Monday, December 29, 2014

Reading List: 65 Books to Madness

This year--like every year-- I vowed to read 52 books. I like to have a healthy mix of fiction and poetry, but this year, I wanted to add in some nonfiction, some drama, and most importantly, tons of graphic novels. In fact, this was the year where I sat myself down and said "Stephanie, we're going to accept that we love comics and we're going to jump in and read a bunch this year. No more putting it off." So that's exactly what I did, and I loved it! In fact, I plan on finishing my three favorite series next year: The Sandman, Locke and Key, and Batman: Arkham Unhinged.

Now here is my reading list for 2014--you'll see I beat my yearly goal of 52.
  • My favorite novel was: Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie
  • My favorite poetry collection was: The Pleasures of the Damned by Charles Bukowski
Next year, I'm going to vow to read more classic literature and start reading memoirs. We'll see how I do!

1.      Embrace the Hideous Immaculate by Chad Hensley
2.      Orchid Carousals by Lucy A. Snyder
3.      How to be a Wicked Witch: Good Spells, Charms, Potions and Notions for Bad Days by Patricia J. Telesco
4.      The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
5.      Black Box Theater as Abandoned Zoo by Dana Elkun
6.      A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland by Jessica Goodfellow
7.      Old Man Scratch by Rio Youers
8.      Down the Road by Lee Blessing
9.      Ink by Damien Walters Grintalis
10.  NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
11.  Ruins of the Heart by Rumi
12.  30 Days of Night, Vol.6: Spreading the Disease by Steve Niles
13.  Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation by Tim Hamilton, Ray Bradbury
14.  We are Three by Rumi
15.  Wilderness by Jim Morrison
16.  Notes from the Cathouse by Jack Ketchum
17.  Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall
18.  The Woman by Jack Ketchum
19.  Female Serial Killers by Peter Vronsky
20.  Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke
21.  Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
22.  Barfodder by Rain Graves
23.  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
24.  Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie
25.  Bird Box by Josh Malerman
26.  The Pleasures of the Damned by Charles Bukowski
27.  Halloween, New Poems edited by Al Sarrantonio
28.  Jabberwocky and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll
29.  Doubt, A Parable by John Patrick Shanley
30.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
31.  Tales of Jack the Ripper edited by Ross E. Lockhart
32.  100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda
33.  The Troop by Nick Cutter
34.  Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
35.  Hot Metal Tonic by Ron Gavalik
36.  Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker
37.  Songs of Ophelia by Theodora Gross
38.  The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
39.  Snowblind by Christopher Golden
40.  The Book of Goodbyes by Jillian Weise
41.  Cosmopolitan Greetings by Allen Ginsberg
42.  The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
43.  Locke and Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
44.  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
45.  Swam Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore
46.  Batman: Arkham Asylum- A serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison
47.  Put Your Hands in by Chris Hosea
48.  The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman
49.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
50.  30 Days of Night, Vol. 7: Eben and Stella by Steve Niles
51.  The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
52.  Locke and Key, Vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill
53.  The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You
54.  Prophets by Peter Adam Salomon
55.  Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
56.  100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello
57.  Lucifer, Vol. 1: Devil in the Gateway by Mike Carey
58.  Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
59.  Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 3 by Derek Fridolfs
60.  The Tent by Kealan Patrick Burke
61.  Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb
62.  Horns by Joe Hill
63.  Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 2 by Derek Fridolfs
64.  The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway
65.  Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 4. By Derek Fridolfs

Friday, December 26, 2014

BROTHEL: Between the Sheets

Mi Amors,

My current WIP, Brothel, has made me look at relationships in an entirely different light, but most importantly, it's taught me a deep appreciation for love and all that it encompasses. As a result, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite literary quotes about love, and about being in love.

Lust can take the evening off, tonight.

Favorite Quotes:

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”― Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Selected Poems

"He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."                 — Emily Brontë , Wuthering Heights

“And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.”― J.R.R. Tolkien

“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.”― F. Scott Fitzgerald

"He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest."- W. H. Auden

“If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.”― Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“I've never had a moment's doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life.”- Ian McEwan, Atonement

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” ― Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice

"We love the things we love for what they are."— Robert Frost

“You carry away with you a reflection of me, a part of me. I dreamed you; I wished for your existence. You will always be a part of my life. If I love you, it must be because we shared, at some moment, the same imaginings, the same madness, the same stage.”― Anaïs Nin

And for my favorite:

“Let our scars fall in love.”― Galway Kinnell

Monday, December 22, 2014


Man, 2014.

This year has been one of the craziest, most fucked-up beautiful years of my life, and the more I look back on it, the more I smile, and laugh, and cry. I’ve had quite the adventure this year, making more memories, taking more chances, and breaking more rules than I ever thought I could (or would!), and because I finally decided to step out of my comfort zone, I’ve become one happy girl these days.

Let’s take a look at things:

·         In January, I graduated from Seton Hill University with my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction with a concentration in Horror.
·         I made the final Stoker Award Ballot for HYSTERIA: A COLLECTION OF MADNESS.
·         By April, everything that I trusted in my life fell apart and I had to completely rebuild and reevaluate who I was and what I wanted.
·         I ended up writing an unplanned poetry collection in three weeks, An Exorcism of Angels, to which I sold to Raw Dog Screaming Press.
·         By then, it was May and I needed a serious break. I released my second poetry collection, Mourning Jewelry and then I left the state, traveled to Portland, OR and spent a few days running around the city with some of my best friends and most treasured colleagues.
·         When I came back home, everything shattered again, and because of that, so did I. So I left. I packed my bags, bought a plane ticket, and off I went.
o   I went a little Jack Kerouac this summer and spent about three months in a bohemian tirade.
·         I went to NECON and spent the night in the Lizzie Borden House.
·         I sold my thesis novel, The Eighth, to Dark Regions Press.
·         I moved out and left the place I called home for the past 25 years.
·         I bought my own place.
·         I got a full-time job that I’m in love with.
·         By October, I had become a steady guest at the reading series that happens at Riley’s Pour House once a month (hosted my Lawrence C. Connolly).
·         Arnzen and I battled Nosferatu poems at a Halloween reading in Dormont. Then we hosted a twitter contest for 4 hours called #HAIKUWEEN which was a bloody, wonderful time.
·         I ran around the states some more.
·         Another unplanned poetry collection started to evolve, and I took a step back from the MADHOUSE and opened the BROTHEL instead.
·         I joined the HWA as an active member.
·         I planned out my travel schedule for next year—which includes 2 weeks in Ireland.
·         I attended the first RDSP Writing Retreat. I made new friends, lovely memories, drank more mead than I should have, and sat in a 16 person hot tub after I won Cards Against Humanity and was titled the “worst-person-alive.” Cheers, you silly people. That’s a compliment.
·         I have a #topsecret project cooking with one of my writer gal pals.
·         I read 65 books.
·         I wrote over 300 poems.
·         I got a seriously badass tattoo.
·         And now…I’m writing a memoir.

So some things happened (insert Joker laugh here).

But if I learned anything this year—as both a woman and a writer—it’s that life is too short to be anything but happy. If you don’t like something, change it. If you want to do something, stop being afraid, and just do it.

Life is about taking chances.

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

But that’s when we find ourselves, and I’ll be damned if I’m ever going to look back on my life and say “I wonder…” or “What if….”

So buy the ticket.
Take the ride.

The journey is the best part after all.

With Love and Madness,

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Rise and shine, darling ones!

This morning, I have a treat for you. A show and tell if you will.

Before I started publishing horror, I wrote erotica. Sometimes I wrote it under my name, most of the time I didn't, but I always found it fun to write and I'm glad to be doing it again...even though not all of my clientele are exactly making it out these days. What can I say? The times have changed and my girls have tempers, and while some brothels play with feathers, we prefer to spice things up with knives.

What's a dead body between sisters anyways?
I feel the experience just makes our little family stronger.

So last time, I invited you to the Peepshow, but today, I'm extending an invitation to my BROTHEL Striptease. And in true burlesque fashion,  I plan to leave you with a picture in mind that raises more questions than it asks. Here are the titles of the next fifteen poems in my collection, and below it, well, that's a little something I wrote just for you.

Table of Contents cont.

16. Dance
17. Debauchery
18. Deeper
19. Die-sect
20. Drink Up, Lay Down
21. Eat Me
22. Ecstasy
23. Erotic Asphyxiation
24. Evening Girl
25. Evidence
26. Fame and Fortune
27. Flesh Notes
28. Flirtation
29. Foursome
30. French

"...and I've learned that lust is a little bit like love, and that love is nothing quite like lust, and when I close my eyes, I see his face, hear his voice, and every John I'm with helps me murder his memory a little more, and in some ways, that moment--no matter how long it lasts--is like becoming a virgin again."

Stephanie M. Wytovich
Madam XXX

Friday, November 7, 2014


Welcome to the ... Peepshow?

The MADHOUSE is temporarily playing host to Madam XXX, and as we speak, my muses are spending some time getting to know one another. If you haven’t met them, please, allow me a moment to make some introductions:

·         Hysteria is my muse of madness. She was born in the asylum and her job is to handle the sick, the weak, the used. As she was my first, she’ll always be dear to me. Plus, she’d kill me if I didn’t say that. You can find her here.

·         Mourning is my muse of memory, of sadness. She was born in the cemetery and her job is to help those who are attached to the dead, who can’t move on. She sought me out when I needed her, and I wear her locket around my neck every day to remind myself of her presence. You can find her here.

·         The Angel is my third muse, but she’s currently being exorcised and won’t be back around until early next year. She’s my muse of redemption, of imperfection. She was born out of heartbreak, and her job is to heal, to learn to forgive. She’ll be with her sisters soon and you can look for her here.

This brings me to Madam XXX, who I’m very excited to acquaint you with. Madam XXX is my muse of masochism, my mistress of pain. She runs the brothel in my head, and does so with a steady hand. I met her a few weeks ago and we’ve been chatting ever since, sharing juicy stories like girlfriends often do. And it’s quite interesting because much like Hysteria walks with her patients, Madam XXX comes with her girls. And the gossip! Oy. The mouths on some of these ladies! I’ve been blushing ever since!

So I’ve decided to soften the horror, up the ante with eroticism. Together, the Madam and I have finished the A, B, C’s of our current project, and since you’ve all been so lovely, I figured I’d prepare a little peepshow for you. Something to wet your lips with! So here’s a sneak peek at the TOC, the titles of the first 15 poems inside my collection, BROTHEL. Enjoy!

Table of Contents:
1.      Action Shot
2.      Adult Play
3.      Amoral
4.      Appetite
5.      Automatic Woman
6.      Besotted
7.      Blind Obedience
8.      Branded
9.      Brothel
10.  Burlesque
11.  Carnal Charisma
12.  Casanova
13.  Cherry Blossom
14.  Clitorial
15.  Courtship

Now behave.

Or don’t.

Either way, I expect to see you back here.

Whips and Chains,

Sunday, November 2, 2014

COVER REVEAL: Blood of the Daxas by Larry Ivkovich

The Madhouse would like to give a warm welcome to author and friend, Larry Ivkovich. Larry's book Blood of the Daxas will launch in eBook form on November 6th, followed by a print launch on December 6th that will take place at Rickert and Beagle Books.  Hope to see you all there!


Ravaged by war with the Perliox Animists, the Imperium's Congregate of Mages has been disrupted, its member's magic-wielding powers sorely weakened.

In order to restore those powers in full to her order, Meralandra, Priestess-Mage of Set Pomonar, must command a "technological" skyship in order to harpoon a dragon and harvest its blood.

In a land being overtaken by the new "magics" of science and mechanization, Meralandra forms a team of extraordinarily-powered misfits and criminals in order to accomplish her mission.

But Wyverna, the last adult dragon in the world of men, has other ideas. Her only hope to escape with her two hatchlings into the Land of Everlasting Summer is to outrun the pursuing skyships. If she can't do that, then she must destroy them before they destroy her and her brood. Or all is lost.
Author Bio:
Larry Ivkovich is a former IT professional with a BFA degree in fine art from West Virginia University. He is the author of several science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novellas, published online and in various print publications and anthologies including M-Brane SF, Afterburn SF, Penumbra, Twisted Cat Tales, Abaculus III, Raw Terror, Triangulations, Shelter of Daylight and SQ Magazine. He has also been a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest and was the 2010 recipient of the CZP/Rannu Fund Award for fiction. His debut urban fantasy novel, THE SIXTH PRECEPT, is available from IFWG Publishing, and His fantasy novel, BLOOD OF THE DAXAS, will be published in 2014 by Assent Publishing. He is a member the writing/critique group, the Pittsburgh Worldrights, and lives in Coraopolis, PA with his wife Martha and cats Trixie and Milo.
Check out Larry's blog here and his website here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Hello Friends!

The 2014 Rhysling Anthology is now available for purchase! My poem "Black Bird" was nominated in the category of Short Poems, and my poem "Crazy" was nominated in the category of Long Poems.

Check them both out and share the scare! There's a lot of great poetry in the anthology and I'm absolutely thrilled to be a part of it:

NOTE: These poems--among many, many others--can be found in my full collection, HYSTERIA, where a beautiful foreword by fellow poet and friend, Michael A. Arnzen, will be sure to lure you in.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Vaccuming in the MADHOUSE: "You Know When it's the Devil"

You Know When it’s the Devil
By Stephanie M. Wytovich

If it’s dark and delightfully disturbing, chances are, I’m going to like it, at least in some fashion or respect. The macabre resonates with me in a way that is both terrifying and hauntingly beautiful, and to me, there’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of horror. With that said, there is something equally powerful to the effects of comedic relief in the genre. If done, and done well, the resulting laughter and jest become just as intense and potent as the fear leading up to it.

This leads us to a Dirt Devil commercial with the tag line “You know when it’s the Devil”:

 This commercial is in one word, brilliant. It plays with the classic tropes of exorcism and possession, using word play and the company name to its advantage. Right off the bat, we are met with darkness that is combated by a single light that shines on a priest waiting in the shadows outside of a house. Viewers familiar with the horror genre will immediately conjure images of The Exorcist as they are lead through the house and up the stairs. There is a ticking clock in the background that aids in the tension, heightening the dread. In all but a few moments, our fears are exposed, our emotions manipulated. There is the man praying in the study across the hall. A locked door, where behind it, there is nothing but screaming. After the priest kisses his cross and opens the door, our eyes are lead to an open bible on the bedside table, the girl, nowhere in sight.

But then we see her, glued to the ceiling and thrashing about. She’s screaming murder and we’re conditioned to believe that the Devil is inside her, using her body and tormenting her flesh. After all, that’s what we’ve grown up with. Horror has taught us the signs of possession, given us the tools to fight it. At this point in the commercial we’re screaming “the power of Christ compels you” and grabbing holy water. We’re ready to fight demons. We’re ready to save her soul.

And then, there’s the twist.

We see the room above the seemingly-possessed girl and watch an elderly woman singing as she vacuums her carpet with a Dirt Devil. The suck is so powerful that it’s pulled the girl downstairs out of her bed and is moving her back and forth on the ceiling as the woman cleans.

Chuckle worthy? You bet.

This dance of terror and laughter is what makes the piece so clever because the range and ratio of emotions that the viewer goes through is so immediate that the relief is akin to a popped balloon. I certainly didn’t expect the supposed cause of satanic power to be a vacuum cleaner and when that was revealed, the clip became that much more memorable. Plus, you can be damn sure that if I ever need a vacuum cleaner now that my first thought is going to be Dirt Devil.

Well played, folks. Well played.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Elegant Murder and Tragic Prose are in the Stars This Fall
Mercedes M. Yardleys New Release is Nothing Short of Beautiful

Monday, September 8thCrestview Hills, KY—“Murder and whimsy. These things may sound incompatible, but dark fantasy author Mercedes M. Yardleys latest novel manages to entwine the two concepts with lyrical language, beautiful imageryand a high body count.

Ragnarok Publications is proud to announce the release of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, coming on September 29th. A dark but lovely fairy tale, this is Yardley at her finest: a tapestry of lush imagery, poetic prose, and beautiful violence about a woman destined to be murdered and her flight from Fates inevitableyet seemingly terriblemarksmanship.

Yardleys fans are no strangers to her lovely, tragic style. She is also the author of the acclaimed novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, winner of the 2013 Reddit Stabby Award for Best Short Fiction, and the novel Nameless: The Darkness Comes, the first of The Bone Angel trilogy.

The creation of Pretty Little Dead Girls was something special for Yardley, however: Pretty Little Dead Girls was created out of sheer joy, Yardley says. I've never experienced anything like it. This novel was written in three weeks. It bled from my pores, it was so intense. But so joyful.

Hugo award-winning artist Galen Dara was commissioned to create a cover image that would capture the idea of lovely murder. The result, coupled with the design skills of J.M. Martin, is absolutely stunning. So stunning, in fact, that Ragnarok Publications has decided to release a special, limited hardcover edition of the book. Only one hundred of these signed hardcovers will be available, and preorders have already begun.

Also included in the package for the preordered hardcovers is a signed print from artist Orion Zangara, renowned for creating fairy tales with his lavish pen and ink drawings. Dark and evocative, this stunning image by Zangara was made with a particular scene from Pretty Little Dead Girls in mind.

Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is not just a novel; with the poignant words of Mercedes M. Yardley, and the haunting images of both Dara and Zangara, it is, without a doubt, a work of art.


The special signed hardcover edition of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, along with the Orion Zangara print, is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER.!apocmon-boneangel/c234g

Contact Ragnaroks Publicity Coordinator, Melanie R. Meadors, with questions and/or requests.