together to carefully curate what I hope will be an incredible anthology.
The only thing I don’t like about editing is sending out rejections. Oh my god it’s awful. Sending rejections to people I know and consider friends and sending them out to anyone really is TERRIBLE. I hate it, but it’s part of the process. Please know in advance, my rejections are never personal. So many factors and decisions go into that final selection process, and even if your story doesn’t make it here, I have so much faith in everyone that your story will find a great home.
The only way to fail in writing is to quit altogether. Rejections aren’t fun for anyone, but it never ever means your worth as a writer is devalued. Persist.
Thank you so much for your time, for your trust in me as an editor, and for your support, always. I look forward to what the rest of the year brings!
Take care, friends.
Delicious Horror: StokerCon 2021 Bonus Drinks!
I recently had the fun opportunity to chat with my friends Cynthia Pelayo, Gaby Triana, and Nicholas Diak about making a few drinks worthy of a horror-filled weekend for virtual StokerCon. See what we mixed up below!
The wonderful Gaby Triana has contributed the tasty Bourbon Sour Blood Orange seen below. You can find the recipe she used here! Gaby also put everything together in a video over on her channel The Witch Haunt, you can find it here!
- 1 oz blood orange juice
- 2 1/4 oz bourbon
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1 maraschino cherry
The lovely Cina Pelayo has mixed together two of my favorite things, vodka and coffee. I definitely need to try this! Enjoy the recipe below from Cina:
“Unofficial StokerCon Coffee Martini Recipe
2oz vodka of your choice, I used Kettle One
2oz coffee liqueur of your choice, I used Kahlua blonde roast style, rum & coffee liqueur
2-3 oz of chilled espresso
Add ingredients to shaker (with ice)
Add to chilled martini glass”
And next we have the King of Cocktails, Nick Diak! Nick makes some seriously creative drinks, and it’s always so fun to see what he’s up to.
From Nick: “This is, hands down, my favourite tiki drink.
.75 oz Lemon Hart 151 Rum
2 oz Lime Juice
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1.5 oz of Passion fruit syrup
.25 oz of Demerara Sugar Syrup
*.25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1.5 of Denizen 8 Rum
*Demerara Sugar Syrup is a simple syrup made with Demerara Sugar. Simply dissolve 1 part sugar into 1 part water. Do 2 parts sugar to 1 part water to make Rich Demerara Sugar Syrup.
Put all ingredients except the Lemon Hart 151 into a cocktail shaker. Add a few pebbles/bits of crushed ice. Shake until ice dissolves. Pour into a double rocks glass. Fill with crushed/pebble ice. Float the 151 rum on top.
MOST AMAZING DRINK EVER. Dangerous and delicious.”
Oh, and me! I made what I’m calling the Sloe Bleed due to the Sloe Gin + if you spill this, it certainly bleeds everywhere. Not that I know that from experience…
Ingredients for the Sloe Bleed:
1.5 ounces Sloe Gin
.5 ounces Heering Cherry Liqueur
1 tsp lemon juice
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
Shake together and then add on club soda and any desired ice — it should be nice and foamy!
If none of these float your boat down into Pennywise’s sewer, check out the other contributions over on Delicious Horror for some more drink and snack ideas that would be perfect for StokerCon weekend!
Strangehouse Books Seeks Submissions for Horror Anthology ‘CHROMOPHOBIA: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror’ — Rooster Republic Press
For immediate release. Please, feel free to share far and wide! CHROMOPHOBIA: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror This upcoming anthology will be edited by Bram Stoker Award-winner Sara Tantlinger and released by Strangehouse Books in the fall of 2022. From the editor: “The use of color in literature is something that has been studied, analyzed, and…Strangehouse Books Seeks Submissions for Horror Anthology ‘CHROMOPHOBIA: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror’ — Rooster Republic Press
Press conference: “To be devoured”, Sara Tantlinger — Altavoz Cultural
with Verónica Cervilla – Sofía Guardiola – José Luis Pascual – José R. Montejano Verónica Cervilla: “For me it was Carrie by Stephen King what dragged me into the horror genre and I realized that was what I wanted to write. What book or short story did it for you? What made you fall into […]Press conference: “To be devoured”, Sara Tantlinger — Altavoz Cultural
It’s been so lovely to see the reception of the Spanish version of To Be Devoured! Thank you to the amazing team at Altavoz Cultural for having me as a guest in their first international interview to chat about the book!
Delicious Horror: Patrick Tumblety
Welcome back to another amazing submission for Delicious Horror! Today I’m joined by Patrick Tumblety who has chosen to highlight the wonderfully talented Laurel Hightower and her novella, Crossroads. This novella is such a great example of Hightower’s talent and overall power with words. I was excited to see someone submit a post for Crossroads, and just wait until you see what Patrick has created! And if you feel inspired, find out how to submit a Delicious Horror post of your own here!
“When I’m not baking with my daughter, I’m writing horror, science-fiction, and poetry. I have been featured in a variety of publications, including Tales of Jack The Ripper by Word Horde Press, Gothic Fantasy: Science-Fiction Anthology by Flame Tree Publishing, Fossil Lake, edited by Christine Morgan, and many other anthologies and magazines. My latest publication is in Ghost Orchid Press’s 100 Word Horror: Cosmos, releasing in May 2021. I currently live with my wife, daughter, and cat in Delaware.”
Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:
Crossroads by Laurel Hightower was the first book I read (listened to) in 2021, and it set the bar for horror (and non-horror) extremely high. I feel bad for every other book I will read this year.
Chris has lost her son to a tragic car accident at a local crossroads. When blood from a small cut on her finger is absorbed by the ground where she has built his memorial, an idea is absorbed into her mind. She knows the legend of the “Crossroads Demon,” where a deal can be made to grant a wish. What does she have left but to find out if the legend is true? She only has her life to trade – a price she’s more than willing to pay to resurrect her son.
There was not one decision Chris makes through her journey (downfall?) that I would make differently. The entire time she (and the reader) knows that her grief is driving her magical thinking, and yet what else does she have to do but take the chance? Laurel Hightower makes you feel just how terrifying it is to have nothing left to lose.
This is the kind of story that scares the HELL out of me. Horror borne from tragedy. Having to live through a world that doesn’t care what it has taken from you. I had trepidation about using this book as the subject for this post, since it’s such a realistic terror. The loss of a child is the most horrifying tragedy that could ever happen. Laurel handles this situation with compassion and honesty, and I by no means want to make light of the subject, rather, I’m using this post to celebrate the book as an incredible piece of horror literature.
What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?
The story depicts burial and burrowing into the ground, so I already had an earthy taste on my tongue while reading it. For holiday parties, I like to make “dirt.”
I layer chocolate pudding, grounded up Reese’s cups, and green coconut shavings to make the dish look like a lawn. For Halloween, I include gummy skeletons in the bottom puddling layer and pumpkin-shaped candy corn on top to make a pumpkin patch. For easter, I hide chocolate eggs. For this book, I made the Crossroads. It’s a simple recipe that children have fun putting together, which makes the pairing with this story that much creepier!
Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?
The recipe for “dirt” is easy, which allows your imagination to be the main ingredient! I use chocolate instant-pudding for the base (dirt), and topped that with coconut shavings dyed green with food coloring. (You can place anything in between those layers as the “crust” – ground up Reese’s cups, pretzel sticks, heath bar, peanuts, etc). It’s that easy!
To make this Crossroads-inspired piece, I used chocolates from my local market that are candy-coated to look like rocks. My daughter and I picked out the brown rocks and then arranged them on top of the pudding to make the crossroads. We filled the rest of the surface in with the coconut shavings to make the grass. I made the memorial by piling rocks around a cross made of pretzel sticks, glued together by melted chocolate.
A dessert created in honor of Laurel Hightower’s Crossroads!
Thanks for reading! I’m always excited to dig into (pun intended) and spread the word about a great book. Hopefully, you too will find Crossroads a terrifying delicious read!
Thank you so much to Patrick for sharing this on Delicious Horror! Until Next time! Stay spooky and go create some tasty treats to honor your favorite authors and books. -Sara
New Site, New Merch, New Anthology! — Rooster Republic Press
After about two straight weeks of 24/7 work, telephone conversations, and troubleshooting… the website redesign and re-launch is complete! Talk about a Sisyphean task. And while there were days were we wanted to pull our hair out, we have to say that we are very happy with the results. We hope you take time to…New Site, New Merch, New Anthology! — Rooster Republic Press
Announcing CHROMOPHOBIA: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror. More submission guidelines forthcoming! I’ll be seeking horror stories inspired by colors! Get those ideas brewing, ladies, and we’ll chat more soon!
The use of color in literature is something that has been studied, analyzed, and written about for decades. Think of classics like “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe. Descriptions of color can entirely change a story’s atmosphere and tone; the imagery can lull us into safety or sickness. I’m looking for stories that use color in creative, unconventional ways. Terrify me with pastels. Use watercolors to invoke dread. Take a classic trope and redye it into something unique. I also welcome stories of chromophobia, stories with characters who have never seen color or who are color blind, or who deal with visual disabilities. You do not have to use the color in your title — I don’t want a hundred stories titled ‘Red’ in my inbox Feel free to run wild with these guidelines; the interpretation of the theme is yours, just make sure it’s horror/speculative fiction.
National Poetry Month: Open Markets!
Happy National Poetry Month! To help celebrate, I put together a list of paying poetry markets that you can find below. Make sure to always read the guidelines carefully as some issues are seeking pieces about certain themes and have specific rules — and also read the issues and zines before submitting so you can understand what the editors are looking for!
Also, ICYMI, the absolutely wonderful Ladies of Horror Fiction hosted a guest post of mine on their website where I talked about poetry, what April means to me, some inspiring women in poetry, and I created a list of poetry prompts. Check it out!
Genre: (Horror, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Myth, Fairytale)
Under Her Skin, a Black Spot Books Women in Horror Poetry Showcase –Deadline, May 31st
http://www.liminalitypoetry.com/submission-guidelines/ –Deadline, May 31st
HWA Poetry Showcase (only open to HWA members of all levels) –Deadline, May 31st
http://departuremirror.com/guidelines/ –Deadline, April 30th
https://cosmicrootsandeldritchshores.com/submissions/ –Open the first and second day of every month (read guidelines for specific times and such)
https://www.lastgirlsclub.com/submit — Submissions will be accepted from Jan 1-Feb 1, April 1-May 1, July 1-Aug 1, Oct 1-Nov 1. (make sure to check the themes for each issue)
Brigids Gate — Seeking Greek myths from HER POV; deadline August 31st
https://www.fairytalemagazine.com/p/submissions.html#.YGyL_C2ZPOR –Submissions window opens during very specific times, make sure to read the guidelines
Fantasy Magazine –typically opens the 1st-7th of each month
The Needle Drops –Temporarily closed but expected to open again before May1st (read here)
Black Telephone Magazine –Submissions open from June 1st – June 30th
Black Cat Magazine –A new zine, not to be confused with the well-known mystery magazine of the same name. Theme: Revolution; deadline May 3rd
Eye to the Telescope —Eye to the Telescope 41, Indigenous Futurisms, will be edited by Tiffany Morris. “This call is intended for Indigenous writers worldwide.” Deadline June 15th
Sanitarium Magazine –Deadline May 30th
https://arcpoetry.ca/submit/ — Arc has two reading periods: submissions received from April 1 to July 31 will be read for the Winter issue and submissions received from September 1 to December 31 will be read for the Summer issue
https://pleaseseeme.com/submissions/ –The theme for Summer 2021 Issue #8 is Rest & Recovery; Deadline May 15, 2021
https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/paper-brigade/submissions –“The publication is comprised of articles, interviews, personal essays, fiction, poetry, photography, and illustrations that, together, highlight the breadth and diversity of Jewish books today.” For poetry, deadline is April 30th
https://greenbottlepress.com/submission-guidelines/ –Deadline April 30th “Green Bottle Press is looking for work by poets who write in English and who have not yet published a pamphlet or full collection, though we occasionally consider new work by more established poets.”
https://funicularmagazine.submittable.com/submit — “We are a Canadian magazine and we want to publish Canadian voices, but don’t be shy if you aren’t Canadian. We love sharing international writers with our readers too.” Free submissions end on April 14th
http://www.scum-mag.com/submit-to-scum/ — “Submissions to Scum are open the first week (from the 1st to the 7th) of every month. The rest of the month, submissions are closed.”
Night Coffee Lit –No deadline listed, submissions open now
NECTAR — “Writers will receive a $10 reward for publication, or they may elect to donate their winnings to select charities, in which case NECTAR will DOUBLE the contribution!” –Deadline May 31st
Brink Literary —Brink has two reading periods: February 1 – April 30 and July 1 – September 30.
Guest Post: Decant Your Chaos—The Power of Poetry by Sara Tantlinger — Ladies of Horror Fiction
The first tattoo I ever had inked on me several years ago ended up being lines from Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night”—a poem that is thought to have been written about his father, so it’s no wonder that I found myself continually drawn back into those lines. I decided to…Guest Post: Decant Your Chaos—The Power of Poetry by Sara Tantlinger — Ladies of Horror Fiction
When I finished my poetry collection Love For Slaughter back in 2016, I had no idea how to send out this collection of what I dubbed “horrormance” to markets. Luckily, my macabre little creation found a home with StrangeHouse Books and was published in 2017, but the term horrormance has stuck with me ever since. To me, a work of horrormance is mainly horror, but with strong romance (or erotica) elements that help drive the plot. I love reading works that combine these elements, and this February I wanted to share some of my favorites with you!
Plus, since it’s my website, I’m allowed to self-promote — so if you haven’t checked out Love For Slaughter yet, come step into my laboratory where kisses bleed and lovers drive each other to madness.
*NOTE: This list is not meant to be conclusive (or gigantic). I just want to highlight a few that I have enjoyed — please feel free to recommend more in the comments! I’m always down for reading more horrormance.
I want to begin with two anticipated reads before I get into the recommendations.
A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson: As a huge Dracula fan, I absolutely cannot resist this one! Dowry just released at the end of January! I’ll be ordering a copy ASAP, and I cannot wait to read it.
Synopsis: “A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation. Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets. With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.”
Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper — I want to thank Hailey so much because I asked her if she could share a little insight into her forthcoming debut novel and what role horrormance plays. Here’s what Hailey had to say:
“QUEEN OF TEETH chews at horromance when it thrusts together from page 1 Yolanda ‘Yaya’ Betancourt and Docia ‘Doc’ Hall. Shortly after a hookup where Yaya bleeds in Doc’s bed, it seems their paths aren’t again to cross until Yaya’s discovery inside her body sends her running from dangerous authorities. Sex and bloodshed paint hers and Doc’s relationship, and both assert there’s nothing more to it, but as Yaya’s condition takes on startling new elements, both must confront whether they really mean that distance or if maybe their individual troubles and trauma keep them from facing what else might be growing between them. A monster? Love? Or something stranger that’s a little of both?”
WOW. I need this book right now. Thank you for the teaser, Hailey!
Deathless by Catherynne Valente: One of my favorite books of all time. I adore Valente’s work so much. Deathless combines dark fantasy, Russian folklore, and an intense, twisted relationship between Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless. This gorgeous, wicked book has some of the most beautiful lines that I still think about all the time.
Two of my favorite quotes from Deathless:
“You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast.”
“I do not tolerate a world emptied of you. I have tried. For a year I have called every black tree Marya Morevna; I have looked for your face in the patterns of the ice. In the dark, I have pored over the loss of you like pale gold.”
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo: What a stunning book. The atmosphere, world-building, character arcs, and overall storytelling were all things I adored. This one contains more quiet horror and darkness, but those moments are nonetheless powerful as we follow Li Lan through historical Malacca, and then through a spirit world ruled in both intrigue and terror.
From the synopsis: “After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever…”
Nightbird by David Busboom: A quick read full of rich prose, elements of the Lilith myth, and a great balance of terror and sexy. Interesting arcs and raw characters who I quickly became invested in. It looks like this book is currently out of print, but maybe the author has a few copies on hand.
Synopsis: “Sixteen-year-old Isaac just wanted to see a midnight movie. He didn’t expect to meet the woman of his dreams: more beautiful, mature, and intelligent than any of Isaac’s high-school crushes, and (best of all) willing to fulfill his fantasies! So what if she didn’t have a computer, a phone, a car, or a job? So what if she shares an isolated farmhouse with a half-dozen insatiable, love-crazed people, all aching for her attention? She was ready and willing.”
You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, with the third book in the series on the way! You Love Me is scheduled to hit shelves in April, and I can’t wait. I absolutely love this series — if you’ve only watched the Netflix show and haven’t read the books yet, trust me, you NEED to read the books! Kepnes’ writing style is addictive, laced with brilliant dark humor as we follow Joe on his twisted journey to manipulate, terrorize, and consume the women who have captured his sick heart.
Burning Love and Bleeding Hearts edited by Louise Zedda-Sampson and Chris Mason: I do have a few poems in this one, but it’s a charity collection for the Red Cross bushfire appeal, and fits so perfectly with the horrormance theme! With both poetry and prose, the anthology offers a little something for everyone, and it’s for such a great cause! I also really love the cover art by Luke Spooner! Featuring work by James Dorr, Michael Arnzen, Erik Hofstatter, Nadja Maril, Kurt Newton, Claire Fitzpatrick and many more.
Cats Like Cream by Renee Miller: This is a wild piece of long fiction that holds nothing back. I love this book — the dark humor, the sick plot, the pacing….Miller is a fabulous writer.
Synopsis: “It’s okay to watch. Watching hurts no one, as long as you don’t touch.
Elwin likes to watch. His position as star employee at a real estate agency gives him plenty of access to the homes of his clients. A camera or two hidden where no one will find it, and he can watch as often as he pleases. No one knows. No one gets hurt. But it’s hard to look without touching. Touching leads to bad things. Elwin knows this, but allows himself a moment of weakness. And then another. Soon, watching isn’t an option anymore. Not if Elwin wants his secrets to remain buried.”
Needless to say, this book goes in directions I was not expecting, and I could not put it down. I don’t want to give too much away since it’s a quick read, but definitely pick it up during this horrormance season!
Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite: This one probably isn’t a shocker since I talk about the book all the time, but it’s pretty hard to forget after you read it. There are certain scenes that have haunted me, and at the same time, have probably helped influence my writing style. I’d recommend looking up the content warnings for this one, because it definitely isn’t for everyone, but I absolutely love this book.
Synopsis: “To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his “art” to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his “art” to limits even Compton hadn’t previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.”
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Most of you have probably read the book (or watched the movie), but I’m a big fan of all of Flynn’s work, and this sick novel definitely belongs on a horrormance list. From the synopsis: “With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.”
Quote from Gone Girl: “I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge?”
Sed de Sangre by V. Castro: Three short tales of erotic horror that were such a blast to read. Bloodlust, vampires, clever women who know what they want and how to get it…Castro’s writing is hypnotic, and these sexy tales will lure you deep into their wicked worlds.
Quote from Sed de Sangre: “Two humans, I can’t say what gender, race, or age because they are nearly stripped to the bone. It doesn’t really matter who you are in this state. We are all like this underneath it all and at birth; blind, writhing meat.”
This last one I want to mention before moving on to some poetry recs (keep scrolling to see these!) is likely difficult to find anymore (at least a physical copy) since it was part of a kickstarter, but if you’re familiar with NBC’s Hannibal series, the super-fans who love “Hannigram” (the shipping of Hannibal and Will Graham) created a beautiful anthology. Raw is such a stunning example of the power of fanfiction and fan art — around 50 writers and artists contributed to the book. Don’t ever underestimate the power of Fannibals! I’ve included some photos from my copy below.
Crush by Richard Siken: One of my favorite poetry collections ever. I come back to Siken’s words all the time. They’re stunning.
Synopsis: “Richard Siken’s Crush, selected as the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, is a powerful collection of poems driven by obsession and love. Siken writes with ferocity, and his reader hurtles unstoppably with him. His poetry is confessional, gay, savage, and charged with violent eroticism.”
Quote from Crush:
“Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we’ll never get used to it.”
The Demeter Diaries by Marge Simon and Bryan D. Dietrich: A striking collection that draws inspiration from Mina Harker and Vlad Dracula’s deadly courtship. Each poem holds its own beautiful tale dotted with blood and danger, yet the poems play off one another perfectly. The collection flows the way a prose story does, which I think heightens its appeal to poetry lovers and those who don’t read as much poetry alike. No matter where you stand, pick up this stunning collection of love, lust, darkness, and macabre beauty. One of my favorite collections of poetry I’ve read in years. Also the artwork included within the collection is gorgeous!
“I want to sing inside you the way the dead / sing inside the sea, the way the last red / owl glows within the trunk of the last blasted tree”
If You Died Tomorrow I Would Eat Your Corpse by Wrath James White: Brutal and gorgeous, this collection mostly features erotic horror poems and be warned, it’s not for everyone. But if you’re willing to take a dive into something with no boundaries, something that creatively plays with blood and romance, take a deep breath and wade into White’s gritty, writhing collection.
Forthcoming — Lost Letters to a Lover’s Carcass by Ronald J. Murray — I had the opportunity to read this one early, and it’s such a beautiful, dark, powerful collection. It truly is a strong followup to Murray’s Cries to Kill the Corpse Flower. Keep this one on your radar! The cover reveal actually just happened two days ago, and it’s quite striking, so go check it out!!
*A short story by Kathryn McGee. I love Kathryn’s writing, and this creepy short really delivers. I can’t say too much without giving anything away, but make sure to check out “Any Given Night” over on Kelp Journal. There’s so much about the story that’s deeply unsettling, and it’s just wonderfully written.
*Horrormance music? I’ve got you covered. Check out the Love For Slaughter playlist I made over on Spotify.
*Movie Rec: Only Lovers Left Alive
*Check out some witchy valentine cards by The Pickety Witch Shop or some cute & spooky pop-up cards and other goodies by Venus Complete