Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FRIGHTMARES PLAGUE MADHOUSE: AN INTERVIEW WITH BILLIE SUE MOSIMAN

Hello Horror Feminists!

Today in the MADHOUSE, I have the pleasure of interviewing Billie Sue Mosiman about her Bram Stoker Award-nominated anthology, Fright Mare-Women Write Horror. As we close out yet another wonderful year of #WomeninHorrorMonth, I invite you to check out these wonderful female writers, learn more about gender equality in the arts, and take a look at your reading list and see how you can diversify it. 

For now though, grab another cup of coffee, take a seat, and revel with me in the madness.

With screams for equality,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

WYTOVICH: Tell us about the anthology. What inspired you to take on a project that was focused on women writing horror? And how did you go about doing so, i.e. what was your thought process  like to make this project a reality?

MOSIMAN: FRIGHTMARE-WOMEN WRITE HORROR was born when one day I was reading some tables of content of various anthologies that had just been completed or published. I read the names of the contributors involved and noted how many were written by men, how many by women. Often there were no women. If there were women, it would be one name or two published with ten or twelve men. I sat wondering why it was always this way. Now I knew the men writers and they were fine writers so I wasn’t surprised they were included, but I also knew there were more fine women writers, too, who didn’t show up in the contents table. Did women not submit? I didn’t believe that for a moment and since have discovered yes, submissions flowed from women. They just weren’t picked.

This made me feel sad. I’ve been writing short fiction for over thirty years and had a lot of stories published, and in the 80s and 90s a lot of women were publishing in anthologies. These days not so much.

Now I knew women wrote every bit as well as men. We know, rationally, gender has nothing to do with fiction quality. Was there discrimination going on? Whether there was or not, I decided to do something about it and put out a call for women horror writers to send me stories. I knew it would cost me and I’d probably never earn back my investment, but I’d pay the writers and send them digital and print copies. I was on a mission.

Hundreds of stories poured in and the majority of them were damn good stories. I could only publish twenty so it was difficult choosing.

I decided I would not include my own story. This wasn’t about me. This was about women writers who had little voice and footprint in the anthology world. They’d now have an entire book! Oft published or never published, a new writer or old, it didn’t matter to me. The story and how it balanced the anthology mattered. I got a great cover from JK Graphics, wrote a foreword, and there we were finally, an anthology devoted to women.

Let me state here this was no campaign to denigrate male writers. Come on, I’ve been reading fiction by men forever. I have favorite male writers. I recognize some of those books could have just as well been written by women, too. This is the point. This gender bias needs to stop and stop now. I will not believe women aren’t writing and submitting. If I received hundreds of stories, do you think I’m going to buy the excuse the other anthologies aren’t getting submissions from women comparative to the male submissions? Many times I’m sure they are.

WYTOVICH  Fright Mare-Women Write Horror has recently been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. What was the response like from your readers, and from the writers of this anthology?

MOSIMAN: They, like me, were thrilled. It was an indication we’d made a stand and were recognized for it. Not just because they were women, but because they wrote great stories. I think readers appreciate that and so do the contributors to FRIGHT MARE.

WYTOVICH: How did you come up with the name for the anthology?

MOSIMAN: I can’t remember, but I knew it had to contain WOMEN WRITE HORROR to let readers know what was in the volume.

WYTOVICH: As an editor, what do you look for in a story? What’s the wow! factor for you?

MOSIMAN: A good or great opening paragraph. A story that hangs together tightly without extraneous puffy prose. Character you can see and understand even though you are constrained by length of story. A believable plot and a satisfying ending.

WYTOVICH: I know as an editor, you’re not allowed to have favorites, but is there a particular piece that you keep coming back to in the book? Is there one that really left a mark on you?

MOSIMAN: There is more than one, but I don’t think it would be fair for me to choose that way. I want to know the readers’ favorites.

WYTOVICH: What are your thoughts about #WomeninHorrorMonth? And do you think that it’s something we still need? Why or why not?

MOSIMAN: We still need it. But it’s changing and anthology editors are now more sensitive about the pattern they’d fallen into. It will get better with time.

WYTOVICH: As a writer, what is your preferred form to tell a story? Why?

MOSIMAN: I write both novels and short stories and love both, but stories allow me to go down rabbit holes you simply cannot explore in a novel. They are short, fast, and have impact when they’re good.

WYTOVICH: What is your origin story? What drew you to horror in the first place?

MOSIMAN: As they say, horror chose me. My first novel, WIREMAN, was a serial killer thriller (when this was a brand new type of novel) but I wrote graphically. It was gruesome and bloody while being psychological and a study of the psychology of a murderer. In my mind, I had written suspense. Publishing labeled it horror and gave it a scary cover. So be it. Stephen King wrote horror, how bad could it be my novel was thus labeled? My first story, to “The Horror Show,” was horror. My work was always dark and that was what I wanted to explore as a writer.

WYTOVICH: Where do you think the horror genre is presently sitting at in the market? What do you think the next big trend is going to be?

MOSIMAN: Well, in movies it seems to be hot. In books maybe not as much, but except for King, it never has been a top leading genre. I hope there is no next trend. It was zombies for a while and I despaired. When will this end, I wondered? Surely there are other scary topics writers could tackle. I don’t like trends, really.

WYTOVICH: If you could give one piece of advice to writers, what would it be and why?

MOSIMAN: Believe in yourself and practice, practice, practice. Some today are publishing the first thing they’ve ever written. Not a good plan. Write and SUBMIT and see if you can sell fiction. Take your lumps. Practice and improve. Don’t believe you’re top notch until you have some writing experience and someone paid you money for it. THEN, baby, write like hell is coming and the hot wind is at your back because you only have one life. You think it’s long and you have time, but you don’t, you don’t have any time at all, you must write all the important things that mean something to you, you must explore all the things you need to know and the writing will teach you. You dedicate your life to this and you stay serious about it. You don’t do this for a hobby or to make money or to get fame. You do this as if your life depended on it.



Billie Sue Mosiman is the author of seventeen novels and hundreds of published short stories. She’s been writing since 1983 and the sale of her first novel. She’s edited anthologies and taught writing. Her latest work are the novels THE GREY MATTER and LOSTNESS. Her latest story collection is THE SORROWS. Her anthology is FRIGHT MARE-WOMEN WRITE HORROR.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Developing Your Author Brand

There’s no denying that the publishing world is saturated, especially in the day and age of self-publishing and social media marketing, so how does one manage to stand out in the crowd and get their work—and themselves—noticed? While social media is an undeniable asset to the game, developing a strong author brand is also something that can help shine the light on you and your work.

Your author brand will refer to the unique identity that you build through your writing and marketing presence. Essentially, you will be become your own walking-talking trademark or logo, and regardless of the market you’re working in (fiction, non-fiction, journalism, poetry, etc.), the following tips will help you find your voice and style as a writer, and then target readers who are interested and hungry for what you’re publishing:

  • Do genre-oriented research.


How are other writers in your genre marketing themselves? Research the websites of your favorite authors to see what they are doing, and then make a list of what you like, don’t like, and want to see more of. It’s also a good idea to go to bookstores and newspaper stands and look at the cover art and design themes that are circulating in your market so you can get a better idea of what is most likely to catch your reader’s eye. This is particularly relevant to word choice, color schemes, headlines/titles, and font types.

  • Determine who your target audience is.


Take a look at your writing (language, style, word-choice, overarching themes, character ages, etc.) and think hard about who is reading your work. Ask yourself if it is age appropriate for children or if you think it’s more suitable for an adult audience, only. In some cases, maybe it’s fine for both! Once you determine this, you can start building your social media platform, website, and/or blog around those age groups and then market towards them specifically with like-minded material.

  • Think about how you will demonstrate the message that you want recognized with you and your writing.


What do you want to accomplish with your writing? Are you writing about a particular topic or theme? Think about what your interests and values are and how you want to incorporate them into the bigger picture of how people see you. This will become your brand statement, which is something that you should use consistently across all your social networks via the same title, tag line, photos, fonts, colors, etc. You’ll want to be sure to always link back to your website or blog, all of which should be similarly marketed with search engine optimization (SEO) techniques taken into consideration.

  • Consider whether or not a pen name is right for you.


At one point or another, many writers consider a pen name. For some genres, this makes    more sense than others, especially in speculative fiction where there is a trend to see the initials of the first and middle name, followed by the full last name to mask gender or in some cases, hide it completely. Some writers also are concerned with being completely in the public, both for professional and personal reasons, or are concerned that their sexual orientation/gender will create bias for the readership they’re writing too. Note that these are all valid concerns because people will be able to find you and your work by your name alone, so take time to consider what works best for you.

  • Decide what you will do that’s different from other authors in your field to keep your readership engaged.

Most writers have websites and newsletters that they send out, in additional to being on social media and updating their readers through a variety of outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. What will you do that breaks the mold? Maybe you’ll do live readings or author asides on Facebook once a month? Or host a private Q&A session for subscribers to your newsletter? Maybe you’ll even set up fanfiction writing contest and give away a free book to a reader with the best submission, or start your own radio show?

Look at the material you’re putting out and think about the fandom and following that you’re creating. What do you wish your favorite writers would do to stay in touch with you? What would you like to see? Be unique and daring. Your readers will appreciate it, and better yet, if it’s something that you consistency do—which I highly recommend!—they will look forward to it, expect it, and your audience will start to grow because your work has become part of their reading routine now.

These tips can be an asset to building both your brand, and consequently later on, your social media platform because in addition to selling your work, you’re also selling yourself, and once readers get a taste of your work, they will be curious and interested to learn more about the person behind the story. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

AWP#17 Conference: Washington D.C. Con Report

This past weekend, I attended the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Conference with Raw Dog Screaming Press and Anti-Oedipus Press. I signed books, fielded questions as RDSP’s poetry editor, answered questions about speculative fiction/poetry and got to meet and reconnect with a lot of wonderful and inspiring people. 

My books Brothel and The Eighth sold particularly well, and I'm not sure what to make of that, but it does make me smile a lot, and I hope their buyers aren't too damaged after reading them.

Wait, yes I do.

Who am I kidding?
Editors: Jennifer Barnes, D. Harlan Wilson, Stephanie M. Wytovich

Stephanie M. Wytovich and D. Harlan Wilson
Anyways, it was especially wonderful to spend time with Jennifer Barnes, John Edward Lawson and D. Harlan Wilson, but I also got to share some pizza and a pretty kick-ass World of Warcraft conversation with J. L. Gribble, too. Cue conversations with a lot of Carlow colleagues and students (shout-out to Gerry LaFemina and Kevin Haworth), as well as fellow bizarro and horror writers, Leza Cantoral (CLASH Media), Christoph Paul (New English Press), and Justin Grimbol, and you can count me as a happy girl.

As always, these conferences are so much more than networking opportunities and work. They are standing reminders that writing is in my blood and art is my happy place. It was beautifully moving to see so many writers talking about diversity and resistance, about the importance of free speech and how the voices of our brothers and sisters across race, gender and ethnicity need to be heard. I came home with bags of books and some pretty awesome RDSP/Broadkill swag, along with lots of memories and a new T.V. show addiction, and I’m looking forward to continuing along the new writing path that I’m on and to pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I expect there to be many more road trips and stories in my future, and once they earn their bearings in my mind and in my notebook, I’ll be sure to share them all with you.
At the intersection of literary and genre,
Stephanie M. Wytovich



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WYTOVICH SIGNS BOOK DEAL AND YOU'RE INVITED TO A DINNER PARTY

YOU'RE INVITED TO A DINNER PARTY:

Who: Why, you of course, sweet child.
What: A dinner party in your honor
When: March, 2017
Where: Dark Fuse
Why: Because we all need to be fed.
How: Oh, I don't want to spoil the surprise!

I'm beyond thrilled to announce that I'll be working with DarkFuse on a short story project titled, Inside the Skin Bouquet. Once a month (starting in March) subscribers will be fed a deliciously horrific and erotic tale thanks to my editors, Shane Staley and Dave Thomas.
We will also be releasing the completed series in both limited edition hardcover and in eBook format included free to subscribers who have either the collector subscription or Kindle subscription. So an additional limited hardcover (to be delivered Q4 of 2017) and additional free eBook (to be delivered Q1 of 2018).

ABOUT THE SERIES:

Inside the Skin Bouquet is a collection of stories that meditate on a variety of obsessions with human flesh: the need to touch it, the desire to collect it, reconstruct it, wear it, eat it. If I were to compare the inspiration and thematic qualities behind this collection to classic and/or contemporary works, I would say this collection is what happens when Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) meets Norman Bates (Robert Bloch’s Psycho) at a dinner party hosted by Hannibal Lecter (Thomas Harris’s The Hannibal Lecter Trilogy). These stories will pain as much as they will pleasure, forever seesawing between the erotic and the frightfully sadistic. The foreplay is fixation, an inherent psychological and physical need to be surrounded by flesh, but the climax is one of consumption, an intense fetish turned pure passion.

So pull up a chair and sharpen your knives.
You’re in for the dinner party of your life…

Or maybe even, your death.