Thursday, October 08, 2015

Call for Submissions: What Are You Afraid Of?

Courtesy of T. Fox Dunham:

What Are You Afraid Of?

We’ve all experienced messages from beyond the silver veil, whether we want to admit it or not. Some people take no notice, ignoring these outreaches. Others embrace them, seeing them as evidence of an expanded universe. Whether these stories frighten or comfort, we are reassured.

In my youth, I worked for various museums and gained a passion for the science of collecting folk culture. These personal experiences need to be recorded and added to this rich archive, presented for scholar and seeker. We’ve already established an archive of collected stories that have never been recorded before.

Our intent is to create and promote four podcasts with visual components over the month of October.

The content will be:

The reading of collected personal ghost stories as part of our outreach program to record folklore through social media, email and community events. Horror material including interviews with horror authors, the reading of classic ghost stories and discussions of the industry. And we will be producing interviews with ghost hunting groups. We will be recording this podcast from notoriously haunted locations.

The broadcast will be no longer than an hour, except for the last episode which will be transmitted around Halloween.

So we need true stories. They need to have been personally experienced by the author or someone close. The accounts should be in their own words as if telling the story to a friend or in an email. The stories work best when around 1,000 words, but we have done longer sagas.

We need help gathering stories, spreading the word so people will send us their accounts. We’d also be glad for any ideas for segments or general horror material for the show. We can offer promotion.

Email us your personal true ghost stories at

Twitter: @pfwhatafraidof


Sunday, August 23, 2015

My 10 Unfavorite Songs

Apropos of nothing. There are a lot of cheesy songs out there, but these provoke a strong reaction from me.

1. We Built This City by Starship
Poll after poll says this is the worst song of the Eighties. There's a reason.

2. I've Never Been to Me by Charlene 
Utter dreck by a failed Blossom Dearie. You are not a destination; you are the journey. There's your pop psychology.

3. Mickey by Tony Basil 

4. Hey Jude by The Beatles 
I love The Beatles, but this song is too fucking long.

5. The Girl is Mine by Jackson and McCartney 
I have a story about this one: I was visiting a friend in the dorms at OSU. The guy across the hall played this song six times in a row. When he started the seventh repetition, my friend loaded up some bagpipe music and turned the volume to eleven. Bagpipes FTW.

6. Never Be the Same by Christopher Cross
"It was good for me, it was good for you" is not a good description for a relationship that had any meaning.

7. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham 
I love George Michael... but, gaaaahhhh.

8. Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice 
Stole a riff from Queen and Bowie and denied he'd done it. I hate him for making me turn up the radio only to be disappointed.

9. Sara by Fleetwood Mac
I hate 90% of songs with my name in them. When it's sung by a voice that's always flat, it's going to be 100%. I don't care how much lace you wear.

10. Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears
Sorry, this pair always struck me as pretentious entitled pricks. Instant change of channel.

If you have a song you loathe, feel free to post it in the comments. I've probably heard it.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Review: Resistant

Resistant Resistant by Michael Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This final book of Michael Palmer's is one of his best. I've read most of his books, and he grew substantially as an author over the years. In his early books, the medical details were good (of course), but some of the side characters felt a little flat. Also, if the hero was male, there was a good chance that the girlfriend or wife would be one of the villains. Most of the plots revolved around greedy corporations. I think 'The Last Surgeon' and 'Fatal' were probably the best of the early books.

Later, he turned to conspiracies involving political figures, most notably the president. The story was about the doctor to the president, the president as a doctor, etc. In the midst of these was a gem of a book called 'The Second Opinion'. For the first time, the characters were more interesting than the medicine.

'Resistant' blends good characters with a vile plot and the most interesting terrorist group I've seen in a book. The One Hundred Neighbors, all string-pullers and conspirators worthy of a James Bond novel, follow the teachings of Lancaster Hill, a (fictitious) vehement opponent of FDR's social programs who preached resistance to the government. Each chapter opens with a quote from Hill, and the resemblance to Ayn Rand-type 'every man for himself' philosophy is striking.

Hill proposed the One Hundred Neighbors as a group of covert movers and shakers who would bring down the government and its evil social programs. The Neighbors unleash The Doomsday Germ, a nosocomial infection with chameleon properties.

Enter Dr. Lou Welcome, ER doctor and recovering alcoholic. Welcome's life parallels the author's life in some ways, and is probably the character closest to a Mary Sue Palmer has written. He has no problems hitting Welcome hard, though, and shows no special favors.

Cap Duncan, Welcome's AA sponsor, falls during a jog through mountainous terrain and breaks his femur. He is airlifted to the hospital and seems to be on the mend until The Doomsday Germ infects his wound. Welcome begins to investigate ways to fight the infection, and quickly draws UN-welcome attention from The One Hundred Neighbors and the FBI.

One of the government's top researchers into the bug has been kidnapped by a mole in the FBI. Welcome, who has been pointed in some interesting directions from an unlikely-seeming source (a pharm tech with severe spastic cerebral palsy), has been asking questions that are too well-informed not to seem suspicious. Soon, he is on the run from the Neighbors and the authorities.

The kidnapped scientist is being held in a cliffside fortress that, once again, makes one think of a James Bond film or, perhaps, The Eiger Sanction. Naturally, to save his friend Cap, Welcome winds up scaling the cliff with a renegade FBI agent to rescue the scientist (plus his pharm tech buddy, also kidnapped) and stop The Doomsday Germ.

There are a few moments that stretch credulity (my favorite was the six-story cannonball into a swimming pool), but overall the action was enjoyable. What I found more rewarding was the diversity of the supporting cast: the government researcher was a devout Muslim, and Humphrey, the pharm tech with CP, turned out to be far more important to the plot than a mere 'token'.

Palmer also managed to surprise me with one of the mole characters, one that was logical in retrospect but was easy to underestimate. I won't reveal who that was here.

In terms of scientific intrigue, characters, action, and clashing ideologies, I think this book was a real winner.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 03, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Bottle Stopper by Angeline Trevena

"Too much trouble, and you'll end up just like your crazy mother."

Maeve was six when they took her mother away, and left her in the care of her Uncle Lou: a drunk, a misogynist, a fraud.
For eleven years she's lived with him in Falside'
s slums, deep in the silt of the Falwere River. She bottles his miracle medicine, stocks his apothecary shop, and endures his savage temper.
But as his violence escalates, and his lies come undone, she devises a plan to escape him forever. Even if it means people have to die.

Not All Medicine is Good for You; Better Check the Label

 Never one to let a good character die, British horror and fantasy author Angeline Trevena has accumulated several characters from previously unfinished books, to populate the dystopian world of The Bottle Stopper.
Currently available for pre-order on Kindle, this tense adult horror tracks the story of Maeve, as she devises a murderous plan to free herself from her violent, abusive uncle.
Born and bred in a rural corner of Devon, Angeline now lives among the breweries and canals of central England, with her husband, their son, and a somewhat neurotic cat. She's been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen, and released her d├ębut novella, Cutting the Bloodline, in May.
The Bottle Stopper, the first book of The Paper Duchess series, is set 100 years after the world we know today, in a society where the birth rate of girls is at a catastrophic low. Desperate for protection, women turned to the state, but that protection came at a price. Namely; their freedom
Maeve lives outside of the overbearing administration, in the slums of Falside. Having been torn from the arms of her mother at six years old, Maeve, now seventeen, works in her uncle's apothecary shop, bottling his medicines. But these are not medicines that are going to make anyone better. In fact, once Maeve puts her plan into action, they may well be deadly.

“Angeline Trevena, with her ever fertile imagination, creates dystopian visions of the future that are both innovative and chilling. ”
-Tony Benson, author of dystopian thriller, An Accident of Birth


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Aging ungracefully, set to music

Since I live in Florida, I'm surrounded by people decades older than I am. This has become more so since our move to the 55+ gated community. The rest of the world is reminding me that I'm getting older. I could be the mother of a good portion of my coworkers, and then there's social media. Aaaargh, social media.

On Facebook, Greg Kihn posted a query to people of what their favorite song in high school had been. Everyone answered with 1980's songs, since that was Kihn's heyday. I didn't really have one; most of the music on the radio was disco. I love any song with a beat, but none of them stood out as a favorite. The only album I owned when I went to college was Billy Joel's Glass Houses, released in 1980 - at the tail end of my senior year in high school.

A friend then posted a survey on what the worst song they'd ever heard was. Those rude little whippersnappers had the nerve to tell me my choices were too old! Not sure if that means they believe all older songs are good (I can attest otherwise), or that I wasn't allowed to participate in music surveys any more. We did find some common ground on "We Built This City". Not even Toni Basil's "Ricky" or Charlene's "I've Never Been to Me" made me grit my teeth as hard.

So, I would like to conduct my own survey. What do YOU think is the worst song you've ever heard?

Don't tell me 'modern music' or 'hip hop' or 'anything by Lady Gaga'... we will not insult the whippersnappers, who need better behavior modeled for them. Remember that your own parents said the same about your music once upon a time. Plus, not liking a genre means you probably lack the judgment to identify a truly bad song within it.

I'm asking for song titles and, preferably, performer as well. Go.

Mine is still "We Built This City".

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Museum of Witchcraft Diary: Book Launch to be held at the Museum in October

You may remember that I interviewed Anthony Crowley last year. He will be launching his new book at the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall this October.

"Doomsday Over Cornwall"

Museum of Witchcraft Diary: Book Launch to be held at the Museum in October:

The Museum will be the location of a book launch for the author Anthony Crowley this October.
Click the link above for more information!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

David Dunwoody: A Grin in the Dark

I'd like to welcome our guest blogger today, David Dunwoody!

Born in Texas and currently wandering somewhere in Utah, David Dunwoody writes subversive horror fiction including the EMPIRE series, HELL WALKS, THE 3 EGOS, and the collections DARK ENTITIES and UNBOUND & OTHER TALES. His fiction has been published by outfits such as Gallery, Shroud, Dark Regions, Belfire, Evil Jester, Permuted and Chaosium.

In this post, Dunwoody takes on a subject near and dear to my heart: humor in horror fiction.

About a decade ago when I was first published, I wanted to be known for dark, dark fiction. An eight ball at the bottom of the ocean at midnight, that kind of dark. I wanted readers to come away from my novels feeling drained. And I still do, but I’ve come to realize that there’s such a thing as balance, even in a realm of writing where doom and gloom pervade. Especially then.

There are few involuntary responses which we all share. Two are the belly laugh and gut-twisting dread. Though they may seem strange bedfellows at the onset, humor and terror often complement one another quite nicely in fiction. When thinking back over some of the darkest, scariest works I’ve ever read, I can’t help but notice that many feature moments of black humor and even laugh-out-loud bits. Some of the funniest people I’ve ever met are horror writers (they’re also by far the most normal, but that’s another blog). So how do scares and chuckles work together without being jarring?

Sometimes the jarring effect is exactly what works. The levity of a humorous moment, followed by a radical shift in tone, strikes one hell of a contrast. That may sound like the anatomy of a cheap scare, but I think it’s all in the execution. Perhaps the main thing to consider in such a case is whether you’re doing it for the story or the future reader. Are you in the moment? You’re not a short-order cook, after all and you, of course, write for yourself first.

While you don’t want to manufacture forced scares in service to your prospective audience, you don’t want to stand in your own way either when it comes to humor. Follow your gut on these questions of tone. Most of my novels are apocalyptic in  nature and there are many tremendously dark moments, unrelenting moments when I am unable to step back and catch my breath. When they have their place, bits of levity can be a welcome respite and a chance to explore other aspects of my characters.

With regard to characters, humor can also work well when following terror, or a scene of intense sadness or hopelessness. In life, we often deal with such feelings by cracking wise. It’s a coping mechanism and one of the things that makes us human. It makes characters human too. (Or let’s say relatable, for those non-human ones.)

Just as fear takes different forms, and encroaches by varying degrees, so too does humor. From outright absurdity, to inside jabs between friends, to the all-too-true sentiment that elicits a sardonic smile, there is a lot to work with.

I’d never say that everyone should always try to inject humor into their dark fiction – but I will say that, if your muse is suggesting you do it, don’t shy away. Don’t worry that it’s going to water down the product. Follow your gut! A grin in the dark only makes its surroundings that much darker.

Learn more about David Dunwoody's work at . See the trailer below to learn more about The 3 Egos.