Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Krampusnacht Run Blog Hop — Meet Phillip T. Stephens

On 21 October, 2018, April Grey's latest horror anthology, Hell's Heart: 15 Twisted Tales of Love Run Amok was published. In response to promoting the anthology, I am joined by Phillip T. Stephens, whose story Soul Music was published in Hell's Heart.


Phillip T. Stephens Writes:


If I were to promote one of my novels right now, it would be Seeing Jesus. Sara Love’s parents drag her to a small Texas town where no-one accepts her except a homeless man named Mr. Fisher. To make matters worse, no one else can see him and everyone thinks she’s crazy. Sara relies on the wisdom Mr. Fisher shares to save her father’s failing business and the Christmas play.
The story explains the many ways which we use to bully others, intentional or not, a topic that became even more urgent in the political climate that developed since the book’s release.
When I released the YA edition in 2016, I intended to follow up with an extended adult version that included discussion question for parents to work through with their children or in book groups. But my illustrator bailed and it will most likely be next Christmas before the release.
I also made the mistake of releasing the print version on CreateSpace, which is now gone, and Kindle insists I resubmit in a new format. I made the mistake of using CreateSpace’s ISBN as well, which means library sales are tougher. 
I withdrew the paperback version from Kindle last month and will re-release it in January using Ingram Spark. 
Genre: Young Adult
Length: 274 p.
You can find most of my current writing at Medium where I write political satire and fiction. I post the satire three or four times a week and short stories two or three times a month. I also opened an account at Curious Fictions, which allows readers to subscribe to help support my writing. As with Medium, some of my features are free, others require a subscription.
Bio:
Carol and I live in Oak Hill, Texas. We built a habitat in the shade of our oaks and cedars to house cats we foster for Austin Siamese Rescue. We’ve successfully adopted more than 300 hundred cats during the last twenty years.My work appears in more than two dozen anthologies, online and print magazines, and peer-reviewed academic journals, including:
horrorwriters.netLiterally LiteraryThe CeruroveCQ International MagazineFlash Fiction MagazineArt AscentArt TimesThe BeZineThe International Journal for Religion and Spirituality in Society and the Hell's GranniesHell's KittiesHell's Bells anthologies.
Books include: Poems, Parables and Prayers for the 3rd Millennium (Plain View Press), cigerets, guns and beerRaising Hell and The Worst Noel (Two Bright Girls Press).

Links:

Free Wheeling Free Association and the Theme Park Rangers of Death (originally published in Hell’s Grannies)







Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Twisted Love — Some Would Do Just About Anything for It

 It's almost exactly one year ago that I snuck my own writing onto my shelf for the very first time— the centerpiece, of course. Some might think the decision was hard, but all my favorite novelists had to take a backseat on this one. There was no question about it.

I'm excited to say that pretty soon I'll be blocking out more of my favorite novelists with the latest addition to my shelf. My story Graveheart: Under Lock and Key is now available in Hell's Heart — 15 Twisted Tales of Love Run Amok.


My tale is a little more twisted than I'd thought it would be, but sometimes it's safer to step back and let the people I'm writing about tell their own story their own way. Besides, my protagonist's idea of love differs wholly and entirely from that of my own. And since she's not at all discouraged or afraid to literally do whatever it takes to get what she wants…well, I stepped back more than once…


Monday, January 29, 2018

Oliver Baer on Summoning Results of an Eldritch Composition

Writing is rewriting. This is something that many writers say when asked about their process. Editors tend to speak about their craft in sculpting or smithing terms.

I’m a born editor. I think I’ve been editing myself and other people since before I knew that’s what I was doing. I also love languages and grew up in a multilingual household. So, I guess editing was my way of trying to figure out how to convey ideas across languages. Or to figure out why people thought of things the way they did. It really is part of who I am. Sometimes so much so, it can be annoying. It actually gets in the way of my writing.

I start with a concept in my head. Instead of just writing my ideas down, I do a lot of writing and rewriting in my head. Then after a period of time, sometimes weeks or months, I put it down on paper. These words also get edited, fleshed out or rearranged. There’s a point where I have to tell myself to stop doing this process and let the story or poem be what it is. The next step is to get an outside opinion because once I’ve stopped myself it is hard for me to make any further changes. I believe outside opinion is a crucial tool in helping one decide to rewrite a piece or not.

Unlike editing, writing is a magical act. It is ritualistic, requires specific components and many times what you have summoned has a different interpretation than what you intended. These summonings are the result of good storytelling. Good stories are a series of relatable events with believable characters. Even if the characters are fictional, the reader needs to believe the characters’ interactions within the universe that is created. Once this is established, you can work on the originality of how the story unfolds. Sometimes this originality takes the shape of the style or format in which the story is presented.

My story, “Results of an Eldritch Composition”, in Hell’s Bells is a result of taking elements from some pulp fiction authors and reworking them into a different format. While it is written in the format of a letter to the editor of a magazine, the idea for this came about when a friend of mine suggested we collaborate on a story together. He suggested that it be in a letter format because we were both fans of how Dracula was written as well as the idea that all the Sherlock Holmes stories are Dr. Watson reporting Holmes’ cases. We had also discussed how we liked stories that were written in the first-person perspective such as in much of genre fiction. My friend wrote the first letter, I was to respond, then him to me and the story would evolve that way. We were hoping for a sort of verbal Exquisite Corpse. It took me several years before I created the response because I had joined another friend in creating a magazine called Cthulhu Sex. We were trying to figure out how to get people to let us know what they thought of the magazine when I suggested creating a “Letters to the Editor” section. I mentioned that people might be tempted to write in if they saw “Letters” already there. I decided this would be the opportune time to continue the collaboration mentioned earlier. The story did flesh itself out to the point where “Results of an Eldritch Composition” is actually a slight modification of an excerpt of a larger “Letters to the Editor” story. Hopefully, this story will soon be made known to the world.

Make your stories known to the world by repeating the ritual of writing. It is best to just do it, then let someone else read it. They will let you know what you have summoned. Then, you can send it on its way.

Bio:

Oliver Baer does many things. He was the editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine and Two Backed Books. His writings have been included in Cthulhu Sex MagazineDream People, Bare Bone #8, Horror Between the Sheets, Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase Vol. II, Boog City and Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Crazed Instruments. His book of poetry, Baer Soul came out in 2011. His CD of poetry set to music, which came out in 2013, spawned a biannual poetry set to music show A Conclave of Baer. His true face has been seen periodically at the Lovecraft Bar. He is also visible using the virtual spectrum of social media. Follow him on Twitter @obaer and/or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/obaer3 Much of his work can be found at http://tentacularity.wordpress.com





Monday, January 8, 2018

Rayne Hall - The World Behind the Story


Hell's Bells is an anthology that features great original tales of the wicked and macabre. Author and contributor, Rayne Hall, was kind enough to give us a sneak peek into the world of her story The Bellydancers of Seddlebourne Pier.


The title is certainly unique and got me reading right away. How did you come up with the idea?

Ideas are like jigsaw pieces in my head. Thousands of them dance around in my mind all the time. Sometimes, several of them click together and form the beginnings of a picture. That’s when the story creating begins.

This happened here too. The first jigsaw piece was the medieval German legend of the rat catcher of Hameln. (Some of you may know the fairy tale derived from the legend, The Pied Piper of Hamlyn.) This premise of the story always struck me as timeless. A big client hires an expert who performs a great job, and then the client finds excuses not to pay - this happens nowadays too, not just in the Middle Ages. I often wondered how the events would unfold today.

The anthology’s theme provided the second jigsaw piece. I always try to write about something I know, because this gives the story authenticity. When the editor asked me to write a story for Hell's Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Cursed Instruments, I wondered what instrument to write about. Well, I used to be a wizard with finger cymbals, probably one of the best players in the country.  What if the ‘pied piper’ didn’t play pipes, but finger cymbals?

This led to jigsaw piece number three: bellydancing. Corporate clients don’t hire finger cymbal players, but they hire bellydancers who play. Years ago, I performed as a bellydancer at church fetes and weddings, in restaurants and Women’s Institutes. Sometimes the clients made excuses for not paying. (“I don’t have cash because tonight’s customers have all paid by credit card, and I have to wait for the bank to send me a new cheque book…”)  What if a client didn’t pay the bellydancer, and the dancer took her revenge?

Jigsaw piece number four was the location. I like to use specific, unusual, atmospheric settings. I fancied writing a story with a British setting, somewhere close to the sea. Where on the seaside might a bellydancer perform? Many years ago I’d been hired to entertain on a pier. Pleasure piers are a British institution. Initially intended as landing places for passenger boats, in the Victorian and Edwardian periods they grew into leisure centres, and they still play this role today.

At the time I lived in St. Leonards on the East Sussex coast, just a ten minute walk away from Hastings Pier. I took my notebook and pen, and while I sipped cappuccino on the pier, I looked around, listened and absorbed the atmosphere. 

Might a bellydancer be hired to entertain on the deck of a pier, perhaps as part of a pier festival? A troupe of bellydancers was more likely than a solo performer. What kind of dancers were they? I imaged the show. What kind of dance would they perform? How would the audience react? Would the sound of the cymbals carry in the open windy space?

Are any of these events real, or is most of the story made up?

Bits really happened. I’ve led a troupe of amateur bellydancers, and know what it’s like to be sneered at for being mature women instead of nubile girls. I know how to mesmerise and entrance an audience. I’ve performed out of doors (and know, for example, that in a windy location such as a pier the dancers would perform with finger cymbals rather than with veils). And I’ve dealt with clients who made a big profit from our show and then tried to cheat us out of our agreed fee.

But the story itself unfolded only in my imagination. (Unless you count the possibly true event in the city of Hameln over 700 years ago.)

When I first read your story I was asking myself: Does Seddlesbourne Pier actually exist, or is it a fictional place?

I invented the town of Seddlesbourne and the pier, but I imagined Seddlesbourne to be like a typical small British seaside town, and I drew inspiration from Hastings Pier near where I lived at the time. After a destructive fire, Hastings Pier was rebuilt in a minimalist style. Instead of Edwardian pavilions and cast-iron railings, it has a vast expanse of nothing at all, just a windswept deck. Unsurprisingly, not many tourists travel to visit this attraction, and the locals don’t exactly hang out there a lot.

I walked around the pier, notebook in hand. The first thing I noticed was the many signs prohibiting things: No Fishing. No Cycling. No Smoking. No Food And Drink Unless Purchased On The Pier. This didn’t exactly create a welcoming atmosphere.

I took note of the grey planks and the screwheads gleaming silver in the light. I touched the cold railings and listened to the rustling of waves underfoot.

Although the Seddlesbourne Pier of my story doesn’t look exactly like Hastings Pier, local people laughed when they read my story, because they recognized the inspiration.

Bio:

Rayne Hall writes fantasy, horror and non-fiction, and is the author of over sixty books. Her horror stories are more atmospheric than violent, and more creepy than gory.
Born and raised in Germany, Rayne has lived in China, Mongolia, Nepal, Britain and Bulgaria. For many years, she resided in St Leonards on the coast of East Sussex where she penned many creepy stories, including the tales in this anthology.
Rayne has worked as an investigative journalist, development aid worker, museum guide, apple picker, tarot reader, adult education teacher, bellydancer, magazine editor, publishing manager and more, and now writes full time.
Visit Rayne’s website raynehall.com where you’ll find free creepy horror stories. Follow her on Twitter witter.com/RayneHall for writing tips and photos of her cute book-reading black cat.





Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hell's Bells Author - Mitch Sebourn



The Road to “The Loneliest Road”

When I learned of the opportunity to write a story for April Grey’s music-themed anthology Hell’s Bells, I decided to write a story about a guitar, for at least two reasons: One, because it’s the only musical instrument I know how to play, and two, because I’ve wanted, for a long time, to take another stab at a story with a guitarist as its focal point. 
          
Nearly ten years ago, I wrote a science fiction/horror novel called Flying Saucer.  The novel’s protagonist is a singer-songwriter-guitarist who finds herself tangled in a web spun by a madman employee of Area 51.  Looking back on it, I’m convinced the novel, while built on a promising premise, doesn’t totally work. The novel is supposed to be about a guitarist and her song, yet music is nowhere near the center of the story.
          
So I wanted to try again.

“The Loneliest Road,” my Hell’s Bells story, is a return to the territory I first explored in Flying Saucer, though here, I tried to hit the music head-on.  “The Loneliest Road” is a story about the creation and performance of music.  Specifically, it is about the role the instrument plays in the creation process.  The story suggests that an unwritten song, when waiting to be born, can only enter this world through one certain instrument.  It also suggests that the artist’s instrument of choice during a performance has a tremendous impact on that performance.

In short, the instrument is everything.

But why? 

Does the artist possess the instrument, or does the instrument possess the artist?

“The Loneliest Road” does not offer an answer, only a few thoughts.  It might be a story about music, but it’s also a horror story.  It’s about music, but it’s also about murder.  It’s written to unsettle and entertain. 

And so, I prefer to leave just a little bit for the reader to decide.

Bio:

Mitch Sebourn is a writer, English teacher, and lawyer.  He lives in Arkansas with his wife and cats.  He is the author of several horror novels, including Lamentation, Toklat's Daughter, and most recently, Folklore.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @mnsebourn  





Monday, December 11, 2017

April Grey - Creator, Editor, Publisher and Author of Hell's Bells

Why I created the Hell’s Series of anthologies

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of “The Elements of Style.” The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them while they are still happy. -Dorothy Parker

When meeting new writers, I remember the joy of holding that first anthology, and then later my first novel, in my hands.

Through a torturous route I became a writer, editor and hybrid author. My poetry in grade school and high school saw publication in school newsletters, and I even had a humorous piece in Columbia University’s Jester magazine (our answer to the Harvard Lampoon), but I was first and foremost a theater person. I was bit by the theater bug at the age of 14 and attended Neighborhood Playhouse’s Junior School here in New York City. My BA, MFA and Ph.D. (ABD) work was all in theater.

Throughout my 20’s and 30’sI did 70-hour weeks, 40 hours at law firms and another 30 hours Off-off B’way as a literary manager, associate artistic director and stage director. The hours OOB were long and the rewards great, though not monetary.

It was around the time I received my MFA (mid-1980’s) that I began to miss writing. I had always been an avid reader of fantasy, sf, horror, romance and mystery. How nice it would be to stay home in peace and quiet and create my own worlds without needing a theater, script or actors. I signed up for writing classes at the New School. By the end of 1989, I made my first sale, a flash fiction, to Pulphouse Magazine. It was never published due to Pulphouse’s demise. Dean Wesley Smith was kind enough to offer a kill fee. Though I didn’t accept it, I felt I had been well paid by his generous offer.

Life intervened and it would be another 12 years before I returned to writing. I had joined CUNY’s Ph.D. program, gotten married and had a child. My son was six when a fellow mom introduced me to the guilty pleasure of fanfic. That got the juices going, and soon I was taking classes online with Marta Randall at Gotham Writing workshop.

I discovered a new sort of pleasure there, almost better than being published, being part of a writing community.

Writing, like theatre and other arts, presents constant rejection and disappointment as the artist strives to better their work against steep odds. Yet that simply sharpens the thrill of when things do go well.

Editing other writer’s work, being a part of various workshops and professional organizations, brought me back to the same sense of family that I experienced in the theater. Nowadays, I edit more than write.

By creating the anthologies for the Hell’s Series, I get to work with my fellow writers and give back to my community while doing something I love.

Bio:


April Grey's short stories are collected in The Fairy Cake Bakeshop and in I'll Love You Forever. She has edited the anthologies: Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Cursed Instruments; Hell's Garden: Mad, Bad and Ghostly Gardeners, Hell’s Grannies: Kickass Tales of the Crone and last year’s, Hell’s Kitties and Other Beastly Beasts. The first two books of her Cernunnos Series are at Amazon.com along with her other books. Please visit www.aprilgrey.blogspot and author.to/aprilgrey for her latest news and offerings.









Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Journey to Professional Publication

So, after years and years of practicing writing, receiving countless rejections of which some were excessively harsh, my determination and hard work have finally paid off. My short stories, “The Bow of Murmured Voices” and “Those That Stay,” have been published in the Hell’s Bells anthology and I have finally become a paid writer.
The industry is tough. It has always been, but I doubt it has ever been this tough. One only has to take a look at a dozen online literary publications to see the amount of talent and competition out there.
There are hundreds of millions of writers, some of which have BAs, MAs, or MFAs. Sometimes they have two or all three degrees. As someone with a meager education in writing, I found this very intimidating. I even believed that in order to become a writer, a degree was required, and I almost gave up on my dream. Luckily I am a persistent and determined bastard!
I would advise anyone not to give up, no matter the circumstances. Hard work does pay off, and dreams do come true. The journey for me has been long, eight years in the making, and you can read about most of it over here: http://www.christopherfielden.com/short-story-tips-and-writing-advice/how-to-write-flash-fiction-course.php
As for the anthology, you can visit my Amazon author page to purchase your very own copy! For more information, date of availability, or to contact the editor, I have included all of the information below.
Hell's Bells Book Cover.jpg
Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Cursed Instruments

Mozart finds an unexpected ally in Hell…
A belly dancer’s bargain leads to shocking results…
Pagan rituals endure in an out-of-the-way church…
In Hells Bells, thirteen talented writers lure you closer with stories of music that seduce, intrigue and hold you fast.
Featuring stories by Rayne Hall, Jonathan Broughton, Bruce Memblatt, April Grey, Tracie McBride, Jake T.S. Wryte, Phillip T. Stephens, Mitch Sebourn, Charie D. La Marr, V. Peter Collins, Oliver Baer, Pamela Walker and Pamela Turner.

Contact: Lafcadio Press/Avril Dannenbaum, lorned@nyc.rr.com, for review copies and authors’ bios.
Published by Lafcadio Press December 2017
Now Available at Barnes and Nobles and other books sellers
Available at Amazon Books December 6th, 2017

Krampusnacht Run Blog Hop — Meet Phillip T. Stephens

On 21 October, 2018, April Grey's latest horror anthology, Hell's Heart: 15 Twisted Tales of Love Run Amok  was published. In ...