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Archive for the ‘Ezines’ Category

Ethereal Tales is a fantasy print publication based in the UK showcasing the fiction and art of talented writers and artists. Though not exclusively focusing on horror, the magazine does consider dark, scary stories. In this interview, founder and editor Teresa Ford talks about the creation of Ethereal Tales, what makes a good story, the state of the horror market, and some of her favorite horror books.

Tell us a bit about Ethereal Tales, Teresa. How did it get started?

It was one of those things where you just start chatting about something and nine times out of ten nothing will come of it, I mentioned to my other half that it might be cool to start a zine. I write and confess that one of the reasons to start it was so that I could put one of my stories in, as well those of like minded writers. The next day I bought a domain name and created the website, striking whilst the ideal iron was hot as it were, and I also told my family and friends what I was going to do…so that I couldn't back out of it.

My idea was to create something for anyone interested in fantasy fiction, a place were mythical creatures roam and magic still exists. I also want the website to become a community for writers, artists and readers to be able to contact each other…be it to give feedback on the work of others, or collaborate on future projects. Whether my vision will be realised or not I don't know…but I will do my best to make it work.

What type of horror fiction do you consider? Are you open to submissions?

Submissions of all type of fantasy tales are welcome, not just horror. But horror is welcome, as long as it is not horror for horror's sake, by that I mean give me a story about strange beasties and magical goings on which just happens to have horrific elements and I will be happy.

If you could narrow down to three the elements that make a great horror story, what would those be?

Make me like or have sympathy for the main character…if a reader doesn't care about them the horror will be so much less.

Make the character believable, if a reader can find something in your character to relate to then when horrific things happen to that character the reader will feel the shock more.

Give us a twist in the tale, and not just the way horror films do these days (why does the bad guy always get up again no matter how many times you hit/stab/shoot him??). If you can make the reader unsettled by an ending they weren't expecting you have done well in my opinion.

What are the most common flaws you encounter when reading submissions?

I haven't had that masses of submissions so far, but based on those I have received I would say that one problem I have is that stories are sometimes aren't what I would call a short story, they seem as though they are actually parts of a longer story and leave one looking for the next page. Even if a story is short it needs a beginning, middle and end.

Do you think the horror fiction market has declined, reached a plateau, or is still climbing?

I don't feel qualified to answer this question as to whereabouts the market for horror is, all I will say is that I think there will always be a market for horror no matter which type is in vogue at the time. We as humans are fascinated with being scared, and as long as we live in our safe comfortable lives I feel we will always search out books in which to immerse ourselves and experience the thrill of fear.

How hard is it to market and promote a small horror publication like yours when faced with the competition?

I don't consider Ethereal Tales to be a horror zine, it is more of a fantasy fiction publication, but I imagine the situation is the same. As I am still new to all this I can't give you a complete answer to this, but I know it won't be easy to get the zine known to the wider public, but hopefully through my contacts on various forums, MySpace and word of mouth I will gather enough readers to make it worth continuing to print Ethereal Tales for many, many issues to come. I am not looking to make a fortune from this, it is more about meeting people, making contacts and having fun…I hope that will come across in the contents and feel of the zine and the community I hope will grow around it.

Could you tell us about the advertising and promotional opportunities Ethereal Tales offers authors?

Those who submit stories and artwork to the zine and get their work accepted for publication will be given the chance to have their details and website links added to the contacts page of the website. Through this (and the site forum) I hope that writers, artists and those interested in their work will be able to network. Getting the word out about yourself and your work is always a battle, and I hope that links to Ethereal Tales will help all concerned to do this.

Which authors, in your opinion, will be remembered as the best horror writers of the 20th Century?

Well, as this is purely my opinion I would have to say that I think Stephen King is the best and widest known horror author. Not only has he a vast sum of work to his name, but so many of them have been made into films. Whether you think film adaptations are good or bad, it must be said that film helps to get these stories out to wider population…those who might not read the book would watch the film. To me he is a master of horror and has given me many a scary moment in both book and film versions.

I would also like to add that both James Herbert and Poppy Z Brite are also authors I will remember for different reasons.

James Herbert's The Rats was the first horror book I ever read…a grubby copy passed around the playground, with both its sex scenes and horrific descriptions being a focus of our interest, left a lasting impression on me.

Poppy Z Brite was so different to me when I read her books, for its visceral horror and gothic elements I would say she is one to be remembered.

Thank you, Teresa, and good luck with Ethereal Tales!

Interview by Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her paranormal books include Embraced by the Shadows (romantic horror/vampire) and Dark Lullaby (atmospheric horror). She is also the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

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MicroHorror is a new ezine featuring horror stories in various subgenres–traditional, modern, gothic, dark fantasy. The requirement? They have to be well written and be 666 words or shorter–talk about a clever gimmick for a horror magazine! Here to talk about MicroHorror and how it came about is editor Nathan Rosen. Rosen shares his formula for a great horror story and discusses the most common mistakes he encounters in submissions, among other things. 

Tell us a bit about MicroHorror. When and how did it get started?

MicroHorror launched in May of 2006, and it's a classic "If you build it, they will come" story. I love short horror, as you might guess, and I was sitting in my office one day wishing I could read some horror microfiction, so I started searching. I found plenty of sites featuring horror of all lengths, and I found sites featuring microfiction in all genres, but nothing hit the sweet spot I was looking for. I decided that if nobody else was going to do it, I'd build the site myself. I came up with a catchy name and a good gimmick for the word count, and the rest is history.

What type of horror fiction do you consider?

I'll take horror in any category or subgenre you care to name. Traditional, modern, gothic, dark fantasy—the sky's the limit. I'll even take poetry if it's excellent, and believe me, it's real easy to write terrible horror poetry. Reprints and simultaneous submissions
are fine. The only unbreakable rules are that it has to be horror, it has to be 666 words or shorter, and it has to be your own original work. Read the FAQ and submission guidelines right here

If you could narrow down to three the elements that make a great horror story, what would those be?

I believe that a great horror story is made of the same three elements that make a great joke: the setup, the escalation and the payoff. When these three elements all work in harmony and lead you to an ending that's both unpredictable and fair to the story that came before it, a story succeeds. Give me a good twist at the end, but don't cheat. That's what I really like to see.

What are the most common flaws you encounter when reading submissions?

Failure to proofread. Please, for my sake, clean up the typos and grammatical errors before you submit a story. I know that nobody's perfect and mistakes slip in all the time, but I've received submissions that I doubt the author even read once after writing it.
It doesn't reflect well on the writer, to say the least.

Do you review horror books?

Not at the moment, no; I really haven't branched into any content beyond the stories themselves. I do have plans for the future, though, and I'm always looking for a good short story collection, so by all means send some recommendations my way.

There are so many horror sub-genres-cutting edge, dark fantasy, extreme, supernatural, traditional, psychological, etc.. Do you think some have higher literary value than others? Which one do you think is more popular at the moment?

This is something of a silly question, isn't it? I think there's value to be found in all types of horror. Take any approach you want, from subtly psychological to all-out splatterfest, and it can still be used to teach us something about the world and ourselves.

Do you think the horror fiction market has declined, reached a plateau, or is still climbing?

Who's to say? Everything changes so fast. But whether or not an author is able to make a living from writing horror, I guarantee that he or she will be able to find an audience somewhere in the world.

How hard is it to promote a small horror publication like MicroHorror when faced with the competition?

I don't worry about it. It's a labor of love, and it's not a zero-sum game. We can all succeed.

Could you tell us about the advertising and promotional opportunities MicroHorror offers authors?

I offer exposure for any talent willing to put his or her work out there. That might not be a whole lot, and there's no money in it, but who knows what can happen if the right
person happens to come along?

What is the scariest book you've ever read?

Have you ever read the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections? They were kids' books published in the 1980s. The stories themselves, in the harsh light of adulthood, are fairly tame, but Stephen Gammell's illustrations are downright terrifying. They gave me
nightmares as a kid, and they're still some of the best horror art I've ever seen.

Which authors, in your opinion, will be remembered as the best horror writers of the 20th Century?

Who knows? Stephen King will be a perennial, of course. Some of Clive Barker's works are timeless. I'd like to see more attention given to Joe R. Lansdale myself; he's gotten acclaim but hasn't quite broken through with the name recognition, and he's a reliable source of a great story.

How does one subscribe to your magazine?

Just visit http://microhorror.com and you'll be there.

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Today on the second installment of my Spine Chillin' interviews, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Gordon Clemmons, editor of the new dark speculative ezine, Shadeworks. Clemmons talks about what makes a great horror story and shares with us the most common mistakes he often encounters in submissions. He accepts only the highest quality stories and hopes to turn Shadeworks into a full print publication in the near future.

Thanks for this interview, Gordon. Tell us a bit about Shadeworks. When and how did it get started?

ShadeWorks actually started in late August of last year (2007), but some hosting problems delayed the launch for several months. We published our first issue in May of 2008.

I've been a fan of horror fiction for as long as I can remember. I think I weirded out my classmates when it came time for creative writing–mine were the only stories involving zombies and mass murderers. I own a company focused on the online world of the publishing industry, so it wasn't too big a step to start an online magazine for horror writers. It combined two of my passions, and I hope it helps emerging horror writers to showcase their work.

What type of horror fiction do you consider?
We're open to any sort of dark speculative fiction–good writing wins over sub-genre preference–but the goal is to grow into the traditional-supernatural niche. There are some great horror zines out there now like The Harrow, Chiaroscuro (ChiZine), etc. I hope ShadeWorks can be of the same calibre but specifically for the traditional-supernatural scene.

Authors can read about the submission guidelines on our submissions page.

If you could narrow down to three the elements that make a great horror story, what would those be?

Identifiable characters, pace, and trust in the reader's imagination.

If characters are caricatures, there's no sense of distress. I don't worry when cartoon characters are flattened with a big mallet, and I find no horror in cardboard characters no matter how bad their situations. Something I find myself regularly advising writers to remember is: there are certainly selfish, murderous, and vain people in the world, but they very rarely see themselves that way. More personalized, identifiable characters and fewer cliché archetypes, please.

Pace is crucial for maintaining suspense and reader interest. When a writer gets bogged down in the details during a crucial scene, suspense goes out the window. The worst is when it becomes a play-by-play report; Susan might have straightened her shirt after stepping under the low-hanging tree limb, but I'm more interested in the savage monster looming over her. The other edge to that sword is going too fast. Goldie Locks was on to something.

Trust in the reader's imagination weaves its way through the previous two elements, but I think it deserves special attention. Description is certainly an art, and part of that art is knowing when to stop describing. Give the reader a framework to build on and cover any key points, but let the reader fill in the unimportant details. They can personalise and better identify with the material that way.

What are the most common flaws you encounter when reading submissions?

Certainly cardboard characters, poor pace, and too much description are big ones, but there are other fundamental issues I encounter regularly. Hack dialogue attribution (he said, grimacing) and telling instead of showing are big ones. One of my pet peeves is the use of as or -ing where a conjunction or sentence break should go. For example:

Filling her glass, she grinned at Jacob.
or:
As she filled her glass, she grinned at Jacob.

Both can be better written:

She filled her glass and grinned at Jacob.

A book I often recommend to writers that speaks to these sorts of issues is Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Do you review horror books?

Not currently. As our submission rates and readership grow, I hope to add new features like reviews. Our upcoming Halloween issue will be the first to feature artwork along with the stories.

There are so many horror sub-genres–cutting edge, dark fantasy, extreme, supernatural, traditional, psychological, etc.. Do you think some have higher literary value than others? Which one do you think is more popular at the moment?

I think the literary value of any horror work is entirely dependent on the author and not the genre. I do think certain sub-genres–psychological for instance–draw a bigger pool of good writers, but my guess is that this is due to other sub-genres having stigmas. I hope this is changing as more good writers break down boundaries and blur the lines between genres. As an example, is it really that big a leap between Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and extreme horror or grindhouse, other than in expectations of sophistication and quality?

As for the second question, if what is being published and what is being submitted is any indication, I would say the cutting edge sub-genre is currently most popular.

Do you think the horror fiction market has declined, reached a plateau, or is still climbing?

I think it is in a metamorphosis. Just as borders are blurring geographically thanks to the Internet and open markets, writing styles from all over the world are mixing and combining to blur the lines between genres. I see this as a great time for horror writers because they can take advantage of these emerging borderlands to create unique works that generate a lot of talk. I think we're seeing this from writers like Patrick Rothfuss and China Mieville in the fantasy and sci-fi worlds, so it's only natural that the same will occur in the horror genres. Kelly Armstrong has shown how horror, romance, and female empowerment can blend to make a very successful series (Elena Michaels is a great antihero). Stephen King's Cell lives somewhere between horror, techno-thriller, and epic adventure tale (as do many of his works). Most of Dean Koontz's works span an array of genres. And let's not forget the young readers. Thanks to series like Harry Potter and the Twilight Saga, fantasy and horror are finding vast new audiences.

How hard is it to promote a small horror publication like Shadeworks when faced with the competition?

It can be difficult to get started–it took a few months before submissions started trickling in. Understanding search engines and how to get the word out on the Web is important, but more important is being respectful and helpful to the writers who submit their work. I've found in business that word of mouth is the best form of advertising you can get, and so far that has held true for ShadeWorks as well.

Could you tell us about the advertising and promotional opportunities Shadeworks offers authors?

Currently ShadeWorks offers horror writers a clean, ad-free publication to showcase their work. We accept only the best submissions, and my ultimate goal is for ShadeWorks to earn a solid reputation for this. I would love nothing more than for emerging writers to be able to list ShadeWorks on their cover letters to potential agents and publishers and have it mean something.

Down the road, should we grow the way I hope we will, I plan to offer a print edition and to pay professional rates to help good writers meet the membership requirements set by the Horror Writers Association.

What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?

World politics aside? Bag of Bones by Stephen King. It's one of the few books I've read that had me squirming with (delightful) fright. The basement stairs scene? Forget about it. If you want a world-class education on pace in a horror story, read that book.

Which authors, in your opinion, will be remembered as the best horror writers of the 20th Century?

It's tough for me to be objective here. Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Koji Suzuki, and Clive Barker would have to rank pretty high.

How does one subscribe to your magazine?

We have an RSS feed that folks can subscribe to. Any updates or new issues are announced there.

Thanks for this interview, Gordon, and best of luck with your new ezine!

 

Interview by Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her paranormal books include Embraced by the Shadows (romantic horror/vampire) and Dark Lullaby (atmospheric horror). She is also the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

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Today on the Dark Phantom Review is Rhonda Parrish, editor and founder of the new horror ezine, Niteblade. Tell us a bit about Niteblade. When and how did it get started?

Niteblade is quite new, the June issue will be the fourth one out. I started Niteblade in May of 2007. I’d heard people claim that fantasy and horror were dying genres and I wanted to prove that wrong – I also wanted to see what it felt like to be on the other side of the submission process. Boy, it’s been eye-opening.

What type of horror fiction do you consider? Are you open to submissions?

I am open to submissions year round except the months of November and May which I take off to catch up on my slush pile and participate in writing challenges and I consider any type of horror stories.

If you could narrow down to three the elements that make a great horror story, what would those be?

I think characters are key. You need to have engaging characters that feel real, or it doesn’t matter what happens, I, as a reader, am not going to care because I’m not going to believe it. That’s the second key thing, I think, suspending disbelief. It’s vital that the story flow and not have typos or anything else that will jar me out of it. Once my attention is lost for even a second, the story has to work to get me re-engaged. Sad but true. I think the third element needed for a horror story is, of course, horror. It doesn’t need to be of the blood and guts variety, but there needs to be something horrific in the story…or else why would it be called a horror story?

What are the most common flaws you encounter when reading submissions.

The most common, and most irritating flaw I find when reading submissions is that people have obviously not read the submissions guidelines. Things like addressing me as ‘sir’ or miss-spelling the name of the magazine just don’t put me in a happy-bunny mood, which doesn’t really work in the submitter’s favour, oddly enough. Other than that, I see quite a few typos in submissions, which doesn’t irritate me but does make me wonder if I’m reading a first draft or a polished copy.

Do you review horror books? If yes, how may authors interested in a review by Niteblade submit their books?

Niteblade reviews two books per issue – one fantasy and one horror. If an author would like a review of their book by a Niteblade reviewer, they need only drop me an email at Rhonda at jofigure dot com and I’ll get back to them. Because we only have two slots it can sometimes take more than four months for a review to appear in the magazine, so it’s best to contact me sooner rather than later.

There are so many horror sub-genres—cutting edge, dark fantasy, extreme, supernatural, quiet, psychological, etc.. Do you think some have higher literary value than others? Which one do you think is more popular at the moment?

Phrases like ‘higher literary value’ tend to irritate me. I don’t think it’s up to anyone to judge the merit of one genre (or sub-genre) over another. My sincere and honest opinion is that anything which encourages people to read is a good thing. I volunteer in a grade two classroom one day a week and I see enough reluctant readers that I can’t possibly imagine telling someone what they are reading is inferior or has ‘lesser literary value’ than something else whether they are an adult or a child.

As for what is popular, it seems to me that gross-out horror has peeked recently, though that seems to be slightly less popular than it was a couple years ago. It will be interesting to see what sub-genre moves in to fill it’s place for the next couple years.

Do you think the horror fiction market has declined, reached a plateau, or is still climbing?

Honestly? I have no idea. I know Niteblade gets enough traffic and has enough readers to convince me that the horror fiction market is not declining, but whether it’s hit a plateau or is still climbing is beyond my ability to answer intelligibly.

How hard is it to market and promote a small horror publication like Niteblade when faced with the competition?

I’ve found that my “competition” is one of the greatest resources Niteblade has when it comes to marketing and promotion. I’ve made friends with several small press editors and we exchange links, ideas and traffic with one another. It’s wonderful.

Could you tell us about the advertising and promotional opportunities Niteblade offers authors?

Right now I’m primarily using Project Wonderful to host ads on Niteblade. Through them advertisers can buy ad space for as little as one cent a day, or, if you’re lucky, you can even get free advertisements. Of course, the links aren’t hard-coded and they aren’t permanent so it’s not great for search engine optimization, so I also offer hard-coded permanent ad slots for sale at http://www.niteblade.com/advertise.htm

What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?

Truthfully I find non-fiction far scarier than any fictional story I’ve ever read.

Which authors, in your opinion, will be remembered as the best horror writers of the 20th Century?

This is an impossible question for me to answer. I respect and admire so many writers work – big name and small. If I were to start listing people I thought would be the best horror writers of the 20th century the list would be immense, or else I’d forget someone and feel horribly about it forever after.

Guessing who history might remember as the best horror writers is even more difficult. I’m scared to even guess. Truly.

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The Fountain Pen, April 2008

In this Issue…

From Mayra’s Desk
News
Articles

“Demystifying Virtual Book Tours,” by Mayra Calvani
Interviews
What Does Amazon’s Decision Really Mean?
Historical Novelist Catherine Delors
SF Author Phoebe Wray
SF Author Lee Denning
Romantic Suspense, NY Times Bestseller Author Lisa Jackson
Dark Fantasy Author Justin Gustainis
Illustrator K.C. Snider
Multi-genre Author Hill Kemp
Reviews
The Darkest Evening of the Year, by Dean Koontz (paranormal)
Monkey Trap, by Lee Denning (SF)
Jemma7729, by Phoebe Wray (SF)
Sleep Before Evening, by Magdalena Ball (mainstream)
Joey Gonzalez, Great American, by Tony Robles (picture book)
On the Go with Rooter and Snuffle, by Shari Lyle-Soffe (picture book)
Knowing Joseph, by Judith Mammay (middle grade)
Book Club
Resources

Read The Fountain Pen here.

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Hi all,

The special publishing issue of Voice in the Dark Ezine is out for your reading pleasure.

In this issue…

Editor’s Note
Fictional Character Interview
Special Publisher Interviews
–Meet Lida Quillen, Publisher, Twilight Times Books
–Meet Kathryn Struck, Publisher, Awe-Struck E-Books
Featured Interviews
–Meet Lida Quillen, Publisher, Twilight Times Books, Interview by Mayra Calvani
–Meet Lynda S. Burch, Publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing, Interview by Mayra Calvani
–Meet Elizabeth Burton, Publisher, Zumaya Books, Interview by Mayra Calvani Book Excerpt — Tremolo by Aaron Paul Lazar
Gladiator’s Arena–by Mayra Calvani
Short Fiction
Articles
–It’s my Book! Right? by Ghost Writer
–Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing and Subsidy Publishing by Barbara Hudgins
–The Perils and Pitfalls of Publishing: Who Can an Author Trust by Dee Power and Brian Hill
–How Do Books Get on Book Store Shelves by Dee Power
Sanctuary — Columnist Mayra Calvani
Whodunit? — Columnist Billie A. Williams
Pam’s Pen — Columnist Pamela James
Seedlings — Aaron Paul Lazar
This & That — Columnist Dana Reed
Reviews
Notes
Events
Resources

Just go to www.MysteryFiction.net and click on Voice in the Dark on the left sidebar.

Enjoy!

Best,
Mayra

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Dear Readers,

The June issue of Voice in the Dark Ezine is online for your reading pleasure. Contents this month include:

Editor’s Note
Fictional Character Interview
–Meet Flossie Silver of the Silver Sisters Mysteries
Book Excerpt (New Feature)
–Death on Delivery
Featured Interviews
–Meet Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner, Authors
–Meet Nancy Madison, Author
–Meet Lois Winston, Author
–Meet Beverly Stowe McClure, Author
Gladiator’s Arena–by Mayra Calvani
Short Fiction
Articles
Sanctuary — Columnist Mayra Calvani
Whodunit? — Columnist Billie A. Williams
Pam’s Pen — Columnist Pamela James
Seedlings — Aaron Paul Lazar
The Writing Life — Quarterly and Guest Column
Reviews
Items of Interest
Contests
Notes
Events
Resources

Enjoy!

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jwolf.jpgPlease tell us about your ezine, Musings: A Magazine of Words. How did it get started?
Well, it kind of started in a round about way. I had been trying to submit stories to publications, online EZines and different magazines and found the market very tough. There are a lot of writers out there and plenty for the magazines to choose from.

Through out my writing career, I’ve always dreamed of working on a magazine. One that would have a literary bent, which would feature other writers and their work. I wanted a magazine that was different from others. Most focus on just poetry or just fiction. I wanted a magazine that would focus on anything the written word had to offer.

As I started self-publishing some of my material and my work, I became more knowledgeable in what it would take to run a magazine. I put out two issues, for September and October 2006, to test the waters. The response was highly favourable.

I knew it could do more, though. I decided to get serious about MUSINGS: A Magazine of Words because I knew it could be a literary treat or a stepping stone for another authors career. So instead of simply publishing the magazines off of my web site, I made a site just for MUSINGS that included everything an author looking to submit would need to know.

Then I started asking around for submissions, knowing that I wanted the magazine to be as diversified as possible, as different from anything that was out there. I experimented with formats, cover design and layout. I took a short graphic design course and learned how to format a magazine. I studied other magazines like Oprah and Mental Floss to see how they laid out their work. I looked at other literary magazines that followed the same idea; Tin House magazine was a real find. It has a little bit of everything literary. So I knew there was a market for MUSINGS.

When submissions started coming in, I was happy. When more started to come in, I was thrilled. MUSINGS is a celebration of word and there are so many out there waiting to be written. All in all, it took about three years from brainstorm to the publication of our new April issue to finally get MUSINGS where I wanted it to be.

It was a long, bumpy road, but I’m glad I travelled it.

Is Musings open to submissions? What kind of material are you looking for?MUSINGS is always open to submission. We publish a new issue every two months, so we’re always looking for work by new or established authors. As for material, I love anything having to do with the written word. But here are a few examples of what I’m looking for:

Poetry
Flash Fiction
Short Stories
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
Blog Entries
Columns and Articles

I even enjoy doing interviews with authors.

What is the most challenging aspect of managing an ezine? The most rewarding?

I find the most challenging aspect of managing a magazine is promoting it. It’s all well and dandy to format it and put the magazine together. But how do you get it out there into the hands of everyone who might like to read it? How do you let people know about it?

I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to promote the magazine. One idea was to start a blog featuring all the contributors to MUSINGS. It’s called MUSINGS: A Blog and you can find it here: http://www.musingswords.blogspot.com/ It’s a way for the writers who contribute to MUSINGS to communicate with readers when they’re waiting for the new issue.

I also know that visual media is really important for catching someone’s interest. So I put together a small movie trailer for MUSINGS and I put it on the blog but, most importantly, also at YouTube. You can view the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diRDokWIyRU I wanted those that may not read to want to read MUSINGS. Thus far, the video has been really popular.

The most rewarding aspect of running MUSINGS is hearing how happy the authors are when they see their work published. It never fails to make my day when I get a lovely email from one of the MUSINGS writers. I always love getting emails from readers too, letting me know how much they enjoyed one story or another. Knowing that something in MUSINGS has touched a readers life is an amazing thing.

In addition to being a magazine editor, you’re also an author. Please tell us a little about your books, both fiction and non-fiction, and where they’re available.

I write several different genres. Primarily, I write speculative fiction. I have a trilogy of urban fantasy novels titled Electric Pink, Electric Blue and Electric Red. I also have a book of short stories that is primarily fantasy entitled Garden City. You can find these at my web site located here: www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr/ They’re published by Long Story Short Publications.

I also have three non-fiction works available. Finding the Muse is a book on how to write from inspiration. It’s also published by Long Story Short Publications and is also available as a workshop. You can find more information about it at my site at www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr/ I also have a book of essays on Stephen Kings Dark Tower series that is available for free on my web site.

My new book, WRITE NOW! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer, is about how to write. It’s for those who have always wished they could write. I show them where to start and how to build on what they’ve learned. You can find WRITE NOW! At it’s web site located here: http://want-to-write-now.tripod.com/

How would you compare and contrast the writing process for fiction vs. non-fiction? Which one is your favorite?
Writing fiction and non-fiction aren’t all that different. Whether it be a story you’re making up yourself or a factual subject your writing about, you still have to paint a picture of it with words. There is research involved with writing fiction and non-fiction and the writing process is often the same for me.

There are differences though; with fiction, a story can go anywhere you want it to. With non-fiction, you have to remain truthful and stick to the facts. I never used to like writing non-fiction. I found the genre dry and boring and didn’t read very much of it either.

However, I just had to find something I was passionate about. I write about learning how to write and that I enjoy. I thrive on that. I’ve written a short book of personal essays about Stephen Kings Dark Tower series. That I love because the books are something I obsess over. It took me a while to discover that writing non-fiction should be as enthralling as fiction; you just have to find the right subject.

You also review books for your blog, The Book Peddler. What type of books do you consider for reviewing? What is your stance with poorly-written, mediocre books?
I review almost anything for The Book Pedler. You can find The Book Pedler here:
http://www.thebookpedler.wordpress.com/

Fantasy, science fiction, chick lit, mysteries, thrillers. I love it all. I read pretty much everything (and recently quite a few biographies and memoirs) because I’ve never believed in limiting what I read.

That’s like getting a box of chocolates and getting only caramel centres. I love caramel centres but I want variety. Variety is the spice of life, even in your reading.

As for poorly written books, there are a lot out there. And I mean A LOT. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something good about them. The story may have a fire that lights it, the characters may be engaging. There is always something. I’m usually honest in my reviews but I tend to find something I like about any book I read. Otherwise, why would I spend time reading it?

Do you think there is a lot of ‘facile praise’ on the net when it comes to book reviewing? If yes, why do you think this is so? Print publications don’t usually have this problem.

I don’t think so. Regardless of the medium, whether it be the Internet or on paper, reviews should be honest, thought provoking and readable. Speaking as a book reviewer, I try to be as honest as I possibly can when I review a book. I tell people if I don’t like it or if I do. But it should always be up to the person reading the review whether or not they want to read the book; the review shouldn’t change that.

Reviews, especially on the internet, give a reader an idea of what the book is about, what to expect and whether or not they may enjoy it. I can’t think of any better use for the internet. It gives easy access to any information you could possibly need about a book. You just have to decide for yourself which reviews are good and which ones are bad; this is true of any review whether it be on paper or on the Internet.

Would you say that review blogs are becoming as powerful as review sites, or do you think blogs still have a long way to go?
Book review blogs and book review sites are on par with each other, I think. They each appeal to a different type of reader. I think blogs are working their way up to becoming more popular than review sites, but not necessarily more powerful. I don’t think it’s a question of power, really.

More, what format are the reviews being delivered? What kind of reviews? Saying that a review blog is less powerful than a review site simply because it’s a blog, when they both offer the same service, is a bit odd. Blogs will eventually out do sites in terms of popularity, but review sites are here to stay.

How do you promote your magazine and blog to attract visitors? Do you have any specially effective strategies you would like to share?

I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to promote the magazine. As previously mentioned, I’ve started a blog featuring all the contributors to MUSINGS. It’s called MUSINGS: A Blog and you can find it here:

http://www.musingswords.blogspot.com/
Enjoyable blogs are in high demand, so I look at the MUSINGS blog as a different format of the magazine. It’s more open, more friendly. And it offers quick, fun articles for those who may not have the time to sift through an entire issue of MUSINGS.

I also know that visual media is really important for catching someone’s interest. So I put together a small movie trailer for MUSINGS and I put it on the blog but, most importantly, also at YouTube. You can view the trailer here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diRDokWIyRU
As well as the YouTube Trailer and the Blog, I also promote the Magazine in my newsletter that goes out to subscribers once a month. I announce the Magazine and submission information in different writing groups, email lists, etc.

One thing I’m going to try is having a cover contest for our June issue. This way, more people will hear about the magazine and, hopefully, want to read it.

Promoting is all about getting the word out anyway you can. I’ve done up press releases, released information about the magazine in online directories, etc. We’ve had almost two hundred people download a copy of MUSINGS in less than a month, so I guess something must be working. 

Do you have a website where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Of course I do! Here are links where you’ll be sure to find all the information you might need.

Web site: www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr

Blog: www.jamiesonwolf.blogspot.com

What advice would you give to fledging writers who are trying to break into print?

Keep writing. Write every day and have fun with it.

The internet is a great tool and a great resource as well. There are tons of different markets on the internet, EZines that publish poems and fiction. It may not always be a paying market, but its exposure.

And never be afraid of rejection. I receive at least one rejection letter a week. Chances are if one person doesn’t like what you’ve written, someone else will.

One last piece of advice: Always believe in yourself. You are your own worst critic, so be nice to yourself, okay?

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1.Tell us a bit about Horror Express. When and how did it get started?
The Horror Express began in 2003 because I was so disheartened with the whole horror business. As a writer I had been trying for years to get something published and it appeared to me that unless you were a close friend of the editor or an already established writer you didn’t have a chance. I saw the same names surfacing in the same magazines over and over again and to be honest, it disgusted me. I had been published by a few magazines but they didn’t seem to be as ‘clicky’ as the others – I must take my hat off to them. It was after this that I decided to create my own magazine to give some authors the opportunity to get some exposure. Of course, to make the magazine commercially viable I need to include established writers such as Dean Koontz and Graham Masterton as this helps attract attention and build a positive reputation.

2.What type of horror fiction do you consider? Are you open to submissions?
Yes, I am open to submissions at the moment. As regards the type of fiction I consider – I will take suspense over gore every time. I do not have an aversion to gore but there has to be a point to it. Take Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho for instance. This has got to be the goriest, sickest novel I have ever read but it is probably the best novel I have ever read too – because there is a point to the gore! On the surface the novel is a terrifying journey into darkness, but on a deeper level the themes that run through the narrative is about selfishness, otherness, the fear of female sexuality and the consumerism of the eighties. The true horror is that Bateman’s world is not a direct contrast from the one in which we now live in. Anyway, when it comes to accepting a story I will favour the ones where character building and evocative language are used to create the story. I also love it when the author has something to say. There are not enough writers out there who do this as far as I’m concerned. Of course it needs to be well written and an interesting story but I’ll certainly be even more interested if they have a message, whether it is ani war, anti religion, a critique of social class – whatever! I’d rather there be some sort of theme going on in the work. I like stories where paragraphs are spent evoking fear through long descriptions such as the whisper of the wind, the shape in the darkness and the shudder of a leaf. Here I find the prose seeks to evoke fear by the use of spare images and it stirs thoughts of death and loneliness and despair. These writers tend to write better prose, line by line, than those who wade gleefully knee-deep in blood and guts.

3.If you could narrow down to three the elements that make a great horror story, what would those be?
Definitely suspense, character building and a good plot.

4.What are the most common flaws you encounter when reading submissions?
The number one flaw has to be not even bothering to follow the submission guidelines. You wouldn’t believe how many writers out there do not do this. Whether the submission is not in double spacing or the wrong font is used or they haven’t sent a SAE or they have sent a submission when we are not open. This is certainly not the best way to go about trying to get published. My advice is follow the guidelines exactly. They are there for a reason. Many Editors, including myself, feel if you can’t be bothered to follow the submission guidelines then I can’t be bothered to read your work.

5.Do you review horror books? If yes, how may authors interested in a review by Horror Express submit their books?
Yes, we review horror books and movies. We have film companies who send us DVD’s all the time – about three or four a month. We have a similar amount of books sent in from authors and publishers. Unfortunately we cannot review them all and only three or four per issue get accepted for review.

6.There are so many horror sub-genres—cutting edge, dark fantasy, extreme, supernatural, quiet, psychological, etc.. Do you think some have higher literary value than others? Which one do you think is more popular at the moment?
Unfortunately it appears that extreme horror is popular in the small press at the moment. I get a lot of submissions that are gore-fests. I wouldn’t say any sub-genre has more literary value over another but I feel many of those who write extreme horror tend to neglect the art of storytelling and just lay on the gore and violence with the misguided notion that vividly portraying evisceration is just substitution for talented writing. I find this offensive as their only point appears to be to shock. There is usually no theme or message running through the work and this tends to be boring to the reader who thinks. Overt gore to me only appealing to the perpetual adolescent, it is not at all interesting to the mature mind. Don’t get me wrong, as I have previously said, I am not opposed to violence and gore in fiction. American Psycho is certainly extreme but has literary value as far as I’m concerned.

7.Your magazine has been compared to Flesh & Blood, Cemetery Dance and Black October. To what do you attribute its success?
Being compared to Cemetery Dance, Flesh and Blood and Black October is an honour as they are well respected magazines but I think the success of The Horror Express is down to giving writers who felt that they were banging their heads against a brick wall a chance. I have had dozens of emails from writers I have published telling me they were on the verge of giving up because they felt there was no one out there willing to give them a chance. When I receive messages like that from writers it makes all this worthwhile.

8.Do you think the horror fiction market has declined, reached a plateau, or is still climbing?
I can’t help but feel it has declined. Major publishers don’t want to know if you are horror. You are frowned upon and they will reject you just by looking at your cover letter that states you are a ‘horror writer.’ Established authors have turned their back on horror and there is so much stuff out there that is a regurgitation of work that wasn’t even good in the first place.

9.How hard is it to market and promote a small horror publication like Horror Express when faced with the competition?
It is hard. I try by sending out flyers and advertising in other magazines but it is very costly. Of course there is also the website that gets quite a bit of traffic. I feel having a high quality website is a must!

10.Could you tell us about the advertising and promotional opportunities Horror Express offers authors?
I am willing to help any up and coming author out there, that’s what the magazine is for. I have interviewed new writers such as Garry Charles, the artist Alex McVey and James Cain the editor of Dark Animus to give them exposure and I am always here if anyone wants to advertise their work.

11.What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?
It would have to be The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer because it actually happened.

12.Which authors, in your opinion, will be remembered as the best horror writers of the 20th Century?
I think the authors who will be remembered as the best horror writers of the 20th century will be H.P Lovecraft, Richard Matheson and of course Stephen King all of these changed the face of horror and tugged it into the mainstream.

13.I understand you’re also an author. Do you want to tell our readers about your present or future projects? Where is your work available?
Well, as a writer over a range of genres and mediums I have just had a couple of short stories published by The Writers Post Journal and Gold Dust Magazine (both magazines are available to buy on their websites) and I have a comic that will be surfacing soon from Horror Express Publications. I am trying to get a publisher for the novella that I wrote last year and an agent for several screenplays that I have in my files. I am currently working on another comic script which I am hoping to send to a major publisher. As a publisher I have several chapbooks and anthologies available as well as the magazine that will be surfacing in the near future and anyone who is interested can go to www.horrorexpress.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk to find out more about me or Horror Express Publications.

Interview by Mayra Calvani

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