Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

For the past few years, I've given myself a reading challenge. Every year, I strive to read at least 52 books, but somehow this year, I managed to drastically surpass my goal and read 100+ instead. As such,  I wanted to take some time to look back on what I read, who I read, and what I want to incorporate into my reading list next year.

Graphic Novels/Manga:
Uzumaki Volumes 1-20 by Junji Ito
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Fables Volume 1-5 by Bill Wilingham
Locke and Key Volumes 1-6 by Joe Hill
Swamp Thing Volumes 1-3 by Alan Moore
Batman: Rules of Engagement by Andy Diggie
The Sandman, Volume 6 by Neil Gaiman

Children's Books:
The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton

Blood Wallah by Robert Borski
Resonance Dark and Light by Bruce Boston
Eden Underground by Alessandro Manzetti
Argot by Fred Shaw
The Robot Scientist's Daughter by Jeannine Hall Gailey
Wolf: An Epic and Other Poems by Z.M. Wise
At Louche Ends: Poetry for the Damned and the Absinthe-Minded by Maria Alexander
Dark Energies by Ann K. Schwader
The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship by Charles Bukowski
This Way to the Sugar by Hieu Minh Nguyen
Lighthead by Terrance Hayes
When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
Transformations by Anne Sexton
Redhead and the Slaughter King by Megan Falley
A Wedding in Hell by Charles Simic
Crossing the Water by Sylvia Plath
Night Picnic: Poems by Charles Simic
White by Charles Simic
The Next Monsters by Julie Doxse
With Deer by Aase Berg
Butcher's Tree by Feng Sun Chen
Scary, No Scary by Zachary Schomburg
Sportuary by Michael A. Arnzen
Vanishing Horizon by Gerry LaFemina
The American Night: The Lost Writings, Vol. 2 by Jim Morrison
Red Sugar by Jan Beatty
White Shroud by Allen Ginsberg
Hard Ground by Tom Waits
On Quiet Nights by Till Lindemann
The Lords and the New Creatures by Jim Morrison
Hemming the Water by Yona Harvey
Notes for the Novice Ventriloquist
The Coronary Garden: Poems by Ann Townsend
Dime Store Erotics by Ann Townsend
The Gaffer by Celeste Gainey
The Underside of the Rainbow by B.E. Burkhead


Mr. Malin and the Night by William Pauley III
A Headful of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Rage by Richard Bachman
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Greenshift by Heidi Ruby Miller
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Jaws by Peter Benchley
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
The Brother's Crunk by William Pauley III
Thanks for Ruining My Life by C.V. Hunt
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Death of Bunny Monroe by Nick Cave
The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
The Haunted Vagina by Carlton Mellick III
Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement
The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
Call of the Piss Fairy by Lee Allen Howard
The Mourning House by Ronald Malfi
Origin (Wolf Creek #1) by Greg McLean
Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Joyland by Stephen King
YOU by Caroline Kepnes

Short Story Collections/Anthologies:
555 Vol. 1: None So Worthy by Joseph Bouthiette Jr.
The Mermaids Gallows by William Pauley III
Creep House: Horror Stories by Andersen Prunty
The Driver's Guide to Hitting Pedestrians by Andersen Prunty
Goddamn Electric Nights by William Pauley III

Veronica's Room by Ira Levin
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays by Martin McDonagh
The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh
The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Antigone by Sophocles

Memoir/Creative Nonfiction/ Nonfiction/Essays:
Crazy: Notes On and Off the Couch by Rob Dobrenski
Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming
Palpable Magic by Gerry LaFemina
The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry by Gary L. McDowell

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My 2015 Year in Recap: Pittsburgh, Ireland, Lexington, and Lots of Writing

It’s hard to believe that another year has almost come and gone. I feel like I just wrote my wrap-up from last year. Having said that, this was a huge transitional year for me. I’ve been comfortably working in my new job now for a little over a year and a half, I’ve said goodbye to a lot of bad habits and people, and I’ve learned to appreciate the good and the importance of experience. As such, I wanted to take the time to remember some of those moments. Here’s my 2015 recap:

 I successfully planned for and worked my first Pittsburgh residency at Carlow University where I met amazing writers, students, and colleagues such as Joseph Bathanti, Kristin Kovacic, Jane Coleman, Jan Beatty, and Gerry LaFemina.

I participated in a reading at Frostburg University.

I did an art/blog series for Women in Horror Month (all of which can be found here in the MADHOUSE), and then I drove to Baltimore and sat on a Women in Horror Panel, sponsored by Raw Dog Screaming Press.

I attended my first AWP conference as a representative of Carlow. This was in Minneapolis Minnesota, and not only did I have a great time at the conference, but I got to spend some much needed time with my lovely friend Deanna, who showed me the city and introduced me to some very cool people and some great beer.
I attended the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, and not only got to sit on panels as a panelist and a moderator, and attend the Stokers as a nominated poet, but I also got to sign collections of my recently published poetry collection, An Exorcism of Angels. Tie that in with me meeting William Pauley III, and my life was pretty much changed and perfected in that moment. (I love you, William--you're the best part of my 2015).

I hoped a plane and flew to Dublin, Ireland, where I spent two weeks working in an Irish Writing Residency, courtesy of Carlow University. I met amazing and inspiring writers such as Evelyn Conlon, Mary O’Donnell, Brian Leyden, and Carlo Gebler who showed me the city and welcomed me with open arms. It was truly an unforgettable trip and I can’t wait to go back again next June.

Arnzen and I did a reading at Rickert and Beagle Books to celebrate the release of An Exorcism of Angels. We battled Clown Poetry in another one of our infamous throw downs, and baboons and lots of drowning lifeguards came out to support the cause. I also attended the SHU WPF Alumni Retreat with Michelle Lane this year, and we had a lovely time. I got to drink vampire cocktails with her, reconnect with my tribe, and sign books at the mass author signing.

I attended DogCon 4 in Philadelphia where I not only got to hang out with my favorite RDSP people, but I also got to visit the Mutter Museum, which has been on my bucket list forever. Add in the fact that I got to spend time with my college friends, Kristina Ann, and Austin Black, PLUS got to finally meet Joseph Bouthiette Jr., Kaylee Stebbins, and Josh Myers, and I was just the happiest girl, especially when Kat asked me to be her bridesmaid. Oh and I won the Reader’s Choice Award for my collection, Mourning Jewelry, which also placed third in the Elgin Awards this year.
I set a goal to read 52 books, and I’ve greatly surpassed it and am sitting at a comfortable 89 as we speak.

I was able to finish my fourth poetry collection, Brothel, which is an dark erotic piece that shows the inner-workings of a whorehouse. I was published with DarkFuse, a press I greatly, greatly admire, and Michael Bailey selected two of my poems for his anthology Written Backwards 3 where I will share a TOC page with Stephen King.

 I was selected as the Guest Poet for Gothic Blue Book IV, and I had three poems published in Zen of the Dead, a haiku anthology by Popcorn Press. Other pieces of mine were published in Strange Horizons, and Devolution-Z, and I had the honor of being reviewed by Cemetary Dance Online and Amazing Stories this year. My work will also appear in the second volume of the 555 Anthology published my Carrion Blue 555.

I’m also happy to say that RDSP will be publishing 5 poetry collections next year, and I’m beyond thrilled to be working with such talented artists. I also started to freelance edit on the side, in addition to reviewing for Nameless Magazine, and the experience of meeting so many writers and reading their work is always a joy.

Having said all of that, I truly feel blessed for what 2015 has given me. I was fortunate enough to begin my work as an educator this year, as I went to college for eight years to work on a degree that I knew was going to be a tough sell in the job market, but after all the hard work, tears, and frustration, it finally paid off.  I was blessed to start teaching English and creative writing at both Seton Hill University and Carlow University, and let me tell you, it has been life changing and I truly couldn't be happier.

So now it’s time to raise a glass to 2015 and say thank you to all my friends, family, readers, and colleagues. It’s been a blast. Let’s keep up the insanity as we look forward to 2016 and all the madness it promises. I’m looking forward to sharing it with all of you.
-Stephanie M. Wytovich

Thursday, October 29, 2015

DOGCON4: Philadelphia, PA

It seems like it was just yesterday when I was standing in Jen and John’s kitchen, covered in marshmallow as I tried to bake treats for the first DogCon with Heidi Ruby Miller. Three wonderful and productive years have since passed, and as I write this, I’m slowly recovering from DogCon 4, which took place in Philadelphia, PA. I say recover because during this trip I went to prison, looked at dead things in jars, won a championship belt, became a bridesmaid, and caught up with old friends while making new friends in the process.

William and I left fairly early in the morning for what would be our first road trip together as a couple. I baked muffins, he picked me up in in a spider costume, and that, my friends, pretty much describes our relationship in a nutshell, but I digress. We got into the city later than we expected because the Pennsylvania Turnpike is actually the 10th circle of Hell, but what awaited us in the city was well worth the wait.
We ate at one of Bobby Flay’s Burger joints because I think William would have had an aneurysm if we didn’t—but jokes aside, my guy has good taste (I mean, obviously). My burger was heavenly and I’m now 100% #TeamFlay. We’ll definitely be visiting his restaurant in Vegas in May when we’re in town for StokerCon.
^^ Can you keep a secret? Good. Now don’t tell William, but I think I’m going to make our anniversary dinner reservations there. Shhhh.
Afterwards we met up with Joseph Bouthiette Jr., Kaylee Stebbins and Josh Myers, all of who I met for the first time, despite being friends with them online for years. That, though, is one of my favorite parts about conventions: meeting new people. Josh and I immediately became BFF’s based on our mutual love of Archer, and Joe and Kaylee were two of the most lovely and hysterical people I’ve met over the years. Instant friendships are my favorites, and I’m already counting down the days until we cross paths again.
I also got to spend the evening catching up with two of my dearest friends, Kristina (Kat) and Austin. Kat was my roommate in college, and we hadn’t seen each other in two years, and after lots of laughing and crying and merrymaking over the weekend, she asked me to be one of her bridesmaids next year at her wedding. I love you, Kat. I’m so happy that you’re happy and I can’t wait to stand by your side and make you laugh at inappropriate moments while you’re trying to seriously start your life as an adult.
Austin, who I haven’t seen for six years, introduced me to his lovely girlfriend, Rain, told William a lot of embarrassing stories about me in college (all of which were true) and the whole trip with them was just a riot. Kat and Austin celebrated with me, watched me almost die of food poisoning, hugged and kissed me goodbye, and in those moments, it’s pretty cool to know that I have people like the two of them in my life. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that distance doesn’t mean anything when you love you someone. Here’s to forever friendships!
 The next morning, William and I woke up and met the RDSP crew at Eastern State Penitentiary, something that has been on my bucket list for probably about five years now. Anyone who knows me will tell you that one of my absolute favorite things to do is explore haunted/abandoned prisons and asylums, so this was basically heaven for me, and the fact that I got to cross something off my bucket list with William by my side was a moment in and of itself.  The tour was amazing, and I took lots of notes and pictures for my current WIP, The Color White. A big highlight for me here was seeing Al Capone’s cell, as well as listening to Arnzen tell me that clowns were going to jump out of the walls at any given moment.

After breaking out of prison, William and I got some grub—and a pretty bangin’ hot/hard cider-- and headed off to the Mutter Museum. As you can see, my game plan for seduction is pretty strong. I like to romance my man by first taking him to prison, and then follow it up with a nice visit to see some deformed medical oddities that have been soaked in formaldehyde and stuffed into jars. William and I had a blast here and if that, in and of itself, doesn’t say love, I don’t know what will. We say some fascinating medical equipment, I got shot and had my arm amputated, and then we played with plush body parts and diseases for a while as we laughed over which harmful malady we could give to each other for Christmas.
After the museum, we went and grabbed some coffee and walked around the city a bit. It was wonderfully relaxing and one of my favorite parts of the trip with William. We made our way over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we saw Thor, a skateboarding dog, and the Rocky statue. I lost a bet I made with William, he laughed at me a lot, and then he posed on the steps like the champion he is. This also is pretty standard for our relationship. Laughing makes me happy, and William makes me happy, so the two of them together is pretty much all I need.
Later that evening, the RDSP authors were scheduled to read at PhilaMOCA. Prior to going there, William and I went back to the house where I practiced my reading for him. I’m usually not one to share anything that I write until the moment that I’m either on stage or turning something in for publication, but with William, it’s easy because I trust him and I know he’ll be honest with me. That’s a good feeling to have, I won’t lie, and that moment where I was reading, and he was listening to me on the porch is one that I’ll keep in the memory box for quite some time.
When we got to the venue, I listened to all of my fabulously talented colleagues read from their work, and as always, it was great and equally inspiring. I read a poem out of Hysteria, “The Color White,” and then followed up with the first chapter of my novel in progress: The Color White. Sounds crazy? Well it was. They certainly don’t call me the light poet. Bring on the darkness and fill it full of madness, my friends. And if the night couldn’t get any better, I ended up winning the Reader’s Choice Award for Mourning Jewelry and I about had a heart attack. Former champion and current selfie partner, Matt Betts, gifted me with the belt which I will hold on to—and wear (everywhere)—for the next year. A big thank you to Jen and John for everything that they do—both for me, and for the press—and an even bigger thank you to all of my readers. None of this would be possible without you.
The night ended with me dying of food poisoning. So we’ll skip over that.
Sunday rolled around faster than usual, but was still a full day nevertheless. William and I LOVE It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia so stopping at Mac’s Tavern was an absolute must on our to-do list. We brunched hard there with some Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s and then we hit the road for New Hope, PA, for the final event at Farley’s Bookshop: D.Harlan Wilson’s book launch for BATTLE WITHOUT HONOR OR HUMANITY, VOL 1. RDSP also put into action a story swap that had us all laughing until we cried. The highlight here for me was Arnzen reading my poem “Head Banging” and me reading his piece “The Bleu Man Group.” From now on, Arnzen and I are only reading each other’s work because it was too damn funny, so prepare yourselves accordingly.
Saying goodbye is always hard, but it’s a necessary evil. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again, hopefully sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, thank you all for making this past weekend such a wonderful experience for me.
For more about Raw Dog Screaming Press, click here.
For a list of all of our books, click here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Confessions of a Writer Tag

I was tagged by fellow author, J. L. Gribble, to complete a 20-question survey designed to get to know authors in the blog-o-sphere. For the original post on the tag and the participation guidelines, go here.
Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in third grade and my game plan has never wavered. As long as it’s fun, I’ll keep doing it. I have no intention of stopping.
What genre do you write?
Horror. Dark Fantasy. Erotica.
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
My current WIP is The Color White, which is the novelization of my poetry collection Hysteria: A Collection of Madness. It goes throughout the poems and tells the story of Samantha Irving and how she became my muse of madness.
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
I wrote a story about a little girl whose mother was tortured and raped by a traveling vampire clan. I wrote this when I was in middle school and my teacher turned me into the guidance counselor to make sure “I was okay.”
I hope they read Hysteria to see that I grew up to be a very sane, and calm-natured adult.
What’s the best part about writing?
What’s the worst part about writing?
What’s the name of your favorite character and why?
Hysteria. She was the first character to speak to me, and even if it was in absolute madness, she’ll always be my number one girl…and not just because she locked me up in an abandoned asylum for a night.
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
I write at night—always have, probably always will. I also don’t hold myself to a strict schedule, because when it feels too strict, I get anxiety over it and then my words don’t work. I try to write something, even if it’s only a 100 words, every day though.
Did you go to college for writing? Or if you haven’t been to college yet, do you plan to?

Yes, I got my BA from Seton Hill University (SHU) in English Literature and Art History. I then went straight to graduate school at SHU and obtained my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, where I studied with a concentration in Horror and Dark Fantasy.
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?
They all pretty much make me want to rip my skin off, but if someone uses exclamation points like they are periods, it makes me want to punch a hole through my wall.
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
“People are assholes. Do what you want.”
What advice would you give to another writer?
Don’t stop. Even when it seems like it’s all bullshit, don’t stop.
What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
I don’t follow any sites religiously, but I enjoy the hell out of Chuck Wendig’s blog.
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
I like to travel, cook, and read.
And drink wine.
I really like to drink wine.
What is the best book you’ve read this year?
This is a tough one. I’ve recently read We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and that book rocked my gothic little soul, so I’d have to go with that.
The Martian by Andy Weir and You by Caroline Kepnes are definite runner-ups, though.
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
I really enjoyed SPRING, directed by Justin Benson and .
What is your favorite book or series of all time?
Misery by Stephen King…you dirty birdie.
Who is your favorite author?
Classic: Edgar Allan Poe
Contemporary: Jack Ketchum. He’s unapologetic with his writing and he grabs me by the heart in a way that no one else does, although Clive Barker is a very, very close second.
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
I’m working on a novelization of my poetry collection Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, titled The Color White. I’m also working on finishing up two poetry collections, Default Black and In This Prison of Cumulus.
Where else can we find you online?
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephanie.wytovich
  • Twitter: @JustAfterSunset
  • Instagram: SWytovich
  • Blog: http://stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com/
  • My publishers, Raw Dog Screaming Press and Dark Regions Press

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


This week in the MADHOUSE, I'm hanging out with one of my favorite horror gal pals, Kristin Dearborn.When she told me that she had another book on the horizon, I knew I had to interview her to get the scoop. Check out the blurb for STOLEN AWAY below, along with a short Q&A about the book and her writing process. Plus, I think there's something in there about prostitutes and Skunk Apes...

Trisha doesn’t have much going for her, but she is a good mother. That’s what she’s always told herself, anyway. She wakes in the middle of the night to hear her infant son has been taken. Her daughter, who saw the kidnapping, tearfully tells her a monster took him. Her ex-boyfriend Joel owes the Russian Mafia a million dollars, but that’s nothing compared to the trouble Trisha’s got herself into. Searching for her son, Trisha and Joel won’t let gangsters, demons, or Joel’s overbearing mother stop them.

Trisha and Joel are forced to confront demons along the way, and not all of them are the literal kind. Not everyone can be trusted, and that has nothing to do with who’s a demon and who’s human.

Trisha knows her son is out there, and is alive. Will she be able to reunite her family?

Q. What was the inspiration for your novel?
A. While on vacation with my family in Florida in 2005 I wrote 100,000 words of an uncompleted novel based vaguely on this theme. It was bloated, uninspired, and I shoved it unceremoniously into the proverbial trunk. I didn’t think of it again until I was watching Breaking Bad recently. Something about the storyline where Jesse starts dating the woman with the little boy made me think of these characters. I like writing about people who aren’t squeaky clean, who have a nasty past that haunts them. Stolen Away has shades of True Romance and Supernatural.

Q. How long have you been writing fiction?
A. I’ve pretty much been writing fiction forever. Before I could write, I used to dictate stories to my mom. I focused on creative writing at the University of Maine, walking the same halls as Stephen King. I started selling work after I started graduate classes at Seton Hill University, where I got my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. I have several short stories published in various magazines and anthologies.

Q. Where have you previously published your fiction?
A. My first novel Trinity and novella “Sacrifice Island” are available now from DarkFuse. Later this year they will publish a second novella, “Woman in White”. I’ve published in a variety of shorter markets, including Midnight Echo, the official magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association; Wicked Tales, the Journal of the New England Horror Writers (vol. 3); and the Horror Library Volume 5.

Q. Who are your influences?
A. As a writer, I read a lot. Like, a lot. My first literary love was Michael Crichton. I fell madly in love with Jurassic Park, and after that devoured everything by him at the time. Andromeda Strain, Sphere, Congo…I read everything I could get my hands on. I moved on to pretty much everything Dean Koontz had written up to the mid 90’s, then I fell in love again. The writer who has been my single biggest influence is Stephen King. I feel his gift for bringing realistic characters to life and depicting Americana is unsurpassed in any genre, but especially horror. Books don’t often deeply scare me, but his novella Big Driver gave me nightmares. My favorite novel is the much underrated The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon—I love the blending of hallucination and reality, and the wasp face of the God of the Lost. I don’t think anyone will ever write a coming of age tale like The Body, and every coming of age story (of which there are many in the horror genre) pales in its shadow.

Q. What is your writing process like?
A. My favorite quote is “don’t get it right, get it written.” I am a chronic pants-er, and like to vomit out an exploratory first draft. Then I make an outline, and in red I note all the things I want to change, and in blue I make my additions. I’m very quantity driven, so tools like Write or Die or word wars with friends inspire me. I’ve done NaNoWriMo for several years, but I tend to look at it as a palate cleanser, and have never revised or published any of the products. I try to engage my writing daily (though that doesn’t always happen), either with new material, edits, or something to stay connected with the work.

Q. What are you most excited about with this novel in particular, i.e. what was shocking or surprisingly to you while you were writing it?
A. This novel is the only book where I’ve ever truly felt like nothing more than a conduit for the story. I had several 10,000 word days, a feat I haven’t managed before or since. Maybe it’s because I’d already done so much of the writing back in 2005, maybe the characters just spoke to me. An awesome writing experience, and a very easy editing experience.

Q. How do you define horror?
A. Goodness, what a question. Horror is an emotion more than a genre…it finds itself across all the different types of stories. It’s ancient, and omnipresent, the old myths and legends put today’s splatterpunk and torture porn to shame. Horror is the feeling you get when your animal brain perks up, and something deep down inside identifies I’m not safe. Sometimes even when I’m reading a mediocre novel there will be moments where I get that tiny thrill. In a solid horror novel, or a good movie, the sensation can feel exhausting and wonderful at the same time.

Q. What scares you both in real life and in fiction?
A. Though I grew up in fairly rural New England and love hiking and camping, the woods scare me. It’s part of what I love about The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, that sensation of being lost in the wilderness, which really freaks me out. Anything could be out there, man. I’m not afraid of reasonable things like bears. I’m afraid of demons like the God of the Lost or the Outsider, nasty inhuman things slinking around in the trees. I love reading about them, and when camping, when I have to pee in the middle of the night and the bathrooms are a quarter mile away, I think of them a lot.

Q. What's next on the to-write list?
A. I’m currently much of the way through a novel about Skunk Apes and a teenage prostitute. Will I ever finish it? Will it ever see the light of day? The world may never know…

Author bio: If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. She revels in comments like “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs or zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KristinDearbornAuthor

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


I'm happy to announce that I will be a Guest of Honor (along with Chuck Palahniuk, Michael Knost, Lisa Morton, Rena Mason, Shane McKenzie, John FD Taft, and many more) at next year's Stanley Hotel Writer's Retreat in Estes Park, Colorado. 

Registration is officially open, so bring your creativity, your favorite ghost stories, and your imaginary friend who lives in your finger....but leave the axe at home, okay? We don't need a repeat of that whole Torrance thing that happened in the 70s... 


Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015



The Madhouse is under the covers this week, as we at Raw Dog Screaming Press are happy to announce that we've signed poet, Christina Sng, for her poetry manuscript, A Collection of Nightmares. This collection is set to debut in late-2016, and it's a dark little beast that explores the horrors of the physical, fantastical and psychological worlds both around us... and inside us.

Want more? Here's a interview that I did with Christina to give you a sneak peak into her process, her influences, and how her manuscript came to be.

1. What is the title of your collection and how did you come up with the name?

The title is "A Collection of Nightmares". The name came about unexpectedly. I've always put pieces of myself into my dark poems – things that haunt me, hurt me, scar me beyond repair – my nightmares. One night at 4am, as I picked up my poems lining the floor in A5 sheets of paper, it struck me that I was collating a collection of nightmares.

2. What was the inspiration for your collection overall?

Life is the inspiration for my collection. I have this passive-aggressive relationship with it where it loves to land gut punches on me one minute, then soothes me with a song and English mint chocolates. Very dysfunctional. It's an insane roller coaster ride.

3. How long have you been writing poetry? What is your background with it in terms of education, experience, etc.

I wrote my first poem when I was about 5. It consisted of a group of friends with rhyming names making a trip to the market, which says a lot about what I was preoccupied with as a child.

In school, we hardly read any poetry. We read Shakespeare, which frightened everyone off literature except for the posturing and acting that came with studying the Great Bard. That, we all enjoyed. Particularly, the soliloquies and the costumes.

In college, my English teacher taught us poetry. She liked my dark poems and encouraged me to write more. Probably thought it was safer for the world.

After graduation, I studied poetry on my own, reading literary poets like Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Emily Dickinson. I fell in love with how utterly concise and perfectly encapsulated a poem is. In 2000, I began submitting my poetry after gathering a body of work.

4. Where have you previously published your poetry?

My poems have appeared in print and online venues such as Apex Magazine, Dreams and Nightmares, Grievous Angel, Mythic Delirium, New Myths, Outposts of Beyond, Space & Time, Spectral Realms, Star*Line, and Tales of the Talisman, amongst others.

5. Who are your influences?

Sylvia Plath is still my strongest influence. Everything about poetry I've learnt from her. I love the way she used metaphors and imagery, her exacting structure which I admire and emulate, and how she poured every bit of herself into her work. Each poem is a construction of technical genius and an artistic masterpiece.

6. What is your writing process like?

Before the kids came along, I would give myself an hour, get comfortable, open my notebook, and stay put till I wrote 5 poems. I began with an image or a word or an idea or a memory and the poem just flowed from there.

Now, after kids and perpetually tired from a decade of sleep deprivation, I confess to being more zombie than human -- the Warm Bodies type, not the Z Nation ones in all their marvelous varieties. It is hard to focus and concentrate, so I've turned to writing short poems on the go or stealing quiet moments when the children are preoccupied. About once a week, I try to clear some physical and mental space to write like I used to. It's rarely 5 poems at a single sitting these days. 3 on a lucky day. 1 with enough coffee.

7. What are you most excited about with this collection in particular, i.e. what was shocking or surprisingly to you while you were writing it?

Few things shock or surprise me anymore, except for some of the stuff on ViralNova.

I'm really excited because this will be my first full length poetry collection, gathering every dark poem I love and am proud of into a single book. It's been a long journey and I am very happy my poems are now coming together to nest.


Christina Sng is a poet, writer, and an occasional toymaker. She is a two-time Rhysling nominee and her poetry has received several Honorable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. In her free time, she plays the ukulele, dreams of exploring the Andromeda Galaxy, and carves out new worlds in longhand, imbibing an aromatic cup of tea.

Website: http://www.christinasng.com
Twitter: @christinasng
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christinasng

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



The Madhouse is at the altar this week, as we at Raw Dog Screaming Press are happy to announce that we've signed poets, Jim and Janice Leach, for their collaborative poetry collection, Till Death: The Horrors and Happy Afters of a Long Relationship. This collection is set to debut in mid-2016 and it details the ups and downs of a 32-year marriage as these poets talk fear, romance, and sex with no boundaries, limits, or filter.

Want more? Here's a interview that I did with Jim and Janice to give you a sneak peak into their process, their influences, and how their manuscript came to be.

1. What is the title of your collection and how did you come up with the name?

Jan: “Til Death” is that super creepy line from traditional marriage vows that brings up mortality right in the middle of a wedding celebration, like it’s the best possible outcome for a relationship. “The Horrors and Happy Afters” part is our attempt to be honest about what comes before that “blessed” conclusion. Relationships are not easy or fun all the time. We’ve survived some hellish times together, some that have come our way and some that we’ve caused.

Jim: Our poems explore the “Happy Afters,” not the “Happily Ever Afters” because the bad days just keep coming (chuckle). There should almost be a PG-13 sticker on this book. It’s not a pastel fairy tale. There are some really dark themes and let’s say “coarse language.” But that’s what a marriage is like.

Jan: It’s not for kids.

Jim: Oh what sweet irony there. Janice and I were married when we were 19, when we were kids. We had no idea what the FUCK we were getting ourselves into. To me the phrase “‘Til Death” also relates to something I realized only recently. Nothing, absolutely nothing in my life has consumed more attention and work than this marriage. Our relationship is quite literally, my magnum opus, my life’s great work.

Jan: Awww. Me too.

2. What was the inspiration for your collection overall?

Jim: One of the inspirations, for me at least, is the album “Shoot Out the Lights” by Richard and Linda Thompson. The songs alternate between the two songwriters, each one sharing about how hard it is to live with the other person. But the very last song on the disc is “Wall of Death,” a song they sing together in tight harmony.

Jan: You know what a “Wall of Death” is, right? It’s that caged motorcycle sideshow stunt, where the driver steers the bike and the rider stands up on the seat, balancing while they ride around and around. It’s showy and thrilling because it’s dangerous!

Jim: The point of the song -- and the record, I think -- is that it is incredibly difficult to live with another person for an extended period of time, but despite those perils, the thrills are worth the risks. It’s the most interesting thing you can imagine doing with your life, so you choose to ride on the wall of death together. The irony is that was the last record they made together before their divorce.

Jan: “Wall of Death” was actually our theme song for a while.

Jim: From the very beginning, we’ve had one song or another that sort of sums up how our relationship is going. The first one, I think, was “Stay with Me” by Genesis, back before they sucked.

Jan: You’re so judgey.

Jim: For a good chunk of time it was “In Spite of Ourselves,” a duet by John Prine and Iris DeMent. “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?” by the Jefferson Airplane...What are other ones, dear?

Jan: Most recently it was Muse’s “Madness” because holy fuck, our lives were pure madness at that point.  And that’s a really cool song too because it brings out the seductive side of madness. Who would want to walk away from that excitement? But we also started this collection around our anniversary last year, like wouldn’t it be cool to collect 32 poems about us--

Jim:-- One for every year--

Jan: --And it grew from there. At first the number seemed too big, but then, it was too small. We had too much to say.
Jim: Oh, oh, oh and another influence, not just to this collection but to our marriage has got to be the Addams Family. Specifically Gomez and Morticia, that utter insane amor fati. “Tish, you spoke French…”

Jan: Our home decorations have rather an Addams family vibe. A morbid-chic, vampire-whorehouse / mortician-hoarder thang.

Jim: Indeed.

3. How long have you been writing poetry? What is your background with it in terms of education, experience, etc.

Jan: I’ve written poetry all my life. There’s juvenalia in the file cabinet that probably should be shredded, but given my filing system, no one is in danger of uncovering it. I wrote the first poems that I am still pleased with as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan.

Jim: Yeah, Janice was always the poet in our relationship. I always felt like the amateur--

Jan:-- the nubile apprentice--

Jim: So to speak, yes. I also took poetry writing classes at University of Michigan, but I always considered myself the playwright of the team.

Jan: Every marriage needs a playwright, right?

Jim: At least to script the arguments. But seriously, Janice won an award for her poetry. An Undergraduate Hopwood Award which was a moderately big deal, right?

Jan: Aww, you remember! The award was a confidence booster for sure. What’s also funny though was the number of poems we were both able to pull from the archives-- so secretly Jim’s been a poet all along too.

Jim: We were both English majors, and poetry has just been part of what we do. Rather frequently, when we have folks over for drinks, there’s a point late in the evening when everybody starts quoting their favorite poems, like a nerd rap battle.

4. Where have you previously published your poetry?

Jim: You really want that sad litany of dead literary magazines?

Jan: We could just say “We’ve published in select venues.” (grin) Seriously though, we’ve had poetry published in cool places like Grimcorps, Necrotic Tissue, Quick Shivers, Christianity and Literature, Daughters of Sarah, the Old West Side News, and the Huron River Review...  Recently, Jim had his poem “Flora and Fauna” accepted in the HWA Poetry Showcase, so that’s cool.

Jim: I’m absurdly proud of that poem. It’s about werewolves in spring… sort of.

Jan: But this isn’t technically the first poetry “work” we’ve co-written. (smirk)

Jim: Egad, you don’t really want to bring that up...

Jan: When Jim was working at a photocopy shop back when we were first married, we made a xeroxed chapbook which we passed off as cheap Christmas gifts.

Jim: Let’s just say that’s a real collector’s item.

5. Who are your influences?
Jan: I enjoy poets who explore the domestic realm, among other topics. Long time favorites of mine include Jane Kenyon and Molly Peacock as well as Margaret Avison and Edna St Vincent Millay.
Jim: I know the poets I like reading; I don’t know exactly how they’ve influenced me. Baudelaire and William Burroughs. Carolyn Forché and Sylvia Plath, Jim Daniels and David Budbill, Wendell Berry and John Donne. Paul Celan and Rilke. Oh, and Eminem and Stevie Wonder. And Ginsberg and Patti Smith.

6. What is your writing process like?
Jan: Well, we did something different with this collection.
Jim: That’s right. We approached it from the beginning knowing the pieces would have to fit together, that it would be a whole work

Jan: So we gave each other assignments and topics as well as dares and deadlines. We exchanged poems at the early draft stage, and we revised each other’s work far more than we have done previously. We’ve written together for years. We run two websites together and most of that writing is collaborative. But’s that’s nonfiction. Poetry is a different animal however.

Jim: I tend to be more formal, or at least formally-flavored. But Janice has a more free spirit (grin).

Jan: The poems that resulted are a nifty blend of our styles and preoccupations.

Jim: Writing this book has changed my writing process, probably permanently.

7. What are you most excited about with this collection in particular, i.e. what was shocking or surprising to you while you were writing it?
Jan: Purposefully writing “not nice poems” was incredibly liberating for me. We made a pact to go deep and be candid even about the most painful topics. The context of this collection gave me permission to delve into my dark side, into our dark side.
Jim: Exactly, sort of like good therapy. Writing this book was a relatively safe playground for us to work through some pretty dark shit.
Jan: But you’re generally more comfortable with darker themes.

Jim: That’s true, and what was surprising to me was how much tenderness and love kept popping up in the work. I mean, none of it is going on a Valentine’s Day card… but there’s a lot of romance.

Jan: And sex.

Jim: Boy howdy is there sex!

Jan: But that’s not shocking. You don’t stay married for 33 years just to fight.

Stalk the Authors:

  • http://dailynightmare.com which celebrates Midwest Snob Horror. Jim writes as “Doktor Leech the Leech Doktor” and Janice as “Elsa L.”
  • http://20minutegarden.com which is about urban simplicty, DIY culture and the remarkable amount of stuff that can be accomplished in 20 minutes a day.
Jim Leach writes darkly speculative poetry, fiction, and drama and is a contributing editor to the website  dailynightmare.com which is celebrates Midwest Snob Horror. He also contributes to the site 20 Minute Garden. com which suggests another of his other interests. His work has most recently appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Hellnotes, and the HWA Poetry Showcase II. He collects masks, brews his own beer, and lives with his childhood sweetheart in a lightly haunted house in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Jim’s Instagram: @GrimGnome13
Jim’s Pinterest: Cosmognome
Jim’s website: http://jamesfrederickleach.com
Jim’s facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jim.leach

Janice Leach is a master gardener and professional pie baker who credits her 1st grade teacher with kindling her love of writing. She and her tinker soulmate live in Ann Arbor and raise a rollicking kitchen garden near a 100 year old lilac.  She edits Quick Shivers, an annual anthology of 100 word stories based on nightmares for Cosmonomic Multimedia and is a contributing editor to dailynightmare.com and 20minutegarden.com.
Janice’s Twitter: @JanArbor
Jan’s Pinterest: janarbor
Jan’s facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janice.s.leach