Pictures from Anthocon 2013

by Jason Harris

The third Anthocon has come to an end. All we have left are good memories and pictures until next year’s convention. Anthocon is organized by the Four Horsemen ( Timothy Deal, Mark Wholley, ZjOhnny Morse, and Danny Evarts). It’s an excellent convention where there are panels, author readings and vendors selling everything from books, t-shirts, wooden bookmarks and even lemon curd.2013-11-08 04.41.01

Post Mortem Press table.

Author and Books and Boos co-owner Stacey (Longo) Harris

Author and Books and Boos co-owner Stacey (Longo) Harris.

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Authors Thomas A. Erb and T.G. Arsenault’s table.

The New England Horror Writers' table

The New England Horror Writers’ table.

Author Holly Newstein Hautala giving Anthocon's Keynote address.

Author Holly Newstein Hautala giving Anthocon’s Keynote address.

Authors Morven Westfield, Errick Nunnaly, Trisha Wooldridge, and Jennifer

From left to right: authors Morven Westfield, Errick Nunnally, Trisha Wooldridge, and Jennifer Allis Provost.

Artist Stephanie Johnson's artwork in the Art Show.

Artist Stephanie Johnson’s artwork in the Art Show.

Author and editor Stacey Longo introducing Wicked Seasons, which she edited for the New England Horror Writers.

Author and editor Stacey Longo introducing Wicked Seasons, which she edited for the New England Horror Writers.

Author Kristi Petersen Schoonover reading her story in Wicked Seasons.

Author Kristi Petersen Schoonover reading her story in Wicked Seasons.

Anthocon organizer Tim Deal.

Anthocon organizer Tim Deal.

The Gnomies table.

The Gnombies table.

Author T.T. Zuma behind the New England Horror Wrters' table.

Author T.T. Zuma behind the New England Horror Writers’ table.

Paranormal author Jolynne Valerie.

Paranormal author Jolynne Valerie.

From left to right: authors and NEHW members Morven Westfield, Scott Goudsward, and Gordon Bean.

From left to right: authors and NEHW members Morven Westfield, Scott Goudsward, and Gordon Bean.

Anthocon's vendor room.

Anthocon’s vendor room.

Authors John Goodrich and T.T. Zuma.

Authors John Goodrich and T.T. Zuma.

Authors K. Allen Wood and Catherine Grant.

Authors K. Allen Wood and Catherine Grant.

Author Stacey Longo reading her story in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

Secret Things author Stacey Longo reading her story in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

Author David North-Martino reading his story in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

Author David North-Martino reading his story in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

Author Tracy Carbone at the Shadowridge Press table.

Author Tracy Carbone at the Shadowridge Press table.

Items on the Books and Boos table.

Items on the Books and Boos table.

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Author Catherine Grant signing a copy of Wicked Seasons.

Author Catherine Grant signing a copy of Wicked Seasons.

A lot of activity at the Books and Boos table.

A lot of activity at the Books and Boos table.

Author Scott Goudsward reading his story in Wicked Seasons.

Author Scott Goudsward reading his story in Wicked Seasons.

More artwork in the Art Show.

More artwork in the Art Show.

Author Tracy Carbone reading her story in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

Author Tracy Carbone reading her story in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

Authors Gordon Bean and Jennifer Allis Provost.

Authors Gordon Bean and Jennifer Allis Provost.

Stacey Longo and Trevor Firetog.

Authors Stacey Longo and Trevor Firetog.

The offerings of Shock Totem.

The offerings of Shock Totem.

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Author K. Allen Wood.

Author K. Allen Wood.

Authors Laura Hickman and Kelli Jones.

Authors Laura Hickman and Kelli Jones.

The artwork of Charles Day.

The artwork of Charles Day.

Authors Peter Dudar and L.L. Soares.

Authors Peter Dudar and L.L. Soares.

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Authors Errick Nunnally and Trisha Wooldridge.

Authors Errick Nunnally and Trisha Wooldridge.

Authors Kelli Jones and L.L. Soares.

Authors Kelli Jones and L.L. Soares.

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Authors Scott Goudsward and Kristi Petersen Schoonover.

Authors Scott Goudsward and Kristi Petersen Schoonover.

Author Rob Smales.

Author Rob Smales.

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Author Rob Smales reading his story in Wicked Seasons.

Author Rob Smales reading his story in Wicked Seasons.

A Newbie Shares His Experiences of NECON 33

by Nicholas Conley

 

NEHW member Nicholas Conley holding his book, "The Cage Legacy."

NEHW member Nicholas Conley holding his book, “The Cage Legacy.” Photo by Jason Harris.

For writers, the process of actually writing a book is one of the most painfully brutal tasks imaginable.  It’s a meticulous, painstaking, heart-stopping (and often heartbreaking) procedure that truly changes a person.

See, once the plucky creative-minded person decides that he or she has aspirations to become (of all the things in the world) a writer … and once that foolish, foolish person decides to embark on the god-awful,  painful task of writing a book, well … that creative person quickly becomes wrapped up in his or her own world.  And inside that world, it often seems like the only thing you’re working toward is that last page, that final period.

Once you finish the book, you’ll be done, right?   The world will just end, won’t it?  Everything will be complete! Your life is finished!

No, not quite.

As it turns out, completing your book isn’t the end of the story.  No, not by a long shot.  Now that your work is out there – now that this collection of inner demons that you’ve been carrying around in your head is finally out in the world, and it’s available for people to read — now, it’s time to get YOURSELF out there.  It’s time to meet people, form new friendships and make new connections.  You’ve done the introverted part, and you did it well — but now, it’s time to gather up your extroverted energies and, uh … mingle.

But … mingling?  How are a bunch of socially awkward WRITERS suppose to MINGLE?

See, this is why going to fiction/horror/comic etc. conventions can be difficult, but it’s also why the good conventions are so much fun.  Conventions force all of us introverted writers, artists and other creative types to get to know each other and interact.  Above all else, these conventions force us to get out of our writing shells.

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Photo by N. Conley.

This is also why NECON (short for the Northeastern Writers Conference) is by far the most entertaining, lively and just plain entertaining convention I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend. Yes, it certainly features a smorgasbord of genre authors, artists and publishers, as well as plenty of enthusiastic genre fiction fans. But what makes NECON unique is that, really, it’s a surprisingly small, personal con; within a few hours, it’s as if you’ve known everyone there for years.

At NECON, the walls are down. It’s a highly casual affair, wherein all the big names (for example: Jack Ketchum, F. Paul Wilson, Kealan Patrick Burke, Christopher Golden, Brian Keene, etc.), small names and middling names are all on equal ground, and everyone freely interacts with one another. Everybody shares beers, trades corny jokes and gets to discuss their passions. Throughout my NECON experience, if there was one thing I heard quoted over and over again, it was this:

“Necon isn’t just a con, it’s a family.”

Yes, that’s definitely the feeling that one gets from attending. It doesn’t feel like a conference at all. Really, it just feels like a family reunion – the good kind, the kind where everyone cheerfully pokes fun at each other and catches up on what they’ve been doing for the last year.

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Photo by N. Conley.

For genre writers, the Northeastern Writers Conference in Rhode Island is something you hear a lot about, and always in highly enthusiastic tones. Put on every year by the Booth family, including founder Bob Booth (who is affectionately referred to as Papa Necon). Booth is a truly inspirational figure; currently battling lung cancer. Bob and his family’s perseverance is absolutely amazing to see.

NECON is the Booth family’s baby, and what a creation it is; most people I’ve spoken to refer to NECON as “the best con,” or “the only con I go to every year,” and now that I’ve attended, I can definitely understand why.

(Before we move on, allow me to insert an embarrassing side note and a tip: Yes, NECON is pronounced Knee-Con, not En-E-Con, Neck-on and definitely not Neeh-Cone. This seems obvious, but I’ll admit I actually made sure not to say Knee-Con out loud until I’d heard someone else say it first. Oh, the shame, the shame…)

Now, how did my weekend get started?

Okay, so I made the two-hour drive down from New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon. Immediately upon opening the doors, the welcoming nature of the whole event was made extraordinarily apparent. Once I got my badge, collected my bearings and started emptying all the empty candy/chips/highly-stereotypical-road-snack wrappers out of my bag, I was immediately greeted by Mark Angevine and artist Duncan Eagleson, both of whom did a terrific job at explaining everything, telling me the history of Camp Necon and showing me around. Seriously, I really can’t emphasize enough how great these guys were; I enjoyed many intriguing conversations with both of them throughout the weekend. From there, Mark offered me a cup of coffee – very, very strong coffee. I got the pleasure of enjoying a brief demonstration of his talented musical abilities, in particular his undeniable skill at playing the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese end-blown flute.

From there, I met up with Scott Goudsward of the New England Horror Writers, a great guy who really does an admirable job at organizing all of these group events. There was a whole slew of NEHW members all over NECON, so all of us got to freely navigate throughout the convention. Sometimes at the table, sometimes at the panels or sometimes just walking around, you could always spot an NEHW member somewhere. Among those in attendance were Charles Day (The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief), Bracken McLeod (Mountain Home), Tracy L. Carbone (Restitution), David Price (Dead in the USA), Kristi Petersen Schoonover (Bad Apple), Michael Arruda (In the Spooklight), Eric Dimbleby (The Klinik) and Scott and Trisha Wooldrige (UnCONventional), as well as Jason Harris and Stacey Longo Harris, owners of the horror-themed Connecticut bookstore Books and Boos, which I’ll be doing a reading at on August 24.

Now, NECON is a four-day event , so naturally, there’s an enormous amount of great moments to talk about. However, since I’m far too aware of my own tendency to turn every article into a novel-length work (yes, I’m one of those guys, ugh), I’m going to force myself to whittle this down into a neat, tidy, manageable length. To accomplish this daunting task, I’m going to write out a concise list of highlights:

Rick Hautala

Rick Hautala

1. The Rick Hautala memorial.  Rick, who was famously known as “Maine’s other horror writer,”  was the author of over 30 novels and short stories; his recent death this past March was an enormous shock to many in the literary community. As a regular attendee of NECON – an event that was, according to his close friends, “Rick’s Christmas,” – most of the first night of NECON 33 was devoted to a moving tribute of the man and his work. Touching speeches were given by many of Rick’s friends and loved ones, including Christopher Golden and Rick’s wife, Holly Newstein Hautala. I’m sorry to say that I only had the opportunity to meet Rick once, back at Anthocon 2012. However, even in my limited interactions with him, Rick’s kindness and generosity were truly remarkable, especially for someone who so many young horror writers (myself included!) have looked up to for so many years; he was truly one of a kind. Rest in peace, Rick.

2. For the next highlight, going back to speeches; I can’t go without mentioning that every speech given by Mike Myers and Rio Youers was absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious. Great job, guys.

3. The Hawaiian shirt contest! Ridiculous as it might sound, this was totally one of my most anticipated events of the weekend. Since I consider myself to be something of a Hawaiian shirt connoisseur (and with that, the crowd groans), I was excited to give this a whirl. As it was, my shirt – a white and red number – placed in third, winning me a set of googly eyes. I was happy with third place, since my fellow top fivers (including the winner, Barry Dejasu) had some really terrific shirts. My personal favorite was probably Errick Nunnally’s Spider-Man number, which displayed almost all of the major Amazing Spider-Man issues of the last fifty years.

4. “That Damn Game Show,” hosted by Craig Shaw Gardner and Doug Winter. This is the sort of event that could only happen at NECON; a relentlessly silly “game show” with a head-smacking number of “simple rules.” Truly, an enormous amount of fun.

5. The artists’ reception – complete with coffee! – where everyone got to chance to spend some time exploring all of the amazing art pieces at the show, and discussing them with the artists themselves. Artists in attendance included Jill Bauman, Caniglia, Stephen Gervais and the aforementioned Duncan Eagleson. Overall, I probably spent the most time speaking with him. Duncan is an exceptionally interesting guy with a lot of great insights, as well as being a truly remarkable artistic talent; his Lovecraftian “Homo Avis” piece was absolutely fascinating.

6. …and finally, the courtyard! Why the courtyard? Because when it comes down to it, those nights in the courtyard – the long, late nights spent drinking an ocean of alcoholic beverages, chatting with friends and eating saugies – are truly where the warm, beating heart of NECON becomes most alive. The friendly, even affectionate atmosphere of the whole event is truly something special.

Photo by N. Conley.

Photo by N. Conley.

Special. That’s what NECON is, really — special.

And this, right here – right when I’m beginning to really, really enjoy reminiscing about what an amazing time NECON 33 was – is where I’m going to cut myself off, before I go into the aforementioned novel length territory. I’m already sailing ahead at almost 2,000 words, so I’d say it’s time to call it a night.

But in all seriousness, I just want to thank everyone who organized, contributed and attended NECON this year for creating an absolutely extraordinary event, one which even a “NECON newbie” like myself will never forget. Necon doesn’t just live up the hype, it surpasses it. There’s no other con like it, and I guarantee that I’m going to make a point to come back.

Writing and Book Expo America

By Kendra Saunders

 

It’s afternoon, the beginning of June and I’m sitting outside of Starbucks in Concord, New Hampshire. This Starbucks holds special meaning, from the friendly staff to the two electric plugs that all of the laptop-happy-customers fight over. It’s very windy today and a Ben Kingsley lookalike sits in the parking lot watching me and blasting a news program from the windows of his Jeep. It’s surreal to be here, in a place that has been my home for so long, in the place where I wrote Death and Mr. Right, after visiting the gray and grime tinged rush of New York City.

I don’t belong here.

Last year, I pitched a novel to Kate Kaynak in New York City, as we carpooled back to New Hampshire together. It was my first time in America’s best city and I was overwhelmed with exhaustion, inspiration and lyrics from Interpol songs. Death and Mr. Right had a title and it had already been written as a short story. The premise: the agent of nightmares falls in love, loses his job and is exiled into the modern world. Kate loved the idea and asked me to write it and submit it to her. I returned home, my head buzzing, and wrote Death and Mr. Right in only a few months. I edited it and put the finishing touches on it Halloween 2012. The next morning I began writing The Unlove Spell, a novel I’d been kicking around my head for weeks.

Death and Mr. Right was accepted by Spence City in late 2012 and I wrote The Unlove Spell in a few brief, joyous months. Both books were comedies, full of light and dark, in-jokes, colorful characters and tributes to my friends, muses and heroes. They were the easiest books I’d ever written. Both were also surprisingly personal – much of Death’s backstory was linked to my own youthful neuroses, brought to life through the safety of humor. Viktor’s struggles to balance a demanding family member with responsibility and his own dreams of being a writer reflected my own familial troubles as an eldest child with a difficult relationship with a cruel parental figure. But both were full of bliss, a cathartic experience, a creative binge that left me worn out in the best possible way and glowing afterward.

When my publisher said we would have review copies of D&MR to sign at Book Expo America, I planned my whole year around the trip, reserving a room at the Jane Hotel as much for its special meaning to my best friend (her favorite building in the city) as for the inexpensive price.

All of my books are written like movies, with a complete cast of muses. The Unlove Spell had been inspired by Clemence Poesy as my impulsive witch, Marling, Lana Del Rey as my crazy fae queen (perfect, right?) and Dmitry Sholokhov as the honorable, rock star writer who is also hiding a huge secret – he doesn’t write about magical beings. He IS one.

I met Dmitry at his Lord & Taylor event to launch his capsule dress collection and told him how much he’d inspired me, both because he’d worked so hard to get where he was (a kick for me to get moving!) and as a muse for Viktor. Fast forward to May and Dmitry was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to drop by the Javits Center for a bit, as my guest.

Kendra Saunders and Charles Day at BEA. More pictures can be found here, http://www.kendralsaunders.com/BEA2013.html.

BEA seemed busier this year than the year before, but as I sashayed my way through the Javits in my gorgeous Sholokhov dress and six-inch heels, I noticed a more subdued attitude in the crowd. There weren’t nearly as many free books and from what I could tell, the biggest draw of Friday would be Grumpy Cat.

My signing took place between 12:30 and 1:30, deep inside the air-conditioned safety of the Javits. Handing my book to bloggers, librarians and reviewers was absolutely enchanting and nerve-wracking, in the right portions. One gentleman caught sight of it as he walked by, wandered over to investigate and ultimately asked for a copy. I guzzled two water bottles to suppress nerves, and received a steady stream of compliments on my dress, shoes and book cover.

Books and fashion? Win-win!

Dmitry arrived at the end of my signing and I handed him a special unbound copy of The Unlove Spell’s unedited manuscript, told him all about Viktor and then posed for pictures. Though it was a blur, I do remember looking out and seeing a line of ten? fifteen? digital cameras, professional cameras, cell phones and a pink iPad. It was crazy.

After wandering a bit, laughing about Grumpy Cat’s impending appearance and signing some silly messages in Dmitry’s copy of my books, we said our goodbyes and headed out into the blistering afternoon. All I could think of, over and over, was The Great Gatsby. My friend Megan and my sister hopped into a cab with me and we escaped to Greenwich Village, intending to hide out in the cool of our hotel, just as the protagonists of Gatsby had. I’d only taken a few steps away from the cab when my shoe broke.

I took this as a good omen. I’d traveled to the big city, brought along some dear friends, been aided by several fairy godmothers (complete with lip balm, tissues, and bottles of water!)

Death and Mr. Right lives in the hands of bloggers, reviewers, librarians, teachers, a few authors, a lovely young woman who travelled from Maryland to meet me and Dmitry. Between now and October 1, I will have interviews and promotional events to keep me busy, but June in New Hampshire might as well be the dark side of the moon in most respects. I’m ready to hear what everyone thinks of little blue haired Death and his misadventures, ready to unleash The Unlove Spell on the world, and I’m dying to return to New York City.

If the broken shoe is any sign of the future, I should be headed back that way soon, ready to begin a new volume in the book of life.

About the Author:

Kendra L. Saunders is the author of the urban fantasy Inanimate Objects, short story collection Overlapping Visions and the upcoming dark comedy Death and Mr. Right (Spence City, 10/13).

She’s conducted interviews with Jennifer L.  Armentrout, Aurelio Voltaire, Dmitry Sholokhov, Fabio Costa and many  others for ipmNation, Steampunk Magazine and The New England Horror  Writers. She’s one cat allergy away from a stereotypical writer. Find  her at kendralsaunders.com or on twitter @kendrybird where she loves to answer writing questions, talk about music and fashion and share insider tips about the publishing industry.

The Birth of ‘Dark Discussions’

The Birth of Dark Discussions

By Philip Perron

If you miss your favorite ESPN show, go get it on a podcast. If you want to hear news from some of the biggest news agencies in the world, you can get it through a podcast and listen to it a day later. Podcasting has been a spectacular if not largely known medium that provides programming for those folks who prefer to listen to their favorite topics when they want and wherever they want.

Though satellite radio has been a great phenomenon where folks are able to listen to an eclectic mix of shows on books, movies, sports, news, finance, and even cooking, niche audiences still may not be fulfilled with what they really want to listen to. What about themes such as video games, gardening, or even something as specific as horror movies? This is where podcasting really has promise. Not only is it free, it requires nothing more than an audio digital device, a laptop, or even a smart phone.

As an avid fan of the arts, specifically books and movies, I was always visiting websites to read about the production of Martin Scorcese’s latest film or the progress of the next Stephen King novel. Then one day I came across an audio review on the film Cloverfield as well as an audio round table discussion about the film No Country for Old Men. Afterwards, I saw that these audio files were also being streamed from Apple’s iTune’s store for free.

Getting programs on my little iPod was a convenient way to listen to programs I wanted to listen to while doing my daily walks in the woods or working out or commuting to work. And with the wide variety of programming available I was able to search for shows discussing upcoming books and movies. And yet even more specifically books and movies within the horror and techno genres.

The interesting thing was that many of the podcasts I listened to were done by amateurs or simply people who did them for fun. Their shows were filled on topics they were passionate about. The discussions were probably the same ones they’d be talking about over a round of beers. They weren’t making any money, they weren’t making any inroads towards a more promising career, they were doing it simply because they loved talking about their focused topic.

Early 2011, I figured I could do it myself. While grabbing burgers with a few guys, I noticed our discussions focused around either sports or genre fiction which included horror, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, techno-thriller, and mystery. And having added a number of genre themed podcasts as part of my weekly listen to-do list, I did my research and started putting together the idea. What resulted was a genre themed topical podcast entitled Dark Discussions Podcast.

Finding two wonderful folks online through various genre themed forums, myself along with Eric Webster, of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Michael Dunleavy, of Port Jervis, New York came together and put together a weekly show on topics that anyone from the New England Horror Writer’s group would be familiar with. Not to be tagged as specifically horror, the tag line “Your place for the discussion of horror film, fiction, and all that’s fantastic” seemed to fit.

The podcast basically focused at first on themed discussions or specific movies. Topics such as a retrospective of the director and screenwriter Frank Darabont as well as the franchise of the Planet of the Apes were some of the early weekly episodes. But also films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and John Huston’s Moby Dick have been a focus. It’s true, we are no experts but our perspectives as fans of genre fiction were as well thought out as some of the genre websites and magazines available. And at the worst, we provide another voice on both obscure works and genre classics.

Some of the inventive ways the podcast has expanded were by being contacted by some folks for reviews and promotion. Horror Realm, a convention every September in Pittsburgh, emailed and offered the podcast passes to their convention. M.J. Preston, the author of The Equinox, asked if we’d be interested in a free copy of his novel to review. However, it was co-host Michael Dunleavy who really got it. While attending Horror Realm 2011 as press, he not only interviewed the film stars of some of horror fans favorite films, but he started interviewing the vendors and independent talent. What resulted was Dark Discussions Podcast helping out folks who need promotion of some really fantastic works that anyone who enjoys horror should know about.

This is where Dark Discussions Podcast in a sense merges with the NEHW group. After Horror Realm 2011, Dark Discussions contacted the folks at both the Rock and Shock and Anthocon conventions and received press passes to attend and promote their events. This is where our podcast became what some would call an unofficial promoter of the folks we met specifically at Anthocon and therefore NEHW. We interviewed such NEHW members as Charles Day, Gregory Norris, and Inanna Arthen. Small presses as Evil Jester Press and By Light Unseen Media, which had tables at Anthocon were also focused on.

So after a year and a half, the podcast keeps going. The listenership grows. And topics as wide ranging as modern novels as Scott Sigler’s Infected and independent cinema as Simon Rumley’s Red, White, and Blue are featured. As an inspiring writer, I know the work folks go through juggling their everyday lives with writing. With Horror Realm come and gone and Rock and Shock and Anthocon coming up, Dark Discussions looks forward to seeing everyone and helping you promote your new and wonderful works. As an inspiring writer, I know the work folks go through juggling their everyday lives with writing.

Author’s First Novel Being Rereleased by Evil Jester Press

Author’s First Novel Being Rereleased by Evil Jester Press
by Jason Harris

NEHW member Rick Hautula’s classic horror novel, Moondeath, is being rereleased by Evil Jester Press on Jan. 2. Publisher Charles Day said the novel has a new cover by “renown artist” Glen Chadbourne and the introduction was written by Christopher Golden.

Evil Jester Press’s Executive Editor Peter Giglio said on the Goodreads’ website that this was Hautala’s first book and was originally published in 1980. Moondeath is a werewolf and witchcraft tale set in Cooper Falls, New Hampshire, a small New England town, he said.

Stephen King said in 1980 that Hautala’s novel was “One of the best horror novels I’ve read in the last two years!,” Giglio said on Goodreads.

Click on Amazon to order the book.

Click on Evil Jester Press for more information about them and their books.