Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Skelos 3: The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy by Skelos Press

Finally my contributor copies of Skelos 3: The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy by Skelos Press have arrived!  I've been waiting months for these.  My poem, The Prideful Scribe, appears within.

Table of Contents:
Short Fiction:
Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood by John R. Fultz 
Cats of Dornishett by Michelle Muenzler 
Book of Blasphemy by Keith Taylor 
The Collection by Rhona Eudaly 
The Muttwhelp by Edward M. Erdelac 
The Killing by Scott Cupp 
Edderkop by Lynne Jamneck 
Curse of the Dripping Blade by Christopher Fulbright 
Fat Charlie by S. Boyd Taylor 
Invitation to Dine by Cynthia Vespia 
Last Pale Light in the West by Josh Rountree 

Dead River Revenge - Part 1 by Chris Gruber 
Pawns in the House of Ghosts by John C. Hocking 

The Prideful Scribe by Ashley Dioses 
By the Deep-Green Sea by Peter Rawlik 
Woman in the Feathered Mask by K.A. Opperman 
Destroyers by Wade German 
The Last Battle by Aurela Wilder 
Rogue by Chad Hensley 
Jirel by Pat Calhoun 

The Boys from Atlantis by Bobby Derie 
It Seems to be a Sort of Monster: Misrepresentations of the Cephalopod in the Fiction of Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft by Jack Staines 

Special Features:
Skull Session - Editorial by Mark Finn 
By Crom! by Rachel Kahn 
Images of the Southern Gothic - A Photo Gallery by Aimee Reist 
An Interview with Lynne Jamneck and S.T. Joshi by Jason V. Brock 

The Bone Yard - Reviews 
S.L. Edwards, Dave Bryzekski, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Jim Lee, Luke E. Dodd

Front cover: William Blake. Back cover: Allen Koszowski. Interior: Virgil Finlay, Victor Hugo, Rachel Kahn, Allen Koszowski, H.P. Lovecraft, Esteban Maroto, Alphonse de Neuville, James Doyle Penrose, Hugh Rankin, Aimee Reist,Valentin Serov, Jeffrey Shanks, Tim Truman, Mr. Zarono 

Friday, February 23, 2018

ToC for Darkling’s Beasts and Brews

Darkling’s Beasts and Brews by Lycan Valley Press Publications is an interesting anthology that pairs drink recipes with dark poetry.  When I first heard the open call for this, I knew I had to submit something.  Not only did I submit a poem, but a few drink recipes as well which all have found a home inside these pages.  My poem, The Power of the Moon, appears inside and is the only werewolf poem I have ever written.  This book is, unfortunately, not yet out and currently has no set release date.  So I shall tease you all with the ToC and cover art until there is a link to purchase it.  I am so excited for the collection.


(Cover art by M Wayne Miller, Cover design by Kealan Patrick Burke)

SECTION 1 -- COFFEE AND TEA (11 coffee/10 tea – alcohol and non-alcohol) 

The Monster Mash by John C. Mannone
The Morning Named Apollo: A Chimeric Blood Song by Stephanie Wytovich
The Lycanthrope by Paula Berman
The Hunter by E.M. Eastick
The Eyes by Mark Mihalko
Fated to Die by Sarah Tantlinger
With Bared Teeth by Javier Gómez
In Our Past Mortality by Jay Rohr
Lust in the Full Moon by Khalil Goddard
Frontier Winter by Catherine Bult
Evolution of a Young Lover by Frank Heather
Nosferatu by Michael Hanson
Redcap by Kurt Newton
The Night Whispers by Sarah Cannavo
A Witch Reflects on Loss by Rie Sheridan Rose
Backwards Footprints by Donald Armfield
Secrets of the Loch by Louise Smith
A Siren’s Pursuer by Donald Armfield
Hunger by Candice Robinson
The Novealla of Vuowro (#) by Ron Riekki
Figment Fantastica by Taye Carrol


The Seafloor God by Ethan Hedman
A Kelpie’s Promise by Trisha Wooldridge
Siren’s Song by L.S. Reinholt
Widow’s Weeds by Linda Lee Ruzicka
Skin Walking by M.F. Senger
Stolen by Jillian Bost
Bedtime by Lynne Sargent
The Witches Give Birth by Joshua Lupardus
The Rattling Tree by Rob E. Boley
The Confession by Timothy Tarkelly
An I’d Swally the Little Bairns by Kimberly Brannon
Plague Ship by Emerian Rich
Death by Breaths by Gerri Leen
Eternal Epitaph by Don Campbell

SECTION 3 – SMOOTHIES (non-alcohol)

And They Ride by S.L. Scott
Noppera-bō by Samantha Lienhard
Black Vampire by Lavel Wideman
The War Witch by S.L. Edwards
The Power of the Moon by Ashley Dioses
Fisherman’s Lure by Ken MacGregor
The Beast I Am by Jyothika Aaryan

SECTION 4 – MILKSHAKES (alcohol and non-alcohol)

The Scab That Oozes by Nick Manzolillo
Nightmare Upon Dissolution by Jason Ellis
Night On The Town by Andrew Dunlop
The Faerie Rules by MJ Mars
A Prank Too Far by Anne E. Johnson
Whitechapel Werewolf by Samantha Potts
An Vorvoren a Senar by Darren Lester
Frankenspider by Minerva Cerridwen
The Vampire Ogrencisi by Shalom Aranas
Moon in Purple by Morphine Epiphany
Antlered Avenger by Kimmy Alan
He, The Forest by Jay Outhier
Feetures by Shawn Chang
We Are Legion by Allison Shepherd

SECTION 5 -- HAIKU SHOTS (alcohol)

Haiku by Darkling
Haiku by J.E. Mason
Haiku by Sarah Yasin
Haiku by Diane de Anda
Haiku by Vanessa Noel Graham
Haiku by Marjoleine Holsbeek
Haiku by Darkling

SECTION 6 -- PARTY PUNCH (alcohol and non-alcohol) 

Torture of a Pirate by Ethan Nahté
Food Shopping by Anne M. Gibson
Smoketown Zombies by James Quinn
Just Put Out Your Hand by Juleigh Howard-Hobson
Hunger for Life by Andrew Hudson
My Parents Don’t Like Kali ‘Cause She Drives A Mustang by Wolf Boy
Dinner with Jerry by Sally Max
Eventide by K.A. Opperman
Sodium-Vapor by Lisa Treece
When Monsters Share by Shawn Chang
Underneath the Red Moon by Linda M Crate
Siren of the Woods by Qurat Dar
Tommy’s Knocking by Patrick Winters
New Fur for Old Skin by Oliver Smith

SECTION 7 -- KILLER CLOWN RECIPES (non-alcoholic) 

Clown Night by L.S Reinholt
Within the Darkness of the Carnivále by Donald Armfield

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Women in Horror Month- Guest Blogger

Today I am a guest blogger on The Warrior Muse, run by Shannon Kenoyer Lawrence for Women in Horror Month.  You can find my article, Dark Enchantment, republished here from the Official Newsletter of the Horror Writer's Association, December 2015/Volume 25, Issue 185.

The following piece first appeared in the Official Newsletter of the Horror Writer's Association, December 2015/Volume 25, Issue 185.

Dark Enchantments:

I was in middle school when Edgar Allan Poe became my influence in becoming a poet of dark and Gothic verse. I have always been a huge horror and fantasy fan and he filled my horror craving in poetry. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found my craving for fantasy and dark fantasy poetry fulfilled as well.

The poetry of Clark Ashton Smith struck me in a way only Poe had struck me before. His poems were rich in imagination and his words were so spell-binding that they read like an enchantment from my lips. His poem “The Witch with Eyes of Amber” is such an example.

The Witch with Eyes of Amber

I met a witch with amber eyes
Who slowly sang a scarlet rune,
Shifting to an icy laughter
Like the laughter of the moon.

Red as a wanton's was her mouth,
And fair the breast she bade me take
With a word that clove and clung
Burning like a furnace-flake.

But from her bright and lifted bosom,
When I touched it with my hand,
Came the many-needled coldness
Of a glacier-taken land.

And, lo! the witch with eyes of amber
Vanished like a blown-out flame
Leaving but the lichen-eaten
Stone that bore a blotted name.

With those first two rich, enticing lines, that poem begs to be read aloud and so should all poetry. A poem should be written in such a way that it enchants all who hear it. For dark poetry as well, a poem should begin with a grabbing line and end with a line that will haunt the reader after they’ve finished it, just like any horror fiction piece.

Smith is known for using elaborate and, oftentimes, difficult vocabulary, but one needs not a dictionary to evoke stunning imagery. My poem “Witch’s Love,” published in Centipede Press’ Weird Fiction Review 5, compares a witch’s lover to various images of nature and is written in iambic tetrameter, which lends itself to a musical beat when read aloud.

Witch’s Love

Twin moons of palest crystal set
In cerulean eyes; star-fire
Enflames his crown with ruby jets
As red as Hades’ grandest pyre.

My lavender and rosehip blend,
Enchanted with my witch’s touch,
Was not used as I did intend;
His heart, at once, was in my clutch.

His taste is honey on my lips,
His silver tongue is sweeter still,
His touch is silk on my soft hips,
His love is master of my will.

He is the cosmos and its ice,
The oak and its deep steadfast roots,
The green absinthe and its high price,
The diamond from the ash and soot.

In only me his interest peaks,
For I alone enrapture him.
In me my magick love he seeks,
For I choose love not on a whim.

I am his witch and he, my love.
He, my desire, for only I
Can melt his ice from skies above,
And temper his poisonous high.

Each line is wrought with words to evoke one of the senses and creates a picture to shape the reader’s imagination. The vivid colors, the thick lavender scents, the smooth feeling of silk, and the sweet taste of honey can all be conjured forth with a reading.

I’ve heard that not all poetry should be beautiful, but doesn’t the very word inspire beauty? When you watch movies and a character executes a memorable line, isn’t it often remarked as being almost poetic? When you watch a romance, doesn’t poetry come to mind? Well, when it comes to horror, beauty can be a bit more subjective.

The beauty of words and the evocative images they evoke are not just limited to fantasy or even dark fantasy for that matter. This is also what makes it fun to write dark, horror-filled verse. Is your poem aimed to inspire fear or is it written to disgust your audience? What senses would you want to conjure up? Make your audience taste the blood spilled in your verse, conjure that metallic taste, and that sticky hot mess on their fingertips. Make your audience feel the cold steel of that dagger or the acidic taste of poison on their lips. Inspire fear with the magic of words that will slice through the tension-filled air.

My poem “Carathis,” published in Hippocampus Press’ Spectral Realms No. 1, and also chosen for Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror Volume Seven recommended reading list, is written after the character from William Beckford’s Vathek. She is a dark sorceress who is the epitome of evil and, in writing this poem, I tried to replicate the sense of dread I felt when she appeared on the page.


Her skin of burnished bronze, so silken to the touch;
Her hair of blackest midnight, wafting scents of such
Intoxicating aphrodisiacs; and her
Enticing eyes of hazel that made weak hearts stir,
Belonged to the dark Sorceress of high Samarah.
Fools only would court this dark queen whose mouth is marah.
Her heart was ice within a cage of blackened bone.
Carathis was her name, and she would rule alone.

Inside the high witch-tower of her dark delights,
She decked her walls with hanging bodies all alight.
Her floors were red, her followers were all deaf mutes,
And mummies who attended to her brews of newts.
Emitting fumes of mummies and the blazing flames
Frequently filled her working space as, without shame,
She practiced rituals, with offerings spread out.
Her tainted mind had found for certain, without doubt,
An entrance to the Palace of Subterranean Fire.
A place of treasures and rare knowledge to desire.

Such sacrifices of serpents and scorpions
Soon insufficient grew, and fresh new champions
Were needed to appease her gods of pain and Death.
Servants, friends, children were the same, for every breath
Could easily be stilled, for passage down below.
Reciting savage incantations soon let go
Her earthly limits, and she entered down with bliss
Into the palace where, awaiting, was Eblis.

He greeted her as newly hired within his ranks,
And offered food and wine, which eagerly, she drank.
He gave free range of his grand palace, and she soon
Surveyed every dark corridor. How she did swoon
When finally she came upon her long sought prize:
The talismans of Soliman that held the skies
And conquered all beneath them! Quickly grabbing one,
Her heart burst into flames with a heat like the sun!
Explosive cachinnation pierced the many halls
As her shrill screams forever echoed in his walls.

- After William Beckford’s Vathek

A poem should have beautiful language. Beautiful language, not necessarily the theme, makes a beautiful poem. If you describe the stiffened contours of a lifeless lover or the mangled cadaver of your latest plaything, then describe it richly, beautifully, darkly. Show the details of her crimson-stained hair or conjure the scent of his aged and rotting flesh. Do not spare a single psychotic notion in your verse.

David Park Barnitz, the author of the Book of Jade, is a perfect example of an author who could spin such enchanting language while describing a corpse. For example, consider these lines from Barnitz’s poem “The Grotesques”: “As one that the sweet pangs of passion bore. / And from its passionate mouth’s corrupted sore, / And from its lips that are no longer red,” (8-10). A dark romance with a fallen lover makes me wonder how long ago those lips were still red! I can feel his passion and can imagine the corpse from these lines. It creates a heavier blow than simply telling me he has lain with a dead body. The language is striking here as it is with the rest of the poem.

Now enough of love! Excuse the romance, and let’s get back to the horror. Not everyone wants romance in their horror and dark verses but that doesn’t excuse the lack of that enthralling language. Let’s look at another one of Barnitz’s poems, “Corpse.” “A dead corpse crowned with a crown of gold / Sits throned beneath the sky’s gigantic pall; / Gold garments from its rotted shoulders fall,” (1-3). A very fitting image for the title and it does not disappoint.

With a title as captivating as “Corpse,” you should expect the poem to cover, well, the corpse. A lot of images come to mind when reading or hearing that word. If you have such a title that you have your poem wrapped around, do not disappoint your readers with lack of imagery. Make your images, your lines, your verse more haunting than any image they can conjure up.

If you aim to strike fear, rather than repulsion, with your verse, not too many examples can instill the demise of Man and conquer that feeling with the last two lines of Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm.” “That the play is the tragedy, ‘Man,’/ And its hero, the Conqueror Worm,” (39, 40). Whether you wish to instill fear, repulsion, or drear lamentation, do it with your language. Even if the horror is subtle and only hinted at, enthrall them with your language. Poe did an excellent job at hinting at the demise of his narrator in these famous last lines from “The Raven.” “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor/ Shall be lifted—nevermore!” (107, 108).

Spin your dark enchantment around your readers and spellbind them with words they can ever be haunted by.

Friday, February 16, 2018

51st California International Antiquarian Book Fair

Kyle and I attended the 51st California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena on Sunday for the first time and had a blast!  We were happy to see Obadiah Baird, editor of the Audient Void, who came down from Oregon to be a vendor of the Book Bin. 

(Kyle, Obadiah, and me)

I supported the Book Bin by buying a signed edition of Phantoms and Fancies by L. Sprague de Camp. 

Later, we met up with the mysterious Sam L. Edwards, author of Borkchito: Occult Detective.  I was glad I could convince him to join us.

(Sam L. Edwards)

We perused every booth and saw so many cool things.  For instance, I had the privilege to hold in my hands, The Hornbook of Witches by Leah Bodine Drake.  And glimpse hand-written manuscripts by H. P. Lovecraft and spy Clark Ashton Smith's signature.  I found a very nice copy of Dreams from R'lyeh and snagged that.  We also found some questionable titles which only confirmed my belief that I am, in fact, a deity this whole time.... ;) 

(Deity it is then!)


Interesting Statistics

I keep strict records of where, when, and what I've submitted to throughout the years, starting when I first subbed my work in 2011.  Here is just an interesting list of rejections and acceptances for the curious.

Total Publications Submitted To- 226
Total Rejections- 389
Total Acceptances- 165
Withdrawn Work- 57
Contests Won- 2

8 years of submitting work.  Incredible. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review of Test Patterns edited by Duane Pesice from Planet X Publications (2017)

Test Patterns edited by Duane Pesice from Planet X Publications (2017) is reviewed by Des Lewis on his blog.

Introduction- Michael Adams
Stories and poetry from Matthew M. Bartlett, Philip Fracassi, Cody Goodfellow, Joe Pulver, Rob F Martin, Sean M. Thompson, Jill Hand, Sarah Walker, Brian O'Connell, Russell Smeaton, Frederick J. Mayer, K. A. Opperman and Ashley Dioses.

Here is what he had to say on my poem, Hands of Chaos.

I'm not exactly sure what is being said here (except that he didn't like my spelling of 'fae') and whether or not this is a positive review. *shrugs*

I have not yet received my contributor's copy so full ToC will be posted then.
Edit- Full ToC

Table of Contents:

“The Woman in the Forge of Saturday Night” by Joe Pulver
“Evidence of Absence” by Scott Graves
“I Am Become Death” by William Tea
“The Judge” by Philip Fracassi
“The Snake Beneath My Skin” by Sarah Walker
“The Hands of Chaos” by Ashley Dioses
“The Nomenclature of Unnamable Horrors” by Peter Rawlik
“Golden Girl” by S.L. Edwards
“Scenes From a Forgotten Diorama” by Brian O’Connell
“You Can’t Go Wrong with Grass-Fed Beef” by Jill Hand
“Abettor” by Ruth Asch
“Work Group” by Pete Carter
“The Cliffside Tavern” by Sean M. Thompson
“One Evening in Whitbridge” by Scott Thomas
“The Velveteen Volvo” by Nathan Carson
“Outre Non-Limitations” by Frederick J. Mayer
“The Kumiho Question” by Frederick J. Mayer
“I’ve Lived in This Place a Long Time” by Can Wiggins
“The White Terror” by Frank Coffman
“Symptom of the Universe” by John Claude Smith
“Sustenance of the Stars” by Scott J. Couturier
“Alien Shore” by Rob Martin
“Ye Hermit’s Lay” by Adam Bolivar
“Bridge” by Don Webb
“Balls” by Russell Smeaton
“Call Me Corey” by Matthew M. Bartlett
“Hero Mother” by Cody Goodfellow
“Red-Eye” by Mark Rainey
“Séance” by K.A. Opperman
“Looking for Ghosts” by Duane Pesice