Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Anticipation Versus The Bang

There's a famous Alfred Hitchcock quote that sticks with me every time I write a horror story: "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." The man could not have been more right, especially when it comes to dark fantasy when it mixes with horror. Obviously this applies to the horror genre, building up the atmosphere until the scary monster leaps out from the shadows onto their victim, but with dark fantasy there always seems to be more in the way of atmospheric scares than splatterfest gore.

Think of any scary story you've ever read. Imagine reading it alone at home one night. You're unable to go outside because there's a huge thunderstorm crashing around your house. Thunder and roaring winds make the windows rattle and the blinding lightning is making you blink, your eyes seeing the shadows take new, towering shapes.

You shift on your couch and try to make yourself more comfortable, wrapping your blanket around you as though it will protect you from whatever tricks your mind is playing. You tell yourself that it's just a stupid storm, and go back to your book. In it, the main character is moving toward the attic to find out what they heard. Their hand is shaking on their flashlight, their footsteps creaking the on the attic stairs. Past the wooden groans and their pounding heart, they hear the raspy breathing coming from the attic. Your own pulse begins to quicken. You know something is up there, and you want to tell them to turn around. But they won't. The storm rages beyond you. 

The character enters the attic. They step onto the floorboards and see nothing, but the tortured breathing is louder than ever. It's coming quicker, moving from shadow to shadow. Your mind is telling the character to run back down, but they take another step. The trap door slams shut behind them. They spin around, choking on their scream, and lift their flashlight when they see–

The door of your house slams open. You jump and scream, the book flying out of your hands as you whirl around–

And see your husband standing there with a bewildered look on his face.

Not a true story, but I had you going, didn't I?

While I was writing my latest Mocha Memoir novella, Hotel Hell, I focused on heightening the tension. The story revolves around a young man named Milo who searches for his missing fiancee, only to come across a hotel with dark, disturbing secrets. Concentrating on the creepiness of the hotel was key. Adding in little situations where Milo and the readers know something isn't right, but they can't figure out what. Even when I was planning the story, I knew I had to write it as though the hotel itself was a character with a mystery, and that its employees were just as terrifying as the building itself. Creating the horrors inside the hotel was the funnest part, and I think it made the impact of the climax so much more frightening. It's amazing what you can imagine if you take an ordinary object, and twist it into something that Neil Gaiman would create.

For me, dark fantasy and horror tend to go hand in hand, as they both concentrate on the anticipation of the danger. Both genres want to set off warning bells in your head, even though you're dying to turn the page and see what lurks behind that corner. They feed each other, one building on fear in the readers heart through romantically twisted scenarios while horror weaves itself into the cracks, like glowing red eyes through the slits of your closet. Don't worry– I'll save that story for another time. 

Happy Halloween! 

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Amy Braun is an aspiring urban fantasy and horror author addicted to monsters and mythology. When she isn't writing, she's reading, watching movies, taking photos, or gaming. She was the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for "author voice, world-building and general bad-assery" in 2014.

Her current work includes the novellas Call From The Grave, Needfire, and Hotel Hell, and has short stories in the Lost In The Witching Hour anthology (Charlatan Charade) and AMOK! (Dark Intentions And Blood). She also has two more short stories that will be featured in two different anthologies, as well as her first full length novel releases in 2015. More information on these releases and Amy can be found online through her blog, Literary Braun, or followed on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A New Kind of Scary #Dark Fantasy #Halloween


A New Kind of Scary

by Marcia Colette

I love this spooky time of year because I grew up on this stuff. But, wow, have things changed. Sadly, Hollywood seems to think that grossing us out is the best way to garner a scare. Honestly, spew-fest of blood and guts will only make me turn the channel. Not because I get grossed out the easily, but rather, more blood splatter doesn't mean better entertainment. It just means the screenwriters don't have much of a plot. On top of that, we get our usual TSTL characters and the one chick who always seems to survive no matter what.

One of my favorite shows on TV is the Walking Dead. Yes, there's that gross-out factor I just spoke of, but this is different. It's not the apocalypse that draws me in--honestly, it can be centered around any apocalyptic event (volcano, floods, ragweed, etc.). It's the relationships among the survivors and their reaction to their situation that keeps me glued to the screen every week. That's smart TV, and why I can overlook the gross-out factor.

One of my least favorite shows on TV is Once Upon a Time. I thought introducing the Frozen characters might actually make me want to watch more, but it hasn't. If anything, I just don’t care enough about the characters to stay tuned in every week. There's magic and mayhem, which make such a perfect combination, but unfortunately, the suspense isn't suspenseful enough for me.

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My biggest guilty pleasure on TV is Teen Wolf. Yes, I said it. For some reason, it's like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer of Millennial Generation, only darker. A regular high school of horrors. The suspense is up there and whatever you think is going to happen next, think again. It's probably going to be worse.

But if I had to go with one show that is the epitome of dark fantasy, it's Sleepy Hollow. I can't tell you how refreshing this show is. Just like my first trip to Washington D.C., I never had an appreciation for history until I saw it. This is like a glimpse in the scary past of American history coupled with biblical elements. It's perfect. For me, anyway.

Do you have any TV shows that bring out the dark fantasy in you? I can, but I want to hear from you.
Oh, and if you haven't heard, my latest release The Portal Guards is going on a review tour tomorrow.
There's a nice prize attached, too.

Thanks for stopping by!
If you want to know more, come find me here...and on my blog.

About Marcia Colette

Bestselling author Marcia Colette didn’t discover her love for reading until her late teens when she started reading John Saul and progressed to works by Bentley Little, Stephen King and Laurell K. Hamilton. Her reading tastes convinced her to write paranormals where curses cause people to shift into spiders, psychotic and telekinetic mothers are locked away in attics, and murderous doppelgangers are on a rampage. Let's not forget about the hunky werecheetah coalitions who live throughout North Carolina. As long as she can make it believable, that's all that matters.

Born and raised in upstate New York, Marcia now lives in North Carolina with her mom and beautiful daughter. They’re not raising zombies in the backyard. There aren’t any hellhounds living in the den, only a rabbit and a cockatiel. So where she gets her ideas is as much a mystery to her as anyone else.

The best place to find her--when she's not stirring up trouble--is on her blog where she loves connecting with readers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark #amwriting #DarkFantasy #Writing


Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

by Rie Sheridan Rose

Whether you write fantasy, science fiction, horror, or even romance, you come to a point where you have to decide what type you will explore within your genre. Some people are most comfortable with the comedic slant. Others, write lush, epic work full of emotion and description, but barely touching on the dark side. Don’t be afraid of the dark.

Everyone experiences fear, anger, pain and other darker emotions—why should you suppress them? Having a world with none of the deeper, darker aspects of emotion is flat and one-sided. Everything needs at least a touch of darkness.

And exploring the dark side can be fun. As I said, everyone has those emotions…so, why not put them on paper? After all, that’s a lot more socially acceptable than acting them out in the real world.

Taking “what if?” and applying a coat of darkness to it has the potential to be very liberating. It can allow you to slip into the mind of a serial killer without needing to actually be one. It can give depth to the depiction of a dragon. The denizens of an alien world will be more rounded with psychology that isn’t tempered by human goodness.

I challenge you. Write something dark. It can change your outlook on the craft—and no one says you have to be dark all the time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Stories can save your soul

When the princeling was about 4, he started having horrible nightmares. I mentioned that we could go somewhere in our dreams and meet.

And thus, the candy garden bloomed again.

Fountains spilling Skittles, a Sprite stream filled with Swedish Red Fish and gummy sharks. You get the idea. I wrote a flash fiction story about it. The Princeling adds to it, or subtracts, depending on his current likes. He is now 8.

When I was in the hospital in June, he was with my sister in law. In talking on the phone with him, he asked me, sobbing, where to meet him that night. “Do you want to go to the candy garden?”

Sniffling, he replied: How about a candy ocean? The sand is sugar, and….

And we were off. Something amazing happened that night, something amazing that touched my soul in a way no other story that I ever have come up with has.

The Candy Garden is imprinted on my son’s soul. And when we’re separated, he knows, deep down inside, that he can go there and find his mom. It’s an avenue for our creativity to go wild, together, but more than that… It brings my child comfort.

So yes, one story can make a huge difference. Even if it’s a one off, a way to sooth a child at bed time. It can grow, it can morph and take on a life of it’s own… And can feel like a warm hug on a dark and scary night when you’re miles from your mommy.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

#New Release: Death's Cafe

Mocha Memoirs Press Proudly Presents

Death’s Cafe is a compilation of five chilling, short stories set around Death’s adventures and exploits. Edited by well-known horror author, Eden Joyce, the series has launched just in time for Halloween and delivers stories guaranteed to entice readers who enjoy speculative fiction.

Each installment of Death’s Cafe is available now via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Ashes and Coffee by Sumiko Saulson

Death is stalking Berkeley, California in a sleek new jacket and snazzy checkered fedora. Insects and animals collapse in his wake. When the indigent begin to mysteriously die in the streets, the rest of the town is indifferent. Red Montgomery, a nineteen year old black homeless woman, is the only one who can see him. She feels powerless to intervene. But is she?
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Hotel Hell by Amy Braun

While Milo searches for his missing fiancée, Kate, he stumbles across a dark hotel with even darker secrets...
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Surrender to Destiny by Francis Gideon

Detective Inspector Sebastian Thumbs has just been promoted on the London police force when he and his partner, Joseph Atwell discover the body of a mellified man. The victim has been turned into a hive for honey--and a mechanical queen has been lodged inside his chest cavity. The case develops when both detectives realize their victim was pierced by a stinger in the back of his neck, turning him into a drone, and giving him no free will.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

The Storm by Justin Key

Confirmed bachelor Baylor has never let a woman near his heart. When his best friend Jez braves a storm to come to his store to buy a treat for his pregnant wife, he almost feels sorry for the man. But this storm is whispering horrible truths. As the rain beats down, it’s not Baylor’s heart in danger of breaking, it’s his mind.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Who’s Life is it Anyway? by Jim Becker

Whose Life Is It Anyway? is a dark reminder that life is unscripted and that accidents happen for a reason. As Emma and Jacob Dupont celebrate eighteen years of marriage, a circus of events transpires that tests the bonds of their wedding vows. Especially the closer: Until death do they part.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Monday, October 6, 2014

Halloween Reader Event

Hello All,

Join Mocha Memoirs Press  for A STROLL THROUGH SHADOWS, Halloween  reader event on Facebook, October 30th - October 31st 2014.

Hang out with our MMP authors and participate for the chance to win prizes.

Each week leading up to the main event day, we'll be posting games and trivia for readers to get a chance to win prizes and bragging rights.

Come celebrate the month known for dark fantasy with us. Join the event HERE and get in on the fun.


Our first giveaway prize is a print copy of  THE GROTESQUERIE 

Twenty-two short horror stories written by women are here on display for your enjoyment or your perverse fascination. Within these pages, beauty becomes deadly, innocence kills, and karma is a harsh mistress.

The Grotesquerie is now open…

Eligibility to win is simple. Scroll down to the raffelcopter widget below and let let us know the name of your favorite horror/scary movie character. You can enter as may times as you like. You also get extra points for following MMP on twitter (@mochamemoirs) and liking us on Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Censorship in our times...

There’s been a lot of talk lately about censorship during “Banned Book Week,” so I thought I’d chime in, since I’m as affected by censorship as any other writer.  (Largely since editors and artists have commented on how dark some of my stuff is.)

First, what constitutes censorship?  If the federal government tells a library or publisher they can’t publish or distribute a given book, for political or ideological reasons, (or, supposedly national security) that’s censorship, and it’s supposed to be prohibited by the First Amendment.  (We all remember John Ashcroft and his battle with librarians.)  But, if a library or a school board chooses to ban a book, is that censorship or just a local right of choice?  We all remember the legal battles over whether schools could ban Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” over racist stereotypes and use of the “n” word.

My personal view is that schools and libraries, which are publicly funded institutions should not be allowed under federal law to ban anything that isn’t covered by criminal obscenity statutes.  And no, PTA’s and townships shouldn’t be allowed to vote on whether to ban this list of books or that list of books.  The First Amendment should stand, as far as I’m concerned.  Nobody, no community or institution has the right to tell consenting adults what they can or can’t read or what they’re allowed to let their children read.  And, educational standards can quickly decay if left to the mercy of local sensibilities.  (Remember the Scopes Monkey Trial?) Some parents have complained that their right of parental control over their kids is usurped when libraries or bookstores can lend or sell their kids something they don’t approve of.  Okay, arguably, it might be acceptable to require book distributors to card their young patrons, as liquor store owners are required to do, but not to ban books altogether.

Remove all governmental censorship, and the decision of what to publish rests with the editor and the public (not necessarily in that order.)  As a writer who stays largely in the dark vein, I’m frustrated sometimes when I read an editor’s guidelines that say “no rape, no abuse of minors, no sex between people under 18, etc.”  Understandable restrictions perhaps, depending on the individual sensibilities of the publisher and the scope of the target audience, but it’s sadly limiting at times and screens out stories that I think should be told.  Neither “Hamlet” nor “MacBeth” would pass muster today with any editor who won’t read anything that “is violent or depicts any criminal act.”  Charles Dickens wouldn’t fare so well, either.  And, that “no sex between minors” rule…Well, there goes “Romeo and Juliet.”  How could a writer produce a story about a character similar to Malala, a minor almost murdered because she dared to defy militant “traditionalist” elements within her society in daring to go to school, without hitting editorial restrictions prohibiting violence against minors, negative depiction of other cultures, etc.?  Or, stories about the brutality suffered by teenaged girls abducted by warlords in Africa?  Some editors might consider stories that deal directly with such subject matter to be “exploitive of the suffering of others.”  But, these are stories of reality, after all.  Dark issues that have afflicted the human race throughout time.  Are such subjects simply off limits?  Can we deal with them artistically at all, to grapple with the demons both external and internal that spawn them, or must we look away?

 Some editors take a middle-ground and say that there shall be no such violence (rape, etc.) for the “sole purpose of titillating the audience.”  Meaning, they might publish a story that sincerely seeks to explore the dark issue of rape or evil in the soul of Man in general, or the struggle of a rape survivor to rise above the evil, or the moral question of revenge.  And, many editors say they won’t consider anything that promotes “racism, sexism, bigotry, intolerance” etc.  Very laudable on its face, but then, there’s that Mark Twain argument again.  So, what about editors who say they won’t publish anything with characters “of color" or just quietly avoid doing so?  What about editors who say they won’t consider any stories containing GLBT characters?  They’re still doing that quite openly. 

 I’ve had editors refuse to publish my stories, saying “Why put in things that offend some people?”  (Because they’re my stories, obviously.  I’m not about to worry about what offends anybody, since I’m not a public servant!)  I’ve had to let deals fall through because I wouldn’t take out violence I felt was necessary to make the story real, or because I wouldn’t omit gay characters.  I’ve had horror editors reject stories that dealt with rape, saying “That’s an everyday horror.”  (Murder’s okay, even though that’s an everyday horror, but rape is out.)  Perhaps society making rape a taboo subject in general is part of the reason people are always in denial about the seriousness of it, and always blaming the victim.  Some victims even blame themselves, or are too afraid to come forward.  I know it’s hard, even impossible to deal with sometimes, but if we’re supposed to omit it from fiction, are we supposed to omit it from the news as well?  Evil has to be faced, or at least acknowledged, or it continues to hide.

My title “Black Goddess” deals with torture (which I researched pretty extensively) among other manifestations of human evil.  My short title “Hell Shift” deals with human evil in many forms and with visceral, gory directness.  My other short title “Along Came a Spider” touched on revolution as well as sex.  Any one of which would have earned these titles rejection from any number of editors.

A diversity of editorial policies isn’t the problem.  But, I think the greatest danger of creeping censorship is the gradual evolution of “common standards” linked perhaps more with marketing than morality, slowly eroding any semblance of controversy or diversity from fiction.  “Safer is better” can be the epitaph of literary freedom.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Look!

Hello All,

As you can see our blog has a new look. We've dusted off a few cob webs and hope you enjoy the new digs. Over the next few months you'll see a few more changes-all for the good I promise.

You might have already guessed that I am one of the changes. I'm happy to come on board with Mocha Memoirs Press as the new Communications and Promotions Coordinator.

We have several events planned and the schedule here on the blog will change a bit as well. However, no need to worry, your favorite MMP authors will all still be here and ready to share their thoughts, and information regarding their books, inspirations and more.

Laurel Cremant

Let's Get Ready to WriMo!

I promised answers to last month's collective noun challenge, so here they are:

clowns                                                                    mutiny             
bishops                                                                   bench
doctors                                                                   field
zombies                                                                  stench                                                                     
boys                                                                        blush  

baboons                                                                tribe
cats                                                                        clowder
geese                                                                     skein
otters                                                                     romp

kangaroos                                                             mob

Now that is out of the way, on to other matters.

I know a lot of people are doing Halloween based entries for October, but I have my mind set further down the road. November is almost here, and I have participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2003. I haven't always completed my 50,000 words, but I have participated, at least a little.

It is a great way to focus your energy and get a project off the ground. I find it works really well to research a bit ahead of time -- say October. :) Then you are ready to go when it hits November 1st. Some people like to outline the entire project, but I don't do outlines too well. I just figure the parameters.

Still, it has served me well. If you don't finish a novel in one year, finish it the next. I did that with one novel currently in edits. I also wrote my first Steampunk novel for NaNoWriMo.

So, I will be signed up again next week at and getting ready for November. Care to join me?