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Archive for the ‘Ghosts’ Category

Beverly Stowe McClure photojpg

Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.

You can learn more about Beverly Stowe McClure at http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com or her blog at http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com.

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

Nope, not even close. Everyone might think I was, since my eighth-grade teacher sent “Stars,” a poem I wrote for a class assignment, to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings, a high school anthology. That poem was my only claim to publishing, as well as my only attempt at writing anything except school papers, until I grew up into an adult. I wasn’t really interested in becoming an author. When the writing bug finally bit me at a much older age, and I decided to become a famous author, haha, I had no idea how to start, so I took a couple of courses on writing for children. I worked hard, following my instructor’s directions. Writing was tougher than I thought it would be. I kept at it though and am so happy I did not give up.

What was your inspiration for A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat?

On a visit with my son and daughter-in-law, who live on James Island just outside Charleston, SC, we decided to go to Folly Beach and watch the sun rise one morning. Morris Island Light House, built before the Civil War, sits in the Inlet. As the sun peeked above the horizon, turning night into day, I pictured a ghost living in the light house. Who was he? Why was he a ghost? Why was he in the lighthouse? Then the vision of a pirate ship cruising in the waters, searching for something appeared. A pirate, tricorn hat on his head, cutlass at his side, stood on board the ship. Some people might think I’m a little on the weird side. But isn’t the imagination the place where many stories begin? Ghost stories are quite popular in Charleston. I heard a lot while I was there. According to legend, many of the old houses have resident ghosts. I’ve written one ghost story and knew I’d soon write a second one. Now I have: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. Since my target audience is children and teens, my characters are tweens, thirteen years old. And the ghosts … well, you may  recognize a couple of them.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I seldom think of themes when I write, but I’d have to say “family” is an important theme to me. I’m big on family and I think it shows in my writing. Also honesty and love are found in many of my novels.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

I started the novel in early 2010. Revised, revised, and revised. My critique group gave me expert advice. I revised some more. I confess to being a slow writer. The English teacher in me cringes at punctuation errors and such, so I spend a lot of time correcting myself. Finally, the manuscript was ready to submit in fall of 2011.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Most of the time, yes, I stick to a schedule. Having a set routine goes back to my teaching years, I think. I accomplish more if I write down my goals for each day, not that I always reach them, but they motivate me to stay busy. I generally start writing around 9:00 AM, after I’ve checked email. If I’m working on a new story, I do it first, and write until 11:00 or 12:00. I usually have more than one story going at a time, in different stages. Right now, I’m working on a new YA historical fiction novel, editing a YA contemporary that I hope to submit around the first of the year, if not sooner, and tossing about ideas for a couple of new stories. I alternate working on the new and editing the old.

Afternoons I search for promotion ideas, post blogs, read other’s blogs, and read books to review. My brain doesn’t create well in the afternoon, so I seldom write then. Perhaps a short story, but nothing that takes a lot of energy. Evenings I spend reading.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?pirate-blockade-runner-cat-200x300

Since the pirates in the story are “real” instead of fiction, I had to do a lot of research to make sure I portray them accurately. Many young readers will be familiar with Major Stede Bonnet, the gentleman pirate, and surely they’ll know Blackbeard, one of the most notorious pirates that ever lived. Also, the setting had to be authentic, because it’s where the pirates were part of the time in real life. Children are smart. They catch the little details and being wrong will stop them reading.

What do you love most about being an author?

When someone tells me they love/like/relate to my story, and that it helps them see a solution to a similar situation they might be facing. I write for the reader, and for the reader in me.

Where can we find you on the web?

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

https://plus.google.com/102015270528558455280/about

https://twitter.com/beverlymcclure

http://www.facebook.com/beverlysmcclure

http://goodreads.com/author/show/11462.Beverly_Stowe_McClure

Thank you for hosting me today. Please stop by my blog and leave a comment. Thanks.

 

Purchase at MuseItUp Publishing or Amazon!

 

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Chance of a GhostChance of a Ghost is the fourth installment in the Haunted Guesthouse series and the first that I’ve had the pleasure to read.  While this is not how I would usually describe my reaction to a mystery novel, there’s really no other way to say it:  I was charmed.

The story picks up where (I assume), the last book, Old Haunts, left off.  Alison Kerby, a single mother and guesthouse owner, is just trying to get by and give her precocious ten year-old daughter, Melissa, a good life.  Now that right there could be the start of a romance or a drama, except for one thing:  Alison Kerby sees ghosts.  And so does her widowed mother.  And her daughter.  It’s like a genetic disease.  Alison is especially sensitive to the presence of two specific ghosts – a muscular Canadian P.I. named Paul, and the tech-savvy former owner of the guesthouse – an acid-tongued woman named Maxie.  While still amongst the living, Maxie had hired Paul to uncover who was threatening her and lo and behold, they both ended up dead.  In previous books, Alison had helped uncover their killers and subsequently got her P.I.’s license.  Needless to say, life hasn’t quite been the same since.

But Chance of a Ghost takes a far more personal turn for its freshly minted private eye.  When Alison’s deceased father stands up her very living mother for their regular Tuesday date, things start to get very suspicious.  A new ghost with a theatrical flair and a murder to solve (his own) suggests that Alison’s father may have met with other-worldly foul play.  Faced with painful memories of her father’s arduous death from cancer, Alison must determine whether her father has finally gone to the other-other side, or if something more sinister is at work.

In Alison Kerby, we readers get a wise-cracking, foot-in-mouth would-be gumshoe.   And one who has managed to crawl into that little space in my reader’s heart and set up camp.  Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a good laugh and a great ghost story, and Chance of a Ghost delivers both.  It’s not the knee-slapping, comedy club at two in the morning kind of laugh, but it is the sort that keeps an unshakable smile on your face – at least until the suspense gets dialed up.  And fear not, it does.

And there’s a sweetness to EJ Copperman’s writing, too.  He brings you into a family – a quirky, but loving family – without sacrificing what often makes a mystery most delicious, which is an off-kilter, unlucky at love protagonist with a dry wit and stubborn moral compass.

In short, Night of the Living Deed – the first in the series – is next up on my reading list.

Reviewed by Victoria Dougherty

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GIVEAWAY!

Mark Tufo is giving away:

$50 Amazon Gift Card

8 copies of The Spirit Clearing (signed print or digital winner’s choice)

audio copy of Zombie Fallout

audio copy of Indian Hill

To enter, sign up HERE.

*****

Some of the elements that make a good ghost story can translate over into any genre, but first and foremost a good ghost story should be scary. It should make you pull your legs in tight to the rest of your body where you can cover them with the monster repelling blanket. It should make you put on extra lights in your house DURING the day. It should keep you up at night wondering if the noise you heard was within the normal scope of things or perhaps paranormal.

There should be characters you are truly vested in, who cares if a cardboard character is whisked away in the cemetery, you need to care, you need to be involved in their lives to make the story more than words on a page. It needs to make you forget that you are reading fiction and that you are now living it. These are things I try to instill in every book I have written, from Paranormal to Zombies to Science Fiction.

A couple of things I try very hard to steer away from is predictability and easy outs. If I get my characters in a tough jam there has to be some fairly believable explanation as to how they got out (if they ever do). I read a story once about young kids as wizards (not Harry) where every time they got in trouble they would instantly discover that they now possessed the exact power they needed to repel the evil. I always thought of that as the author taking the easy way out, kind of phoning it in at that point. So that’s my take on a good ghost story, Have characters you care about, BE SCARY, don’t be predictable, steer clear away from contriteness, and most importantly have fun writing. We write stories because we have a story to share not because we think it’s going to make us rich and famous, writing is hard enough don’t add any more stress to it! Thank you for allowing me to spend some on your blog!

The Spirit Clearing      
by Mark Tufo 

Genre: Horror/ Ghost 

ASIN: B0094JWLYG 

Number of pages: 264

Word Count: 85,713 

Cover Artist: shaedstudios.com 

Amazon    Barnes and Noble   Kobo   Smashwords 

About the book: 

After a horrific accident Mike wakes to find himself blind in one eye. He now sees things that others can’t and nobody will listen to him.

That is until he meets Jandilyn Hollow. Will she be able to pull him out of the depths of his despair?

Can love transcend even death?

About the Author: 

Mark Tufo was born in Boston Massachusetts. He attended UMASS Amherst where he obtained a BA and later joined the US Marine Corp. He was stationed in Parris Island SC, Twenty Nine Palms CA and Kaneohe Bay Hawaii. After his tour he went into the Human Resources field with a worldwide financial institution and has gone back to college at CTU to complete his masters.

He has written the Indian Hill trilogy with the first Indian Hill – Encounters being published for the Amazon Kindle in July 2009. He has since written the Zombie Fallout series and is working on a new zombie book.

He lives in Maine with his wife, three kids and two English bulldogs.

Visit him at www.marktufo.com  or http://zombiefallout.blogspot.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Tufo/133954330009843 for news on his next two installments of the Indian Hill trilogy and upcoming installments of the Zombie Fallout series.

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Vincent Hobbes was born in Dallas, TX in 1975. He has been actively writing since he was fifteen years old. His roots lay in horror, but he has recently branched out into other genres. In 2007, he was published. The Contrived Senator was the first book in a fantasy series. In 2008, he released Exiles, the second book in the series. Short stories have always been a favorite of Vincent’s, and in 2010 he teamed up with 11 incredible authors, and created The Endlands. This horror anthology is an ode to the kooky and bizarre. The Endlands was released January 17th, 2011. Vincent is currently working on more novels, including a dystopian book. He lives north of the DFW metroplex with his wife, two dogs, two cats, chickens and ducks.

You can read more about him at: www.VincentHobbes.com

Horror is such a broad subject and there are so many subcategories. Please tell us a little about the kind of horror fiction you write.

Horror indeed has many subcategories. Personally, I can’t stand gore for the sake of gore, or shock value for lack of quality. Now, I don’t mind some blood and guts on occasion, but I feel it’s overused in both the book industry and movie industry. As for myself, I prefer psychological horror—to leave something up to the imagination. Alfred Hitchcock was a master at this, as was Rod Serling. I find if you let the reader’s imagination run wild, it will turn out much scarier.

How did the project come about and how long did it take to complete?

This project has been in my head for years. I approached my publisher a few years ago, and he agreed to it. So, I’d say The Endlands was years in the making, though it took about a year to put together. We searched for talent and found eleven other incredible authors to take part.

What are some of the themes explored in the book?

Fear of the unknown is a common theme in the Endlands. The classic good vs. evil is prevalent. Stories that boggle the imagination and cause the reader to question their own sanity. The Endlands has a little bit of everything in it.

Where is the book available?

The book is available on all major online book retailers, including ebook format. Hopefully it will be on the shelves soon, and many libraries are carrying it.

What is your writing schedule like? Do you have any special rituals or quirks?

I attempt to write every day. It’s important for me to stay in practice, though sometimes life doesn’t work out that way. I try to keep a minimum word count daily, and many nights I stay up late, inspired to peck away at my keyboard until exhausted. A good writing environment is important to me. I cherish silence when I write. My wife has learned to stay away when I’m really going at it. Loud music helps, too. Just depends on what I’m working on.

How do you keep your narrative exciting when you don’t feel like writing but you know you have to? Do you force it?

I always force myself to write, even if I don’t feel like it. That doesn’t mean the words are always good, but that doesn’t matter. If I end up throwing away or deleting what I’ve written, that’s fine…it’s like working out, sometimes you don’t want to, but we do it anyways.

What is your editing process like? Do you edit as you write or do you leave that for the second draft?

I always save editing for later. Usually it’s for a second if not third draft. Then, I have editors who help me after that.

You write short stories but you’ve also written novels. How is your creative process like when writing a short story as opposed to a novel?

With short stories, I write fast and furious. A quicker pace. Usually I can complete a draft in one sitting, or a few days at best. I get inspired and type away until I’m finished. For example, I wrote a short story for The Endlands anthology called, The Hour of the Time. I literally wrote it in an hour. It just came to me; the words flowed and the story came together.

With novels, it’s a different monster. It takes tons of patience and months or even years to finish. I find writing both gives me balance; a short story gives me an instant fix while writing a novel tests my endurance.

Would you say the horror book market is rising, declining or at a plateau?

Hard to say. Horror movies have probably taken away from the book market, and it seems the book industry doesn’t put as much effort into horror as it once did. My local mega-chain bookstore doesn’t even have a horror section. However, there are still wonderful horror writers out there, and many small presses have put out some great work. I think horror will always maintain its spot in the industry, though it’s being defined differently. Nowadays, horror can be labelled as mystery, drama, suspense or whatever, so I’d say horror will always have its spot.

Do you have a website and/or blog?

I do. My website is: www.VincentHobbes.com. I also post blogs on it. I review books and movies, horror mostly (go figure). It’s something I enjoy doing and my fans seem to enjoy it, as well.

What’s inside the mind of the horror writer?

Do you really want to know?

I can’t speak for other horror writers, but for me, it’s to explain the unexplained. Sometimes it’s to face my own fears. I’m inquisitive by nature, always asking ‘what if’ questions. Human nature—our flaws, our quirks—intrigue me. I find myself studying people.

Leave us with some words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

A good writer must read. If you want to write, then WRITE! Don’t think about it, don’t talk about it, just write. Put your heart on paper and see what happens. It’s a journey in itself.

Thank you, Vincent!

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In order for paranormal fiction – any fiction, really – to have an impact on the reader, you’ve got to strive for that old cliché, “the willing suspension of disbelief.” In effect you’re inviting the reader into funhouse of your own creation. You meet him at the entrance and whisper in his ear: “Hey, look, dude: We both know that there’s no such thing as vampires, and demons, and ghosts, and all that. But let’s pretend, you and I – just for a little while. And who knows, maybe you’ll feel a bit differently about such things – in the dark. Now take my hand – it’s time to go inside.” Then the reader turns to page one – and so it begins.

So how do you help the reader get to that cooperative frame of mind that will allow you to really mess up with his head? The answer, in a word, is plausibility. Apart from the vampires, or ghosts, or werewolves (or, as in the case of my novel Hard Spell, all three and more) everything else in the story has got to seem as realistic as possible. It seems to me that there are two ways to achieve plausibility, and the wise speculative fiction writer will use both of them.

One is consistency. Not only do the supernatural elements have to remain consistent with each other (if sunlight fries vampires in your world, then you’d better not have one going for a noonday stroll later in the story – unless he’s using a lot of sunscreen), but also with the reader’s understanding of the real world.

So, say you’ve got a couple of cops, in a universe where the supernatural exists and everyone knows it. Sometimes supernatural creatures break the law, and you’ve got to bust ‘em. But the writer should treat it as normal police routine. You bust a vampire – perhaps you have to use the threat of a crucifix or some garlic to subdue him, but you’ve done it before. You put on the cuffs – maybe a pair that’s silver-plated – read the vamp his rights, and take him to the station. On the way, you and your partner talk about sports, or women, or bitch about your boss. You don’t make a big deal about having a vampire in the back seat, because in your world it isn’t a big deal. Your cops are acting consistent with the way cops act in “normal” TV and movies (which presumably reflects real life, more or less), and that gives you plausibility.

The other route to plausibility is detail. You make your world seem real by putting real things in it, to the greatest extent possible. Your cops don’t stop at “a fast food place” and have lunch. They stop at the Mickey Dee’s on 4th Street where one cop orders the Double Whopper with Cheese and the other gets the nine-piece McNuggets, even though he’s always getting the barbecue sauce on his shirt, which pisses his wife Margaret off no end when she has to launder it. And those cops, they don’t carry “guns.” Each holster contains a 9-mm Beretta, the same model used by the U.S. military, even though Harry’s brother, who’s with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, says the things haven’t got near the stopping power of the old .45s that used to be standard military issue. Stephen King does this a lot (and very well), and some critics get on him for it, saying that a King novel is a “pop-culture extravaganza, full of brand names and trademarks” (that’s not a real quote, but it’s close). They say that like it’s a bad thing – but its not. It’s one way of making it real. And for your reader to believe the unbelievable, he or she has to be visiting a world that seems real. That’s the only way to gain willing suspension of disbelief – which in paranormal fiction is just another word for “entertainment.”

So take my hand, and let’s go through the fun house together. Yes, I know it’s dark, but the floor is even – you won’t trip. Probably. And if something should reach out for you from the dark – something with cold flesh and sharp claws and breath that reeks of the graveyard – just remind yourself: “It’s only a story.”

About the author:

Justin Gustainis was born in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university that figures prominently in several of his writings. After earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army. Following military service, he held a variety of jobs, including speechwriter and professional bodyguard, before earning a Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

He was married to Patricia A. Grogan of Toledo, Ohio, from 1977 until her death in 2007. He misses her a lot. Mr. Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002. His academic publications include the book American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, published in 1993, and a number of scholarly articles that hardly anybody has ever read. In the Summer of 2008, he attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

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Pop culture critic, blogger and commentator Bill Sherman is the founder of Pop Culture Gadabout, a blog focusing on comics, music, TV and film criticism. He's also the Comics Review Editor at Blogcritics Magazine. In this interview, Sherman talks about his blog, the reason why zombies are the 'hard-core champions' of all horror fiends, and what's popular in horror books and films at the moment.

Why don't you start by telling us a little about yourself and your blog, Pop Culture Gadabout?

I'm a fifty-ish free-lancer who works in social services by day. I've played with pop culture criticism most of my life, writing for giveaway music papers and the like in the past – as well as more focused periodicals like The Comics Journal. Per its title, "Pop Culture Gadabout" reflects my generalist take on things pop cultural: on any given day, the blog might focus on a comics title, a new music release, something from TV and/or movies – with an occasional half-assed digression into social commentary. In this, it reflects the flibbertigibbet nature of my own mental processes. I've been blogging for six-plus years now, which sort of amazes me . . . Beyond my home blogging, I'm also the Comics Review editor at Blogcritics.

Vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies, ghosts…. who's the enduring champion after all these years and why?

At the risk of coming across too Hank Yarbo-like ("Robots or werewolves – who would win?"), zombies remain the hard-core champion. Apart from the gore, I think the one thing that most resonates with modern zombie horror (as opposed to the old-fashioned voodoo type best repped by I Walked with A Zombie) is the fear that we all can become mindless and indistinguishable, part of the slavering mob, so quickly. I have a soft spot for vampires from all those Hammer Films that I watched as a teen, but vampires generally feed only on the young and pretty. Zombies bite anybody and fact of becoming one isn't the least bit sexy – to geezerly me, that's the creepiest.

Some people think that horror writers, just because they write horror, must be 'twisted' in some way, but when you look at some of the famous horror authors, you see that most of them are decent, highly moral people. Some would view this as a type of contradiction between an author's persona and the books he writes. Could you comment on this?

Me, I think anybody who writes for a living must be twisted. But, seriously, when I was younger I would've probably pulled out the old catharsis line to help explicate this seeming contradiction, but these days I'm less sure how valid it is.

You review a fair amount of horror books in your blog. What are some of the titles you've particularly enjoyed these past few years? Any emerging talents you think deserve more recognition?

I've had less time recently to read much prose fiction these past few years, so my primary focus has been on horror graphic novels and manga. Of these, I've particularly enjoyed the horror manga of Junji Ito and Hideshi Hino – the latter has a talent for the disturbing that lingers far longer than you initially think it might, based on his caricature-y drawing style. I've also grown hooked on ghost-centric manga series like Mail, which at their best are as creepily evocative as any of the best Japanese ghost flicks.

With western comics, I'm most heartened by the reprints of a classic hallucinatory undergrounder Rory Hayes (So That's Where the Demented Wented), who combined a primitive art style with some gleefully disturbing storytelling, as well as the new Creepy Archives, which reprints the more conservative, but still-enjoyable old-school storytelling of the Warren magazines of the sixties. Some great art in that set by the likes of Reed Crandall, Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta and more.

I did want to remind folks of Mike Dubisch's Weirdling, a sci-fi horror graphic novel from the end of last year with a strong Lovecraftian feel. The book deserves to be remembered.

What types of horror seem more popular at the moment? Is atmospheric, traditional horror still thriving? If so, what do you think is the reason for its enduring value?

In box office terms, the slasher/psychological wham-bang of Se7en-inspired flicks like Saw seem to be the biggest draw these days. You can even see their influence in teleseries like Criminal Minds. The best ones aren't short on atmosphere, though I've gotta admit a steady diet of dingy warehouse settings and chain-bedecked basements can get pretty wearying. There will always be a place for so-called "traditional" horror, if only because the material is so conducive to metaphor.

What about movies? What are some of the best horror movies ever made? the worst?

I'm fairly unsurprising when it comes to a best-of list: Freaks, Psycho, Night of the Living Dead, Eyes without a Face, The Brood. For me, the worst horror flicks are the ones that elicit no response at all, that just sit there. I can enjoy myself at a bad low-budget horror flick like, oh, Horror of Party Beach, or a pure piece of schlock exploitation like one of Herschel Gordon Lewis' flicks because they have an energy to 'em that keeps you watching. But when a flick can't get up the gumption to generate even a simple jump-in-yer-seat fright, that's when I'm gone.

How do you see the horror book market at the moment–thriving or declining?

Far as I can tell, the book market in general has been hurting, though great genre work of all strips has its steady devotees. Don't seem to see as many cheapie horror paperbacks as I used to in the drugstore, though, so maybe that says something about the market.

What does a pop culture blogger do on Halloween?

This year, I plan to take the day off from work and watch cheap Dollar Store DVDs of public domain grade-z horror flicks – which, come to think of it, is exactly what I've done the last three Halloweens. Guess I'm stuck in a rut . . .

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Just to advise 'em to have a safe and scary holiday.

Thanks for this interview, Bill!

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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Started in 2009, Echelon Press publishes short stories, novellas and novels in various genres. Under their new imprint 'Quake', they also publish fiction for middle graders and young adults. At present, Echelon publishes two paperback novels a month as well as one or two of their popular short story and novella downloads. Here to talk about the company and how it was created is owner Karen L. Syed. If you want to know what a publisher blog is about, visit Karen at The Life of a Publisher.

Thanks for being here today, Karen. Why don't you begin by telling us a bit about Echelon Press? When did it get started?

Echelon will be eight years old in February 2009. We started the company to make a place for writers to make a name for themselves. People seem to confuse that with not wanting to be successful. It has ALWAYS been my goal for any author at Echelon to go onto bigger and better things. If that means many books with Echelon, great! If that means one or two with us and then a contract with a bigger house, awesome. We are definitely not just a playground for writers who want to be published. I have recently discovered that there is a difference being an author and being a published writer.

You publish a fair amount of horror, both short stories and novels. What type of horror do you publish?

So far it hasn't been as much as I would like. I love the horror genre. What I'd like to see more of is the types written by John Saul or Douglas Clegg. I don't mean alien horror, they are more thrillers. I love the stuff that presents the unknown and grabs you by the throat and holds on tight without letting you immediately know what 'it' is.

What you do not like to see in a horror story and what are the most common mistakes horror writers make?

I am not a big fan of the total gore scene. I love the unknown. Knowing something is right around the corner, your skin crawling with apprehension and fear, while adrenaline rushes through you, leaving you breathless and unable to move. So many of the horror stories I read focus so much on the shock value that they don't give their stories a chance to develop fully. They spew slime and blood all over everything and think that this makes it spooky. It just makes it gross. Why can't authors rely on their senses to indulge the fear gene instead of just wanting to make people sick?

What makes a horror novel or story truly compelling?

The only thing compelling is the unknown. To recognize danger and fear and not know where that danger comes from. To feel the presence of an unknown entity so close that it's putrid breath blows across your cheek. To shiver against the chill of dread caused by words so powerful and explosive you have to close your eyes against the next phrase.

How do you see the state of the horror fiction market at the moment? Is it thriving or declining?

I don't know that it is declining, but neither is it thriving. I think so many authors in the genre have resorted to the shock value of the gruesome. The movie industry has made that so glamorous that authors feel the need to "keep up." This is not the case. Books are not the same as movies. Some people say that Friday the 13th and the Halloween movies are horror, but in fact I think they are more thrillers or gore flicks. Keep in mind this is just my idea, and many others may disagree.

What types horror books do you think are most popular with readers?

I can't even begin to answer that question. Different readers like different books.

You also publish horror for young adults. How much horror is too much horror in a young adult book?

I'll take a stab at this one, but let's be clear on one thing. How much is too much is up to the reader and their parents. For Quake, our new young reader line we like to keep things in the head. We aren't going to go out on a limb and offer gratuitous gore just to sell books. We all know that kids love all that blood and guts spurting here and there, but perhaps it's because it's all we offer them. When you present something as cool then what do you expect? A dude running around chopping off heads is not cool. A cloud of mist that sweeps into a room and envelops a sleeping girl while whispering secrets of evil, a little cooler.

On average, how many submissions do you receive in a month? Of those submissions, what percentage you end up accepting for publication?

Our paperback submissions are closed except for invitations and referrals, and eBooks, but we still get at least a dozen or so unsolicited submissions per week for paperback. Writers seem to ignore the potential for eBook sales and all want paper publication. eBooks have such great potential to build a readership, and if an author can build a readership with an eBook they can do anything.

As for acceptance, we do only twelve titles per year in paperback and right now aren't even getting enough submissions for eBook to do one per month. Did you know that tens of millions of dollars are spent on eBooks each year? Why wouldn’t an author want their share of that?

What tips would you offer authors who are doing book signings this Halloween?

Make them fun! They have to be fun. Don't let the readers wonder why they even bothered to come to your event. Show them with your words, you attitude, and your books that they are important to you. Don't make them wonder. And by all means get into the spirit! A little bit of spook goes a long way!

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

This industry is one of the greatest. Don't take it for granted, whether you are a reader or a writer. Writers, don't ever forget why you sell your books for publication. It's all about your readers. You can write all you want, but if you are serious about being a solid published author, don't ever forget how you get there.

And readers, let the authors know what you like and don't like. Your opinion matters. If you don't like something, don't buy it, be honest and be open about your favorite authors. If the last five books you read by your favorite best seller stunk, then why keep buying them? Don't be afraid to try new authors, they are the future of the industry, and you might be surprised!

Thanks, Karen!

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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