Women in Horror Interviews Part IV

For the month of March, in order to celebrate Women in Horror, I’ll be highlighting interviews with some of the authors that appear in Hush, Don’t Wake the Monster – Stories Inspired by Stephen King Women in Horror Anthology.

Trisha Ridinger McKee author of “Finding Toni”

Which Stephen King novel/short story inspired your short story?

Pet Sematary

Who’s your favorite modern female author?

There are so many, and it depends on what I’m in the mood to read. I love Eden Royce, Elin Hilderbrand, Kristin Hannah, and so many more. I love giving new authors a chance as well.

Which song would be the soundtrack to your story?

I Would Die 4 U by Prince

What are some of your current writing projects?

I will have three novellas coming out in time for Valentine’s. I’m hoping to get my thriller book out sometime this year.

Who’s your favorite final girl and why?

Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street. That was the horror series I grew up with, and I love her strength and persistence.

Amy Grech author of “Dead Eye”

Which Stephen King novel/short story inspired your short story?

“Apt Pupil” inspired my story, “Dead Eye”, in which a young boy discovers the perils of hunting fair game firsthand.

Who’s your favorite modern female author?

Samantha Kolesnik — she’s award-winning author of genre fiction, including True Crime and Waif. True Crime examines nature vs. nurture in the origin of a serial killer.

Which song would be the soundtrack to your story?

“Billy’s Got a Gun” by Def Leppard.

What are some of your current writing projects?

I’m seeking a publisher for my NYC Crime novellas, Alphabet City/Vicious Pink.

Alisha Galvan author of “As for the Fallen Seed”

Which Stephen King novel/short story inspired your short story?

The Stephen King novel that inspired my story was Misery, how Annie started as a young child and grew into the crazed woman she became. I always love a good creepy kid story, but I wanted to take it a bit further; Annie wasn’t just some obsessed fan of Paul Sheldon, her morbid fascination runs in her bloodline.

Who’s your favorite modern female author?

Picking just one female author is impossible, but a few of my favorites are Gillian Flynn, Alice Feeney, and Karin Slaughter. I love twisty dark thrillers as much as horror.

Which song would be the soundtrack to your story?

The song that I listened to often while writing this story was Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men.

What are some of your current writing projects?

Currently, I am in the final stages of publishing a short horror story collection entitled A Path Through the Forest, my goal is to have it available to readers by January 2023. I am also querying agents with an emotional thriller novel titled Autumn. My current work in progress, Bitter Crown of Thistle, is a dark thriller.

Read Trisha Ridinger McKee, Amy Grech & Alisha Galvan’s stories in Hush, Don’t Wake the Monster along with other amazing authors!

Purchase book here!


Out Now: Hush, Don’t Wake the Monster – Stories Inspired by Stephen King

I’m so proud to announce that the fourth book (can’t believe we’re at four!) of Women in Horror Anthology series, Hush, Don’t Wake the Monster – Stories Inspired by Stephen King is FINALLY OUT!

A collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by and in tribute to, Stephen King.

Stephen King is a seminal writer of horror, whose influence transcends the literary sphere, having also taken the cinematic world by storm – and ultimately delivering nightmares to generations for almost five decades.

This fourth anthology of the Women in Horror series edited by Azzurra Nox brings together a diverse group of female writers who contribute their personal twist to the works of Stephen King.

Featured authors include: Andrea Teare, Rachel Bolton, Marnie Azzarelli, Lauri Christopher, Kay Hanifen, Hannah Brown, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, L. E. Daniels, Sealey Andrews, Christabel Simpson, Alisha Galvan, Rebecca Rowland, Cheryl Zaidan, Amy Grech, Jane Nightshade, Trisha Ridinger McKee, and Azzurra Nox.

If you’re a fan of Stephen King, you’re going to LOVE this book!





The excerpt below is from the short story, “Red Snow.”

Something had awakened Chloe. But what? The home was silent, except for the fireplace crackling downstairs. She sat up and quickly noticed what was wrong. Sitting on her bed was a Pierrot the Clown doll. But it wasn’t just any doll, it had belonged to Madison. A little whimper escaped her lips, as her vision blurred. The doll slowly turned its head, as though someone had cranked its wind in the back, and began to hum the song, Carol of the Bells.

Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells.

Chloe pushed the doll off of the bed and got out, rummaging through her weekend bag, searching for the anxiety meds her therapist had prescribed for her. She took two pills out and shoved them into her mouth and hurried down the hall.

This had all been a mistake. She should’ve known better than to come back here. She was a fool. A damn fool. She rushed downstairs, making a mad dash for the kitchen.

“What are you doing up?” Jared said, looking up from his glass of whiskey.

“I…I woke up…” She tried to keep her voice calm.

“Don’t you think you’re a bit too old for pink hair?”

Chloe touched her strands self-consciously, she had always hated how judgmental he could be.

“I wanted a change,” she whispered. She put on the kettle, she was in dire need of a hot drink, possibly one that could soothe her nerves.

“She always adored you,” Jared said, staring absently into his drink.

He didn’t have to say her name for Chloe to know that he was referring to Madison.

“I know. I loved her very much too.”

Chloe looked out of the kitchen window, the snow was coming down harder now, and in the distance was the forest. From the window the forest looked picturesque, worthy of a Christmas card, but Chloe knew better. What happened that night two years ago was impossible to forget. She couldn’t bring herself to conjure back the memories lest she would find herself out in the cold night, shouting into the void as the pristine snow was stained crimson. Her heart raced and she jumped when the kettle whistled jolting her back to the present, out of the cold night of her past and back into the cozy present.

Jared was still at the table, leafing through a picture book when Chloe sat down with a cup of chamomile tea.

“What’s that?”

“It’s was Madison’s,” he said, pushing the makeshift book towards her.

Chloe recognized the drawings, it wasn’t the first time she had seen them. The crayon sketches made her blood turn cold. The jagged lines and the red. She flipped the pages to the beginning and read its title, The Blood Witch. She turned the page and glanced down at the familiar handwriting, a look of anguish crossed her face.

Once upon a time, there lived an old witch in the forest.

Chloe skipped a few pages and stopped at the drawing of a witch with a pointy hat and sharp teeth dance around a cauldron filled with children, as the flames rose above them all.

The witch liked to eat little boys and girls. Itty bitty morsels. Sometimes she’d cook them in a big pot.

She knew what the following page would depict and yet, it still disturbed her when she saw it. The witch, this time was taking a bite out of a little boy, as the little boy tried to run away. This page was heavily consumed in red crayon, Madison’s strokes were harsh as though someone else had possessed her hand.

Sometimes, the witch would simply take a big bite!

The little boy in the drawing was crying as the Blood witch’s jaw came down on his arm. Chloe could feel her own scars on her arm glower in pain.

As though he could read her mind, Jared said, “What really happened that night?”

With shaky hands, Chloe turned over to the next page.

Don’t go into the forest. Don’t say her name.

“You two always had your secrets. Your secret language. Your stories….”

Chloe closed her eyes, bracing herself. She was in the woods with Madison. Her red coat a stark contrast against the snow. She and Madison loved creating their own stories, her niece preferred Chloe’s stories over the conventional fairytales. But their stories rarely ended in a happily ever after. Both aunt and niece favored the macabre and when they noticed a little house stuck in the woods, they wrote about the Blood Witch.

That night though, the unthinkable became reality. Madison stood close to the little house in the woods and called out into the darkness, “Blood Witch! Blood Witch! Come out and play!”

Chloe hadn’t noticed that Madison was missing until she heard the screams in the forest. She ran as fast as she could, with heart galloping in her chest, so afraid of what she might find once she got there. The first thing she noticed was the blood. Madison’s red coat discarded and torn, without her in it. Her therapist insisted that this part was untrue. That what she saw that night in the forest wasn’t real. That shock made her believe that their story unfolded.

“What happened!” Jared slammed his fist on the table, jerking Chloe back to the present.

“You know what happened. I tried to save her, you know that.”

“But I just can’t wrap my head around how a coyote could do that to my child!”

Chloe’s eyes filled with tears. Coyote. It’s what the coroner had settled on. But Chloe had seen the Blood Witch and her awfully sharp teeth. She had done everything she could to pull Madison back and out of her grip, but the witch had bit into her own arm, the same arm that now bore the ugly scars of that night.

“I did everything I could,” she murmured, closing the booklet with a loud clap. Then she stood up and headed back to bed. She took two pills and hugged the Pierrot the Clown that still held Madison’s scent, and fell into a restless sleep.


Coming Soon: “Fields of Blood”

If you listen carefully, sometimes at half past midnight, you can hear her voice. Florence Wakefield. The ghost of Gold Petal Fields. Her blood is in these fields. It’s why the trees are sick, their roots gnarled. Some say if you cut through the wood, you can see it—her blood in the lumber. They never should’ve used this land for anything, but the modern man rejects folklore, says that it’s mere superstitions, that there’s nothing to be found in these fields but your own shallow breath.

I know you may think that I’m crazy, but if you’re going to heed any lesson from my testimony, it’s this: Don’t tread on Florence’s land, or you’ll be sorry. I saw her ten years ago, it’s why I look like this, so I beg you, don’t go. Don’t go to Gold Petal Fields. That land is cursed.


“What do you make of that mumbo jumbo?” I say to Dave as I dip another chip into the bowl of salsa sitting between us.

“I don’t know. We can’t discredit her story as false, something happened to her in those fields to look the way she does.”

I nod, although I’m skeptical of the paranormal. Just because I’ve ventured on this podcast adventure with Dave doesn’t mean that I necessarily believe all the crazy stories we get sent to investigate. Especially since we’ve been able to debunk all of the ghost sightings we’ve investigated so far. Dave and I began our podcast “Agents of Spook” together three years ago, and ever since, our weekly listeners have increased exponentially. Our winning card is having video footage of our ghost hunting to go along with our podcast on our YouTube channel.

“I believe that she had a freak accident,” I concede. “But do I think that a two-hundred-sixty-five year-old ghost is to blame for her blindness? No, I don’t.”

Dave moves the cursor back on the video, rewinding it to the last few minutes and replays it.

“It’s why I look like this, so I beg you don’t go.”

He freezes the frame.

“You see that, Blythe?” He’s pointing to the computer screen, where Amanda Manthis stares blankly, or at least just sits there—I’m not sure how you can describe someone whose eyes are missing.

“What does that prove? Besides, she sent us this video, but then warns us not to go. It’s almost like she’s begging for us to go.” I dunk another chip in the salsa, scooping up a hefty amount before putting it in my mouth

“Maybe she only wants to know if what she thinks she saw was real or if something else happened to her entirely.”

I grab the packets of paper Dave printed earlier. Anything he was able to find about Florence Wakefield are in these papers. Legend has it that Florence Wakefield, the only child of the widowed oil tycoon Beau Wakefield, was brutally murdered by a group of villagers when rumors of witchcraft surfaced. Florence allegedly gave a poisoned concoction to a young teenage girl, Lydia Carson who had sought her herbal services. Modern medicine notes that perhaps the girl, unbeknownst to her, was deathly allergic to “eye of newt” or nowadays known in less Gothic terms as mustard seeds. These seeds were found to be part of the herbal tea that the young Lydia ingested. But Lydia’s father was distraught by his favored daughter’s death and vowed to seek revenge. When Beau Wakefield left town for a business venture to San Francisco, Mr. Carson, along with eleven other men, marched to the Wakefield estate. If Florence were a typical girl of her upbringing, they wouldn’t have been able to do what they did to her. But Florence wasn’t safe at home when they came looking for her. No. She was out in the fields. According to the historical documents and newspaper clippings, the men beat her and then tied her up to a stake where the crows pecked at her eyes. By the time the servants found her, it was too late. Florence was dead.

I set the papers back down on the desk, shaking my head.

“This is so disturbing.”

“Oh, but you haven’t heard it all . Exactly one month after her death, people began to see her ghost in the fields at night. Or as they said, a young woman wearing a pale pink dress. According to legend, it’s believed that if you try to communicate with the ghost, she lets you taste a dose of what she went through.”

“And that brings us back to why Amanda Manthis’ eyes look the way they do.”

“Yes,” Dave says. “That’s exactly it.”

“All of this is very fascinating, but you know that I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“I know you don’t. But that’s why we need to investigate and capture any weird phenomena with our trusty Canons.”

I look back up at Amanda’s freeze-framed face. She doesn’t look much older than thirty. Her brown hair is tied back as freckles adorn her button nose. But her eyes, or at least where her eyes used to be, are hollowed out. Heavy scar tissue now covers what used to be bleeding wounds. A chill runs down my spine, but I ignore it.

“Let’s do this,” I say.



Coming Soon! & Cover Reveal: Vicious Traditions – Tales of Terror and the Grotesque

After focusing my attention on multi-author anthologies for the past few years, I’ve decided to take a break from that and release a collection of my own short stories.

Most of the stories are new, although there may be a couple that have been previously published in other anthologies.

The stories you’ll find in this collection range from various degrees of dark, twisted, and speculative horror.

If you love vampire, witches, ghosts, and werewolves with a new fresh twist on old tropes, then you might enjoy the stories in Vicious Traditions.

VICIOUS TRADITIONS is due February 1, 2022.


Book Review: We Are Wolves – A Horror Anthology

Once upon a time, there was a woman, and she was tired.

Order on Amazon!

Release Date: December 4, 2020

Publisher: Burial Day Books

Price: $13.99 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

Tired of pushing. Tired of being pushed. Tired of feeling alone. Tired of so much.

So she gathered together a pack of wolves, a band of mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, partners, friends, lovers, survivors, victors and brilliant, shining things, and she told them to sing.

And sing they did.

Grade: A-


From the very beginning this anthology packs a punch. Gemma Amor’s introduction is both brutally honest and harrowing but gives the reader insight into what they’re going to expect from the stories found within this anthology. Many new talents from the horror community are found within its pages, and if you follow the new voices, you’ll be pleased by what they have to offer. The stories range from murder, revenge, sci-fi, and body horror, but what they all have in common is the will of the protagonists to rise above their adversaries and take hold of their narrative. I really enjoyed this collection and the proceeds of the sales go to charities involving survivors of sexual assault and abuse, so essentially it’s a win-win situation.

Standouts: The Black Wall Paper by Cynthia Pelayo, Though Your Heart is Breaking by Laurel Hightower, Angel by Gemma Amor, A Key For Any Lock by S.H. Cooper, and Doll House by Red Lagoe.

I recommend picking this book up if you’re a fan of horror and women-driven stories, you won’t be disappointed.


Book Excerpt: “Baby Teeth” from Midnight in the Pentagram

“I had to do it,” I say. “I had no choice.” I pick at a hangnail, watch the blood pool beneath my thumb and press it against my mouth to suck on the blood. The taste of copper comforts me as I try to ignore an itch at the center of my palm. I adjust myself on the seat, although the handcuff on my right-hand keeps me tethered to the chair.

“I know you’ve said this before, Melissa. But I’m finding it difficult to understand.” The prison psychiatrist stares at me over her black rim glasses. Her dark hair is pulled back in a tight bun at the base of her neck. She sighs, tapping the pencil against her notebook, reading over the arresting officer’s scribbled notes about me. “It says here that you killed your daughter.”

“You’re not listening to me. I had to do it.” My voice is cold, unfeeling. Ana wasn’t my daughter. At least, not anymore. Something had taken possession of her. Something evil.


Excerpt of my short story, “Baby Teeth” out today in Midnight in the Pentagram, out NOW!

The other amazing authors:
Brian Keene
Graham Masterton
Jason Parent
Catherine Cavendish
James Newman
Tim Curran
Allan Leverone
PD Cacek
Todd Keisling
William Meikle
Chad Lutzke
Laurel Hightower
Owl Goingback
Tony Tremblay
Tim Meyer
Shannon Felton
Brian Moreland
Kenneth W. Cain
Armand Rosamilia
Charlotte Platt
Wesley Southard
JG Faherty
John Quick
Edward M Erdelac
Cameron Ulam
Kenneth McKinley
Michael Patrick Hicks
Bob Ford
Mark Towse
Mark Steensland
Amanda Niehaus-Hard


Excerpts From: Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology


It’s officially Women in Horror Month and in less than two weeks, this anthology will be released (February 18!). You can pre-order the book in both ebook and paperback formats! If you’re from the Los Angeles area, then you can find signed copies of the book over at Skylight Books (1818 N. Vermont Ave.!).

Excerpt from Night Terrors by Angela Sylvaine

I wake up unable to move, pinned to my bed by an invisible force. I struggle against it but can’t even wiggle my little finger. Each beat of my pulse pounds through my veins. My eyes are wide open. I try to blink, but even my eyelids are frozen, immovable. With my head locked in place, I can only stare straight up at the ceiling. What’s holding me down? Why can’t I move?

The air is too thin. I can hardly breathe. Every muscle in my body tenses as I twist and strain, but it’s no use.

My vision is hazy as if my face is covered by a gauze veil. Blurred figures are visible in my peripheral. They wear light blue tops, surgical masks, hospital caps, and latex gloves. There are seven in all, three on each side of the bed and one at the foot. I want to open my mouth, to scream for help, but I can’t.

That figure at the foot of the bed speaks, his voice the low baritone of a man.
I strain to hear. Something about administering medication. The person closest to my head on the left responds, “Yes, doctor.” A woman. She has something in her hand. I focus on the object, try to see through the veil.

A syringe.

My breath catches in my throat. No. Leave me alone. Let me go!

Pain pricks the inside of my elbow, and a slow burn spreads through my veins, building into a raging inferno. Tremors shake my body, and a scream swells in my throat. Unable to open my mouth, the shriek stays locked inside, silently ripping through my brain.

Excerpt from Leda and the Fly by Marnie Azzarelli

But that noise, that thing on her wall was neither plain nor right. The thunder was spreading to her chest, walloping her ribcage with each loud boom. She got up achingly, her body accustomed to anything but her bed. She crouched when she got closer to the wall, her knees popping protest, but she knew she needed to be as quiet as possible.

She moved in closer to the ring of light and that terrible sound like a stalking cat ready to spring; her body taut and still, her eyes closed to slits. The thing started to flit in and out of the light, but Leda’s usually dulled senses were sharpening just by the sight of her prey. She could see it almost too clearly.

It was there staining her pristine wall with its filth covered feet, buzzing, buzzing, buzzing through the quiet of her mind.

A fly.
Musca domestica.

Six hair-covered legs, antennae, a small head with two compound eyes, prothorax, mesothorax, a large abdomen, and two transparent wings.

Its front two feet were probing the pure white of Leda’s wall, searching for sustenance only to buzz out its frustrations over the empty surface. Her frustration was built on its existence in her, once sacred, space. Her only solitude after her body had been hollowed out, wiped clean from the toxins and waste that fly thrived on.

She felt the storm rage throughout her and let it out with a low moan, her vocal cords cracking to attention after months of disuse. She groaned softly at first, her knees starting to shake slightly. She took another step towards the fly and her voice came out louder, her legs ready to give out on her in any second.

The fly buzzed louder, startled by the other presence in the room. Its movements became a little more frantic as it bounced to different parts of the lit wall. Leda tried to follow, but she was so focused on that one spot, she couldn’t imagine it going anywhere else. But it decided to move and ruin more and more of her wall.

She started to cry, small tears hot and salty falling down her tingling face. Her nerve endings were all firing at once and she suddenly felt like she was dancing on a thousand pins and needles. Each step was another sharp stab to her that almost broke the skin but didn’t. Her legs finally gave out on her and she fell keening to the carpet.

Patterns of Faerytales by Azzurra Nox

A dreadful chill ran down his spine. It was like having a million spiders crawling down his back. He shivered. The last thing he wanted to do was lose his soul mate.
“So what exactly am I supposed to do with this box?”
“Keep it locked and away from Olivia.”
“Why haven’t you just buried it then?”
The look she gave Cillian was that of disbelief, almost as though he had suggested torching the damn box.
“You must never do such a thing!”
“Why not?”
“Because this is part of her, and you can’t bury it like it’s a box of bones you’re trying to get rid of!”
“What would happen?”
“There could be fatal consequences.” With that, she got up and handed the box to Cillian. “Be careful, and remember….never let her see the contents of this box! Keep it locked.” And with those parting words, Lydia left as swiftly as she had entered.


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Excerpts from: Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology

Strange Girls - High Resolution

In five weeks, Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology will drop just in time to celebrate Women in Horror Month. The stories found within this anthology are very diverse. They range from slasher, psychological horror, sci-fi horror, Gothic, mythological, thriller, and speculative. But the common ground is that the girls presented in the anthology are all uniquely strange in their own ways with elements of horror.

If you’re a reviewer on NetGalley, the book is currently there for you to pick up in exchange for a review. For the rest of you, here’s a small sample of what sort of stories you’re bound to come across in the book:

Excerpt from “Tribal Influence” by Erica Ruhe

“Por favor! You don’t understand,” the terrified mother pleaded in Spanish. “My daughter needs special care. Only I can look after her.”
A guard stood stone-faced on the other side of the open chain link gate.
“Ma’am, the child needs to come with me.” He gestured the girl forward. “Vamos, chica.”
“Mama?” The little girl’s dark brown eyes grew wide. Her father stepped in front of his wife and child.
“No!” he demanded. “My daughter is staying with us.”
The overflowing detainment center hummed with apprehension. Confused conversation and the shuffling of feet hung heavy under the musty weight of acrid sweat and fear.
“Por favor, she is a very special girl,” the mother continued. “You must let me stay with her.”
The guard pulled out his baton.
“Sir, step aside. Ma’am—”
“My daughter needs me.” Tears rolled down the mother’s cheeks. “Por favor, let us stay together!”
“Hey!” An impatient supervisor called across the imprisoned throng of immigrants. “What’s the hold up, Sam? We gotta keep these cattle moving!”
“My daughter is not going anywhere,” the father insisted.
“Listen to me!” The guard pointed his baton at the young Guatemalan family. “Escúchame! Tu hija viene conmigo.”
“No, Mama!” the little girl clutched her mother’s neck. “No, Mama! No, no, no!”
The mother began to shake.
“Shh, shh, my love,” she cooed, suddenly sinking to her knees. A strange vacancy filled her face as the blood drained out of her cheeks.
“Mama!” the girl wept.
“Last warning.” The guard pushed the father aside with his baton. “Mueve tu culo.”
But the father stepped in again, this time turning to his girls.
“Joaquina?” the father asked, tension in his voice. “Joaquina?”
“Enough dicking around!” the guard shoved the father aside. “C’mon!”
He grabbed the mother’s arm but he faltered and gasped.
“Let her go!” the father cried out. “Let her go!”
“What the hell?” the guard yelled, holding up a shaking hand to his face. “What the fuck is happening?”
The mother looked up from her crying child, tears trembling on the rims of her eyelids. She gazed in to the guard’s eyes with an eerie stillness.
“I can’t stop it,” she whispered.
“Sam?” the supervisor called, concerned.
The guard suddenly spasmed, as if stung. He grabbed his heart. Eyes rolled back. Jaw snapped wide. And in the next instant, his terrified scream consumed him.

Excerpt from “Sideshow” by Jude Reid

His tongue is in her mouth again.

Against her back, she can feel the fabric of the tent, the wet canvas smell mixing with the taste of ketchup and soda and Juicy Fruit gum. Her right hand is closed around a guy-rope; her left, for want of anywhere else to put it, is on Richie’s belt. He has taken hold of her right breast and is squeezing it rhythmically and not especially gently. This is your fault, she thinks to herself, eyes closed and mouth open. You didn’t say no.

The tongue retracts back into his mouth, slick, fat and slug-like. She imagines it leaving a trail of thick mucus behind itself, and her stomach lurches at the thought, sending a tide of acid rushing into her mouth. Her own tongue flicks out and runs across her lower lip, as if it were possible to lick away every trace he had left behind.

Excerpt from “The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding” by Sam Lauren

Barb washed her panties in the bathroom sink between classes and the water ran pink. It stained her nails. She scrubbed them with hand soap and course paper towels but they never came clean. Neither did the panties.

It was her first time. Some of us knew how she felt. We didn’t give her advice; we teased her as if we didn’t have folded bits of toilet paper stuffed between our linens and our aching, leaking bodies.

By the fifth day everyone knew. Boys wouldn’t touch her. Girls claimed to smell her from lockers away.

The Bible says a bleeding woman is unclean. We thought it was funny, a myth, a lie told by parents to make kids remain chaste. It didn’t prepare us for Barb.

Two weeks in she killed a plant. We can’t prove it but they both sat by the window, wilting in their own filth. The plant hadn’t changed its dirt. She hadn’t changed her panties. Some say she touched the stem of the flower, turned it toward the light, but others say it died just from being near her.

A month later she was still scrubbing her panties after every bell.

Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology drops February 18, 2020 but is available for pre-order!


Bookstagrammer @hauntedbydeadlines

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What Does It Mean To Edit an Anthology? – The 10 Steps You Need to Take!

My American Nightmare 2

Two years ago I put together my first anthology, My American Nightmare – Women in Horror Anthology. I had always wanted to put together an anthology, and finally, after much thought and trepidation, I decided to bite the bullet and launch myself headfirst into this project.

The experience was both overwhelming and fulfilling. I got to read a lot of awesome horror short stories and in turn, meet new authors and become acquainted with their works.

Many people may not understand what exactly an anthology editor does, or may think that we simply select the stories, check for typos, and then slap our names on the cover. However, there’s a lot of work involved in the whole process and it’s a process that takes up several months, if not almost a year before the book is ready to be released to the world.

Now, for the second time, I’ll be putting on my anthology editor hat on and selecting stories for my upcoming anthology collection: Strange Girls – Women in Horror Anthology.

Below are the Ten Steps I do while putting together an anthology.

Step One. Select the Theme

For both anthologies, I knew that I wanted to help promote the writing of women in horror. Why am I closing the doors to the other half of the writing population? Simple. The horror genre has always been noted to be male-dominated, but women too have written some notable horror novels and short stories (from Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, and Poppy Z. Brite just to name a few). For my first anthology, I knew that I wanted all the stories to have the U.S. as the setting, hence the title, My American Nightmare. For my current anthology, I knew that I wanted to explore the theme of Strange Girls, and what exactly it is about these girls that makes them strange.

Step Two. Advertise the Call for Submissions

After I select the theme, I write up an open submission call on my official author website and share the link on all my social media venues. Also, Stuart Conover from Horror Tree has been invaluable in his support by posting my submission call on his website, which has helped word of mouth travel extensively fast because of this. In the submission call, I not only state the guidelines and theme but also set a deadline and state the author’s compensation.

Step Three. Read the Short Stories

Once the stories start pouring in I begin reading right away (so that I’m not overwhelmed by reading a ton of short stories all at once) and also have found that this way it gives the stories time to marinate in my head and allow me to see which ones have remained memorable and which have become forgettable. By the deadline date, I usually have an idea of which stories will make the cut and which will not.

Step Four. Select and Reject Stories

This is where I make two lists, Accept vs. Decline, and start compiling which stories go where. Sometimes, I’ll put some stories in the Maybe file and read them over another two or three times before I decide if they’ll be a good fit for my theme. Once that’s complete, then I send out rejection and acceptance emails.

Step Five. Contracts & Issue Payment

Whenever you’re putting together an anthology it’s important to have each author sign a contract so that they are aware of their compensation and what to expect. This helps things become official and allows both you and the author to hold each other accountable to keep up both ends of the contract.

For payment, since it is an anthology and trying to figure out how to divide royalties evenly amongst a large group of people, I have found that a FLAT FEE is the best way to go. This is not to skimp out on the authors, it’s actually more in the authors best interest as if I were to divide the royalties, depending on sales they’d only be making a few cents. Besides, all money I made from My American Nightmare was used to cover expenses for the cover art, formatting, and promos, and to fund new future anthologies.

Step Six. Editing

Now the editing begins. Usually, there are three rounds and they go like this:

Developmental Editing: This is where you look for plot holes and what doesn’t make sense.

Line Editing: Checking if all sentences make sense.

Copy Editing: This is where you check grammar, spelling errors, and typos.

And then once the editing is over, that’s when you have to decide what order the stories go in. Again, this is kind of an art form that needs mastering. For my first anthology, I decided to start and end the anthology with what I thought were the strongest stories. Then I arranged others where I alternated between a long and short one and also if one was too similar in theme to another, I would space it out.

Step Seven. Choose The Cover

For my previous books, I’ve relied on James’ (goonwrite.com) graphics expertise. I can’t state how crucial it is to have an attractive book cover, cause people DO judge a book by its cover (at least on the first impact). The majority of the times, the cover alone will sell the book (not everyone reads the blurb or looks inside the book!). So, if you’re not competent or don’t have the means to design a book cover yourself, delegate this job to someone else who’s a professional. I REALLY RECOMMEND THIS.

Step Eight. Formatting the Book

Both ebooks and print require formatting the original file. I can’t stress how important this part of the process is, because if the book isn’t correctly formatted, then readers will have trouble reading your work, and if readers are having trouble reading, then you can bet they’re going to give up and leave a poor rating to boot! So, again, if you’re not competent with formatting digital or print files, then pay someone for this service. I’ve always done this and it’s one last thing I need to worry about.

Step Nine. Book Promos Ahead of Time & Send ARCS

Even before the book is released I begin contacting book bloggers for interviews or reviews, I book a book blog tour in advance (especially if you want them to coincide with your release date), sent out ARCS to reviewers, send out promo kits to the authors to help promote the book in their area. With My American Nightmare, I had both business cards and postcards made and also bought merch for an author in the anthology since she had gotten a table at a Halloween con in her area to help promote the book.

Ten. Upload & Publish the Book

Upload the book to retail sites (in my case I prefer to use Amazon) and contact any indie bookstores who may be interested in carrying a couple of copies of your book in their stores.

PHEW! So that’s the TEN STEPS required to do to publish an anthology! So if you’re interested in putting your own anthology together, this is pretty much a rough estimate of what you need to consider before you take the plunge!

Oh! And just as an FYI, I have funded these anthologies on my own (I know some like to have crowdfunding to help with expenses and that’s fine), but I don’t like having to worry about trying to raise money while also doing all those other steps in between!

Let me know if you’ve put an anthology together or are planning to put one together!


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