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Guest Blog: Horror Inked with Tragedy by Sam Mortimer

Horror Inked with Tragedy

Sam Mortimer

 Writing horror fiction doesn’t mean we’re particularly displaying pleasant imagery, nor are we tapping into the kindest parts of our brains. While there’s undeniable beauty in the world, the fact is it can also monstrously suck. We’re not putting the focus on a bouquet of flowers unless those flowers are being grown from demon’s blood, so to speak. Whether a particular horror story is presented in a fun or serious manner, they are always inked with tragedy. Unfortunately, there’s tragedy aplenty in the world to process, then express.

To me, horror symbolizes aspects of real life that are difficult to deal with and/or express in any terms other than horror. Horror is truthful, sadly, in a rather blunt sort of way. If you’ve ever experienced the death of a loved one, or even the death of a pet, if something horrible has ever happened to you or people you know, then you know what pain is and it can likely be expressed through horror. When writing horror, you have to be brave enough to face yourself.

There’s also a rather simple, yet clichéd, question to see how you might relate with horror. Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf? Yet this simple question can spawn many more to get started on a journey. Why did you choose either? Which do you relate to? Neither? Again, why? In what way do you feel compelled enough to write (or read) about them? What do these creatures mean to you? That question can go as deep as you want, or it can stay on the surface, which is fine too. How philosophical do you feel like being? Or, possibly you feel nihilistic. It’s up to you where you want to take it. Think about it.

Horror can also symbolize societal issues. We’re bringing light to dark parts of life, grappling with the chaotic aspects of the human condition. We’re exposing demons, per se, and exorcizing them without mercy. Or maybe we’re just having fun. Maybe we owe that to ourselves. The story you’re writing can be as important as any issue you or the world might be dealing with, or it could be a proverbial escape pod—or maybe a bit of both.

From personal experience (call it a curse or whatever you will), when I’ve written stories strictly for entertainment purposes, these stories tend to fail. Not sure why, but they just do. Guess it doesn’t work for me; however, when I put a piece of myself and some tragedy into a story, that story tends to be better and relatable. Maybe the reader takes something worthwhile from it.

Horror is also a bit of a gambit, with the odds immensely set against your characters. Not to be negative, but at times the odds are set against us in real life. Tragically, these odds are not in favor of many folks on the planet. There might be a situation a person feels like they’ll never get through, and everyone has their personal journey. There’s war. There’s famine. There’s mental illness. There’s disease. We all know that list continues, and we know what emotions that list evoke. Obviously we should take realistic ways to help in any way we can. Many of us do. Horror fiction is where I place emotions about the things I can’t control.  In the big picture, life isn’t easy. Writing horror is a way to express that. Maybe writing horror can help with your personal battle against the heaviness and despair that the world can bring.

Screams the Machine

Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.

Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.

The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.

Available on:


US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | CreateSpace (Print)

Author Bio:

Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.




Desire Vol. 1 by Rich & Roulo #Review by @TBraun_Author #Horror #Vampires

Great review!

Reads & Reels


Authors Emerian Rich and H. E. Roulo come together to bring you Rich & Roulo…

a fiction series harkening back to vaudevillian days where madness bordered on greatness, misery became wisdom, and beauty was found in even the most broken doll.

Volume 1: DESIRE pushes the boundaries between burlesque and grotesque, featuring a pair of twisted obsession stories and one very naughty poem.

A faded tome wrapped with a red velvet ribbon falls into your possession.

A note attached reads, “To my love.”

As you open it, the spine creaks. Spiders scramble out and skitter across your leg. Startled, you rise and the book thuds to the floor in a puff of perfume-scented dust. Picking it up, you find the velvet ribbon crumbling. It breaks. Where the ribbon had formed a cross holding the novel shut, the cover is still dark and gold leafing inscribed in whirls outlines sensual bare…

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My First Story: Rish Outfield

My First Story
with author Rish Outfield

Age first started writing: about 16
Location of first writing: I was a Junior in high school, living in a tiny Midwestern American town.  Sounds like a John Cougar Mellencamp song, only with less kissing.


Well, I always had an overactive imagination, and was frightened by virtually anything.  I wrote my first stories exploring those fears happening to other people.

We had just gotten our first family computer, and it had a word processor program on it.  So this was the first thing I wrote on it, and was able to actually print out multiple copies of a story for the first time.

My first story/Basic plot:

In “The House Was Different,” Sam, a teen boy, wakes up to find the world around him dark and evil.  He discovers that his best friend sold his soul to the Devil, and threw in Sam’s as well.

What did you think of the story then? 

I was immensely proud of it, and shared it with friends at school.  I do recall that my buddy Matt had a big problem with the ending, since he was a huge Heavy Metal music listener, and insisted that the Devil just didn’t work that way.

What do you think of the story now? 

Oh, I’m sure it’s terrible.  I haven’t looked at it in several years, but it’s probably riddled with typos and grammatical errors–and gasp!–is written from the point of view of a teenager when I actually WAS a teenager.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

I shared it with others, and a couple of them encouraged me to share with them my later stories.  Not long after, I submitted a story or two to school contests and the yearly student writing anthology.

Current work: 

I’m not good at pitching or selling my stuff (guess I haven’t learned much since high school), but I have tried to put out some of my stories in audio form.  The first collection of those was called “The Calling and Other Stories” and includes more than a dozen Horror, Urban Fantasy, and Sci-Fi stories, narrated by yours truly.  Narration seems to be where I shine, except of course when “Tony” tells me something bad is going to happen in Room 237.

Rish Outfield is a writer, podcaster, and audiobook narrator who normally walks on four legs, but can rise up on two when provoked or about to attack.  He thinks he’s funny and talented, but only his Sean Connery impression is worth any salt.  You can check him out at the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, That Gets My Goat, or Rish Outcast podcasts, or bug him on Facebook (there are fewer Rishes out there than you would guess)

 Thank you for reading the My First Story series. Stay tuned to this blog for more writer series.

My First Story: Kristin Battestella

My First Story
with author Kristin Battestella

Age first started writing: about 8
Location of first writing: Apparently I was a precocious child from rural New Jersey inviting everyone to “Collect ’em All!” for my illustrious, illustrated classics from “One Night” to “The Red Forest”, titles clearly inspired by my farm spooky rearing.


I recall “The Red Forest” was inspired by the reflection of the trees on my mother’s car, but I seemed to have made a very early leap into fantasy or horror with “The Frosted Opal” and “Little Wendy” or “Molly Mummy.” I guess I was just a whimsical or scary sponge.

My first story/Basic plot:

“The Adventures of The M&M Gang” (with an ice cream cone on the cover for some reason!) was the longest one written for a school project when I was in the fourth grade. Compared to the other one page “One Night” stories I think it was probably an improvement but I don’t remember what it was about beyond a group of kids who’s names all began with M. They solved mysteries that weren’t really mysteries, objects lost and found short of lameness.

What did you think of the story then? 

My word I thought they were so fantastic then with a moral and radical concepts that needed to be signed, dated, and preserved for posterity!

What do you think of the story now? 

They are pathetic. But in a laughably good way. At one point as a teenager, I was going to collect them in a storybook called “Idiotic Stories for Gullible Children” but of course that was just as bad.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

I think even if the stories were bad, it was the idea that I couldn’t remember them all or just keep them in my head and had to write them down. I had crazy notions that I was working for a publisher called “Kids Kids Kids” where I would just churn out classics daily. (My dad told me that wasn’t how things worked and why that couldn’t be my fictitious publisher’s name when I designed a logo with “KKKs”!!) But the idea of getting things on the page that needed work, and to be good. I started drawing more SF world building ships and costumes and got into documenting what I was doing before writing short stories and submitting them to kid writing contests.

Current work: 

Actually my focus has been on non fiction, the ten year anniversary of my review blog I Think, Therefore I Review sort of snuck up on me, so I’ve been in celebration mode there! I’ve found I go in phases between fiction and non-fiction. My last vampire series Fate and Fangs is available on Amazon.

Kristin Battestella writes for her hometown newspaper The Cumberland County Reminder and has been writing non-fiction, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror for almost twenty years. Along with numerous sports articles, print essays, online reviews, and pen name fiction, Kristin’s first eBook was published in 2005. She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network, founder of the South Jersey Women Authors, and part of the podcast at Horror Addicts.net. Her 7 book sequel series Fate and Fangs is available now with Muse It Up Publishing.

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Rish Outfield.

My First Story: Trinity Adler

My First Story
with author Trinity Adler

Age first started writing: about 19
Location of first writing: I live on the foggy coast of Central California near Monterey. I wrote my first story while on a summer break from college in North Carolina.


I wrote my first story for my Dad. He’s a fan of Westerns. I’d spent most of my college break that year at my Uncle’s farm. I had plenty of inspiration after weeks in humid southern summer heat where I’d worked outside with horses and cattle. I returned home determined to spend the last month of my vacation indoors, with the air conditioning blasting and a supply of iced lemonade. To achieve this goal, I got out my typewriter to write a story for my father. I had more than enough research material. Dad kept the house littered with Western novels I could reference by Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour. My mom preferred murder and mayhem written by Agatha Christie or Stephen King. I think that’s where I got my taste for the macabre. While I worked out my story, I read, and reread, everything I could. I mined all the literature in the big bags of used books my family traded among ourselves. Each shared section of the family library evolved into collections of genre fiction and nonfiction you might never have opened if not for the serendipity of the bag. By the time my vacation ended I’d become a writer and I’d started reading with a writer’s eye.

My first story/Basic plot:

Bounty is a ghost story set in the Wild West. A bounty hunter, haunted by the men he’d hauled to justice dead instead of alive, is driven to a point of extreme sleep deprivation. He refuses to believe any of his victims may have been wrongly posted as wanted dead for a crime. Despite warnings of his fate from men he tracked and killed, he believes his work is justified, with or without a judge’s ruling. He ends up in the gunfight of his life after he ignores threats from the ghostly chorus that hounds him. When the bounty hunter arrives in a small town one afternoon to hunt down a boy he knows is innocent, his luck turns. The ghosts intervene. There is no one to mourn his death at the end of the story.

What did you think of the story then? 

I considered it a cross between High Noon and the Twilight Zone. I’d grown up with Western stories the way other kids learned fairy tales. Cowboy yarns felt like part of my life. These days I prefer the supernatural and unexplainable when I pick my own reading materials. Looking back now, it seems logical that my first short story would blend Wild West gunfighters and ghosts.

What do you think of the story now? 

I think it qualifies as a “weird Western”. At the time I wrote it, it didn’t seem to have a settled place other than as a ghost story set in the Old West. I stored it away in my files. However, when my Dad came to live with me, I decided to pick up the thread of my old story, polish it and add to it with a fresh series of Western ghost tales. Many of these new stories have Steampunk themes. The Steampunk genre is a good fit to my love of cowboys, contraptions, clockworks and the supernatural. I’m organizing the stories into a book for fans of the haunted West.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

It helped me feel comfortable constructing and sharing a story with family and friends. That’s a big step for a young writer and a necessary one. It takes bravery to bring a Western to family members steeped in the genre. As a writer considering the audience, you’re aware every aspect of exposition and character right down to the bullets in the gun, choice of rotgut at the bar and the character’s motivations to act with violence will be recognizable to your readers. Western genre experts demand a fresh approach or you’ll strike out before the ending is revealed.

Current work: 

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

“Clockwork Justice” by Trinity Adler

With only one day and two clues, a bloody torn card and carrot tarts, Alice fights to prove she’s innocent and avoid losing her head to the Red Queen’s executioner.

Trinity Adler is a Steampunk writer from Carmel California. She’s a member of the Central Coast Writers branch of the California Writers Club, Wicked Women Writers, Steampunk 7 C’s, Monterey Bay Steampunk Society and the League of Proper Villains. Her work is featured in the anthologies Written Across the Genres and Clockwork Wonderland. Trinity’s among the winners of the SF Writers Club’s 2014 Fault Zone Shift Anthology contest for The Oracle at the Delphi. She’s an authority on terrier movies and Toto the dog. She curates a Cairn Terrier movie website and Facebook pages. Her Trinity Adler webpage is www.trinityadler.com.

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Kristin Battestella.

My First Story: Arlene Radasky

My First Story
with author Arlene Radasky

Age first started writing: as an adult – 2008
Location of first writing: I was married, living at home, two girls grown and with families of their own. I had done some physical things that I never thought I could do in my life (no one would ever define me as an athlete), and the one that gave me courage to write was finishing a Sprint Triathlon. I told myself that if I could do that, writing would be easy. Right….

2008 rolled around. I had finished my novel that took me four years to write, publish and record. I had an idea in my mind that I wanted to try to write an epic poem. I have no idea why or where the idea of a poem came from but I wanted to try poetry for the first time so after a bit of research about poetry, I started writing “Forever”.

I am 67 now so in 2008 I was 58 years old. Ghost and horror stories have always fascinated me but I honestly do not know where this idea came from. I did not have an experience that lead up to this, nor have ever been abused, but this story leapt out onto my keyboard. Much like my novel did.

There she was, an abused wife who thought she was free of the man who kept her mentally hostage and the voodoo priestess who promised her freedom from her nightmares but instead sent her to the other side and back to the dead man. In poetry form.

I was amazed at how it came out, and am still fascinated with it. I read it and wonder where it came from. After I had written it, it opened doors in my mind for me. I started writing more poetry and short stories, most with dark sides. I’ve had so much fun!

I met Emerian on Podiobooks.com. She and I recorded our work and published it in podcast form. She told me about a Horror Festival she was having in Second Life and I sent “Forever” to her. She wanted me to come read it so she taught me all about Second Life. She rescued me from oceans and zapped me across tombstones. I even met the devil for her. We had fun in Second Life for the next few years.

I’ve been working on a second novel for too many years, but hope to finish it this year.

I am not a dedicated, spend hours-a-day writer, I write when I am inspired and I am so glad that I can. It has been a real ride.

Current work: 

Forever  and I have more poetry and short stories there as well.

The Fox : Absolutely spellbinding, The Fox by Arlene Radasky is a fascinatingly sublime historical romance and fantasy novel that looks at true courage and truly selfless acts. In this epic fiction that crosses centuries, Druid healers at the beginning of recorded time will be rescued from obscurity by an archeologist of the twenty-first century. Jahna’s clan lay in the path of destruction exacted by the Romans. Her fate is sealed unless a bargain is made with the Gods, which without a doubt means a human sacrifice. Two thousand years later, Aine MacRae is on their trail. A struggling archaeologist, she is on the verge of uncovering the village where they once lived, driven by her mind melds with an ancient force. Encouraged by a ghostly visit, she will do whatever it takes to unearth time’s mystery. Greed almost triumphs leaving the truth and ancient stories buried forever, but an undying love is rekindled.

A scholar of ancient history, Arlene Radasky is fortunate to have walked upon each of the seven continents on the earth. For the past two decades she has worked with a number of nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross and Hospice of Santa Barbara. She currently lives in California and is a proud mother and grandmother.


 Next time, you’ll hear from author Trinity Adler.

Come meet Emz at Baycon 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

San Mateo, California
Come meet Emerian Rich
and many other fabulous guests
at BayCon 2017


Emerian’s Schedule:

Saturday, May 27
10:00 AM to 02:00 PM – Main Lobby
BayCon’s first ever Imagination Health Fair! Come enjoy freebies, literature, and fun activities to help improve the health of your imagination.

04:00 PM 05:30 PM – Connect 4
HorrorAddicts.Net – Clockwork Wonderland
Come talk Alice, Horror, and hear readings from authors. Door prizes and favors! Emerian Rich (M), Laurel Anne Hill, Sumiko Saulson, Ezra Barany, Trinity Adler, Michele Roger, Jonathan Fortin.

06:30 PM – Inspire 1
Emerian Rich – Reading


Sunday, May 28th
1:30 AM to 01:00 PM – Convene 1
Women of Horror talk about the stereotypes, expectations, and discrimination involved with writing in this mostly man-dominated genre. Emerian Rich (M), Loren Rhoads, Pat MacEwen

02:00 PM to 03:00 PM – Convene Lobby
Signing: Emerian Rich and Sumiko Saulson

04:00 PM to 05:30 PM – Synergy 2
Whether you’d like to decorate your DYSTOPIAN pad, or you are just stocking up for the apocalypse trade system, come make some shrunken heads w/Emz. Supplies provided free except hook. Bring your hook, or buy a new one for $1.50. Ideal size F, G, or H. UTOPIAN option available.


My First Story: Jaq D. Hawkins

My First Story
with author Jaq D. Hawkins

Age first started writing: about 13
Location of first writing: Child living in California with mother and brother


I had been traveling the California coast with my mother and brother, also my crazy aunt.

My first story/Basic plot:

This was effectively a true story, writing about the adventures of a transient life from a child’s point of view. There was a period of my childhood where everytime my mother started to get settled down, my crazy aunt would show up and push her to up stakes and go somewhere else. This led to some interesting adventures which would give social services nightmares these days, but gave me an early grounding in dealing with changes and survival, as well as fitting into different social situations.

What did you think of the story then? 

I thought it was good, until I got it back with a rejection slip.

What do you think of the story now? 

After getting a rejection, I read it again and saw that it wasn’t actually as well written as Reader’s Digest had a right to expect. The original is long gone but many of my adventures get slipped into fiction stories I write now.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

It taught me about objectivity, coming back to read things with fresh eyes before submitting. I think it was a good experience for a young, new writer. Rather than feeling discouraged, I determined to get better.

Current work: 

A zany chase through time and space and between the worlds to put the universe back in order, if they live to accomplish their task!

The demon Choronzon was supposed to keep the gate between the worlds, but he has abandoned his post and it’s up to two reincarnated magicians, Karl Spare and Alei-Cat, to captu re him and return him to his post.

A romp through time and space takes these two unlikely heroes through some harrowing portals and surreal adventures where they meet a variety of bizarre personages along the way, but there can be only one finale to the chase for Choronzon!

Jaq D Hawkins was originally traditionally published in the Mind, Body, Spirit genre, but moved to indie publishing soon after releasing her first Fantasy fiction novel. She currently has five novels released and two more in progress, as well as further writings in Mind, Body and Spirit subjects, some of which continue to be traditionally published while others are destined for the indie market.

Information on all titles can be found through her website at http://www.jaqdhawkins.com

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Arlene Radasky.

My First Story: Kay Tracy

My First Story
with author Kay Tracy

Age first started writing: about 10
Location of first writing: Splitting time between California and Iceland


4th or 5th grade School assignment!  We were instructed to write about a memory.

My first story/Basic plot:

Essentially my earliest memory, a trip to the zoo in Philadelphia.  In my early childhood, I think around 2 or 3 years of age, the animals were kept in large below ground enclosures with (to me at the time, in a stroller) large iron fences.  It seems I stood up in my stroller to get a better look, at the  bears below me. I grasped two of the bars and peered down over the edge.  While I do not recall what my father said to me at the time, I do recall his hands around my middle lifting me up and back from the bars, then setting me back into the seat.

I realize not much of a story, but it was a fond memory of security and safety regarding my father.

What did you think of the story then? 

At the time, I was very proud of this story. Not only for the memory that I had, but the grade was good, and had some pleasant comments on it from my teacher.

What do you think of the story now? 

Other than my memory of it, the story itself, at least my copy of it is long gone. That is not to say I have forgotten about it.  I am sure it was only a paragraph or two, and very juvenile, but it is the first time I was ever asked to write a story, that I can recall!

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

This is more difficult for me to answer. I know that have positive feedback from my teacher was an essential part of my willingness to put words into stories and write or type them.  There were other teachers who were not so kind.  I think that having a positive first experience allowed me the freedom to not be bothered so much by the negative remarks that many of us have gotten.  Not that I was thick skinned about it, just being able to look at the remarks and try to think about what the person who made them might be missing, and how can I help them find it!

Someday, I might even write things that will get published!!

Current work: 

Nothing yet, but soon! 🙂

Kay retired early from her government job to expand her experiences and do some traveling. While there are stories she enjoys telling and sharing, she is just a little slow to get them written down! 

 Next time, you’ll hear from author Jaq D. Hawkins.

My First Story: Suzanne Madron

My First Story
with author Suzanne Madron

Age first started writing: 17
Location of first writing:  I was living at home with my parents, a senior in high school in the mountains of Pennsylvania


I heard the song “Nemesis” by Shriekback for the first time, and images exploded in my head. Obviously they didn’t have much relation to the song itself, but the power of the song was extraordinary.

My first story/Basic plot:

In the original version of NEMESIS, Nemesis was originally conjured by a warlock for his body. The warlock was dying, and planned to take over the body of someone much younger. The same warlock had managed to survive as long as he had by imprisoning a vampire named Lamia and drinking her blood in hopes it would make him immortal.

What did you think of the story then? 

I thought it was the greatest thing ever. My teachers loved it, too, so I figured it must be good.

What do you think of the story now? 

The original draft makes me cringe when I read it now. It’s since been rewritten, stripped down to the bones and remade in a new image, re-edited, rewritten again and again, and again, and is now in its fourth incarnation.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

It started out as a trick to get me to use the laptop we had been given for AP English class. I didn’t like the thing, and refused to use it. I preferred pen and paper. My teacher told me to write a sentence. Anything. When she read it she told me to write out a paragraph. Then a page. Then five pages. By the end of the schoolyear, I had a novel.

Current work: 

For Sale or Rent: The house across the street seems to go on the market every few months, but this time nothing about the sale is normal, including the new owners. No sooner has the for sale sign come down and the neighborhood is thrown into a Lovecraftian nightmare and the only way to find out is to attend the house warming party.

Suzanne Madron was born in New York City and has lived up and down the east coast. Currently she resides on a house built over a Civil War battlefield in the wilds of Pennsylvania where she has been known to host some interesting Halloween parties. She has authored several novels and stories under various names including Suzi M, James Glass, and Xircon.


Next time, you’ll hear from author Kay Tracy.