Friday, February 21, 2014

C'est si bon

I recently came back from a business trip in New Orleans and feel inspired by the magic of the city.  As a writer there is no better feeling then inspiration and needless to say New Orleans has a plethora of it. As my schedule has sped up some I'm holding on to my 2014 commitment of pouring more energy into my writing with a white knuckle grip. Although I didn't have a chance to put pen to paper for my craft, I took the time to enjoy the sparks of whimsical thoughts that ignited the few nights I wondered the streets of the French Quarter. Particularly the delicious chill I got each time I walked past a spot that felt heavy with history.

My inspiration doesn't currently have a direction or purpose but as it sits contently within the confines of my mind, I've no desire to pressure it to give me more. It's good enough that it's there and I'm patient enough to wait until it unfurls it's wings and allows my imagination to fly.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Women In Horror Month - Women Writers Or Just Writers?

Elizabeth Black lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats. You may find her on Facebook and on her web site.


Women In Horror Month

I need to read more horror written by women because, being a female horror writer, I like to relate to the authors of good works. There's nothing more irritating than listening to some dude mansplain why women aren't scary and can't write horror, therefore cannot be highly-paid authors of stuff that freaks the hell out of you.

There are plenty of scary-as-shit women writers, and I've had the pleasure of conversing with them on Facebook. Here are a few of them:

Lisa Lane
Lisa Morton
Lisa Mannetti
(What is it with horror writers named "Lisa"?  LOL)
Christine Morgan
Carson Buckingham
Billie Sue Moseman
Ann Rice
Dana Fredsdi

I do take issue with the term "women horror writers". Why point out that we're female? No one ever says "male horror writers", "male artists", or "male composers", and that's because being male is considered the default. When I was in college, one of my art professors was writing a book entitled "Profiles On Women Artists". He interviewed artists including Elaine de Kooning and Audrey Flack. Some of these women lived in the shadows of their more famous male artistic partners. Some of them criticized the nature of this book because they didn't consider themselves women artists. They considered themselves artists, which is exactly what they were.

In the eyes of some, being a woman makes you... different. And in some insinuations, less worthy – "You're a good writer... for a woman." I don't believe that nonsense for a second. Still, women have had to take on male names in order to be taken seriously when they've infringed on what men consider their turf. James Tiptree (Alice Bradley Sheldon), Andy Stack (Ann Rule), George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans), and Georges Sand (Amantine (also "Amandine") Lucile Aurore Dupin) are examples. Women also often use initials instead of full names, such as J. K. Rowling, A. M. Bernard (Louisa May Alcott), and J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts). I use initials. Today, when a writer uses initials, it's often assumed that writer is female. My point is that being female should not be considered a part of what makes a woman who writes horror a writer. The stories she writes are worthwhile on their own merit. While horror in many ways continues to be an old boys network, women continue to gain ground. Women are writing and submitting more horror and dark fiction stories, and they are seeing their works published. They are receiving awards. I'd like to see more women submit to horror markets and gain acceptance. Hopefully someday, events like "Women In Horror Month" will no longer be necessary because women won't be viewed as "the other". It would be more than welcome.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Women in Horror Month

Are you afraid of things that go bump in the night? Do you know terror as the clown crosses the stage? Or do you realize that the monster just might... perhaps... be inside of you.

I read an article that postulated that Women in Horror month was not, in fact, needed as women are often in the horror genre (this was on a film blog). Jamie Lee Curtis was mentioned, as was the fact that often it is one lone, strong girl who defeats the bad guy and gets to stay alive.

Methinks he missed the point.

Because the actress playing a part doesn't have the vision of the whole. And that's what we need.

I cut my teeth on Stephen King as a teenager. But I can't name one living female big name horror author. The one I can name doesn't count because it wasn't horror, but fiction that centered around vampires.  I looked up the list on wikipedia, and several of the female authors listed as being "horror" writers actually aren't (paranormal, dark fantasy, etc).

That's where feisty publishers, like Mocha Memoirs Press come in to play. They take the stories, great stories, and give them a home. A place to be celebrated.

And a place where reader's can find the stories that make them shiver.... and turn on the night light.

Enjoy this month's offerings! MMP even has a special one to celebrate Women in Horror Month: The Grotesquerie, edited by Eden Royce. Just make sure to leave a light on :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Back in Black or Between the line and behind the Scenes

*Kramer slides into the room*
Technically speaking I'm not late.
* adjust hem of shirt and pulls at waist band*
I'm just not early.

Every year Mocha Memoirs Celebrates February with our humble acknowledgement of African American History.  Seeing as though we also celebrate women "horror" writers during this month it only seems fitting at we blend the two.

MMP has always believed that "Black" history, is OUR history. And female writers on every front of speculative fiction are our future.

So today I'm giving you a little list of chics you should KNOW.

Sadly, no longer with us, L.A. Banks.  You might know her for her work on the "Soul Food" books and show, and you more than likely know she wrote some amazing contemporary romance. She had so many pen names I can't tell you who wrote what  BUT she did it all... including the "Vampire Huntress Series".

Tananarive Due... what can I say... Zombies...Vampires... all those things that are just quintessentially  "horror". We ain't talking cross over, we are talking flat out, guns blazing spook-tacular.

Helen Oyeyemei... This British world slinger mixes African traditions with skullduggary and drama to keep your skin crawling and the hair on your neck standing to attention.

Alaya Dawn Johnson... lets just put it this way... mobsters real life..prohibition MOBSTER  who are also bloodsucking vampire overlords. Imagine if "Quick" from the movie Harlem Nights was named because of his preternatural abilities...and blood was being served up and Sugar Rays... now make it as dark and gruesome as you can imagine. Its the best of the nitty gritty '20's

Janet Eckford... seriously...what rock do you live under if you don't know who Eckford  is?  You're missing out on all that is deliciously neurological/psychological about horror. Its not the bogey man that you should be scared of. Its not the witches nor aliens or creepy little dolls with eyes that follow you...ok so maybe you should be scared of those dogs... but its the people... the one looking you in the mirror... that Janet makes you afraid of...

Eden Royce...self proclaimed "Dark Geisha".. Royce  likes it dark bloody and sexy.  AND WE LOVE IT. A connoisseur of all things "horrific" Royce takes us on a journey, she just doesn't promise you'll come back unscathed.

The great thing about the last two ladies on the list... is that they have choosen MMP to be the home of some of their greatest horror gems.  We hope you check them out... but don't say we didn't warn you

*grabs holy water, blessed oil, crusifix, garlic, wooden stake, pistol with silver hollow points, grenande launcher, dream catcher,  double edged katana's and throwing stars...leaps from the stage and  tosses uv light bomb before leaving nothing but the sound of her retreating boot steps behind*

Its creep as *BLEEP* in here in the dark!

See you next month...


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Remembering Mary Shelley

In honor of Women in Horror month, I just wanted to give a nod to probably the most famous female horror writer of all:  Mary Shelley. (Born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797-1 February 1851.)

She wasn't primarily a horror writer, or course.  More a poet and novelist who sometimes delved into science fiction.  Her private life was filled with upheaval, tragic loss and dead children.  In her childhood, she was exposed to many literary giants.  At the age of sixteen, she eloped with the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (a married man at the time.  His wife later committed suicide, freeing him to wed young Mary.) At a literary gathering she and her husband attended at Lord Byron's castle, Mary...purely on a dare...penned a story of raising the dead by scientific means.  So came to exist her lasting legacy, of course:  Her world-famous novel Frankenstein (or, The Modern Prometheus - 1818.)  Truly a hauntingly disturbing and beautifully written, darkly poetic novel that remains a household word and a cinematic favorite to this day.  Though initially assumed by many to be her husband's work (given the Chauvinistic bent of the nineteenth century) Frankenstein revealed Mary Shelley's talent as a horror writer:

"I heard the creaking of my door, as if some one endeavored to open it softly.  I trembled from head to foot; I felt a presentiment of who it was and wished to rouse one of the peasants who dwelt in a cottage not far from mine; but I was overcome by the sensation of helplessness, so often felt in frightful dreams, when you in vain endeavor to fly from an impending danger, and was rooted to the spot.  Presently I heard the sound of footsteps along the passage; the door opened, and the wretch whom I dreaded appeared."

  But, far more than a horror story, Frankenstein was an agonizing tail of love and tragic loss, of man's insatiable obsession to conquer and control all, including life and death.  The horror taught the tragic and humbling lesson of man's ambition falling short, as always, of his wisdom, his arrogance outweighing his compassion:

"Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave or tortured with living animal to animate the lifeless clay?  My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless and almost frantic impulse urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit."

"All my speculations and hopes are as nothing, and like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell."

Shelley's dark journey didn't stop with Frankenstein's tortured soul, but showed us the world through the monster's eyes, as well.  We hear his articulate account of awakening, Adam-like in a forest, achieving awareness alone after being rejected and abandoned by a creator who found his creation's ugliness a failure of his godlike ambition.  We feel his infantile wonder at the first sight of sun and moon light.  We follow the growth of his understanding, his wonder and horror at the marvels and terrors of the human condition.   We see the hurts inflicted upon him by the cruelties of human ignorance as he evolves from innocent to murderer, his dark journey seemingly swift and inevitable, and so clearly and at times fiendishly analyzed.  He's the accusing witness to human evil, but he's also the dark parody of man, almost Job-like as he curses his creator for giving him life and then abandoning him:

"All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things!  Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.  You purpose to kill me.  How dare you sport thus with life?  Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind.  If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining. friends."

"I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.  Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded.  I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend.  Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."

"Shall I respect man when he condemns me?  Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness, and instead of injury I would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude at his acceptance.  But that cannot be; the human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union.  Yet mine shall not be the submission of abject slavery.  I will revenge my injuries; if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear, and chiefly towards you my arch-enemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred."

In exploring the dark theme of alienation and tragedy, of human indifference creating our own monsters, Shelley holds up a harsh mirror for us to gaze into.  The monster is like a dark reflection of Frankenstein, created in his own image.  It pursues him like a specter of death, killing all he loves, for he has refused his creation love.  He seeks to destroy it, as we all seek to destroy the evil side of ourselves which we've cultivated over the years with our own selfishness, but in the end, he fails.

Sadly, the story's been shamelessly mangled by Hollywood since the 1930's, reducing Shelley's immortal Frankenstein's creature to an inarticulate, grunting, groaning flat-headed lumbering zombie with bolts in his neck and platform shoes.  A running joke, a cartoon mockery of Shelley's genius.

It's also sad that, like so many artists, Mary Shelley is remembered primarily for only one great work.  But, maybe the best horror is the kind that forces us to face our own inner demons.

Thank you, Mary Shelley.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Have You Heard Of...?

This is Women in Horror Month, and the women who write horror are a diverse and fascinating group. Mary Shelley, Anne Rice, Suzy McKee Charnas, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Barbara Hambly--if these names aren't familiar to you, they should be. They are some of the Mistresses of Horror.

But I would like to focus on one of the most prolific Women in Horror that you might never have heard of--with the exhortation to remedy that situation as soon as possible. Charlee Jacob has been writing for more than 25 years. In that time, she has garnered almost a thousand credits. Poet, novelist, and painter, Stoker award winner--Charlee is a multi-talented artist whose visions are dark and rich.

This Symbiotic Fascination, for example, is a haunting tale of love and death, loneliness and destruction. It will delve into your unconsciousness and root there. If you have ever desired to be a horror writer, this is a must read, and a bargain for the Kindle.

Her short story, "Flesh of Leaves, Bones of Desire" is available free here.

An example of her incredible poetry, "Why the Journey's Far" can be found here.

As you might guess, I am a big fan of Charlee's. I consider her my horror mentor. She was instrumental to me finishing my novel, Skellyman. No celebration of Women in Horror would be complete without her.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Welcome to Women in Horror Month

At Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC, we have a soft spot for horror. Sure, that spot is often stabbed, stomped on or haunted by the likes of talented horror writers--and we LOVE it. So, it's only fitting and somewhat self serving, that we celebrate Women in Horror Month! 

Our month long celebration spotlights our talented women who pen horror stories that linger long after you're done reading. Horror Editor, Eden Royce, has also compiled an impressive anthology of twenty-two horror short stories--all written by women. The Grotesquerie is available in print and ebook formats.

Great storytelling is great storytelling regardless of the genre. I encourage you to try some of the following titles this month, and to put your courage to the sticking place and enter, "The Grotesquerie" this month also.

Have a wicked and wonderful Women in Horror Month. To learn more about Women in Horror Month, visit their facebook page at

Mocha Memoirs Press

Here are the titles to our talented Women who write Horror:

Whispers in the Dark by Janet Eckford
The Other Man by Selah Janel
Bloody Rain by Rie Sheridan Rose (check out Rie's story in THE GROTESQUERIE)
Alicia by E.A. Black
In the Bloodstream  Compiled by Eden Royce (various stories by talented women in this volume)
Huntress by Siobhan Kinkade