Tag Archives: horror

Author Interview: Lisanne Harrington

I met Author Lisanne Harrington at a book signing event.  She is a lovely lady and a fine author.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Lisanne Harrington. After nearly twenty years as a paralegal, I staged a coup and left the straight-laced corporate world behind forever. I now pander to my muse, a sarcastic little so-and-so. Only copious amounts of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper and hamburgers will get him to fill my head with stories of serial killers, werewolves, and the things that live under your bed.

When not writing, I love to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls (although I hated the movies), horror movies like Young Frankenstein and Fido, and true crime shows. I like scary clowns, coffee with flavored creamer, and hot, salty French fries. Lots and lots of French fries.

When not hanging with “The Girls,” I write paranormal mysteries and murder mysteries.

I live in SoCal with my husband and rowdy, always-has-to-have-the-last-word Miniature Pinscher, Fiona.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a big reader, so it just seemed a natural transition to writing. I started with short stories as a small child and co-wrote my first novel when I was 11. It then progressed from there and has become a part of me. When not writing, I feel incomplete.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

To me, being a writer is a little different than being an author. Like I said above, I’ve always been a writer, but I didn’t consider myself an actual author until my first book, Moonspell, was accepted for publication sometime in the beginning of 2015.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The one that has recently been published wraps up my Wolf Creek Mystery Series. Moon Shadows continues the story of James Manarro, who wakes up to a strange world in which nothing makes sense. As if it isn’t bad enough that a werewolf had stocked the town of Wolf Creek and James had to kill it, or that James is dealing with very real teen issues, now the whole world is silent, and everyone—his parents, neighbors, and friends—seems to have disappeared. Then he hears a voice, one he can’t possibly hear because it belongs to his best friend, Riff, who has been dead for over three years, killed by the first werewolf to attack the town. But when James runs out to find Riff, he is plunged into a world of darkness filled with monsters determined to kill him once and for all.

The one I’m working on right now started out as a killer clown story but has morphed into a tale about an ancient Chinese mythological creature that appears every 44 years to terrorize a town.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Wolf Creek Mysteries were originally conceived as a trilogy, so Moon Shadows is the third installment. It picks up right where Book 2, Moon Watch, leaves off, and is really a continuation of that storyline.

The one I’m writing now has a protagonist based on my bestie, who wanted to be put into one of my books, and coincidentally, is the same one I co-wrote my first novel with. We’ve been friends over 50 years! She’s half Chinese, and her father immigrated from China when he was 14 and alone, and I used that as the stepping off point. While researching some elements of a killer clown story based on all the evil clown sightings from a few years ago, I came across this particular beast and knew I just had to write about it. I’m saving the killer clown story for later. 

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Titles are generally difficult for me, so I leave them until the novel is complete. Since Moon Shadows has an eerie, shadowy fog shrouding the town, it seemed only natural when I was done to have shadows in the title, so in keeping with the “Moon” theme, this one was easy.

As for the Chinese mythological creature, we’ll just have to wait and see what it calls itself…

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The entire trilogy explores the world, how we see ourselves, how others perceive us, and how we are all similar and go through many of the same experiences.

In my current WIP, I’m sure there will be some sort of message, but since I’m only a few chapters in, only time will tell what it might be.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Bentley Little really knows how to weave a terrifying tale based on normal people and events, surrounded by true elements of horror. Stephen King writes wonderfully three-dimensional characters that could very well be your friends and neighbors.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

New York Times bestselling author Bonnie Hearn Hill was my first online writing teacher and has since become a friend. She helped me fill my toolbox with all the things I need to write a good story and weave in a mystery or two along the way. Her students have all been filleted by her critiques, which she gives honestly but with love and a sincere desire to help.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Forget about writing what you know. That’s not necessary now that research on the Internet is so readily available. Read everything you can, especially in the genre you write. Know the tropes and stereotypes and try to stay away from them if you can. If not, you need a unique spin on them. Sharpen the tools you have and always always always explore new ways to grow as a writer.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just that I hope they enjoy my stories and will check out my Wolf Creek Mysteries series. Also, there’s a Monster blog on my website, if they’re interested.

Be sure to look for my upcoming murder mystery, Murder in the Family (no creatures involved), and my newest horror story, Gravelings, both due out in 2018. And check out my Chinese beast story sometime after that!

Also, I would love to hear from them. They can contact me at wolfcreek.projects@gmail.com.

Lisanne Harrington
Southern California

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The Wolf Creek Mystery Series

Publisher:  Black Opal Books

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BLACK OPAL BOOKS

Anthology For Your Writers’ Group by April Grey

magazine rack
Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Could you, should you, dare you, put together an anthology for your writers’ group?

In this age of Internet and computers, we all know how easy it is to publish online. Just hit “send.” However, putting together an anthology (ebook and/or paper) for your writers’ group may take a bit more effort.

For me, a love of learning led me to take classes from Dean Wesley Smith
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/online-workshops, in how to create a book cover and how to format a book interior. Easy Peasy? Hmmm. Well, there are many You Tubes that teach you how to do formatting and design, so yes, with a little determination and time you can do it.

Although the how to’s is something that almost anyone can do, coming up with material—that’s where having a pool of creative people is vital.

The first anthology I put together was inspired by our local community garden, along with two stories about gardens from writers I knew. I’ve been involved in SF, Fantasy and Horror workshops since the early 90’s, both on-line and in real life and so would read many, many stories a year to give crit. In return I also got my stories reviewed.

Once the idea to put together an anthology came to me, I asked of the writers in my circle if they had any stories about gardens, gardeners or gardening. I pulled together six stories. Not a lot of material, but I was thinking this could be a promotional item. I included excerpts of material from the writers. Six stories transformed into twelve! I’d seen samplers from all sorts of publishing houses.

Besides years of critting, I was an editor for Damnation Press. This rewarding work allowed me to get to know an even larger circle of writers than from my writing groups.

My second anthology was again inspired by events in my life. Cronehood isn’t for the fainthearted. This time I had ten stories to go together. Instead of photoshopping a cover all by myself, I enlisted the work of Dirk Strangely. I have long been a fan of his Tim Burtonesque style, and I figured why not splurge and send some money his way? I’ve used his artwork for four of my covers.

We all know that a cover can make or break a book. Of course, what’s between the covers matters a great deal, but it’s the cover that lures the reader in to crack open the book or read an on-line sample.

Wonderful cover art, great stories, a formatter, and an editor. That’s it. For ebooks, Smashwords is extremely user friendly. Createspace’s customer service is great (though I always fight with them about the spine—that’s for another blog).

I haven’t mentioned publicity, maybe because that’s my least favorite bit. Word of mouth, blog hops, reviews, all of this needs to be done both leading up to release and after publication. Since this is being done not to get rich, but to promote your writing group, that you really need to have group support in getting the word out that your anthology is a must-read among a sea of other self-published works.

Another thing needed is a theme. Most anthologies have one. So far the Hell’s series has focused on gardens, crones, pets, and music. All the stories are more dark fantasy and humor than horror and can appeal to a wide audience.

Recently I was fortunate enough to be co-editor of our local Horror Writers Association’s anthology, New York State of Fright. It’s at its publisher right now and should be out in 2018. I’m very excited to see that work of so many writers who I have known for years and greatly respect. The theme is centered on New York and it is a varied and exciting read!

I hope that this has gotten you thinking about your own writers’ group. Great stories and cover art are the biggest factors. If you have that, then you should consider this as a great project for the new year!


Author April GreyApril Grey’s short stories are collected in The Fairy Cake Bakeshop and in I’ll Love You Forever. She is also the author of two urban fantasy novels: Chasing the Trickster and its sequel, St. Nick’s Favor.

She edited the anthologies: Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Cursed Instruments; Hell’s Garden: Mad, Bad and Ghostly Gardeners, Hell’s Grannies: Kickass Tales of the Crone and last year’s, Hell’s Kitties and Other Beastly Beasts.

She and her family live in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC in a building next to a bedeviled garden. Gremlins, sprites or pixies, something mischievous, lurks therein. Someday she’ll find out. Please visit www.aprilgrey.blogspot for her latest news.  Follow her on Twitter and FaceBook

Author Interview: Gareth Wood

Author Gareth Wood writes Science Fiction and Horror, and one day hopes to combine the two. “I have ideas all the time, and write them down so that I can re-examine them later. Hopefully one or two will become books.” We hope so too, Gareth. Welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Gareth WoodHi, I’m Gareth Wood. I’m a commercial electrician who works in the film and television industry. I was born in England but I live in Vancouver BC. I’m nearly fifty, I live with my wife and a pair of cats who remain convinced that we are purely there to serve them.

When and why did you begin writing?

My first short story that was anything other than a jumble of ideas was written when I was about ten years old. It was a class assignment in school, to write an original short story, and I loved it so much that I never stopped. What I wrote then was a short SF piece. My love of SF started with books I found in my school library, and an SF themed children’s magazine that my mother subscribed to.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That would be 2004. I had written on and off for many years before that, but I first had something considered for publication then. That was when I gave serious thought to actually writing something with the idea of having it published. Before that, it had all just been for fun, my own amusement. Now with four books published, and a fifth and sixth coming, I think I can safely call myself a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest published work is Black Horizon, the first of a trilogy. It is an SF tale about a clash of cultures, set 350 years after an apocalyptic war on Earth. Several astronauts return to Earth to find it drastically changed. I’m writing the follow-up book, The Serpent Sun, which introduces an advanced culture that spans a vast amount of territory, and also expands on the events taking place on and around Earth.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had recently re-read some books set on an post-apocalyptic Earth far in the future and was inspired by the idea that the world could change quite drastically in a short time. I had always wanted to return to SF, ever since that first short story so long ago. The title of the book and a scene associated with it came to me, and I went from there. Further inspiration came from some of the more realistic SF movies I’ve seen recently, as well as some old westerns. Black Horizon was once described by a reader as Zane Grey meets Heinlein.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Evolving. I feel I am getting better as a writer from book to book. It’s a skill like any other. Looking back I can see differences between what I wrote in my first book and my third and fourth, and now my fifth. I can say that a reader might be better able to describe my style than I could. Also, I try to write by hand for first drafts and then transfer my notes to the computer for the second. I find this works better for me since a lot of my time to write is when I’m away from my computer.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I had a scene in my mind, playing out like a movie. I could see the characters involved and the environment they were interacting with, and the name of the book sprang from that. That seems to be the way I get my titles. Likewise, the name of the next book, The Serpent Sun, is a visual descriptive of a specific scene in that book. I see the scenes much like films playing in my mind.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Not particularly. I write adventures, so maybe ‘enjoy the ride’ is the message?

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Not at all. Before Black Horizon I wrote zombie apocalypse fiction, which I would not hope to be real in any way. For the books I write now, which are slightly hard SF, I’m making a lot of it up as I go, and it has no basis in my reality. Though if it did, that would be interesting. I think I’ve created a world of great hope and potential in Black Horizon, even if it is steeped in conflict

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Andre Norton, whom I read early in life and still do. Anne McCaffery, who wrote some incredible science fantasy tales. Arthur C Clarke, whose hard SF books made me see the beauty of science. Iain M Banks, who was the kind of author I aspire to become. Stephen King, who scared me. Dan Simmons, for writing some of the most elegant prose about transhumanism. Craig DiLouie, for showing how to write a great action story. And of course Sterling Lanier, whose Hiero books inspired me from the very beginning.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Ah, that’s a hard one. If I could choose? Whom I most want to be like, and whose style I aspire to? Iain M Banks. The Culture books were awe-inspiring. His style and descriptive abilities were second-to-none. I think I would be quite happy to one day reach that level.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Loraine Van Tonder. My publisher selected her, and I’m glad they did. I wouldn’t have known where to start, and she did an excellent job with Black Horizon, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for The Serpent Sun.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write when and where you can. It’s tough these days juggling the writing impulse with working and living our regular lives. I manage to write by having notebooks that I carry around, or by using a writing app on my phone. It’s not always possible to write every day, but don’t worry about that. Write when you can, where you can, and as much as you feel able to. If that’s ten words or ten thousand, it’s correct.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for allowing me to entertain you.

Black Horizon Book CoverGareth Wood
Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Black Horizon

Cover Artist: Loraine Van Tonder
Publisher: Burning Willow Press

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Lit Up OC: Author Open Mic

Kean Coffee Tustin 2
Kean Coffee in Tustin, CA

I drove down the country road with anticipation, a small box of my books in the trunk of my vehicle and wearing comfortable, but nice clothing. I did my best to quell my nerves and remind myself that I’ve done this before, but it had been almost a year since I last performed an author reading in public. I felt that I might be rusty. This was no ordinary author series either. It was Lit Up OC, the series attached to my local writing guild and most of my writer friends attend it. Would I lose my voice? Would I blank out when my friends grilled me with writing questions that would go far beyond a typical layperson? Of the three authors reading, which one would I be? First? Last? I wasn’t sure.

What is Lit Up OC

I stumbled upon Lit Up OC around two years ago. It is a monthly reading series in Southern California located at Keans Coffee in Tustin. Local writers hang out with their coffee and tea while three authors read excerpts from their novels or a short story. Represented genre include mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, literary, memoir, you name it. You never know what is coming next. There are many events like this in nearby Los Angeles, but Lit Up OC is the only reading series I know of in Orange County. Our host, Madeline Tighe Margarita is the creator and organizer of the event. She handles the author introductions. Asks questions of the audience afterward about what they heard and what their impressions were in critique style. Then moderates a general question and answer session between the author and audience.

What I Read

Murder They Wrote Book Cover (blog)In December of 2017, I had a story included in a horror anthology called “Murder They Wrote” put out by Serial Sikk Publishing. The theme of the collection was speculative fiction that included a murder. My story, “We Can Rebuild Him” began as a writing prompt from an online science fiction writing club. The prompt was to write a story about a cyborg. I combined the prompt with the feelings I felt when watching the Kevin Bacon movie “Taking Chance”. It features an American escort officer returning the body of a soldier to his family. I combined this with ideas about cyborgs that I had gleaned from panels at science fiction conventions. The result was psychologically dark and although it was not technically about murder, it fits with the bloody theme of the anthology.

I read the entire story to the audience. My goal was not to sell books per se, it was for me to get out and perform a reading for the first time in almost a year. I practiced all week. Developing different inflections for the characters. Where to put in pauses for emphasis. Making sure that all technical terms flowed with proper pronunciations. Everything that I could do to make a good first impression of my writing to my peers.

What Questions Were Asked

Wendy Reads at Lit Up OC - Jan 2018
Wendy Van Camp Reads at Lit Up OC

After the reading, Maddie conducts a question and answer session. The first part of the session she asks the audience about what they heard during the reading and their thoughts about it. Considering most of the audience are authors, some with multiple books, the comments can be extremely technical and difficult to answer on the fly. I prepared to answer typical questions at the reading. The inspiration for the story. My writing voice. Experiences on the science fiction convention circuit. What national author guilds I belong to and why. The audience asked all that and more.

I’m told that I appeared articulate and that my reading was entertaining, even with the dark subject matter. Many were surprised that I had written a story in the horror genre.

I feel that “We Can Rebuild Him” is a good story to perform and I plan on using it as my main piece at the various readings I will do at conventions this year. While I don’t write dark, horror pieces as a general rule, it still showcases my current skill level as an author. If you are planning on attending WorldCon, you will hear me read this story at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading.

Kean Coffee Reading Audience 2
Lit Up OC Audience

Why Do Readings?

Many writers are introverts who feel anxiety standing up in front of people. I can sympathize with that. When I was a beginning teacher, standing in front of 30 teenagers and trying to convey English, History or Math to them, I felt challenged. Over time, I learned to be more comfortable in front of a classroom and to speak in a manner that is engaging enough to hold the attention of teenagers. If you can do that, you can speak to anyone! An easier way to learn this skill is to join the Toastmasters in your local area. There will be fewer spitballs on your back that way!

As an author, I like to find opportunities to be in front of potential readers and give them a sample of my work. This is why I attend book fairs, do readings at science fiction conventions, and read at local salons. When you get a chance to meet readers in person, you learn things about your own work or help you match the expectations of your target audience. While these events provide me with a place to do sales of my books, that is not my main focus. I am there to make an impression on readers in the hope that they will remember me later when looking for a new author to read. Not to mention, have a good time.

Final Word

Wendy Van Camp and Maddie at Lit Up OC
Host Maddie Margarita and Author Wendy Van Camp

Being the first to read, I was able to relax and enjoy the other two writers that night.  Both were accomplished authors and I enjoyed hearing their work. Afterward, I met people that came to hear me and to purchase signed books. I’m glad that I finally gave in to Maddie’s offer to read at Lit Up OC. It was a great experience and I hope to be back again once I complete my science fiction novel. However, I will be grateful that the next time I’m at the event, I will be in the audience posing “difficult” questions to the next set of authors!

Author Interview: Dana Hammer

Author Dana Hammer is a writer, a housewife, a blood and guts enthusiast, and a lady. She hopes you enjoy her writing. When I heard her read from Rosemary’s Baby Daddy I was laughing so hard I about rolled on the floor. I’m excited to introduce this upcoming author here on No Wasted Ink.

author-dana-hammerMy name is Dana Hammer, and I’m introducing myself to you. It’s hard to know where to start with this sort of thing, because I don’t know who YOU are. Maybe you’re the kind of person who just wants the facts, ma’am, and you just want to know, like, where I live and how old I am and stuff. But maybe you’re a more curious sort, and you want to know my favorite movies and what my hobbies are. Or maybe you’re a creep and you just want to know if you can have a pair of my used panties. In order to cover my bases, I will answer all of those questions, in order.

  1. I live in Anaheim.
  2. I am 34 years old.
  3. My favorite movies are Kill Bill, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Django Unchained and I Heart Huckabees.
  4. My hobbies are: writing, enjoying art of varying quality, reading the profiles of prospective adoptive couples online and judging their suitability as parents, and birding.
  5. No, you cannot.

I hope this has been informative!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written little things here and there, mostly to amuse myself when I was bored. I started writing in a more serious way when I worked in finance, because I hated that job with my whole heart, and writing kept me sane.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Honestly, not until I published my first book. Though I fully subscribe to the notion that a
writer is a writer both before and after publication.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Sure! It’s called Rosemary’s Baby Daddy, and it’s a comedic fantasy novel about a woman
named Lori who gets impregnated with a demon’s baby. She decides to abort the baby to hide her infidelity from her husband, but then the abortion clinic gets destroyed by a freak lightning storm. From then on, all kinds of crazy events happen.

Meanwhile, the father, the demon Pazuzu, can’t stop meddling in Lori’s life. He knows he’d be a really terrible father, but he can’t help himself; he’s always wanted a baby. In addition, he has to somehow protect his baby from his ex-girlfriend, Lamashtu, who is the demoness responsible for baby death.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a terrible, terrible pregnancy. Pretty much anything you can think of that can go wrong with a pregnancy – yeah – that happened. So I wrote this book to cheer myself up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to think of myself as a concise, direct writer. If you want a lot of purple prose and
descriptions of the sky, I’m not your gal. My goal is to tell a story and to entertain you, and I hope my style helps me to achieve that.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Actually, I didn’t. I was having a lot of trouble with that, and a friend of mine, Rhiannon
Aarons suggested “Rosemary’s Baby Daddy”. At first I was like… my character’s name isn’t Rosemary. But then I was like, so what?

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

I don’t know that I’d call it a message, but there is a definite theme, or “moral”, if you will. Basically, this book is a metaphor for how pregnancy (and new parenthood) throws your life into total disarray. You behave in ways and associate with people you never thought you would. You’re shocked at what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what changes you’re prepared to make, in order to be a good parent. Your body becomes a strange, alien thing that you don’t even recognize. You start to care deeply about things you never gave a thought to before; like which preschools in your area have Mandarin immersion programs and which restaurants have high chairs. It’s trippy.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or something from real life?

Not really. I was pregnant when I wrote this, but Lori is nothing like me. Oh, and I’ve never had sex with a demon.

Although,there is one part that was loosely inspired by real life. One day, when I was about four months pregnant, I was sitting in my living room and I heard this really strange squawking. It was birds, but not any birds I’d ever heard around here before. So I went outside and saw a FLOCK OF PARROTS. In Anaheim! Right outside! I thought I was going insane! Then I found out that there are actual flocks of wild parrots in Orange County; mostly former pets that have escaped from homes. But this incident was sort of the inspiration for the scene in the book where birds attack Lori’s house.

What authors have most influenced you? What about them do you find inspiring?

I read a lot of Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe during my formative years, and I still love
them both. I’m not sure if my fondness for dark subjects was something I learned from reading them, or if I read them because they spoke to my pre-existing fondness, but either way, they are both quite inspiring to me. I love any writer who isn’t afraid to embrace subjects that many people might find scary or unpleasant.

I also love Christopher Moore and Douglas Adams. Their madcap, quirky and hilarious stories make me super happy. If I could be any writer in the world, I’d be one of them. If I work really hard, maybe someday I might be worthy of fetching Christopher Moore a cup of coffee or polishing Douglas Adam’s tombstone, but I’m not there yet.

Is there a writer you would consider a mentor?

I wish! If a really great author wanted to mentor me, I would be so excited, I wouldn’t be able to contain myself. It’s all I would talk about. I would name drop endlessly, and eventually, my poor mentor would get sick of me and probably take out a restraining order against me, and that would be the end of the mentorship. But thus far, no one has reached out to me with the offer. If I could choose my mentor, no question, it would be Christopher Moore. But there are literally dozens of writers I would love to have as mentors, too.

Who designed the cover of your book?

Sheryl Sopot from Hyperchick Design did my book cover. I chose her because she’s
awesome, and we’ve been friends for years.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. Be independently wealthy. Failing that, marry someone who will support you financially while you write. You need to have free time if you’re going to write a book; you can’t be spending all your time at an office doing spreadsheets. Also, read a lot. It makes writing a lot easier. Also, alcohol is your friend. Unless you’re an alcoholic. Then candy is your friend.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading my book! I really hope you enjoy it.

rosemarys-baby-daddy-book-coverDana Hammer
Anaheim, California

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Rosemary’s Baby Daddy

Cover Artist: Sheryl Sopot

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BARNES &  NOBLE