Horror 101: The Way Forward edited by Joe Mynhardt explores a tremendous territory of information, advice, and experience with essays written by many different creatives who work in the genre. These essays are organized into four main sections about the horror genre itself, the artistic opportunities in horror, writing horror, and building and maintaining a career in horror. There are some very useful commonalities to be found between various essays, but there are many differences, too, and even contradictory information. I love that. I found this mix especially inspiring because it underscores just how much room there is for you and me to explore the genre as singular readers, writers, artists, and enthusiasts. Even when I told myself I would absolutely *NOT* emulate what a particular essayist has done in their career, I loved learning about their experiences and how this only proves how wide open horror is.
The tone and humor might be a little dated, even insensitive and problematic at points, but there’s no question that Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is a book packed with useful, easily digestible, but comprehensive information. Ostensibly written for screenwriters, I think novelists and short stories writers will find this book equally as beneficial. It might even have a thing or two to teach poets.
I’ve written an entire novel before, a few of them in fact, but I’ve never completed 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month in November. According to my stats on the NaNoWriMo website, I came close in 2013 with over 36,000 words. In 2016, I gave up after only 8,000 words.
The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher is a deeply moving novel that makes smart use of its narrator—the collective “we” of cockroaches—to explore the legacy of colonization. Hatcher’s collective cockroach narrator is funny and astute, and finds the disturbing and heartbreaking parallels between our species, while pointing out the ways humans might be far worse.
With TV Girls—six incredible flash fiction stories in one fantastic chapbook—Dana Diehl’s compassion for reality TV stars flattened by the medium recovers their individuality and complexity by exploring in gorgeously-crafted prose how they are vulnerable, exploited, and managing the relentless attention.
Neil Gaiman’s “The Mushroom Hunters” was my personal favorite in the collection, along with Mary Soon Lee’s “Advice to a Six-Year-Old” and all her other poems, Linda D. Addison’s “Sycorax’s Daughters Unveiled”, Cislyn Smith’s “Hot”, and Shannon Connor Winward’s “The Raven’s Hallowe’en.”
The online literary journal Manzano Mountain Review released their second issue today and two of my poems are included! I wrote the first draft of these poems back in early 2015; several revisions later I’m happy to be able to share them with you.
My poem “My Unbelievable Man” was published in the latest issue of The Laurel Review and it’s my first poem in print (and now available online, too)! I received my contributor copies in the mail this week. The experience of reading one of my poems in a physical paper journal is surprisingly different than reading it in a digital document or online. I’m not really sure how to describe it except that the journal has heft that makes the poem feel more real and very special.
This is the big day: my first published fiction, a sad story titled “The Center of Dirty,” is now available in the fifth issue of the wonderful online journal Cold Creek Review! I really loved this journal “that explores the depths of troubled emotion” when I first came across it and I hoped that someday I would have a story worthy of submitting to them. That story is “The Center of Dirty.”
My latest poem was published today in Impossible Archetype issue 3, a free PDF download. I’m so happy to be included. Impossible Archetype, edited by Mark Ward, is one of my absolute favorite publications and has developed nicely over these three issues. The other poems in this issue are incredible.
Simon and the other characters are the highlight of Simon vs the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, about a high school student on the verge of coming out as gay dealing with doubt, first love, and blackmail. He and his group of friends are the heart of the story and I particularly love Simon’s voice in this first-person narration. He’s funny and astute, but also heart-breaking at times: “And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”
Every single story in this collection of historical fiction and contemporary fiction pieces is breathtaking, full of incredible and often all-too-real details, and features characters (whether based on real people or not) that leap off the page. I particularly appreciate how writer Jim Shepard finds the humanity and depth in characters that are otherwise difficult to like.