Charlotte Riddell on the Weird Christmas Podcast

I recently chatted with Craig Brewer on his show, the Weird Christmas Podcast.

We had a great conversation about Charlotte Riddell, which was followed by a reading of her story, “A Strange Christmas Game.”

We also talked about the amazing Lisa Morton; Lisa Kröger & Melanie Anderson’s book, Monster, She Wrote; and Tom Monteleone/Borderlands Press‘s Little Book Series — and the one I edited: The Little Purple Book of Sharp Wit.

Have a listen here!

Beaucoup de News!

A prolific blogger I am not. But a lot has happened in the past month or so that’s worth noting.

Number 1:
At the end of June, I spent a week at my alma mater, Colgate University, at their annual Writers Conference. It was, in a word (or three), awesome … and enlightening … and rejuvenating. The conference itself offers a wide range of workshops, covering fiction and poetry, as well as memoirs and playwriting. I spent the week with nine brilliant participants in John Gregory Brown‘s Jumpstarter Workshop, “So the Story Begins: Using Prompts to Find Your Way Forward.” We used many types of prompts (verbal, visual, etc), to create a number of different stories.

The Chapel
The Willow Path

I sat through a lot of helpful and informative Craft Talks by JGB and the other instructors. The panel discussions on agents, as well as writing through challenging times, were fascinating and engaging. And the phenomenal instructor readings caused my TBR pile to double! I was impressed with the other participants, as well: the quality of their readings—both the writing and delivery—was outstanding.

At my freshman dorm, East Hall

To be honest, between covid times and personal obligations, I’d been struggling with my writing. So much so, I wasn’t even sure I should go to Colgate. But a half-day in — in the middle of writing to my first prompt — I knew I’d made the right decision to go. Being at Colgate — creating on its beautiful campus, among talented and knowledgeable people — reminded me why I write and why I love it as much as I do. I came home rejuvenated and inspired. Plus, I got to have dinner and catch up with one of my best friends in the world.

Guest Speaker, Peter Balakian, winner of the Pulitzer and my American Poetry prof. way back in the day


Number 2:
On July 1, the ghost anthology, Even in the Grave was released into the wild! Edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, EITG contains my short story, “In the Machine,” a humorous tale about a grandmother trapped between worlds.

Cover by the super talented Lynne Hansen.

So happy to share the TOC with Marc Abbott, Oliver Baer, Alp Beck, Allan Burd, John P. Collins, Randee Dawn, Trevor Firetog, Caroline Flarity, Patrick Freivald, Teel James Glenn, Amy Grech, April Grey, Jonathan Lees, Gordon Linzner, Robert Masterson, Robert Ottone, Rick Poldark, Lou Rera, and Steven Van Patten.

Purchase your copy here.


Number 3:
On August 13, A Little Purple Book of Sharp With by Charlotte Riddell – edited by me!— Signed, Numbered, Limited Edition will be released.

If you’ve never heard of Charlotte Riddell, check out this book. She was a past master of the horror genre, who knew how to tell a phenomenal ghost story.

I’m thrilled to be a part of one of Borderlands Press‘s Little Book series. I had an amazing time researching Charlotte Riddell and reading her stories, as well as working with Tom Monteleone. I also had a number of enlightening conversations with Lisa Morton, who helped me figure out the intricacies of some of CR’s stories.

Pre-Order your copy here.


Number 4:
Last, but definitely not least, my poem “How Do I Tell Her?” was accepted into the Horror Writers Association’s Poetry Showcase, Volume IX.

Kyra Starr is the artist of this gorgeous cover, which pays tribute to Peter Salomon, the founder of the Poetry Showcase.

Getting into the Showcase has been a mini-white whale for me, so I am thrilled to be a part of it.

This volume is edited by Angela Yuriko Smith, and she worked with judges Lee Murray, Maxwell I. Gold, and Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito to choose the 50 poems that make up the TOC.

This year’s featured poets are Stephanie M. Wytovich, Geneve Flynn and Naomi Simone Borwein.

The following poets have also been selected to have their work included in this year’s showcase: Mary A. Turzillo, Christina Sng, Alessandro Manzetti, Victoria Nations, K. H. Vaughan, Cassondra Windwalker, Jacqueline West, Carina Bissett, Hillary Dodge, Lucy A. Snyder, Colleen Anderson, E. F. Schraeder, Sara Tantlinger, Ann K. Schwader, Corinne Hughes, Monica S. Kuebler, Janine Cross, Kathryn Ptacek, Holly Lyn Walrath, Gary Robbe, Marge Simon, Stephanie Ellis, R. Leigh Hennig, Austin Gragg, M. Lopes da Silva, Denise Dumars, Gordon Linzner, Saytchyn Maddux-Creech, Ross E. Lockhart, Teel James Glenn, Bruce Boston, John Claude Smith, Roni Stinger, Dan B. Fierce, Madison McSweeney, Steven Clapp, Rook Riley, Timothy P. Flynn, Dianthe West, Lori R. Lopez, Terrie Leigh Relf, Lisa Becker, Donna K. Fitch, Ai Jiang, J.E. Erickson, and Gerri Leen.

This volume will be available for purchase soon.


Even in the Grave — coming soon!

My latest story, “In the Machine,” comes out this spring.
It will be in Even in the Grave, a ghost-themed anthology, edited by James Chambers & Carol Gyzander and published by eSpec Books.

“In the Machine” is definitely on the lighter side of the horror spectrum. Much lighter. A granddaughter IMs her dead gramma, who’s getting drunker by the minute…

This amazing cover is by Lynne Hansen. I love her work.

I had a fun time doing a 5-minute reading of the opening of the story.
Some of the other contributing authors did readings, as well. They can be found here.

I also did an interview with eSpec books about the story.

Pre-order your copy today!

From the back cover: “Haunted from the other side, these stories roam from modern cities to the shadowed moors to feudal Japan to the jungles of Central America, each providing a spine-chilling glimpse into the shadows not even death can restrain.

Do you dare open these pages and peer into the darkness they reveal?

Stories by Marc Abbott, Meghan Arcuri, Oliver Baer, Alp Beck, Allan Burd, John P. Collins, Randee Dawn, Trevor Firetog, Caroline Flarity, Patrick Freivald, Teel James Glenn, Amy Grech, April Grey, Jonathan Lees, Gordon Linzner, Robert Masterson, Robert Ottone, Rick Poldark, Lou Rera, and Steven Van Patten.”

Scary Stories/New Friends

This past fall, I had gone to my daughter’s school to do my scary story workshop with her class. You can read more about it here and here. We had a lot of fun, and the kids wrote some amazing stories.

Three years ago, I had done the same thing for my son’s class and decided to put the stories in a book for them.

Thanks to the generosity of Michael Bailey at Written Backwards.

Not wanting to be accused of loving my son more than my daughter, I knew (even 3 years ago), that I would have to do the same thing for her.

Below is the culmination of her class’s hard work:

This book was made possible by the dynamic duo over at Burial Day Books: Cynthia & Gerardo Pelayo.

Before I approached Cynthia about this project, I’d had minimal interaction with her. Just the occasional like or retweet on Twitter. But she seemed great, and Burial Day’s books looked amazing.

I only hoped they’d be willing to take on this tiny project (12 stories, 7500 words).

With one of my new philosophies in mind (If you don’t ask, the answer is always “no”), I sent Cynthia an email.

She got back to me right away with an enthusiastic “yes,” and we got to work.

After typing all the kids’ handwritten stories into Word…

ohmygod that was so much pressure! Any typos/mistakes are all mine.

…I sent the document over to Cynthia.

You never know what’s going to happen when you begin a project with someone new, but working with Cynthia was a dream. She had great ideas, always got back to me in a timely manner, and ultimately produced a beautiful book.

She and Gerardo generously donated their time and energy to this project, as well as the unbelievable cover by Kealan Patrick Burke.

I can’t thank them enough for their kindness, enthusiasm, and generosity.

Last week, I returned to my daughter’s class. They had no idea why I was there. When I gave them the books, they were so excited, and more than one of them said, pride in their voices, “I’m a published author!”

It was exciting to see: the power of writing, of creating. I hope they carry that excitement and pride with them as they continue to learn and grow.

I am grateful to have been a part of that process, and I am grateful to have made some fantastic new connections in the horror community along the way.

Thank you Cynthia, Gerardo, and Kealan!

The 2020 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot

I’m excited to announce that my story “Am I Missing the Sunlight?” has made the Final Ballot for the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards®.

It’s an honor and a privilege to be on this list, among these talented writers.
“Am I Missing the Sunlight?” appears in Borderlands 7, edited by Olivia Monteleone & Tom Monteleone. Thank you to Olivia and Tom for including my story in their amazing anthology.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

The 2020 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot (from

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Jones, Stephen Graham – The Only Good Indians (Gallery/Saga Press)

Katsu, Alma – The Deep (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Keisling, Todd – Devil’s Creek (Silver Shamrock Publishing)

Malerman, Josh – Malorie (Del Rey)

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia – Mexican Gothic (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Hall, Polly – The Taxidermist’s Lover (CamCat Publishing, LLC)

Harrison, Rachel – The Return (Berkley)

Jeffery, Ross – Tome (The Writing Collective)

Knight, EV – The Fourth Whore (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Petty, Kate Reed – True Story (Viking)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Archer, Steven (author/artist) – The Masque of the Red Death (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Brody, Jennifer (author) and Rivera, Jules (artist) – Spectre Deep 6 (Turner)

Douek, Rich (author) and Cormack, Alex (artist), and Birch, Justin (letterer) – Road of Bones (IDW Publishing)

Holder, Nancy (author), Di Francia, Chiara (artist), and Woo, Amelia (artist), and Foster, Laurie (inker), Molina, Sandra (colorist), and Temofonte, Saida (letterer) – Mary Shelley Presents (Kymera Press)

Manzetti, Alessandro (author) and Cardoselli, Stefano (artist/author), and Stucci, Alessio (letterer) – Her Life Matters: (Or Brooklyn Frankenstein) (Independent Legions Publishing)

Niles, Steve (author), Simeone, Salvatore (author), and Kudranski, Szymon (artist), and and Mauer, Thomas (letterer) – Lonesome Days, Savage Nights (TKO Studios)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Cesare, Adam – Clown in a Cornfield (HarperTeen)

Kraus, Daniel – Bent Heavens (Henry Holt and Company/Macmillan)

Snyman, Monique – The Bone Carver (Vesuvian Books)

Thomas, Aiden – Cemetery Boys (Swoon Reads/Macmillan)

Waters, Erica – Ghost Wood Song (HarperTeen)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Iglesias, Gabino – Beyond the Reef (Lullabies for Suffering: Tales of Addiction Horror) (Wicked Run Press)

Jones, Stephen Graham – Night of the Mannequins (

Kiste, Gwendolyn – The Invention of Ghosts (Nightscape Press)

Landry, Jess – I Will Find You, Even in the Dark (Dim Shores Presents Volume 1) (Dim Shores)

Pinsker, Sarah – Two Truths and a Lie (

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Arcuri, Meghan – “Am I Missing the Sunlight?” (Borderlands 7) (Borderlands Press)

Fawver, Kurt – “Introduction to the Horror Story, Day 1” (Nightmare Magazine Nov. 2020 (Issue 98))

Malerman, Josh – “One Last Transformation” (Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors) (Written Backwards)

O’Quinn, Cindy – “The Thing I Found Along a Dirt Patch Road” (Shotgun Honey Presents Volume 4: Recoil) (Down and Out Books)

Ward, Kyla Lee – “Should Fire Remember the Fuel?” (Oz is Burning) (B Cubed Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Koja, Kathe – Velocities: Stories (Meerkat Press)

Langan, John – Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies (Word Horde)

Lillie, Patricia – The Cuckoo Girls (Trepidatio Publishing)

Murray, Lee – Grotesque: Monster Stories (Things in the Well)

Taborska, Anna – Bloody Britain (Shadow Publishing)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Amaris, Scarlett and Stanley, Richard – Color Out of Space (SpectreVision)

Green, Misha – Lovecraft Country, Season 1, Episode 1: “Sundown” (Affeme, Monkeypaw Productions, Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television Studios)

Green, Misha and Ofordire, Ihuoma – Lovecraft Country, Season 1, Episode 8: “Jig-a-Bobo” (Affeme, Monkeypaw Productions, Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television Studios)

LaManna, Angela – The Haunting of Bly Manor, Season 1, Episode 5: “The Altar of the Dead” (Intrepid Pictures, Amblin Television, Paramount Television Studios)

Whannell, Leigh – The Invisible Man (Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Goalpost Pictures, Nervous Tick Productions)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Manzetti, Alessandro – Whitechapel Rhapsody: Dark Poems (Independent Legions Publishing)

McHugh, Jessica – A Complex Accident of Life (Apokrupha)

Pelayo, Cynthia – Into the Forest and All the Way Through (Burial Day Books)

Sng, Christina – A Collection of Dreamscapes (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Tantlinger, Sara – Cradleland of Parasites (Rooster Republic Press)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Bailey, Michael and Murano, Doug – Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors (Written Backwards)

Murray, Lee and Flynn, Geneve – Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (Omnium Gatherum Media)

Kolesnik, Samantha – Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror (Grindhouse Press)

Tantlinger, Sara – Not All Monsters: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women of Horror (Rooster Republic Press)

Yardley, Mercedes M. – Arterial Bloom (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Florence, Kelly and Hafdahl, Meg – The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films (Skyhorse)

Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra – 1000 Women in Horror (BearManor Media)

Keene, Brian – End of the Road (Cemetery Dance Publications)

Peirse, Alison – Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre (Rutgers University Press)

Waggoner, Tim – Writing in the Dark (Guide Dog Books/Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Wetmore, Jr. Kevin J. – The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaption (McFarland)

Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction

Joseph, Rhonda Jackson – “The Beloved Haunting of Hill House: An Examination of Monstrous Motherhood” (The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaption) (McFarland)

Pelayo, Cynthia – “I Need to Believe” (Southwest Review Volume 105.3)

Robinson, Kelly – “Lost, Found, and Finally Unbound: The Strange History of the 1910 Edison Frankenstein” (Rue Morgue Magazine, June 2020)

Sng, Christina – “Final Girl: A Life in Horror” (Interstellar Flight Magazine, October 2020)

Waggoner, Tim – “Speaking of Horror” (The Writer)

When It Rains, It … Somethings

(I mean … it’s a worn out adage, but it’s worn out for a reason.)

2020 was pretty much a disaster.

Except for the resurgence of this image by KC Green. This is one of my faves.

Globally speaking, 2021 hasn’t had a great start, either.
But, personally and professionally — after a bit of a dry spell — things have started to pick up.

I feel fortunate to be able to make the following announcements:

Story Acceptance
I’m pleased to announce my story, “Because You’re Mine,” was accepted by Kristi Petersen Schoonover, editor of 34 Orchard.
Fun fact: Kristi accepted it in 23 minutes … my fastest acceptance ever. Thanks, Kristi!
It will be released April 25, 2021.
In the meantime, please head over to 34 Orchard and see what’s going on over there.

Preliminary Ballot for the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards®
I’m excited to see my story, “Am I Missing the Sunlight?” on the Preliminary Ballot for the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards®. I am surprised and honored by this recognition.
“Am I Missing the Sunlight?” appears in Borderlands 7, edited by Olivia Monteleone and Thomas Monteleone.
Voting for the final ballot is happening now.
Best of luck to all those appearing on the ballot!

A Story Featured on Brian Keene’s Patreon
In celebration of Women in Horror Month, the awesome, talented, and all-around good guy, Brian Keene, has featured one of my stories, “Worse Ways,” on his Patreon.
“Worse Ways” first appeared in Chiral Mad 3, edited by Michael Bailey.
Brian is featuring a number of women on his Patreon this month, including Linda Addison, Hailey Piper, and L. Marie Wood. With more to come.
Check it out here if you are so inclined.

A Bumper for The H.P. Lovecast Podcast
Nicholas Diak and Michele Brittany graciously asked me to do a bumper (like a mini-intro) for their podcast, The H.P. Lovecast Podcast. The bumper occurs before their episode featuring the amazing Lee Murray.
Thanks so much to Nicholas and Michele for this fun opportunity.
And if you have a second, take a listen to the episode.

A Piece in the StokerCon2021 Souvenir Book
As the Vice President of the Horror Writers Association, I was asked to write a piece for this year’s StokerCon2021 Souvenir Book. Titled, StokerCon™ 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition, the book is edited by Josh Viola, over at Hex Publishers. Josh has been working tirelessly on this fantastic anthology, and although StokerCon is going virtual this year, the book will be available to all attendees.

Check out this cover … I’m in love!

A Reading

In celebration of Women in Horror Month, Jim Chambers and Carol Gyzander (of HWA-NY) have asked me to join Kaaron Warren, Nicole Givens Kurtz, and Nancy Lambert to be part of their Galactic Terrors reading series.

Thursday, February 11 at 8pm EST.
More information here.
You can watch on YouTube or on Facebook live — in either case, be sure to chat with us and ask questions!

Please join us if you can.

Another Reading

Another celebration of Women in Horror Month! This time, Jessikah Chautin of the Syosset Public Library has asked Linda Addison, Carol Gyzander, April Grey, and me to join her for an evening of readings, Q&A, and fun.

Date: Thursday, February 25, 2021
Time: 7:30 – 8:45 pm EST
Attendee Link:

Hope you can join us for this, as well.

Borderlands Boot Camp 2020

How many times have I been to Borderlands Boot Camp?
Honestly, I’ve lost count. (You can read about previous times here.)
But each time I go, I leave the weekend a better writer than when I arrived.

Truth be told, I’d been struggling with my writing. I don’t know exactly what it was, but a slew of rejections and the resulting loss of confidence probably had something to do with it. So when the opportunity to attend Boot Camp arose, I almost didn’t go. My heart wasn’t quite in it.

If I hadn’t gone, however, I’d have never experienced:

  • a much-needed pep-talk from Tom Monteleone
  • Doug Winter’s always helpful and encouraging feedback
  • Paul Wilson’s solution to a problem in my manuscript
  • Guest of Honor Chet Williamson, with his inspiring presentation and fantastic readings
  • Ginjer Buchanan’s sharp wit and vast knowledge of grammar (she says grammar isn’t exciting, but this nerd loves it)
  • a kind word from Can Wiggins
  • the general feeling of kindness and warmth from this year’s group
  • and all that great talk about writing.

I’d have never connected with Tracy Cross, Linsey Knerl, Jeff Marsick, and Nicole Wilson.
I’d have never reconnected with Terry Emery, Elizabeth Crowens, Corey Cone, and Can Wiggins.

Weekends like this have a way of inspiring. Of jump-starting your mind. Of reminding you why you started doing this in the first place.

I walked away with more confidence, more optimism, and more connections.
And I’m so glad I went.

Thanks so much to Tom, Paul, Doug, Ginjer, Chet, and all my fellow grunts. Here’s to stories without eye color. Stories with runaway ferris wheels. Stories where things get worse.



This is the only pic I got of the weekend. And Doug took it.

NECon 2019

I’m at the point where I literally blog once a year. And that blog is always about Necon. Necon is the New England Writers Convention, held in Portsmouth, RI at the Bay Point Inn & Conference Center. It’s for writers, artists, readers, and fans of horror and dark fiction. It is affectionately known as Camp Necon. Seriously, it’s so laid-back and easy-going, it is definitely like summer camp for adults.


Horror? Summer camp? What could go wrong?

I’m not gonna lie: the lead-up to this year’s Necon was a little rough. We learned one of the pillars of our community, Jim Moore, has cancer. In case you don’t know Jim, he’s the author of dozens of books and stories, an amazing mentor and supporter of the horror writing community, and one of the Best. Huggers. Ever.

Initially we didn’t know how bad it was, that unnerving uncertainty all too familiar and awful. All we knew was that he was in the hospital with a feeding tube and would obviously not be coming to Necon.

Within hours of learning this, we found out another beloved member of our community, Tony Tremblay, was also in the hospital, facing down one, maybe two, surgeries for kidney stones. Fortunately his prognosis was good, but he was unsure if he could come to Necon.


With Tony, at Necon in 2018

It was a rough day. These are two of my favorites (two of everyone’s favorites) and to learn I might not see them at Necon and, more importantly, to learn they were in this kind of pain was terrible. A gut punch. My mood grew considerably darker.

The next day, however, we’d been informed Jim’s cancer hadn’t spread. He’d be starting chemo immediately and would even be able to go home in a few days. And Tony’s first surgery was successful. So much so that he’d be able to come to Necon the whole time.

I was elated. Yes, Jim still has a battle ahead of him, but he’s a total badass with a lot of good fight in him.


If you’re so inclined, please check out a GoFundMe for him here.                                                Photo credit: Jim’s FB page


If you’ve read my Necon blogs before, you know I always beat up on Connecticut for its traffic. It invariably extends my drive by at least a half hour.

Surprisingly, CT traffic did not slow me down on the way to Portsmouth. The sheets of rain in CT slowed me down on the way to Portsmouth. I don’t know if I’d call it ark-worthy rain, but I did see a pair of deer on the side of the road, so who knows?

On the way home, however, CT did not disappoint.

CT traffic.jpg

Suck it, CT traffic!                                                                                       (Photo credit: Stamford Advocate)

Not long after arriving at the hotel, I ran into my roommate, Marianne Halbert. We hooked up with Diana Catt, Brian Matthews, and Jennifer McMahon and headed to 1776.

Despite what that sounds like, we did not go to some quaint, Revolutionary war museum with exhibits like this:


No. When you go to Necon, 1776 means one thing:


photo credit: 1776 Liquors FB page

Many Neconers go there … so many, in fact, 1776 is probably in the black for the rest of the year.

After grabbing our provisions, we headed to Mike Squatrito’s. Every year on Thursday night, Mike opens his home to us for a wonderful meal cooked by his brothers (who are chefs). This year, we had a clam boil, which included clams, corn, onions, potatoes, hotdogs, and sausages. So delicious.

In years past, this event has been outside, but because of the buckets of rain, we were in the house the whole time. If you know Mike, you know what a kind and generous person he is. In my mind’s eye, he always has a smile on his face. And a little rain wasn’t going to get him down.
I’m sure when his wife came home from work to find 30 horror writers in her house, slobbering over clams, however, she was like:


I’m kidding … she’s always gracious and sweet.

After that, we returned to the hotel, reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. A great start to the convention.

Necon has a lot to offer, and two of my favorite things are the panels and the people.

So let’s talk panels.

One was called The Art of Unease: Weird Fiction, Strange Stories, and Other Surreal Horrors That Mess With Your Head, with panelists Laird Barron, Nadia Bulkin, Victoria Dalpe, John Foster, Todd Keisling, and KH Vaughan.

To listen to the panelists discuss this topic was fascinating. None was comfortable defining “weird,” yet each one gave me a clear picture of what it was: the degradation of mundane reality, when everything familiar becomes unfamiliar, something’s going on but you can’t tell what it is yet.

I don’t often write a lot of weird fiction, but this panel showed me the possibilities and made me want to try.

Another was the Guest of Honor Panel. This year’s guests of honor were Linda Addison, Grady Hendrix, and John Langan. A truly fun and entertaining trio, if there ever was one. Moderated by toastmaster (and all-around wonderful person) Kristin Dearborn, the panel was every bit as entertaining as the guests.

Kristin would throw out a question, and they went for it: the conversation took many circuitous (but logical) turns. Their answers were full of wisdom and honesty about the craft of writing. They played off each other and were clearly enjoying themselves. We—the audience—were enjoying ourselves, too. I learned a lot about writing, specifically that the self-doubt never goes away.
Which is comforting. Really.


Speaking of panels, I was on a panel entitled The Shadow Out of Time: The Influence of Classic Horror Fiction On Today’s Horror Fiction. My fellow panelists included Jack Haringa, Grady Hendrix, Michael Rowe, Matt Schwartz, and Nancy Kalanta.

My knee-jerk reaction when put on a panel is something like this:


Couple that with the fact that Grady is one of the genre’s leading experts on classic horror (and the fact that Jack does not suffer fools gladly), I felt a little like this:


I use this gif as often as possible.

So like the giant dork that I am, I started prepping two weeks in advance: taking notes, memorizing titles, practicing my answers out loud. I found books around the house—many of them children’s books I read with my kids—worthy of discussion. I even brought a couple as props.


This is a parody of Madeline. Equal parts hilarious and disturbing.

Ultimately the panel went well. And Jack didn’t make fun of me.

Remember how I said Grady Hendrix is one of the genre’s leading experts on classic horror? That’s because he wrote the non-fiction book, Paperbacks From Hell, which discusses the history of most (if not all) horror novels written in the 70s and 80s.


Buy it here!

He also gives a presentation about it, and the brilliant programming planners asked him to give it at Necon. It was fantastic — one of the most entertaining and informative pieces I’ve seen in a long time.

We laughed. We cried. It was better than Cats.


Srsly. Have you seen the new trailer??

My intention was to get to many more panels than I actually did, but one thing kept getting in my way: people. I had so many conversations, some meaningful, others silly, all interesting and fun. That’s because Necon draws some of the best people around.

So let’s talk people.

On Friday night, we had a toast for Frank Michaels Errington, who had recently passed away after a long battle with a kidney illness. Frank was an avid horror reader and reviewer. He was a gentle soul with a great sense of humor. Always a pleasure to be around, always a pleasure to talk to. Thanks to Stephen Cords for organizing the toast and to Errick Nunnally for creating the beverage with which we honored Frank, the Bazon Gas. So yummy!


Here I am with Frank in 2017. He came to a reading I did near Philly. What a guy.

Can we all agree Marianne Halbert is incredible? (I guess if you don’t know her, this might be difficult, but take my word for it: she is.) Not only is she kind and smart, she’s super talented. She even sold out of her second collection, Cold Comforts, at the author signing in no time flat.

I also had the pleasure of seeing her panel on unreliable/unlikeable characters. Every time I see her on a panel, I am in her thrall. She is articulate and knowledgeable, and she relays that knowledge with humor and confidence. I always learn something from her. 

Saturday night, we went out to eat at The Lobster Pot. We’d driven past there any number of times over the years, but finally decided to give it a try. The food was delicious, the view quintessential New England. And the company was just right.


Me, Marianne, Jim Chambers, Brian Matthews, Greg Faherty, Rena Mason, & Patrick Freivald



Out on the quad, I talked Iceland with John Goodrich, pizza with Angel Colon and Mike Squatrito (apparently the best pizza joint is in Maine … what the what?), and I spent deliciously satisfying amounts of time with both Kristin Dearborn and Michael Rowe.

I finally had a chance to talk to Mary Hart, who is just as delightful as I thought she’d be. We had a lovely chat with Trisha Wooldridge, who is charming and generous and talented. Truly. She’s killing it lately. I can’t keep track of all her successes.

I also had a number of great conversations with John Langan. I met John a few years ago at a reading he’d given in downtown Manhattan. On our shared cab ride to Grand Central Station, we discovered we both lived north of the city, and–wouldn’t you know it–we’d both be taking the train home.
The exact. Same. Train.
Now, I’d just met this guy, so the thought of sharing a 90-minute train ride home with him kinda made me feel like this:


Twice in one blog!

As it turned out, it was one of the most pleasant 90-minute train rides I’d ever had. John was intelligent, engaging, and so very funny. (Even though he grew up in a neighboring town and went to the rival high school. Go, Patriots!)

Embarrassingly, I have not yet read his work. He recently wrote The Fisherman, and it’s been on my radar. Since he was a GOH, I knew I’d be able to snag a copy at Necon. And I did. And he signed it. I’m totally looking forward to it.


Get it here!

I had many other conversations with many other terrific people, old friends and new. I wish I could mention them all.

Suffice it to say if you’d like to meet some caring and supportive horror writers, and learn a lot along the way, you should definitely come to Necon.

As always, special thanks to the Booth family, Matt Bechtel, and all the members of the planning committee. Without your hard work, Necon wouldn’t be half the con it is. xo


Seven NECons in Heaven

I blog approximately twice a year, and one post is always about NECon.

And my NECon posts follow the same, basic formula:

  1. Answer the question: What is NECon?
  2. Make fun of Connecticut traffic
  3. Talk about the panels
  4. Talk about the people
  5. Make more fun of CT traffic
  6. Marvel at the amount of alcohol consumed
  7. Squeeze in another CT joke, if possible
  8. Say Thank Yous

This was my seventh NECon, so it might be time to change it up a bit.

What is NECon?

(I did say, “a bit”)

NECon is the Northeastern Writers Convention held in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It brings together writers, artists, and fans of horror and dark fiction.

It has panels and presentations and an awesome art show.

It has mini-golf; and a super nice cafeteria staff with super okay food; and humid guest rooms with lumpy beds but no one really cares because we’re all in the courtyard drinking, anyway.

It has yummy saugies; a hilarious roast that we can’t say too much about (except that this year’s roastee, Matt Bechtel, was excellent); and a game show that we love to hate but secretly love because it’s kinda fun to tease Doug Winter and Craig Shaw Gardner about it.


Me with my teammates, F. Paul Wilson & Tom Monteleone. Doug made me participate this year. I was nervous because I totally suck at trivia. But I answered 2 correctly, so it wasn’t *that* bad… (Photo Credit: Elizabeth Monteleone)

It has a wedding. Okay … not every year. In fact, this was the first in NECon’s 38-year history. We were blessed to watch Jim Moore and Cullie Seppala marry each other. Although I don’t know Cullie well, I know Jim and can say he deserves every happiness coming his way. And she seems to make him very happy.

It has a toastmaster. This year’s was Errick Nunnally. With his sharp blazer, cocktail making kit, and thoughtful toast, he was all class.

It has a Hawaiian shirt contest, author signings, and a Town Hall meeting at the end because the organizers are awesome and give a damn what the attendees think.

And it has people.

Some of the kindest, most passionate people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.

People like my roommate, Marianne Halbert. She’s genuine and smart and from Indiana – so she’s really nice and sweet … but not so nice and sweet that I can’t swear in front of her.


Marianne!!   (Photo Credit: Tony Tremblay)

Or people like Mike Squatrito, who’s down-to-earth and funny and opens his home to us every Thursday night at NECon for some delicious concoction his brothers have made. This year, it was a clam boil. So quintessentially New England, I swear to god I became a Red Sox fan for half a second*.



Or people like Tony Tremblay, aka The Nicest Guy in Horror, who totally lives up to his nickname and makes even the shyest and most introverted among us feel welcome (and in a roomful of writers, that’s saying something). And he’s NECon’s unofficial photographer, so we’re all thankful for that.


Tony!!   (Photo credit: Tony’s camera…sorry….I can’t remember who took this.)


Or Erik T. Johnson, who is wild and crazy and fun and scary smart, and I think his bones might be made of rubber.

Or Armand Rosamillia, whom I’d never met in person before. We had been in contact through Facebook when he was running the super cool program, Authors Supporting Our Troops, but that was it.

I have a story coming out in Tales from the Lake Vol. 5 (Crystal Lake), and the editor, Kenneth W. Cain, provided us with a list of interview and podcast opportunities, which included Armand’s podcast, Arm Cast. Since I recognized his name, I scheduled an interview for August. When I then saw his name on the NECon attendees list, I decided to introduce myself in hopes of making the interview a touch more comfortable.

When we met, he said, “I’ve got some time in about an hour. Wanna do it then?”

“Sure!” I said, trying to sound confident and positive, while actually feeling like this:


I went back to my room for some fast and furious prep, then found Armand.

Turns out, all that worrying was for nothing. As soon as I sat down with him, Armand put me completely at ease. And instead of feeling like an interview, it felt like a conversation with an old friend. Yes, it was business, but I also got a friendship out of the deal. (If you are so inclined, you can listen to the interview here. Prior to mine is an interview with fellow NECon attendee, Paul McNamee. It’s definitely worth your time.)

Then there are people like Michael Rowe, who is super smart and has one of the smoothest voices around (he was unable to join us last year, and I missed him. Being with him again was fun and comfortable and perfect); or Brian Kirk, whose positive energy is contagious; or John Harvey, who’s an all-around good guy and talented blacksmith; or Kristin Dearborn, who just … well … god, she’s just awesome.

Or, finally, people like F. Paul Wilson, Doug Winter, and Tom Monteleone, who are my generous and erudite Borderlands Bootcamp instructors and – I think I can say at this point – trusted friends.


Doug!!   (Photo credit: Chris White)

Worth noting are also the Guests of Honor: Dana Cameron, Helen Marshall, and David Wellington.

I’ve met Dana at previous NECons, and she’s one of the good ones: deliciously funny, intelligent, and kind.

Helen Marshall and I were on a panel together, What Inspires A Great Short Story? with Christa Carmen, Nick Kaufmann, Toni L.P. Kelner, and Ed Kurtz. She was witty and engaging, and I loved how she articulated her thoughts on short stories.

And David Wellington was charming.

Errick Nunnally (he’s everywhere, this guy) interviewed them for the GOH panel. I try not to miss this one, as the panelists are usually interesting and always drop at least one pearl of wisdom on us. And this year was no exception. Errick asked them great questions which showcased their talent, intelligence, and self-deprecating humor. They were delightful.

And the pearl?

Challenge yourself.

None of them explicitly said this. But Dana said** when she feels like she can’t or shouldn’t write a particular scene or genre, that’s when she’s most-likely to try it.

That hit home, and reminded me that the challenge is what keeps it interesting. The challenge is what makes us better.

Of course, there are other people – many other people – who are amazing and wonderful, and I’m sorry I don’t have the time or space to mention them all.

So … What is NECon?

NECon is many things, but it’s mostly the people.

Oh, Yeah. And Heaven. NECon is Also Heaven.

As I said, I’ve been to seven NECons so far, but this one felt a little different than the others. I’m always excited to attend, but that excitement is peppered with some stress and nerves, particularly with respect to time: I don’t want to arrive late; I don’t want to be late for the panels; I don’t want to miss a meal.


I feel like this even if I’m early…

But I didn’t feel that this year. I arrived when I was supposed to, I cruised in and out of panels, and I definitely didn’t miss any meals.  Everything seemed to fall into place.

I was blissfully content and relaxed. As such, I listened better, learned more, and reveled in the company of my peers.

I had an even better time than I usually do (and that’s saying something, as well).

The reason for this, however, eludes me. Perhaps it’s because this is my seventh time at the dance, and I’m finally comfortable with my partner. Perhaps it’s because I’m working on being more present and being a better listener.

Or perhaps it’s because of the extraordinary amount of Canadians who joined us this year, bringing that whole “nicest people on the planet” vibe to the party.


How can you not love Canada? They have Mounties, for god’s sake…


I don’t know that it matters. I’ll take bliss whenever I can get it.

Thank Yo—Oh My God, I Almost Forgot the Connecticut Joke!

Connecticut has so much traffic.

How much traffic does Connecticut have?

Connecticut has so much traffic, its state motto should be:



Thank Yous

Sara Booth, Mary Booth, Dan Booth, Matt Bechtel, and many others (including Jack Haringa, whom we missed a ton) put together a magical convention. Ask anyone who’s been, and the smile that blossoms on his or her face will tell you all you need to know. Thank you, guys. As always, I can’t wait to do it again.


*Just kidding, Mom.
**These are probably not Dana’s exact words, and she may have even said them on another panel…

Let’s Go on a Journey

I was in Providence, RI this past weekend for StokerCon2018. I will definitely be blogging about that later, but I wanted to share a conversation I had with some friends*.

It was about — of all things — Journey.

You know, the band fronted by Steve Perry and his luscious, feathery hair.


We were talking about music we liked, and I brought them up because I’d always enjoyed their harmonies.

The room got quiet.

They all gave me funny looks.

Then they started saying things like:

“What harmonies?” and
“I’ve only ever heard Don’t Stop Believin’” and
“They’re terrible” and
“What the hell is wrong with you, freak show?”

Okay … maybe they didn’t say that last one. But I could see it in their eyes…

I found myself in the strange position of defending the shit out of Journey.

I’m not even that big of a fan. As a kid I had one, maybe two, cassette tapes (yes, cassette tapes … lord, help me) that I really liked, but that was it. Never saw them live, didn’t have their posters, didn’t know anything about anyone other than Steve Perry and his luscious, feathery hair**.


So I dragged out my phone and Googled their songs. About 20 came up, and I’d heard of most of them. They’d only heard of one or two.

How was this possible? How could they not know Journey’s songs?

In the 80s, Journey was everywhere:  MTV, movie soundtracks.  EVERYWHERE.

I felt like every time I turned on the radio (yes, the radio … lord, help me), I heard something by Journey. They’re even on the radio now (and they’re one of those bands I find eminently listenable).

So I played them a few songs. And I swear to god, they all looked at me like this:


It was a losing battle. So I cut my losses and shut the hell up.

But … after seeing all the titles listed together, I noticed something:  when put in the right order, those song titles could probably tell a story.

So I wrote one … sort of … it might actually be a poem.

Here goes (song titles are in italics):


A Journey in Titles
by Meghan Arcuri

When You Love a Woman,
Nothing else matters.
And you really Don’t Stop Believin’ that.
You believe it Faithfully.
Because she’s the only one that gets you Feeling That Way.

But sometimes you’re too intense.
So she leaves you, and you go your Separate Ways.
You think, I’ll Be All Right Without You.
But you’re lying to yourself.
Ask the Lonely. They know.
And Who’s Crying Now?
But don’t blame her: Girl Can’t Help It.
Sometimes she needs a break.

After the Fall, you apologize, saying she takes you to a Higher Place.
Turns out, she misses you and feels Just the Same Way,
So she comes back to you with Open Arms.
When she returns
You don’t get it Anyway You Want It,
But there’s plenty of Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.
So turn out the Lights.


*To add context, these friends are in my generation and the generation before mine. So we were all alive in the 80s. And I know plenty of people in the generation before mine who know Journey’s stuff.
**Just so we’re clear:  I don’t think Steve Perry is hot. But his hair was pretty amazing, wasn’t it?