The semi-finalists will be announced in a couple of weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
ScreenCraft has released its 2015 Horror Screenplay quarter-finalists list, and I'm proud to announce my screenplay Agoraphobia has made the first cut! Click here for the full list of quarter-finalists.
The semi-finalists will be announced in a couple of weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Saturday's the last day to enter the Goodreads giveaway for you chance to win one of three signed copies of my new dystopian thriller, The Private Sector.
The story speculates a tax-free society with no social services and a nearly nonexistent government. A political dream or a corporate nightmare? You decide.
If you haven't signed up, here's your last chance. Use the direct link below. Good luck!
I've had a lot of fun sharing with you this week, and I want to thank those of you who've participated and helped to make this year's Coffin Hop so great. Tomorrow, I'll be announcing the winners of my Jane, Volume 1: Revival e-book contest, and I should also have the names of the five Goodreads giveaway winners.
If you haven't already had a chance, stop by some of the other Coffin Hop stops for a last-minute chance to win one of over sixty prizes. Click on the Coffin Hop banner to the right of this post for more information.
I also want to take a moment to share another set of blog posts and prizes being offered through the Horror Writers Association. The Halloween Haunts blog series is an annual collection of Halloween-themed blog posts written by HWA members. Click here to check out the list of blog posts. Click here for my contribution, "Horror, Halloween, and Death"; leave a comment before Halloween's end for another chance for a signed Jane paperback.
Thanks again for stopping by--and happy Halloween!
The Coffin Hop is nearly over, but I still have a couple of posts up my sleeve. I hope you've enjoyed what you've read so far (and the video I shared yesterday), and I hope you've stopped by the other blogs and entered the many contests. Good luck!
Watching American Horror Story this evening, I’m back on the fence as to what I think about this season. While the first couple episodes seemed heavy on the exploitation, which concerned me, I’m feeling increasingly convinced that the season holds promise.
What pushed me furthest toward conceding my previous judgment? The scene with Elsa and the chainsaw was gruesome enough to speed my heart and tense my body. Not only did it succeed in catching me by surprise, but it did so without a single graphic cut. The gore was all implied, but the effect was profound. Had it been more graphic, the scene might have gone too far. It worked because the writers knew just how far to go and ventured no further.
A writers’ group I belong to recently discussed boundaries in our writing. We all shared our individual limits—where we draw our personal lines. I admitted there are a few extremes I’ll likely never tackle, but I have to wonder: Can horror ever go too far? If so, what are the limits?
After reading a particularly graphic scene I’d written for Jane, my husband turned to me in awe and said, “You’re really sick—but you write it all so tastefully, it works.” I think about what horror means to me, what is able to get under my skin, and I realize boundary and definition go hand in hand. What is one person’s extreme is another’s perfect scene.
A recent review in the Contrary Canadian expresses a similar notion, comparing the drama to the horror. What is horror if not drama taken to the edge? Perhaps the best horror skates along the edge of tragedy, holding that fine line and weaving between the two until they are one. Maybe the delineation is more pronounced than that.
What are your thoughts on the matter? If you’ve read Jane, what do you think about the balance of drama and horror? Are there any scenes you feel went too far? (And if so, why?)
Stop by tomorrow for my final Coffin Hop post. Until then, I hope you find some great horror reading beyond this page and dream sweet, terrifying dreams.
For today's Coffin Hop post, I'd like to share personally about Jane, the Hippie Vampire. I also have an excerpt from the first novella in the series, Love Beads. Enjoy!
Excerpt: Love Beads
THE LATE afternoon sun negated any relief the light breeze might have offered, and the mottled shadow cast by the massive oak tree stretching overhead wasn’t much more helpful. Jane slumped on a park bench, dozing on and off, a wide-brimmed hat and boxy sunglasses obscuring her face. Her backpack sat beside her, one arm threaded through the shoulder straps to deter potential thieves, and she crossed her legs at the ankles. She wore a ragged pair of blue jeans and a Doobie Brothers tee shirt so old the applique had cracked and faded beyond recognition. Her bare feet were calloused and in desperate need of a good scrub.
She’d find a decent place to crash soon. There was at least one Good Samaritan in every town, and they were usually easy enough to spot. Patience was the key. That—and a practical sense of when the local heat had decided she’d overstayed her welcome. Hanging around anywhere long enough to be recognized was a bad thing. Recognition led to suspicion, which led to a slippery slope that began with harassment and ended with the gas chamber. She’d seen it happen before, and it was a pretty hellish fate for those on the difficult side of killing. There was no respectable place left in this world for vampires, not at least that she’d found, and it was not at all hospitable to a burned-out flower child who couldn’t seem to pull her head out of the ’60s.
A handful of adolescents infiltrated the park, putting an end to the peaceful quiet she’d been fortunate enough to have enjoyed for the last couple of hours. The disruption had been inevitable, and she took it in stride despite her exhaustion. She sat upright, watched the kids play flag football for a few minutes, and then donned her backpack and made her way to the sidewalk. It was a sunny day, not at all comfortable, and the heat instilled an aching desire to curl up on the side of the street and slip quietly into a coma. Such extended exposure would undoubtedly do just that—before it reduced her hide to burnt leather—so she moved as quickly as her sluggish legs would take her to the shady overhangs of the buildings across the street.
The town she’d found herself in was small and quaint, with boutiques and small shops packed within a tiny radius. The smell of fried food permeated from a nearby greasy spoon. She considered going in, but she only had a few bucks and some change on her. Moreover, a diner was far from ideal for mingling with the locals. Mingling was the objective; luxuries like food—“people food”—were secondary.
Not like food wasn’t a necessity in its own right, just like water and doobage. A girl could only go so long without her doobage. Life was mundane enough as it was. A little variety, beyond blood type, was all that stood between her and insanity.
Remember to leave a comment for your chance to win Jane, Volume 1: Revival, which includes Love Beads and three other stories, in your choice of electronic format. For a chance to win a signed paperback, check out the Goodreads giveaway.
For more chances to win some really great prizes, make sure to check out other blogs participating in this year's Coffin Hop at http://www.coffinhop.com!
Thanks for stopping by for today's installment of the 2014 Coffin Hop Horror Blog Tour. Today, I have an excerpt from the second Jane novella, Flashbacks. In this episode, Jane finds a kindred spirit a wise but troubled Vietnam vet who seems to attract just as much trouble as she does. Flashbacks is probably the most dramatic story in the series so far, with just enough gore to remind you that, yes, this is a horror story.
Jane sucked in a deep breath and began in the other direction. Kevin stopped her when she crossed the group. She rolled her eyes, unwilling to spend another unnecessary second in that awful tomb waiting to happen. “What now?”
“Let me show you the way out. These tunnels are more complicated than you’d think, and there are a good handful of exits to choose from. I can show you the one that’s most remote. You want to come up somewhere remote, don’t ya? I mean, with all that blood on your shirt, you want to keep a low profile, I’d think.”
She looked down at the dried blood caked across her Grateful Dead concert shirt with a sigh. She really needed to change, but that would have to wait. Her current priority was getting the hell out of this place. She gave Kevin a nod, and armed with an LED flashlight, he began to lead the way.
When they fell out of earshot of the rest of the group, Kevin leaned in close, saying in a voice not quite a whisper: “I know what I saw. Say what you will, if that’s what you gotta do, but I ain’t no idiot.”
“Only an idiot would bring home what you saw,” she breathed lightly.
He chuckled. “You think an old fart like me wouldn’t know a good monster from a bad one when I saw it? I seen things in ’Nam that’d make your toes curl. You think you’re all that special? Let me tell you, you ain’t.”
“I seen someone like you before. I don’t want to make a fuss about it or nothing; I’m just curious to know a little more is all.”
“Well, curiosity killed the cat.”
“Good thing I ain’t no cat.” He laughed. “Fine, keep it all to yourself. Not my business anyway, I guess. My thanks to you, all the same. Little bastard really was rearing to kill me.”
“That’s the thing about people these days. They lack perspective. They just don’t get anyone outside their own personal little bubbles. Look at an old homeless man and see nothing but rags and bones … no story, no past, no soul, just a washed up rag that lost its usefulness long ago. Don’t matter; I don’t care much for what the rest of ’em are making of what’s left of this world, so I’m glad not to be a part of it. It’s all going to hell, and I’d rather not witness it from the sidelines.”
She nodded, his words hitting her more strongly than she was willing to let on. “Yeah.”
“But if you’d rather not talk about it, I understand. Ours is an unforgiving world. We all been through more than we’d like to admit. We all done things we’d rather not drudge up. I know I done my share, and I ain’t proud of none of it.”
That much hit home; she had no desire to bring up all that had occurred over the decades simply in the name of release. No one person’s understanding could wipe clean her slate, so why bother? Did it matter if anyone could relate, even if remotely? Her past was hers alone to bear. Nothing would change that. Nothing could change that. The man was prying for his own sake, to satisfy his own curiosity. Nothing good would come of her disclosing such privy information. Hoping to shut him up for good, she said, “I appreciate that.”
Remember, you can win an electronic copy of Jane, Volume 1: Revival, which includes Flashbacks and three other episodes in Jane, the Hippie Vampire's ongoing quest for peace in this violent and twisted world. Just leave a comment to enter. You can also enter to win one of five signed paperback copies through the Jane Goodreads giveaway.
Stop by other blogs in the Coffin Hop Blog Tour for your chance to win lots of other prizes by other great horror authors--and don't forget to stop back here tomorrow for more Jane and another chance to win Volume 1: Revival!
I opened in last year’s Coffin Hop Blog Tour with a post titled “Pardon Me, But Have You Seen My Eyeball?” which was a piece about juxtaposition in horror. This year, I thought I’d write about separating the person from the prose—how a horror author can write terrible, sick, twisted, demented things and still be a good, (relatively) normal human being.
Remember to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Jane, Volume 1: Revival.
The Mind of a Horror Author
I recently published a series of novellas collectively titled Jane the Hippie Vampire, in which the protagonist suffers sexual abuse from more than one antagonist. One of them, the vampire who unintentionally turned Jane back in the ’60s had initially kidnapped her not only for a sustainable food source but also to satisfy his sick desires. This resulted in fleeting scenes of, for lack of a better word, torture-porn, and some of it is pretty horrific.
In real life, I do not participate in S&M. I don’t equate pain with sexual pleasure, and while I’m not going to judge anyone who does, I just thought I’d throw it out there that I’ve never fantasized about being raped with a red-hot poker. With that out of the way, I’d like to try to explain why Jane survived such a terrible event.
We writers work hard to make our characters as three-dimensional as possible. Sometimes that means creating characters that fall far outside our comfort zones. Sometimes that means creating characters capable of actions we’d never dream of in real life. I know an author who admitted to vomiting after writing a particularly sick torture segment. I’ve personally had to step away from the computer, take a breather, and shift gears for a while before I can continue past a particularly demented scene. Writing isn’t always about happily playing make-believe in our heads. Sometimes it is, and those are the fun parts, but writing isn’t always fun. Sometimes, writing is a sacrifice, and we make that sacrifice for the sake of our art.
This particular character, the vampire who tortures Jane in numerous unthinkable ways, is a true monster. I wrote him to represent not only the fictional creature in the shadows but also the predator that hides behind a charming, handsome face. They’re out there, the real monsters, and placing them in fiction in such a way serves to delineate them from us.
I dedicated Jane, Volume 1: Revival to all the survivors out there. I did this not only because Jane is herself a survivor but also because I’m a survivor. I suffered domestic abuse at the hands of a human monster for nearly five years before I made my final escape. I also was the victim of an even bigger monster—a disgusting, pathetic excuse for a human being who dosed my soda and did only God-knows-what to me while I was out cold. Perhaps it’s empowering to write about their fictional counterparts. Perhaps I would have written about them anyway. Regardless, I created them so I could banish them back into the darkness, where they belong.
And that’s what writing horror is all about.
More Coffin Hop tomorrow!
It's day two of the Coffin Hop horror blog tour, and today I'd like to share with you an excerpt from my recent release, Jane the Hippie Vampire: Hair. This excerpt offers a small window into Jane's turbulent past and a glimpse into why she is the person she is.
Remember, I'll be giving away an electronic copy of Jane, Volume 1: Revival to one commenter after the tour, so leave a comment for a chance to win. I'm also giving away five signed paperback copies through Goodreads. Click here to enter.
Jane lay in the dark for a good hour, reflecting on the bizarre day and the part she played in it.
Had anyone told her she’d end up the beard for a misunderstood gay man in the course of her travels, she would have laughed it off. Still, she couldn’t think of a time when she’d had so much fun in a relationship. She’d only been with one decent suitor, and that was a long time ago, back when she was staying at the commune.
Dwayne had been a good guy. If only she hadn’t been so fragile when they’d met, maybe they would’ve had a chance. The young man had doted on her with such enthusiasm … such love. It was too bad she hadn’t known what love looked like back then. He’d been her biggest reason for staying as long as she had, and he’d also been the one eventually to drive her away. That last night there played out in her mind, haunting her and tugging at her emotions as it sometimes did. Even though it had been nearly fifty years ago, she could still remember every detail as though it had happened last night.
* * *
“You have the most beautiful eyes,” he said with that goofy, awkward smile reserved only for the dumbstruck and the haplessly in love.
Dwayne had long brown hair and a scraggly beard, and he wore a battered tie-dyed tee shirt and old, worn jeans with a tattered hole on one knee. He was a couple years older than Jane, old enough to have found his way to the commune on his own but still too young to drink in the state of Washington. He was a heavy smoker—both hand-rolled cigarettes and pot—but he was an exceptionally motivated and hard-working young man who put his construction skills to good use.
She’d tried to satiate her hunger with the farm’s fresh fruits, grains, and vegetables, but nothing was able to satisfy her cravings. She’d fantasized drinking his blood, but fear had held her back. She didn’t want to hurt him. Even more, she didn’t want what had become of her, as impossible as it was to escape. Ignoring it had only held it just beyond the forefront of her mind; it was always there, pushing, struggling to take over.
And yet she continued to struggle for some semblance of normalcy, as though fighting the urges would eventually allow her to overcome them.
She and Dwayne had retreated to the barn for some privacy, and now lay with hay in their hair and dirt on their backsides. Jane had been skittish about the relationship ever since their first kiss, even though he brought about an inexplicable sense of calm to her spirit with his mere presence. He’d never tried to make a move past third base, and so it took her by surprise when he unbuttoned her jeans.
She stopped him with gentle but nervous hands. “What are you doing?”
“I just want to feel you.” He arched his body over hers and tried to kiss her.
She turned her cheek to him. “Can’t you wait just a little longer?”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
Memories of the repeated rapes flooded her thoughts, hitting her like a fist to the face, and she shook her head in her attempt to will them away. The face of her aggressor loomed over her, and the pain of his cruelty tore through her body. She could feel his teeth on her neck, the shackles on her wrists, the instruments of torture coaxing out her screams and desperate cries. Memories of being held down forced her body to go tense.
The moment dissolved fully into the past, and with that also dispelled her hold over the blood lust. No longer did Dwayne loom over her, but the monster that refused to stop haunting every aspect of her being. She stared up, fighting her mental restraints, the tears to her flesh fashioning tears through her soul.
“Scream for me,” said the creature.
Another Halloween is around the corner, and that means it's Coffin Hop time again! Between now and October 31, hop between over 50 author blogs for some great seasonal reading and a chance to win tons of prizes.
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