The NEHW is proud to announce that Marie Napert, of Amston, CT. is the winner of the email raffle.
The New England Horror Writers’ Association will be appearing at the Hebron Harvest Fair for the second year in a row.
Seven New England authors are scheduled to appear at the fair from Sept. 6 through 9 to do readings, perform skits, and autograph books.
Author Stacey Longo will be at the fair all four days, with copies of her children’s book Pookie and the Lost & Found Friend, which was just published in July 2012. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Stoker-nominated Epitaphs, which will also be available at the NEHW booth.
Also appearing will be Kurt Newton, author of The Brainpan Concerto, Ultimate PerVERSEities, and Powerlines, among other titles. He will be at the fair on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
G. Elmer Munson will be on hand on Saturday to sign copies of his novel, Stripped.
Robert Duperre, author of seven novels including The Fall and Silas, will be at the NEHW booth on Saturday.
Rob Watts, author of Huldufolk, will be at the fair Saturday. Huldufolk is an Icelandic fantasy/horror novella that comes with a free CD of music compiled by the fictional band in the story.
Authors Alan S. Kessler (A Satan Carol) and Dan Foley will be appearing on Saturday and author David Price (Tales from the Grave: An Anthology of True Ghost Stories) will be appearing on Sunday.
The NEHW was formed in 2001 to promote writers and illustrators of dark fiction within and outside the association. They offer writing workshops, discussion forums, social events, and appearance opportunities to their members.
Click here to find out about the Hebron Harvest Fair.
2011 HEBRON HARVEST FAIR REPORT or MY ENCOUNTERS WITH THE BLURRY PEOPLE
by Kurt Newton
DAY 1: THURSDAY
It was my first time at the Hebron Harvest Fair. As a lifelong Connecticut resident I’d been to other fairs in the area — the Lebanon Fair, the Brooklyn Fair, the Woodstock Fair — but never the Hebron Harvest Fair. Now I know why. It looked and smelled like any other fair — fried dough, roasted meat, the bright flickering lights of the midway, farm animals, country folk — but the Hebron Harvest Fair hid a sinister difference behind its rural facade.
It began innocently enough. I arrived Thursday afternoon and, after slogging through the rain-soaked hayfield turned parking lot turned mud pit, I was greeted by Jason Harris at the gate. Jason was wearing his black New England Horror Writer’s t-shirt. I’d met Jason before and it was nice to see a familiar face among the Lion’s Club and John Deere logo wearing locals. Jason led me to the NEHW booth and I was pleasantly surprised by the look and location of our humble home away from home.
NEHW member books were neatly displayed across two long tables. A custom made banner hung at the back of the booth proudly displaying our organization’s logo. Skeletons dangled on the walls and skulls rested on the tables, so there was no mistaking what kind of books we were selling. Jason’s better half, Stacey Longo, was there. Both Jason and Stacey were not only glad to see me, each simmered with that nervous excitement that is only found among couples expecting their first child.
“Wow…this looks great,” I said.
Jason fidgeted, making room for the books I’d brought. “I’m really hoping we do well so next year members won’t be so hesitant to come to this event. I don’t know why but we didn’t get the kind of response we were hoping for. Stacy and I had to put in $130.00 of our own money to get this booth. Look, I’m not complaining. As the organizers, we knew what we were getting into. It’s just that –”
“Jason…enough!” Stacey barked. She turned to me and smiled. “We’re glad you could make it.”
“Thanks,” I said, and settled in.
“I just don’t understand,” Jason muttered as he pulled out his IPad and began blogging.
Like I said, it began innocently enough. First night highlights: I got to hang out with Dan Keohane (author of Solomon’s Grave & Margaret’s Ark); I sold one book; I ate some really good Pad Thai noodles and garlic chicken on a stick; and no rain. Lowlights: I had brought my new 30x zoom digital camera with me, but when I went to use it the battery pack was dead; the grassy lane outside our booth was a bit muddy and woodchips had to be laid down to make it passable for foot traffic; and it got a little chilly once the sun had set. Overall, a good start to what I hoped would be a fruitful weekend.
It would still be another twenty-four hours before I saw my first blurry person.
DAY 2: FRIDAY
The weather had warmed. After spending an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to the fairgrounds, I finally arrived. The sun had already set. Jason met me at the gate again and, when I got to the booth, he introduced me to Danny Evarts (artist, illustrator of the children’s book It’s Okay to be a Zombie), Kristi Petersen Schoonover (author of Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole) & Nathan Schoonover (Kristi’s paramour and extreme paranormal investigator). This time I brought the special battery charger for my camera’s battery and promptly plugged it in. I was determined to get some pictures tonight.
The fair was in full swing and no sooner had I arrived, Kristi, wearing low-cut shoes, had had a little accident involving an extra-long and extra-sharp woodchip. Apparently, the chip had flipped up and stabbed her in the ankle, taking a little gouge out of her skin. To me, it looked like a relatively harmless injury, one that a wipe with a damp paper towel would fix. But, no, Kristi was beside herself. Infection, even cellulitis was mentioned. Nathan eased her fears by taking her to the First-Aid center. I thought it was an over-reaction. But little did I know.
With my battery charged, I took the opportunity to take in the fair through the eye of my camera’s lens. I snapped pictures of the nearby Soft Serve ice cream vendor. I took a long shot of the ferris wheel. I even snapped one of a chiropractic booth. I took others. Here’s one of Jason doing his best H.P. Lovecraft imitation.
I intended to write a brief essay on the fair for the NEHW blog, with pictures.
Here’s one of Nathan Schoonover looking wary of what was in this lady’s folder.
When I was done taking pictures, I sat in the booth and reviewed what I had. Strangely enough, I began to notice a common element in some of the pictures. In and among the random crowds there were stationary strangers watching me. Here’s one standing alongside the Soft Serve vendor.
Here’s another in the foreground of the long shot of the ferris wheel.
I didn’t remember these people standing there when I took the pictures. But here they were, standing like security guards, eyeing me with bad intent.
Maybe I was just reading too much into what must have been random figures. Maybe they weren’t looking at me at all. But there was something else. The blurry people. At least, that’s what I thought they were. People. One (the white-haired lady on the left in the chiropractic booth picture) looks almost skeletal. Ghostly. Was I imagining things?
After reviewing the pictures, I put my camera aside and thought nothing more of it. After all, I’m a horror writer. I have a horror writer’s imagination. If I didn’t let my mind go off on these crazy tangents, my stories wouldn’t be very interesting, now would they? But as the evening progressed I found myself watching the crowd. Just when I thought I’d spotted one of those security guard-looking figures, they’d round a corner or fall in behind a group of fair-goers only to disappear. I finally let it go and focused on selling books.
Kristi came back hours later with a bandage on her foot. She was still worried about it. Nathan was still trying to calm her worry.
I sold two more books and stayed till closing. I packed up my stuff, grabbed my camera, and headed home. It had been a long day.
DAY 3: SATURDAY
I didn’t go to the fair. I had to move that day into my new apartment. I felt bad. I was going to miss meeting a lot of people that I wanted to hang out with. But my dreams the night before had left me feeling as though maybe it was best.
I had dreamed of the fair, only I was the only one in the booth. I stepped out onto the woodchips and noticed all the other booths were empty. I went looking for someone, anyone. The rides of the midway were operating but I could hear no screams of delight, no far-off loud-speaker voice announcing entrants to the tractor pull. In fact, there was very little sound at all. Except for the eerie shuffle of footsteps following me. Footsteps I knew belonged to that of the security guards I’d captured in my photographs. Security guards that were following me because of what else I had captured in my photographs: the blurry people. I approached a tent and heard the buzz of wings. The sound grew louder, filling my ears. I reached out to push back the tent entrance, to see what was inside, to see what was making that horrid buzzing noise, when a hand fell on shoulder.
I woke up then and tried to shake the dream from my head. I looked at the clock. I was already behind schedule. My girlfriend would be arriving soon to help me move. Funny, but as I got out of bed, I could have sworn I saw a figure standing outside my apartment window. I rushed to the window to see who it was, only to be greeted by green grass and bright sun. Nobody there.
Throughout the day, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. I wanted to call Jason and warn him. But warn him about what? Security guards that weren’t there? Blurry people that buzzed in my dreams? For some odd reason I thought that what I was imagining had to do with the fact that we were horror writers. That because we immerse ourselves in darkness, we perhaps unknowingly uncover what the average person cannot see. That perhaps what we think is a product of our imagination is in fact true. That perhaps because we have the ability to “expose” these things, these things are watching us, making sure we don’t go too far.
It was a crazy thought. But it unnerved me just the same. I couldn’t wait until the following day when I could share this crazy thought with my fellow horror writers. It would be good for a laugh or two.
DAY 4: SUNDAY
It was the best day of all. Bright sunshine, warm, dry September air. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to finish this experiment in bringing horror to the local fair.
I arrived before noon. Jason and Stacey, and Kristi and Nathan were there. Although Jason and Stacey looked tired, there was a renewed excitement in the air. I was told Saturday was a success. Many books were sold. A good time was had by all. Today was the day of the big country music concert, so the crowds were expected to be big. Jason was hoping we’d finish on a high note, so to speak.
Nathan Wrann (author of Dark Matter Heart, and writer/editor/producer of the film The Hunting Season) had joined us.
Kristi was walking with a limp. When she sat down and put her leg up on a chair to elevate it, I couldn’t believe the swelling. She told me she had to visit the emergency room and get a tetanus shot. I was amazed that such an innocent mishap could produce such a painful injury.
Music boomed all day in the distance. I visited the Thai vendor again, this time eating some spicy cashew chicken with vegetable rice. I got into some interesting conversations with Nathan Schoonover about the correlation between the TV series House and Sherlock Holmes, and the origin and evolution of the Freemasons. Best of all, people seemed to be in a spending mood. I sold two more books, as did Kristi and Nathan Wrann. It was a nice cap to the weekend.
I’d almost forgotten about the blurry people and their bodyguards…until I looked at one picture of Kristi I had taken. While those of us in the booth were perfectly still and clear, Kristi appeared as a buzzing blur.
Needless to say, I packed my things and promptly left, excusing myself early on the grounds that I needed to get back to my new apartment and unpack. Nathan Schoonover eyed me as I left, the smoke from his pipe curling around his head like a disembodied spirit.
It’s been five days now since the fair ended. Every night I’ve heard rustlings outside my windows.
They’re watching me. I know it. They’re probably wondering if I’ll expose them, tell the world of their existence.
I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I can’t help myself.
I may be moving again…very soon.
A humorous (and a little fictionalized) take of the Hebron Harvest Fair from Author Stacey Longo’s blog (www.staceylongo.com):
“I couldn’t update the blog on Saturday because I spent Thursday through Sunday working at the Hebron Harvest Fair. As a board member of the New England Horror Writers, it was my duty to sweat my butt off, trying to pawn off free short stories to passerby who were quite frankly more interested in the fried dough than the literary gems I was handing out. After being ignored for most of the afternoon the first day, I decided to pull out the big guns. I dug through my closet to find the lowest-cut blouse I owned. Miraculously, my sales doubled (to two) the next day.
It was a hot weekend, and my sunscreen gave out about two hours in on Saturday. I wound up baking like a potato, and am now unable to breathe too deeply without my skin cracking. It was all for the sake of art, so I guess it was worth it. Plus, when my tomato red finally fades to a toasty brown, I expect to save a ton of money on foundation, so that’s a help.
Greeting the public as a horror writer was a little different than just hanging out at a convention debating small press versus self publishing with other writers (sure, you might find that boring, but to us, it can spawn hours of intellectual discussion. That and the debate about who is cooler: Gambit or Wolverine.) But with the general public, the questions I heard were a lot different: “Why did you decide to become a writer?” “Does your mother know you write this sicko stuff?” And, by far, the most popular question: “Have you ever met Stephen King?” (A question that I’m sure one Judie T. gets often simply because she lives in Maine. But I digress.)”
Dan Foley’s write up:
“A Day at the Hebron Fair”
The weather was great. Alright, maybe it was a tad on the hot side, especially in the sun, but at least it didn’t rain. There was no sign of the mud that plagued the fair-goers on Day 1. Best part of the day – I got to meet a lot of fellow NEHW’ers I hadn’t meet before. Worst part of the day – I didn’t win the raffle. Most fun – getting a full, skull face painting.
The skull got a lot of smiles and some stares from the older crowd and quite a few worried reactions from the youngsters. Most of them eventually came over and gave me a “high five” but a few never got up the courage. Next year I think it would be great if we all came “in costume”. Now that would draw some attention.
Kudos’s to all who came, but especially to Jason & Stacey for all the work they put in to set this up and make a success of it. It was also nice to do something “down here” in Connecticut. See you there next year!”
Hot Times at the Hebron Harvest Fair: The Thrill of Discovery by Kristi Petersen Schoonover
As a writer who gets herself “out there” a lot, I’m asked all the time by other writers: why? Why should I spend the money? Why should I go to an event? If I don’t sell any books, I won’t have made back my investment.
This is how I always answer: I enjoy investing in my writing career, and most of that money goes to publicity — which often includes attending events, like being part of the New England Horror Writers booth at the Hebron Harvest Fair this past weekend. Do I expect to make a huge number of sales? Not really. I do it to get my name out there and to meet people directly — something that pays off in the long run in more ways than just monetary. I spent five years writing for a public relations firm, so I know a little bit about the value of second endorsement — that’s why social media has exploded the way it has. People are much more likely to buy something if their friends tell them to than if they see it in an ad.
Likewise, people are much more likely to purchase one of your books if they’ve met you and talked to you. Maybe not that minute, maybe not that night or the next day, but at one point, they will. I have an Amazon Wish List a mile long, mostly loaded with titles of books by writers I know or met at an event. And believe me, I will purchase those books when I’ve got some cash and the time to read them. Even if it’s a year from now.
But there’s another reason to attend these events, another reason that I’d actually forgotten about until this weekend: thrill.
That thrill of a reader discovering a new book he would like to read, of meeting the writer behind that book he was holding in their hands, of having that book signed and personalized — of just talking to writers about reading and writing.
I had put together a bunch of ghost stories, folded them in half, and inserted our NEHW flyer inside. I’d approach people and ask, “Would you like a ghost story for Halloween?” I expected most people to either say “no” or just unenthusiastically take it. But I got tons of surprises! A blonde in pink shorts smiled, opened the story right away, started reading, and crashed into someone. A woman in a brown sweatshirt went on and on about how much she loved ghost stories. One man in a DUCK, NORTH CAROLINA sweatshirt was so excited he offered to pay me for it. Two teenaged girls came back later and were begging me for more. For an hour on Saturday, the crowds had thinned and not many booths were busy, so I visited the vendors, figuring they could read for a few minutes while nothing was going on. The guys at one booth (I won’t say, because I don’t want to get them in trouble if their bosses end up reading this) were more than enthusiastic. “Oh, yeah!” the guy said. “I totally love scary stuff!”
One woman came into the booth, all smiles, after I had handed her one of the ghost stories. She made a beeline for the table. “Oh my God! Is this the Disney book? [referring to Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole]. I saw this in the paper and I can’t believe I found it!” She just grinned and grinned (and I have to admit I had never seen anyone react that way to my book, so I felt a little strange) and when Ken teased her about “Hey, great, now she isn’t going to get one of mine,” she said, “You write, too?” (She was referring to Shock Totem). “Well,” Ken said, “I’m the editor.” She wasn’t fazed. “I’ll get one, which issue do you think I would like?” (I can’t remember if she wanted him to sign it or not, but I seem to recall she did. Ken can correct me). When I went to go get a cup of coffee, I passed one man sitting on a rock, reading. He had a copy of Kurt Newton’s Life Amongthe Dream Merchants and Other Phantasies. I had seen him at the booth with the book in his hands, and then when he realized Kurt was actually standing there, it was like he had won the lottery. Similar scenes played out with nearly all the writers who were there with their work.
Kids were thrilled to talk about It’s Okay to Be a Zombie with Danny Evarts. Others were excited to talk with writers about other books. Countless discussions were going all weekend on everything from Stephen King to what new books are coming out to how to break into the business. And most people who purchased hung around for awhile to talk. It was a pretty lively booth most of the time.
No one can put a price tag on these experiences. I’m pretty sure I still get that thrilled look on my face when I buy a book I simply can’t wait to read (um, in fact I did it there when I found out there was a Lizzie Borden story in an issue of Shroud, so of course I bought it). I still get that thrilled look on my face when I meet an author of books I love (you should have seen me meet Peter Benchley. I think I just had my mouth open the whole time). I am always excited by the settings. And the readers at our booth, they got excited too. As I stood there, I was excited for them.
So if you’re on the fence about going to an event and you can at all afford it (we all have to eat, too), stop thinking about it in terms of the investment/profit ratio. Start thinking about it in terms of the second endorsement, the magical memory and the reader’s thrill of a new discovery and meeting the writer whose book he’s got in his hands. The readers we were, and probably still are.
I know that’s how I was inspired to become a writer in the first place.
Here is a link to more photos taken by Schoonover, www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.2147791928413.118778.1054758035
“I had an amazing time on Thursday night and Friday at the fair, working the NEHW table. Thursday might have been damp and raining, but lots of people came out, more so on sunny Friday. The pre-advertising paid off, as a number of folks searched us out. The concept of an organization of New England writers, though not foreign to all of us, was a new concept for many and we had a lot of great discussions on the topic, and showing folks the wide variety of styles, from novels to story anthologies to comics. One major and effective tool were photocopies of Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s short stories, which Stacey Longo handed out to people passing by. We even had someone come back looking for her to tell her how much she loved the story. Writers: think of this next time (I will for sure), it was a great giveaway item! Again, special thanks to Jason Harris and Stacey Longo for opening their home to us all, and for working tirelessly even weeks beforehand to make this an extremely enjoyable time for everyone.