Women in Horror Month!

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I only yesterday found out that this is a thing! February is the Women in Horror month!! How did I not know this? So I thought I had better get in on this thing, as I am both a woman and a writer of horror.

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Traditionally, women have had a hard time in the horror genre. It is dominated by Kings and other manly things like that, but there are some spectacular notables in the genre. Off the top of my head, I get the Dark Lady herself: Anne Rice, whose vampire novels still top the genre lists. Shirley Jackson, author of “The Haunting of Hill House” is another top-selling author who excels and creeping people out. And of course the Mother of all Women in Horror: Mary Shelley, who defied the stigma and the times to write “Frankenstein” in 1818.

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Of the newer writers of horror, I am sadly in the dark. Searching for more of my gender in this genre I find unfamiliar names, some of which have been around a while! I guess I’ve never really sought out horror specifically written by women before. Is that my bad? Or is it that I truly don’t care what gender the writer is? Personally, while I totally want to support my fellow females, and feel we really do rate equal standing in the genre, I don’t think anyone should purchase a book based on what sex, race, creed, or nationality the author is. They should buy the book based on whether they like what the book’s about.

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That being said, I have found a few female horror writers that I want to check out. Looking around the #WiHM7 page, these authors have stood out for me, and I will be checking out their books.

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Maquel A. Jacob has a short story collection “Welcome Despair” published, and a sci-fi horror (she says like Event Horizon… OMG!) and vampire novel in the works. I feel she is my kinda peep because she often gets her ideas from dreams, just like me! She is also not afraid of gore and likes aliens, demons and vampires. Totally keeping my eye on this girl! http://horrortree.com/women-in-horror-month-special-interview-with-maquel-a-jacob/

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E. A. Black has written a lot of short horror stories that have appeared in collections like “Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales Of Body Enhancements Gone Bad”, which gives me chills from the title alone. The excerpt they give from Infection that appears in “Teeming Terrors”, is both enthralling and creepy. I’m a ‘bug’ person, owning tarantulas that I call ‘my babies’, and I was chewing my nails while wanting to read the rest of the story! https://ninadarc.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/women-in-horror-month-2016-featured-author-e-a-black-elizabethablack-wihm7/

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Carrie Ryan author of “The Forest of Hands and Teeth”, which is not only a teen dystopian but also a zombie book. I have read “Hare Moon: An Original Forest of Hands and Teeth Story” and I like it. Now I have to read the rest of them! My husband, who is on a Zombie kick, found the set and recommended I take a look. A New York Times Best Seller, she takes Zombies out of the corny, testosterone zone and into creative creep! http://www.carrieryan.com/fht/

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While I would one day love to be compared with these great horror writing chickas, right now I will be fangirling the girls! I invite you to do the same, and if you have a female horror writer that you feel needs a heads up, DO TELL!

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impostor syndrome

As my page “Projects of the Procrastinator” shows, I have a teensy problem with putting off today, what could just as easily be put off tomorrow. Procrastinating has been a part of me for a loooooong time. I’m not sure why…. and often have tried to put my finger on the cause, too little success.

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I went to this article, Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators, with the thought that I would get a few amusing examples of famous authors who are also procrastinators. Allowing me to bemoan my fate and commiserate with some greats. I did not think I would get an AhHa! moment, then I read this:

“… they seem to be paralyzed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t very good.”

And instead of rising to the challenge of proving themselves wrong, they shut themselves down. The article calls it “self-handicapping”, and it is totally what I do to myself. The article goes on to explain why we do this to ourselves:

“The fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you ‘really’ are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome.”

Why impostor you might ask? I and apparently many other people who are procrastinators imagine myself to be a great writer (or whatever). A poet who touches souls. I master wordsmith who raises human awareness with every chapter.

When I publish this book… I get the reality.

I will be unmasked, my true self revealed, my true talent laid bare. And if you know anything at all about me, it is that I don’t like revealing myself. When I publish this book I will have to face reality, both the real and the imagined reality my very imaginative mind can come up with.

I will have to face all the opinions of people; real and imagined, and all the thoughts of people; real and imagined, and all the words, reviews, and comments of relatives; both real and imagined.

So when I sit down to write, this all combines in my head and I think… Do I really want to write today? I so don’t have the energy to fight through all that… I deserve a break, right? I really wanna watch a movie, or catch up on a TV show, or read that book, or play my video game, or…. I don’t HAVE to write today… it’s my day off right? I did all this housework I can sit down for a few hours!

And I talk myself out of it, and I feel relief, but I also feel guilt. Because I know it’s an excuse, and I know it’s all in my own head, and I’m doing it AGAIN. But the fear of losing that fantasy is worse than the guilt and shame of never really trying to make it a reality. So I handicap myself, and I’ve been doing it for most of my life.

I started on this road to publishing a novel because 911 made me realize we only get one shot at this life and that shot can end at any moment. I decided to take the plunge and do it despite this bloody fear, and its things like this article that smack me back into focus.

I MUST KEEP GOING.

I must push on. I have to sit down and type out what is in my head and then put it out there for the world to judge. Even if it hurts, even if it crushes that fantasy. Because NOT doing it is the same as jumping out of a burning building… maybe you can pretend you’re flying on the way down, but you’re not really flying, you’re just falling on your face.

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Redemption’s Power

Episode 5

(Read Episode 1: HERE)

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Cages

Three days later Chad was standing with Ms. Wick at the front gate of the Prison. He was to play a newly caught ‘bad boy’ while Ms. Wick played an ‘official person’. Shawn’s talent for illusions made Ms. Wick look like the woman on the ID card, while Wicked Green worked her talent to get the guard to do everything she said. Mitzy and Shawn were disguised as Chad’s guards under more illusions. Mechal was in place to provide the distraction. Chad felt a little worthless here; all he was doing was providing a body. Maybe he could be more useful when they got inside.

The guard let them pass, one big bad guy flanked by two guards (one a little short) and an official type woman. When they entered the big square building, Chad immediately felt like he was walking into detention at school. It was a beautiful day outside, but inside it was cold, sterile, and just plain ugly. Ms. Wick walked briskly up to the desk; her heals clicking on the tile floor and rapped on the desk to get the receptionist’s attention.

“You will open the doors to C block now.” she ordered the older lady with the pinched facebehind the desk. The lady looked like she was going to denying the order, but a second more of Wicked Green’s golden glare crumbled her will into dust.

“Yes of course.” she said simply and pushed some buttons behind the counter.

Ms. Wick ushered them beyond the first set of doors then told Shawn to drop the illusions and took Mitzy’s hand. They took off down the barren corridor as an explosion went off on the other side of the prison.

“Woopie!” Called Mitzy, “It worked!” The Guild rescued Mitzy from a military base where they were trying to make her into a new weapons manufacturer. Mitzy can infuse liquids with a unique compound that is very unstable. Most of her experiments went boom at the least opportune time. Chad could understand her joy when one actually worked as intended.

“Mechal always gets to have the most fun.” said Shawn sulkily.

“We aren’t out of here yet Shawn.” said Ms. Wick, her voice taunt with anxiety.

They broke into a run as screams echoed down the halls and another explosion shook the building. One more turn and they were there, but they had one more locked door to get through, and one more security desk.

“Chad” said Ms Wick as they rounded the corner, “ram it, we don’t have time for niceties.”

Chad saw what she meant, four security guards and several other staff stood around the desk. There was no way Ms. Wick could get them all with her talent, she had to have eye contact. Chad sped up, getting ahead of the others and bellowed a warning to the people in front of the door. He hardly felt the metal doors ripping out of their frames, but it did jolt him for a second and spin him about a little. By the time he got his forward momentum under control, the others had gotten through without much trouble.

“Did you see that big guy!?” asked Shawn as he ran up to Chad, “I totally scared those guys into running for it!”

“He made it look like a whole herd of Chad’s was charging them!” said Mitzy with a grin, “It was actually pretty smart!”

“Well played, yet we still have not acquired our target.” said Ms. Wick, bringing them back to the task at hand. Chad wasn’t sure he liked Shawn using his image to scare those people, but he was glad they had gotten through ok.

Ms. Wick stopped in front of a cell door, checked a number on her clip board, and then nodded. “This is it, we don’t have a key, Chad would you do the honors please?”

Chad nodded back and grabbed the door, digging in his fingers around the door frame. When he had a good grip he simply pulled strait out; it popped like a cork.

Ms. Wick walked into the room and said, “Come with me if you want to be free.”

For the first time Chad thought about the girl, how would she react to someone ripping out her door and asking her that? Overcome with curiosity, Chad peeked his head around the door he was still holding. What he saw was a girl with long black hair, and eyes that gripped his heart. While the room was stark white and sterile; her eyes where alive. Like a horse that had been worked near to death but still, stubbornly, tries to keep going, she looked tired and drawn out, but still ready for a fight.

Shawn pushed his head out of the way so he could see better, it was just the sort of annoying thing Shawn did on a daily basis, and Chad was sick of it. He put the door down and pushed Shawn back. Of course Shawn went flying, but Chad wasn’t out of control, he knew from long practice that Shawn would just have a few bruises. Chad heard hysterical giggling coming from inside the room, and looked back in. The girl was nearly on the floor she was laughing so hard, had she seen what he had done?

Mitzy popped in under Chad’s head and took in the scene. “Thought you said she wasn’t really nuts?”

“Well,” Ms. Wick said, a bit perplexed, “She’s not thought to be totally nuts.”

Chad thought she looked even more alive now that her eyes were full of laughter. The girl tried to control herself and answer Ms. Wick.

“No… I’m only… only half crazy!” she said and broke down laughing again. In that moment Chad thought she looked beautiful, greasy hair and white medical gown included. The girl, Cassandra, he reminded himself, stepped forward and took Ms. Wick’s outstretched hand. Now if only they could get out in one piece.

© Maria Rich 2016

(Read Episode 6: HERE) Coming soon

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new poetry, hot off the press… er… off the Word Doc.

Still wood
bird cry echo
soul reaching for what is not there.
Feet pricked by thorns
blood crumbs left on the trail
silence deafening
no one will follow.

© Maria Rich
5/25/2015

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Title Trouble

Hello fellow writers and readers! I have some questions that I would like to ask, so to start, I will ask about Titles. Titles are one of the first things people see of your book. In the case of text-only, it is the ONLY thing people see of your book beside your name. How do you pick your titles?

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I have been using the name of my protagonist (Tabeth) as my title and intended trilogy title. Other authors have used single names with success as book titles (Carrie comes to mind by Steven King, and it was one of his first successful books). What do you think of using a name as a title?

In reading about how to utilize the Amazon keywords to the max effect, I hear a lot about how putting keywords in your title is a great way to get more keywords. However, unless it is “Anita Blake Vampire Hunter” this can get very cheesy and gimmicky and I don’t want to do that. Is it acceptable to add something after the title, IN the title section, that is more descriptive? Like: Tabeth, Vampire in Search of Humanity. (Which sounds lame to me) Or “Survival isn’t always about staying alive.” (which I like but isn’t all that much more descriptive!)

This is book one of a planned trilogy, should “book 1” be IN the title? or just the description?

As part of a trilogy, I have possible titles for the next two- Tabeth: Edge of Eternity, and Tabeth: Onward into Eternity. Should I put something in the title of book one like… Opening Eternity? or just leave it Tabeth. (assuming, of course, I’m keeping that as the title)

Thank you for any and all thoughts and comments! I’ve been working on my cover today and these questions are bugging me. I can’t make the cover till I know!

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“Difficult” scenes

Owen Collins

Owen Collins

I just finished a difficult scene in my book that involved the death of a child. It left me feeling heartbroken and a little sick, but with an odd sense of satisfaction. I think the satisfaction is due to finishing it in a way that I feel does honor to the little fictional boy’s spirit. No matter that this is the only scene he’s in, and at that briefly. I didn’t want it to be a cheap thing thrown in for shock value, I don’t do that, not even to fictional little boys.

I thought up this scene months ago but didn’t actually write it till now. I wasn’t even sure it was going to be a boy or a girl. I think perhaps I finally chose a little boy due to the tragedy that has unfolded right here in my town. The short of it is (as we know it right now, the autopsy isn’t back yet) some idiot mom and her boyfriend accidentally killed her 3 yr old son with either drugs or meth cooking. They then tried to hide the body and ended up throwing it into the woods and setting it on fire. Happily, they didn’t get away with it. Sadly this sweet little boy is no longer among us.

When I was still playing with dolls I killed off my first character (yes my dolls were characters, with back story and props). I cried for days, had a funeral for her, and even though I reused the doll, all the props that were “her” were never used again. I couldn’t even tell my mom why I was so sad…. She just wouldn’t have understood.

Have you ever written something emotionally hard? What motivated you to do it? Are you happy with how it turned out? Did your readers react the way you hoped they would? Or did you get slack from it?

Did you cry? (Physically or just on the inside?)

~Mia
1/22/2015

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Beta readers wanted for Tabeth

Hello,
I am at the point in my novel Tabeth where I think I could really use a beta reader or five. There are a few places I’m stuck and I need any help I can get.

If you like proofreading, I need that.
If you like finding inconsistencies and such, I need that.
If you just like reading and want to give me your overall impression with any notes you feel the need to give, I NEED THAT TOO.

The book is about 40,000 words and is the first in a planned trilogy. Genre is Horror/Paranormal/Vampire with graphic violence but no sex. This will be my first published novel, but it has been through several edits and a few alpha readers.
I haven’t really managed to write a synopsis yet… ah well… I’ll give it a shot.
Tabeth wakes up not remembering anything, in fact it takes her a bit to realize she’s dead. Her instincts are to kill and feed, but after the rush goes away she’s horrified by what she is. However she isn’t one to just lay down and die (again), so she tries to make do. Her attempts to control the hunger don’t always work out, and it’s all complicated by the fact that she likes to kill and that she likes this human man who happens to be a cop.
Kris sees Tabeth at her worse on the night she woke up, in fact she killed his partner and quite a few others from his squad, but he still can’t stop thinking about her. Who is she? What is she? Is she really dead? Haunted by her eyes he gives up everything to find her.
Will Tabeth be able to control the animal inside her? Will Kris find what he’s truly looking for?
(Does that sound as cheesy as it does to me? Sigh… I need to work on that.)

If you are interested in helping in any way (even if you only want the first 5 chapters or so) please email me at mymind@miarich.com
Thanks again,
~Mia

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Vampire Introductions

I was reading a discussion thread over on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2057974-provocative-pnr—the-psychology-of-vampirism which pointed to this article on the psychology of vampirism. http://www.vampirebibliographica.com/vampire-philosophies/the-psychology-of-vampirism/

Which I thought was a bit misleading because it didn’t really talk about the technical psychology of it, but the author’s look at her own personal psychology of her own liking of vampires. The Goodreads thread asks: “…what is it about vampires that makes you all weak in the knees? Confession time… Who was the first vampire to bite you and suck you into the sub-genre?” soooo…. here I go.

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My first real taste of vampires (outside of The Count on Sesame Street) wasn’t centered on the male vampire in the movie at all but on the females. I didn’t want to be dominated by a vampire, I wanted to BE the vampire! The movie was an old one that you don’t hear about much called “Twins of Evil” (1971). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twins_of_Evil I watched it in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s.

Of the two sisters, I identified with ‘the good one’ but wanted to BE ‘the bad one’. Perhaps it was because I was raised in a very conservative Christian household, but I sooo wanted to break free as the ‘bad’ sister did! In fact, the entire act of watching the movie was a rebellion, as we (my sister and I) were not allowed to watch scary movies. We snuck this old black and white movie on my sister’s very small old TV in her room.

I remember loving the bad sister’s courage and boldness but shaking my head at her mistakes. It was clear to me even back then that if you were going to be a bad girl you had to be smarter than the stuffy old “good” guy! Of the Count I don’t remember too much, I was aware that he was supposed to be very handsome, but I was very young and I don’t think I was much affected by handsome men yet. The sight of her blood-stained lips gave me a thrill though, and I wanted to know what that tasted like.

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I was always a curious and imaginative girl. I was the one who introduced demons into my sister and I’s Barbie play. (My sister is 4 years older than me.) We got into trouble for that one when mom found out because my sister got nightmares from it. When the church put out tracks warning of Occults (this was the 80s mind you), I kept them and studied the occult symbols they put in it. Yet on the outside, I was the ‘good girl’… perhaps I was just smarter at hiding my evil ways??

Now, as an adult, I still tend to root for the vampire instead of the ‘hunter’. I loved Anne Rice’s vampire books not only because they portrayed bad vampires, but because they were from the perspective of those bad vampires! I would watch movies about vampire hunters like Blade, but my favorite part was when he bit the leading lady and drank her blood!

I was NOT impressed by Twilight, but if I was 16 when it came out instead of 37 I might have thought differently. Then again… maybe not. Writing my own vampire showed me just where my loyalties lie; Tabeth (http://www.miarich.com/?page_id=181 ) is a strong lady vamp who takes great pleasure in ripping people to shreds. She tries to not kill innocence like children, but targets ‘bad guys’ like drug dealers and killers. Capable of love and other emotions she is still a monster.

~Mia

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Short Story FUN!

I got into a discussion over at Google+ with +Max Saunders about tarantulas. Anyone who knows me knows I’m an odd ball who loves the creepy crawlies! Max suggested I write some horror story about them and I commented that I guess I don’t because I don’t find them scary!  However he noted that even if I don’t, clearly other people do, and I should give it a try. I remembered then that I wrote a short story a few years ago from the POV of a house spider. So here it is! My odd little ditty about a :

Drug House Spider

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The patient day was done and the humans stirred from their rest. They always seem to rise with the setting sun, as cousin wolf spider does. I consume some web that was ruined by my last catch, preparing to spin new, as they stumble about resembling spiderlings just into their full legs. Their nest is full of discarded pieces of meals, randomly dropped after their manner of eating. I don’t know why they do not discard the refuse outside their nest, but the fly’s the smell brings in makes for fine meals.

The female causes the water to fall in the next room, and I move to the hole in the wall that makes my far border. Through the void comes a fine mist that settles on my webs. I clean the moisture off the webs for my drink. I am very glad the female, at least, desires to clean herself in the falling waters, else I would have to leave my safe home to search for it.

After I have had my fill, I clean my chelicerae, fangs and fore-feet. I know that if I allow them to dirty they will no longer serve me, and I will die. I would have cleaned my other feet, but the humans were moving around and I caught the scent of anger. The large male, strutting around like a cock sparrow, pushes a smaller male out the entrance. I scurry back to the deep web as he is inclined to stomp and throw things at the walls when angered.

Sparrows eat spiders with a relish; I have watched them when I lived last season in the outside. Cock sparrows strut and fight for the more docile females, making much noise for the notice of them. The females however, are the ones you must concern yourself with, for they do not worry themselves with show, but only with the feeding of the offspring. Pausing only briefly in their search for food to glance at the blustering males.

The human male changes in tone of voice and manner when some other females enter the house. I come out to see, and once again witness, a strange sort of mating dance the large male does when strange females come to the house. They make sounds to one another, posture in ways I assume they find attractive, touch one another, and exchange gifts. Then the females leave. I don’t understand why the females keep coming back to him, performing this odd ritual, and then leave without completing the mating. Perhaps he does something to displease them, but why then come back to an unsatisfactory male? Humans confuse me.

One of them slams the back entrance plug and my wall shutters from the impact. I freeze instinctively, my senses alert to danger. Why do they always make so much noise? Do they think they are so big that predators won’t come for them? I am glad I have a house, even occupied by humans; the outside is filled with dangers.

Near the darkest part of the night, there came such a noise that I had never heard before. The high pitched sound came through the walls of the house and vibrated my webs as if a large thing was caught in them. I rushed out to see what it was. The sound continued and the human’s were in a panic, the female making angry sounds at the men. The scent of fear filled the room, stronger than any prey I have caught. The large male shouted out the main entrance, and the female screamed. I could not see, but I felt a BOOM! then several more BOOM BOOM! The cock sparrow man fell down and the smell of fresh blood came to me.

The other humans called loudly to each other and ran in all directions as strange humans came running in from both entrances. Like hatchlings they swarmed all over the house, taking the house-humans with them. I hid in my deep-web until it was quiet. I know to be cautious around my brethren, because a hungry spider will not hesitate to eat her sibling. I had not known that humans were the same.

In the stillness of the dawn, a fly, fat on spilled blood, blunders into my web. A quick bite and a wrapping of silk holds it for later eating. I am not hungry, this is a good house, but one never knows when the next meal will appear. Perhaps the next humans will be quieter.

Copywrite Maria Rich 2011

Interested in seeing my tarantulas past and present? Check out my Tarantulas Via Flicker

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Dreaded Holidays

With the dreaded holidays fast approaching, I was thrilled to see Special Holiday Music over at the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. Check it out!

 

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