Friday, October 31, 2014

Why Horror Literature?

Halloween Trick or Treat:  Part Two on Speculative Lit

In honor of Halloween, let’s discuss horror fiction--or dark fantasy as it now is often euphemistically called. Why does it continue to fascinate readers? Why do readers love what terrifies them? It appears that vampires never die. Zombies can be found in movie theatres, TV shows, commercials, books, and short stories. Programs like The Living Dead have higher ratings than ever before.

When people talk about horror fiction, they might let out an involuntary shudder. However, horror fiction isn’t just about the gruesome. It’s not only about such supernatural creations as: ghosts, goblins, ghouls, gremlins, etc. No, it’s really about what we fear, what we dread most, what strikes terror into our hearts and souls. These things may be ordinary, like a pit bull off the leash running toward us, or extraordinary, like meeting a vampire in a neighborhood bar at midnight. Our fears are both usual and unusual.

Horror fiction will not be going away any time soon because it is human nature to feel fear as an emotion. Horror fiction actually helps us handle these feelings, helps us cope with and confront our terrors, those within us and those in the environment around us. Writers like Stephen King and Dean Koontz have recognized this. They reach into their worst fears and nightmares to help us come to terms with our own. As we find ourselves in real life forced to face horrors like Ebola outbreaks and violent terrorist attacks, there is comfort in paranormal solutions.

In my co-authored novel, THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY, a boy and his mother, writing alternating viewpoint chapters, come to terms with their own greatest fears while solving several connected murders. The novel’s setting is real but eerie. Legends of the Jersey Devil still seem to fascinate. Fans of both mystery and horror relate to this novel.

THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER also has a paranormal, allegorical edge:

is a sensual Regency romance with elements of both horror and mystery.

Readers of GONE GIRL may enjoy THE BAD WIFE, a mystery suspense thriller with lots of plot twists that features a psychic sleuth.

Do you read horror literature? Why or why not? Do you have favorite authors that you would recommend to fellow readers? If you are a writer, do you write horror or paranormal lit? Tell us something about your most recent work in the genre. Comments welcome!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why Read Speculative Literature?

Part One

In honor of Halloween, it’s seems only right to write on the subject of speculative lit. Why do readers consistently want to read fantasy, science fiction and horror and their various paranormal subdivisions? Why does speculative fiction remain as popular as it is with all ages of readers?

Let’s begin by talking about fantasy. There has always been a fascination with magical worlds. Many of the readers and writers of fantasy are escaping the negativity of the real world through fantasy worlds which are often more satisfying. Reality is readjusted. Lev Grossman in his excellent Time Magazine essay observed: “Fantasy holds out the possibility that there’s another way to live.” Certainly there are many fans of C.S. Lewis, T.H. White, J.RR. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin—just to name a few of the popular fantasy writers.

One of my own sword and sorcery short stories appears in the recent anthology

Much fantasy world has a sense of times past. Several of my own novels with a paranormal edge are set in the past. TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, a paranormal Regency romance endorsed by bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, was initially published in hardcover by Five Star/Gale/Cengage and then as a hardcover large print by Thorndike Press. Now it has an e-book edition:

THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, a fantasy romance published by Astraea Press, is a clean read that’s not just for teens. It’s set in 1985, theoretically a less complicated time.
THE BAD WIFE, 4th and final mystery novel in the Kim Reynolds series, also has a paranormal edge. Kim, an academic librarian, is a reluctant clairvoyant who has visions which cause her to both solve and prevent crime.

Fantasy as part of our poetry literature is not at all new. Remember ”Kubla Khan” a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge? How about his “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner “?  

Recently, Eldrich Press published three of my speculative poems which include fantasy, horror and science fiction. They are a free read online:

Science fiction continues to have a strong appeal. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines this type of literature as: “dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.”

Fantasy deals with imagination, unreal worlds, and magical realms. Some of these bear similarities to past societies such as medieval times. Science fiction, on the other hand, looks to developments in science or imaginative notions of future worlds. However, all embrace aspects of the speculative or paranormal.

For one of my science fiction poems that can be read for free on the internet, you can go to Kansas University’s “Ad Astra” site:

Are there any authors of fantasy or science fiction that you particularly admire or enjoy reading? Ray Bradbury remains one of my favorites. Are you a fan of the Harry Potter series?  Have you read Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia E. Butler? What about fantasy/paranormal romances such as those written by Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle?  Are there new writers of fantasy or sci-fi that excite your interest? Please share with us.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Benefit from Rejection

We can’t always succeed no matter how hard we try. That’s something I’ve learned to accept as a human being and as a writer. How do we go about making lemonade from lemons?

Here are some ways writers can actually benefit from rejection:

First, examine the nature of the rejection. Has this particular work consistently received standard rejections from numerous agents, editors, publishers or publications? Maybe it’s time to put this particular book, story, play, article aside for a while and examine it again at a future time with fresh eyes. You might need to do some rewriting. Perhaps this particular work is not yet ready for publication. Start a new project for now. But never, ever destroy your rejected work.

Second, if your work has received a personalized rejection from an editor, write back to that editor and thank him/her for taking the time to point out why the work was rejected. You might just turn that rejection into an acceptance after all.

Example, I received a personalized rejection on a short story. The editor stated she liked the story but felt the ending was too abrupt. I wrote back and thanked her, also asking for further details on how she thought I could improve the ending, because I was willing to rewrite it. She provided me with her insights. I actually had to rewrite the story’s ending twice before I finally made the sale. But the story was published in print and I was paid. Was it worth the effort? In my opinion, yes it was.

I can only speak for myself. I accept rejection as part of the nature of freelance writing. I always write to the very best of my ability, intending to create quality work. However, I know I cannot please everyone. I realize my words are not chiseled in granite—nor should they be.

What I advise: if you enjoy creating the written word, if you want and need to write, keep at it. Writing is a craft, and you can improve your abilities. Don’t let rejection discourage you. Success will come in time with effort, hard work and pit bull determination. Go forth: read, write, and prosper.

Your thoughts and comments welcome!