Love, Hate, and Evolution

Here’s the deal with the horror genre, it is a love-hate kind of gig.  The audience either loves the genre or they hate it.  Sadly, this is one of the reasons why horror is not a genre that is typically on the forefront.  On Amazon, it is not even a featured genre under the book category.  You have to drill down through other genres to uncover a horror gem.  Essentially, it takes a special kind of person to love horror.  I attribute this to the fact that the genre is so personal.  In some way, shape, or form each horror story affects every human that comes in contact with it, whether it is through literature or film.  The fear indicator can range from an increased heart rate or it can be a holy-shit-I-feel-faint type of emotion.  Every person is going to react and relate.

Fear is ingrained in all of us.  It is the strongest and oldest emotion.  Fear is what keeps us alive.  Horror is the only personal genre that can touch the true inner emotions of anyone who interacts with with the story.

Many people do not want to touch horror.  They do not want to stir up their ‘Fight or Flight’ reaction that is induced by fright.  They want to stay safe and cozy.  This is going to be the type of audience that the horror genre will not impact.  This audience does not even want to give it a passing glance.  As horror writers, we have to accept that.  Voluntarily “getting scared silly” is not everyone’s cup of tea.  And that is ok.  We all have things that we avoid and don’t enjoy.  I am not a huge fan of romance and usually avoid it (sorry, Kirsten Blacketer).

As crafters of horror, we need to accept that not everyone is going to like us.  I read a quote the other morning:

Never try to please everyone. Your goal should be to become the hated enemy of certain kinds of people.

– Unknown Author

I am torn about wanting to be hated or not. To be hated because your writing or you book sucks is bad.  To be hated because the book scares the ever living shit out of your readers is good.  I can live with being hated for the latter.  The thing is, if your stories are being “hated” because they are the most terrifying tales to grace this plane of the Earth, that is going to boost your marketing.  There is a huge audience out there looking for the most horrific story in existence.  Hopefully, that that group outweighs the “haters”.

This is the nature of this writing beast — you are not going to please everyone.  And you shouldn’t.  The whole reason why we write is to write for ourselves.  I mean, yea, we want to put a good book out there that is successful, but in the end that book is an extension of our self.  That book needs to be what we, as the author, desires.

Hopefully I am not making horror sound like the despondent genre of literature and film.  Truly it is far from that.  In the next few years there is going to be an even bigger resurgence of the genre.  Horror is in a small lull now, but it will spike back up soon.  I believe that a good portion of this spike is going to be attributed to  (dare I say it…) the tween and teen Twilight fandom and other such paranormal YA followers.  The Twilighter-for-life fans are growing up and they are going to find that there are darker, sinful, and more luscious men out there than Edward Cullen.  Men like the real Dracula, who does not sparkle.

The younger generations are going to want stories that reflect their maturity as they age.  They will desire that same spark that was forged when they read their first paranormal YA.  That spark that ignited the emotion of fear and suspense which tied them closer to the story, making it personal, making it their own.  The new age of readers want to be a part of the story, and horror is the best genre in which that can be accomplished.

The YA’s of today are going to drive the adult genres of tomorrow.

So is this the way to R'lyeh?

So is this the way to that R’lyeh place that I have been hearing about? (c) JessicaGale



Book Giveaway! Win a free copy of Shadows Wake

Author Robyn LaRue is giving away 5 free copies of her latest publication:  Shadows Wake

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

For your chance to win, click here

If you are interested in seeing my personal review of Shadows Wake, click here

Shadows Wake is a coming-of-age story that contains an element of paranormal evil.  Set in 1950s northern California, the story follows Lillian Pratt and her friends as they journey to uncover the secrets of their town and the nearby mountain.  An ancient shadow is awakening and it will be up to Lillian to solve the town’s mysteries and put the evil back to rest.

As a horror writer, I personally love seeing books like this that gear the paranormal / horror / thriller element to a younger audience.  It gives the tweens and teens an introductory taste to the paranormal / horror genre without throwing them to the wolves and scaring them off.  I always say capture their interest when they are young and when they mature, it will be the adult horror literature that they will seek.

This Thursday’s post is going to discuss how the tweens and teens are shaping the future for the horror genre.

Masaya Volcano

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

The Masaya Volcano, south of Managuna, Nucaragua, is caldera shaped volcano.  The classification of caldera means that the volcano is shaped like a “cooking pot” in the ground.  By today’s standards the Masaya Volcano seems to be just your typical active volcano.  However, in the times of the late 1400’s – 1700’s, this volcano was believed to be the “Mouth of Hell”.  It began when early locals, around the 1500’s, greedily viewed the lava as a source of gold and silver.  Many would fail in their attempts of trying to retrieve the supposed riches, their bodies were thought to be lost to the devil that tempted them.  Aboriginal people would recite tales of the  Gods that resided within the volcano.  In order to appease the Gods, the aboriginal people would give human sacrifices by throwing into the lava-filled crater children and maidens.

At one time, it was thought that an evil sorceress lived in the volcano and worked hand-in-hand with the devil.  In 1592, Mercedarian Fray Francisco de Bobadilla erected a large cross on the volcano in order to exorcise the daemon or evil that dwelled within.

In later years, Carmelite Fray Antonio Vazquez, who visited Nicaragua in the 1600’s, claimed that the eruptions from the volcano were the fires from the bowels of Hell and that the volcano itself was merely a vent for Hell’s fire to escape.

The reason why this specific volcano has been dubbed the “Mouth to Hell” is due to the continual volcanic activity.  Friar Toribio Benavente said “that the fire of the volcano of Nicaragua [Masaya] without fuel… must be the mouth to Hell and its fire must be supernatural and hellish, and the place from which the condemned are thrown by demons.”  Because the fires within the volcano continually burn and erupt, then Masaya Volcano must be a direct gateway into Hell.

As for the supernatural aspect, over the centuries there are stories from sailors and travelers who wandered through the forest that surround the Masaya Volcano.  Many of these wanderers gave accounts of seeing daemons dancing in the moonlight and hearing sounds of condemned voices screaming through the trees.

This may not be the creepiest place in the world to visit, but if you believe Hell to be a physical location within the Earth, the Masaya Volcano is probably the hottest doorway into the underworld.


Steam straight from the bowels of Hell.  It has that wonderful sulfury, rotten egg scent.  (c) Brian Jonson and Dane Kantner

Steam straight from the bowels of Hell. It has that wonderful and sulfury rotten egg smell. (c) Brian Johnson and Dane Kantner

A replica of the cross

A replica of the cross erected by Mercedarian Fray Francisco de Bobadilla (c) Brian Johnson and Dane Kantner

Flash Fiction: Ken MacGregor

Amanda Headlee:

What detail scripted within a small amount of text. Ken MacGregor efficiently captured the curiosity of Tina, Martin’s pain, and the excruciating dissection in 160 gory words. Bravo!

Originally posted on

 What Little Boys are Made of

by Ken MacGregor

Tina pushed down hard on the X-acto knife until it went through Martin’s skin with a little pop. Martin whimpered through the gag and tears fell from his eyes. With an exasperated sigh, Tina looked at her friend.

“You brought this on yourself,” Tina said, “so you can just be quiet.”

Leaning forward to add her weight to the blade, Tina dragged her hand down toward Martin’s belt. She stopped at his bellybutton. Setting the bloodied knife aside, Tina pushed her fingers into the wound. She grabbed the edges and pulled them aside, exposing Martin’s organs.

Frowning, Tina poked around inside her friend’s body cavity, pushing aside guts and organs. After a moment, she stopped and flicked the blood off her fingers.

Martin’s eyes were fluttering, fighting to stay open. They fixed on Tina’s as she looked down at him.


View original 85 more words

What’s for Dinner? Literary Horror, Cannibals, and Vampires

Joanna Penn, from the Creative Penn, interviewed Martin Lastrapes, author of Inside the Outside, about writing Literary Horror, Cannibals, and Vampires.

There is so much about this interview that I just adore.  The earliest topic that captured my attention was Lastrapes’ thoughts on where his novel, Inside the Outside, resides in the categorization of fiction:  Literature or Genre.  His pain point is one of my very own, which I wrote about on the Sarcastic Muse in a post titled Fiction is not Black and White.  The writing style of Lestrapes’ debute novel would be considered Literary, but the content is that of Genre (horror to be specific).  What a conundrum to be in!  However, Lestrapes seemlessly wraps up the discussion by stating that today you can  easily “take a crazy, far out story, but you can present it in a literary fashion”.  Thus, the categorization of fiction today falls well within that murky gray scale.

While watching this video, I sort of began to feel like Lastrapes was a male clone of myself (or would I be a female clone of him?).  His thoughts and fears of self-censorship and becoming inoculated to your story’s content are two of my biggest fears with my own work.  Lastrapes echoed the words that continually run through my mind, “if I write this, people that read it will know that I think these things”.  Self-censorship is a hard obstacle to overcome, but if one doesn’t, the writer will hinder his or her own work.  I have taken up the latest stance that if I really fear what people think goes on in my head, then I should be writing under a pseudonym — to which I am not.  I am knee deep in the realm of writing about cannibalism as well.  Hope you all have strong stomachs…

The conclusion to this interview is my favorite part.  I am not going to give away spoilers, but Penn basically asks Lastrapes the reason behind why nice people write about such dark material.  His answer was Earth-shaking, and not one concept that I had previously thought about for myself.

This interview can very well change, and potentially better, your self-perception of being an author in the realm of Dark Fiction.


The Seven Gates of Hell

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

This week’s “Before I die…” locations has me giddy with terror!  Today’s post is kicking off the “Gateways to Hell” series.

From now until Halloween, each Monday’s “Before I die…” post will focus on a location that is thought to be a physical gateway to Hell.  Around the world there are several locations where local lore identifies a location to be a direct descent into the bowels of the Earth, into a lair filled with the most dreaded horrors.  Enter if you dare…

A physical gateway to Hell is said to be born when an act of terrible injustice or horrendous suffering occurs in one spot upon the Earth.  A colossal tragedy, like a mass death, is said to be the common occurrence that opens the portal to the underworld.  Several religions and mythologies attribute the opening of this portal due to the amount of hate, pain, and anger that is expelled into the spiritual realm from the horrific event.

The Seven Gates of Hell — Hellam Township, PA

Within the realm of Hellam Township, outside of York, Pennsylvania, local legend tells of a physical gateway to hell.

The gateway’s location is said to be located on Trout Run Road.  In the 1800s, a mental institution was erected in this remote location.  It is said that a fire broke out within the institution, and due facility’s distance from civilization, it burnt to the ground — the fire killing most patients who resided inside.  The remoteness of the institute was specially selected as this specific facility housed those patients who were deemed too insane for the regular state mental wards.  It was said that the patients who managed to escape the raging fire did not make it far off the grounds.  The locals who arrived to the burning facility would not allow the patients to escape.  The “deranged and dangerous” patients were soon captured and beaten to death by the townsfolk.

Now, the actual gates’ role in the story of “The Seven Gates of Hell” are in dispute.  One such story is that an eccentric doctor who resided on the institution’s property installed seven gates along a walking path that lead from the facility into the forest.  A second story was that the townsfolk erected the gates to assist in capturing the escaped patients.  In either case, one portion of each story is in agreement:  only one of the gates can be physically seen during the day, the other six can only be visible at night.  No one has ever made it past the fifth gate, but it is said that if all seven gates are passed, the person would transcend directly into hell.

A warning to those who are brave enough to go in search of these hellish gates, though the exact location of the gates remain a mystery legend has it that the gates do reside on private property.  So if you happen across the actual location of the gates, you should probably obtain permission to access — or you may be dealing with an angry devil of the human kind.

Sadly, I was unable to find any pictures of the Seven Gates to Hell that are not copyrighted.  If you would like to see some pictures of the gate (along with some super cool headstone photos), check out Sherrie’s photos on Flickr:

Flash Fiction – Memento Mori

Amanda Headlee:

This little Flash Fiction by Chris Musgrave put a little smile on my face today — Death handing out calling cards.

Originally posted on Chris Musgrave - Writer in Training:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I will be calling for you at 14:35 on Friday 9th September. To ensure your passing is handled in a swift and efficient manner, please make yourself available at your allotted time and present this card. Unfortunately, the details of your demise cannot be issued for security reasons. If you have any questions, or wish to reschedule this appointment, please contact me on the above number and quote your customer reference number.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Mr T. G. Reaper, esq.

Memento Mori (Latin: remember that you will die)

I get little cards reminders through the post everyday: from the doctor, from the dentist, from utility companies wanting to read the meters. I can’t think of a better memento mori than an embossed ‘save the date’ card.

Chris Musgrave, Sept 2014

View original

What is this feeling of terror?

That is the pure essence of Horror.

In this post, I want to break down what the Horror genre means in my world.

Let’s begin with the mechanics of “horror”:

It is an ultimate fear and terror that inhibits a person’s body, mind, or soul.  It is the knowing and foreboding feeling that a situation will not end with a positive outcome.  It is the darkness trying to overcome the light, and the epic battle that ensues.  Horror can be strictly psychological or it can be wholly physical.  It can be blood, guts, and mutilations or a strict torture of the mind.

Horror is the element that turns sweet dreams into heart-ripping nightmares.

What “horror” is not:

Happy endings

True Horror will never have a happy ending.  Even if by the end of a book or movie the evil is vanquished, there will always be a cliffhanger that shows a seed of the evil still exists.  The evil is left in hiding to wait for and plan the optimal moment to reveal itself and wreak havoc on a new batch of characters.

Author Chris Musgrave describes horror as:

“Horror to me is total loss of control, the knowledge that what you thought was all in your head really isn’t. It’s the thought that the thing really is in your closet and that monsters are the least of our worries. Horror is that chill at the back of your neck, the whispered voice on the wind when no one’s around and the pants wetting terror when you realise that the most dangerous thing is still in there with you. Horror is not just gore. Horror is not gross out. It sure as shit isn’t sparkly vampires. Horror is insidious. It gets under your skin and turns it inside out.”

Within the realm of literature and film, Horror is a simple genre.  It is the genre that instills terror within the audience by any means necessary. However, a book or film does not have to be one straightforward fear fest.  The work’s genre can be of a hybrid-genre with Horror and another means:

Dark Fiction:  This usually consists of genres like Fantasy, Sci-fi, and / or Speculative that have a heavy element of Horror ingrained.
Gothic:  This is a Horror genre classic that has influences of Mystery and / or Romance.
Comedy-Horror:  This hybrid pretty much explains itself as the work contains a mix of Horror and Comedic elements.
Weird West: A Western themed work that highlights the elements of Horror, Sci-fi, and / or the speculative.

Horror, as a secluded genre in of itself, can be broken down into the following sub-genres:

Psychological:  The focus of this sub-genre takes place more in a character’s head, playing heavily on his or her fears and morals.  There may or may not be an element of blood.

Slasher:  This is your classic Freddy Krueger / Jason / Michael Myers villain, where the antagonist murders characters through violent and visceral methods.  The murder weapon of choice is always a sharp object used to maim or dismember.  This sub-genre typically mixes with the splatter sub-genre, but if the actual act of the murder occurs off scene (not visual), then the splatter element is not viable.

Splatter:  With this genre, I do not personally consider it to always be hand in hand with the Slasher sub-genre.  You can have a Splatter film without having the Slasher element.  A good example (and the most disgusting movie in existence) is The Human Centipede… and all of its subsequent segments.  Splatter is a horribly gruesome and visceral sub-genre, but the antagonist goal is not to kill the main character(s), but to merely affect the a character’s physical body.  This sub-genre relies more heavily on the visual effects of the blood and guts rather than the action of expelling the gore.

Supernatural:  This sub-genre highlights the elements that are not of the “natural / human” world.  Typically the sub-genre highlights entities from a heaven or hell realm.  Such fodder are ghosts, demons, angels, etc.

Monster:  This sub-genre focuses on those beings that are from the “natural / human” world, but are either not human or genetically altered humans.  Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf-man, Toxie, and Kaijus are all considered monsters.  The monster may or may not be bent on the destruction of the human world, but the actions of the monster (whether good or evil) do instill the element of fear within humanity.

Extraterrestrial:  Any life form that comes from “outer space” that is not considered a human.  The extraterrestrial may take on a humanoid form, but genetically they are not a pure human.

Weird:  This is a mashup of any non-human entity / life-form that the human mind cannot comprehend or extends to a forbidden knowledge.  This sub-genre typically uses a mix of elements of the Supernatural, Monsters, and Extraterrestrial.  It can also sprinkle in some of the Splatter and Psychological sub-genres.  Every story that H.P Lovecraft wrote would fall into this category.  The Call Cthulhu is a prime example that contains a mixture of the Horror sub-genres: Monster, Extraterrestrial, and Psychological.

Horror can embody a large element in almost every genre within literature and film.  hybrid and sub-genres of Horror can be mixed and mashed to create one story of complete and utter terror.  And to think, the information in this post is only related to fiction!  There is a whole other side to horror within the non-fiction realm through biographies, memoirs, and documentaries.  To think of the gruesome memoir that could have been written by the hands of Elizabeth Bathory!

If I have missed a hybrid / sub-genre of Horror that you would like to have noted or if you wish to discuss the definitions of the Horror genre, please let me know in the comments section.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go burn the memory of watching The Human Centipede out of my brain.


Can you see my fear? (c) wintersixfour

Can you see the fear? (c) wintersixfour

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

before i die


Lake Shawnee Amusement Park – West Virginia, USA

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia is a place that evokes nightmares through the death of children.  Truly, a ghastly place to visit and one of the top destinations on my personal bucket list.

It is said that numerous children lost their lives on the park’s rides, in the community pool, and even in the nearby lake.  One of the most noted deaths was the tragedy of a young girl while riding on the circling swing set.  She was killed when a box truck backed up into the oncoming path of her swing.

It is said that the departed children’s haunting laughs echo through the park’s acreage.

Were these mishaps just bad luck or a coincidence for the park?  In all likelihood, no.  It is possible that these deaths can be attributed to something more sinister.  The site of the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was built on top of a Native American settlement.  During an archeological dig of the area, archaeologists uncovered an estimated 13 bodies, most of which were the bodies of children.

The land is cursed in the most dismal of ways.  There is documented history, even spanning back before the park’s establishment, which details several tragedies in the area.

So, are you ready to explore the cursed ruins of the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park?  Well, you are in luck!  Every weekend in October you can experience what it is like to walk through an abandoned amusement park.

For more information, visit the Lake Shawnee Facebook page or the West Virginia travel website.

The ghostly skeletons are all that remain... (c) Jamie Pettry

Ghostly skeletons are all that remain… and maybe a lost soul or two. (c) Jamie Pettry

The Truth about Horror

In all honestly, horror is only a different and grotesque view of reality.  It is based upon a person’s perception of a circumstance.  The human mind has a tendency to distort the reality of a situation — making something out to be more terrifying than what it really is.   What frightens humans the most are typically the most benign.  For example:

  • The ghostly movements of your living room curtains is really your cat playing behind the draperies with a toy mouse.
  • The silhouette of a man that can be seen through the kitchen window is actually a hedge that is in need of reshaping.
  • The blood curdling screams from the other side of your wall is only your apartment neighbor yelling at his TV when the Steelers lose.
  • The spider that crawls across the bottom of your tub — Oh my GOD! A spider! IT’S A SPIDER! Kill it!  Kill it quick with fire!!!

*Ahem*… sorry, where was I — oh yes…  It is all about one’s perception of a situation, where it can be malignantly distorted.  However, there are certain times when something seems to be all sweet and innocent that it turns out to be truly dark and sinister…


Was that wrong of me?  :-)

Happy Saturday!


2014Sept31 update:  Disclaimer – no spiders were hurt in the writing of this post, and I truly do my best to not kill any living creature – even spiders.


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