A Day at the ‘Dirt Mall’ in New Haven

This entry is from NEHW member Rob Watts’ LiveJournal site.

A Day at the ‘Dirt Mall’ in New Haven

by Rob Watts

It was a slow start, but the day improved as it moved forth. I hit the road from Boston at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning to be in New Haven, CT. by 8:30a.m.

The author signing event was held at the Trolley Square Mall in downtown New Haven. When I pulled up in front of the building, all I could think about was the Dirt Mall from Mallrats. Funny enough, NEHW event coordinator Jason Harris told me he had that same impression as he arrived. As I was expecting to see a booth for topless fortune-telling by a woman with a third nipple, I was pleasantly surprised to enter a cool looking converted old factory, which was slowly taking shape in the form of a shopping mall.

The event started at 10:00 a.m., but things really didn’t start to pick up until noon. In the meantime, there were friends to be made around us, as there were so many nice people selling their handmade crafts from all over New England as well as New York and New Jersey. Shortly after noon, Stacey Longo, myself and Kristi Petersen-Schoonover took center stage to entertain the mall-goers with live readings from our books, Epitaphs, Huldufolk and Skeletons in the Swimming’ Hole. It went very well and attracted more people over to our booth, in which the three of us made some nice book sales after that. The best sale of the day was the woman who asked Kristi about the topic of her book. When she told her it was Disney ghost stories, the woman in a split-second reaction shouted “SOLD!” I myself appreciated the death metal fan girl for purchasing my book so she could check out The Traffic Lights soundtrack that came with it.

Rob Watts signing his book for the death metal fan. Photo by Stacey Longo.

Later in the day, we were joined by authors Nathan Wrann and Kasey Shoemaker.

New England Horror Writers’ Members

The event itself was great, but the fun part is having the chance to just hang out with our friends and fellow writers. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the coordinators of the craft show were really awesome and accommodating towards us throughout the day so many thanks to those fine women who made it happen. And thanks to Jason Harris and Stacey Longo of the NEHW for setting up yet another stella signing event.

See ya’ll in Foxboro.

Check out Rob’s website, http://www.robwattsonline.com.

Pictures from the East Coast Craft Fair

The NEHW Banner in a window at the East Coast Craft Fair. Photo by Jason Harris.

Baby Kraken by artist Nina l. Szot. Photo by Jason Harris.

Author Rob Watts reading from his book, Huldufork. Photo by Jason Harris.

Martial Arts Instructor Sifu Sidney G. Martin. Photo by Jason.

Nina l. Szot’s Zombies. Photo by Jason Harris.

Author Stacey Longo reading her story in the anthology, Epitaphs. Photo by Jason Harris.

Sign announcing authors’ appearances. Photo by Jason Harris.

Martin and his student show a martial arts move to the craft fair attendees. Photo by Jason Harris.

Author Kristi Petersen Schoonover reading from her book, Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole. Photo by Jason Harris.

Nina l. Szot’s Steampunk mask. Photo by Jason Harris.

Author Stacey Longo reading a copy of Hell Hath No Fury, an all-female zombie anthology. Photo by Jason Harris.

Art by Nina l. Szot. Photo by Jason Harris.

Author Stacey Longo taking a reading break. Photo by Jason Harris.

Part of one of the NEHW tables at the craft show. Photo by Jason Harris.

Thank you Stacey Longo, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Rob Watts, Nathan Wrann, Kasey Shoemaker, and Kimberly Dalton for participating in this NEHW event.

NEHW at New Haven Craft Show Sunday

The New England Horror Writers and craft shows are becoming synonymous. This trend continues this Sunday when the NEHW participates in the East Coast Craft Fair in New Haven.

The craft show will be held at the Trolley Square Mall on Saturday and Sunday, but the NEHW will only be there Sunday.

NEHW members Kimberly Dalton, Stacey Longo, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Kasey Shoemaker, Rob Watts, and Nathan Wrann will be there selling and signing their works.

You can purchase Epitaphs, the first anthology created by the NEHW, which includes only stories by members. Longo’s story, “Private Beach,” which is reminiscent of Stephen King’s story, “The Raft,” is in this inaugural collection. This anthology also includes a story by Christopher Golden, who has written a number of Buffy the Vampire Slayer books, and Rick Hautala, the recent recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s 2012 Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.

If you saw The Raven starring John Cusack last weekend and are still craving Poe, you could purchase a copy of In Poe’s Shadow, a collection of short stories inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Schoonover’s piece, “VanityVanity,” which was inspired by Poe’s “The Oval Portrait,” is in this anthology.

If Poe is not your style, maybe you’d like a trip to Iceland with newlyweds Jeffrey and Susie Hill in Huldufolk, which is based on Icelandic folklore, written by Watts. Along with the book, he is giving away a copy of The Traffic Lights CD, the band in Watts’ book, with each book purchase. Watts composed the music for his fictional band.

If you are a New Haven resident or work in the city, then Silver Vengeance, by Kasey Shoemaker, whose main character is an ambitious chef in one of New Haven’s trendiest restaurants in her urban fantasy novel featuring werewolves, witches, romance, and bloodshed, might be for you.

There will also be young adult novels by Nathan Wrann and a children’s book by Kimberly Dalton available.  Wrann will have his first two books in the paranormal thriller Dark Matter Heart trilogy at the NEHW table. In Good Night Fright, Dalton rhyming children’s book, John is afraid to go to sleep so he asks his friends how they handle the monsters in the closet. She also illustrated the book.

The show’s organizers will also have readings by Longo, Schoonover, and Watts in the middle of the mall at different times of the day.

Come hear the readings and stop by the NEHW table where there will be plenty of other books available to buy from these authors in addition to the ones mentioned above.

The craft show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Trolley Square Mall is located at 1175 State Street in New Haven.

The Trouble with Genres

This entry originally appeared on New England Horror Writer member, Kasey Shoemaker’s website.

The Trouble with Genres

by Kasey Shoemaker

Genre is truly a tricky thing. This all-important label helps not only to identify a novel but also the book’s intended audience. Without it, a book and its author could suffer a serious identity crisis. And, it was honestly one of the aspects of marketing my book that I struggled with the most. I’d written the entire first draft without much thought to its specific genre. Then, when left with the task of pigeonholing it, I ungracefully stumbled into calling it paranormal fiction. At my first fiction conference, I was told under no uncertain terms was it paranormal fiction. I often wonder how educated that assessment was coming from a distracted literary agent who half listened to my one-minute pitch. Nevertheless, she said paranormal fiction immediately brings to mind the genre’s sister, paranormal romance, and unless it was heavy on the romance, I was better off calling it urban fantasy. From then on, that was my book’s label.

However, a label can make an enormous impact on a book. Suddenly, my fiction novel, written before it was categorized, had an already established audience and with it a collection of expectations. Janice Hardy’s post addresses these expectations: “What readers expect. Fantasy is all about other worlds that can’t exist, mixed with magic, mysticism, or supernatural elements. These are the  defining characteristics of the fantasy genre. Just like spy thrillers  have their own characteristics and reader expectation. There were  aspects of the spy thriller I wanted to incorporate into my fantasy  story, but at its heart, it’s all about the magic and the fantastical world. When a reader picks up a book in a genre, they want certain traits.  Picture your favorite band. Now imagine going to their concert and hearing them play a totally different type of music. Country instead of  rock, rap instead of jazz. Even if you like the new type of music, odds are you’d be pretty unhappy at the bait and switch. Genre helps readers find the types of books they want to read. It also helps bookstores know where to shelve books, and what to suggest to their customers. Ditto for libraries.”

The publishing industry considered it a hot but overly saturated market. Readers had one of three reactions: strong interest (because they were long-time fans), rejection (usually due to thinking it was bloody, scary, or too steeped in fantasy), or confusion (typically a result of never having heard the term urban fantasy). The first group continued to ask questions about the plot and setting, all the while growing more and more interested. For the middle group, I would typically explain that it was bloody without being gory, suspenseful rather than frightening, and a fantasy set in our contemporary world. And, for the latter group, I stupidly found myself eloquently explaining the term urban fantasy and its roots instead of explaining my book, which didn’t necessarily fit neatly into the category. I did that only a few times. However, people still have preconceived notions about it based on the label. I have fielded questions, such as “Does it have vampires?” (no), “Is it like Twilight?” (um, big no on that one). “Will my teenager like it?” (absolutely), “Will adults like it?” (yes, more than the teenagers).

Essentially, the genre label, meant to be helpful to the publishing industry, has proven confusing to the readers. Some expect it to fit nicely on the bookshelf next to other urban fantasies where a barely clothed, well-endowed woman with a steely expression sits splay-legged in a graveyard. No offense to the character on that book cover, but when my Gabrielle Gayle sets out to demolish were-witches, she does so with all her parts covered and protected. She’s beautiful and sexy, but she will leave the lipstick at home in favor of packing her daggers. But, I have accidentally found myself on my soapbox about the over sexualization of female heroes in fantasy. Back to my point, for months, I trolled the aisles of bookstores and pulled countless titles off the shelves falling under the urban fantasy umbrella, lined them up to look at their covers, and asked myself how, and even if, my novel fit in with these. It does, mostly, but it also fit in with other books, novels that are a part of another sub-genre, dark fantasy. Dark fantasy has closer ties to horror than urban fantasy does, and poor horror has its own battles to fight when it comes to audience presumptions. After only a few months as a member of the New England Horror Writers, I have already been to some events where audience reaction was either excitement or blunt rejection. At least people know what it is to be classified as horror, for the most part. But, horror seems to be even more polarizing than fantasy. People either can’t get enough of it or steer clear of it, buying the books for that odd friend or family member who likes “that kind of stuff.”

With more and more novels being ones that cross genres, affixing a book with one specific genre label seems to be more troublesome than clarifying. Publishing companies can’t get by without the hard and fast categories and will at times allow new ones to spring up because every book simply must have a place. They revel in the preconceived notions held by audiences because it makes marketing that much easier.

But, what about the writer?

What happens to the unpublished writer spending thousands of dollars on fiction conferences who hears time and again that one particular element, while brilliant, simply isn’t found in that specific genre? One writer could hear from an agent that his or her science fiction book has too much science and not enough character while another agent could tell him science fiction is supposed to be more about the concept and less about the characters, all based on expectations of the genre. What’s to keep that writer from hacking at his or her work removing the book’s most poignant and well-crafted pages only to replace them with elements that, for no better reason, exist simply because they fit better in the genre? How much should a writer mold the book to fit the genre? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? After all, books are created by writers while genres are made by publishing companies to classify books?

Another issue is that there are likely too many genres for readers and writers to be aware of them all. Below is a genre map from Book Country. Notice that dark fantasy isn’t included? That’s because it’s only recently been recognized as its own sub-genre.

And, there’s no fixed formula or set of criteria for a book to meet before it’s labeled. And, an additional side effect of genres is that they often don’t settle with just the book. The labels attach themselves to the writer as well, like mold. Novelists aren’t simply writers once they’ve written a genre book.  They’re fantasy writers, mystery writers, romance writers, etc, leaving one to wonder the following:

Do writers themselves also conform to a specific genre to satisfy expectations of the audience and the industry? And, what does this mean for writing as a craft?

The Most Popular Stories of 2011

I want to thank the publicity committee members Stacey Longo, David Price, Doug Rinaldi, and Kristi Petersen Schoonover for their contributions to the NEHW website this year. I also want to thank Nick Cato, Bracken MacLeod, Kurt Newton, Kasey Shoemaker, Rob Watts, and Kate Laity for their contributions.

I want to thank all the readers who have come to the NEHW site. Thank you for reading. Hope to see you all in 2012.

Here are some of the most popular articles during 2011.

What Happens When a Horror Writer Goes to a Horror Convention https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/what-happens-when-a-horror-writer-goes-to-a-horror-convention/

A Writer Discovers the Famous Dundee Cemetery https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/a-writer-discovers-the-famous-dundee-cemetery/

Author’s Nightmare in Worcester https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/authors-nightmare-in-worcester/

Horror Icons and Fans at Rock and Shock https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/horror-icons-and-fans-at-rock-and-shock/

How Location Writing Worked for One Author https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/how-location-writing-worked-for-one-author/

An Author’s Account of the Middletown Open Air Market https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/an-authors-account-of-the-middletown-open-air-market/

Kurt Newton’s Encounter with the Blurry People at the Hebron Harvest Fair https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/kurt-newtons-encounters-with-the-blurry-people-at-the-hebron-harvest-fair/

Have you Heard of Santas Traveling Companion, the Krampus? https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/have-you-heard-of-santas-traveling-companion-the-krampus/

The NEHW Creeps into Sci-fi Saturday Night https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/the-nehw-creeps-into-sci-fi-saturday-night/

Discovering Shock Totem https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/discovering-shock-totem/

Author Dan Keohane’s Experience at the Hebron Harvest Fair https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/author-dan-keohanes-experience-at-the-hebron-harvest-fair/

Dane Cook Talks about His New Movie and His Inspirations https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/dane-cook-talks-about-his-new-movie-and-his-inspirations/

Get in on the Ground Floor at the First Annual Anthocon https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/get-in-on-the-ground-floor-at-first-annual-anthocon-november-11-13/

The Southcoast Toy and Comic Show Write-up https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-southcoast-toy-and-comic-show-write-up/

What to Do after Writing your First Novel https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/what-to-do-after-writing-your-first-novel/

Breaking Out of the Vacuum https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/breaking-out-of-the-vacuum/

Epitaphs is Back up on Amazon https://jasonharrispromotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/epitaphs-is-back-up-on-amazon/

The NEHW Creeps into Sci-Fi Saturday Night

The NEHW Creeps into Sci-Fi Saturday Night

by Stacey Longo

Several New England Horror Writer members have been appearing or are scheduled to appear on Sci-Fi Saturday Night.

Craig D. B. Patton’s short story “Aftershocks” was spotlighted on the site’s Fiction Friday entry for 12/10/11. Bob Bois had a flash fiction piece appear on the site on 12/16/11, taken from his blog.

Kristi Petersen Schoonover was featured on the podcast dated 12/17/11, talking about Skeletons in the Swimming Hole and her upcoming novel, Bad Apple. You can download her interview here.

NEHW members on the slate to appear on the Sci-Fi Saturday Night podcast before the end of the year are Kasey Shoemaker, who will be interviewed on the 12/24/11 show, and Rob Watts, scheduled for 12/31/11.

Editor’s note: Stacey Longo is a NEHW member and part of the Publicity Committee.

Breaking Out of the Vacuum

Breaking Out of the Vacuum

by Kasey Shoemaker

Kasey Shoemaker (photo courtesy of her website)

As writers, we primarily function independently, quietly, and quite frankly, in our own worlds while working. Even when typing away on our laptops in a crowded Starbucks, we see no one and hear no one. We like it better that way. Occasionally, we share our pages with trusted friends or significant others, and if we’re really lucky, a writer’s group. However, the bulk of our work is done in our head, which makes for a great product but a poor connection with our audience. Audiences are anything but static. Their tastes, desires, and habits change as quickly as literary trends. The readers we had in mind three years ago for book one of a series may have completely different expectations for our genre by the time we begin plotting out book four. Following trends made by the publishing companies won’t give us the insight we need. Many readers are disgusted by what the publishing companies continue to stubbornly feed the public. We, as writers, need to actually connect with our potential readers to understand them better. After all, without readers, our books are merely attractive decoration for the bookshelf. We write for them.

So, how do we get away from our keyboards and actually meet the people for whom we write our stories? In a world where bookstores are closing and Kindles are gaining in popularity, most sales transactions are done electronically, and writers are even further removed from readers than before. So, when the New England Horror Writers participates in events that put writers in front of potential readers, it makes for a great opportunity to bridge that ever-widening gap.

Photo by Jason Harris

As a new member, I really didn’t know what to expect. And, honestly, after participating in two public events thus far, I still don’t know what future ones would hold. Because my novel is a genre crosser, ranging from urban fantasy to paranormal fiction, I was thrilled to be at the Southcoast Toy and Comic Book show in Massachusetts. As someone who used to frequent these types of events many years ago, I felt I, along with everyone else at the table, was smack in the middle of my target audience. Without dwelling too long on unmet expectations, I will say that we were honestly surprised by the general lack of interest from those present. Sales were made, but people for the most part, seemed nonplussed by our presence. However, getting out there as a writer isn’t always about making books sales. Sometimes, it’s about making contacts. A man whose group does book reviews and features science fiction and fantasy books on his weekly podcasts approached our table. As each of us smiled and optimistically took his business card, I’m sure we silently thought that this one contact was worth the two-hour drive. I know I did, and thus far following up with that one contact has been rather positive.

Two weeks prior to that event, the New England Horror Writers participated in the Wadsworth Open Air Market in Connecticut. Expectations were far surpassed at this event. Many sales were made, and most of us spent the entire afternoon talking to people about books, writing, and the horror genre. Even people who said that horror was not for them seemed pleased to see us and were eager for conversation. We felt enthusiastic and pleasantly surprised by our experience afterwards.

The Middletown Open Air Market (photo by Rob Watts)

Therefore, while both of the events provided drastically different results, the writers who participated gained something from the experience whether it was multiple books sales or a meaningful contact. However, the most important aspect of these events is that it forces us writers to pull ourselves away from the blue-white glow of our computers and talk to our potential audience. We simply don’t get that chance often enough. And, we’re better writers for it. My only expectation from these events is that anything could happen. We could meet someone who says, “I do book reviews and feature writers on my weekly podcasts. Here’s my card.” Or we could have a fifteen minute conversation with someone who asks, “So, why the horror genre?” We may sell all the books we brought. We may give out postcards and business cards to prospective readers, or we may get a hand cramp from autographing copies of our books. However, I do know that we’ll be outside the writer bubble, the vacuum that can sometimes consume us. And, that opportunity in and of itself is worth it.

The SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show Write-Up

The Happenings and Pictures from the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show

by Jason Harris

There was no sleeping in this morning. No enjoying the extra hour of sleep gained from falling back a hour for Daylight Savings Time. The day started at 5 a.m. Sunday morning for Author Stacey Longo and myself. We left around 5:40 to get the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show in Fairhaven, MA. On our drive to the show, we came across this site.

Smoke over Interstate 695

We arrived at the Seaport Inn and Marina without any problem. Once there, Longo performed her magic and had the table set-up in no time. This picture is of the second version of the NEHW table. There were two more set-ups as different authors arrived. Thanks to Longo, Dave Goudsward, Kasey Shoemaker, and Rob Watts for participating in today’s event. Thanks goes out to Nathan Wrann and Kristi Petersen Schoonover for having their books and dvds at the table.

The Toy and Comic show had many draws today from George “The Animal” Steele, Brian Harnois, Penny Dreadful and Gaoru, Uncle Fright, and Thom Christopher (Hawk on Buck Rogers). There were also sideshow performers and paranormal researchers.

Along with the stars and guests to see and meet, there were also convention attendees who came in costume.

Books were sold and some great networking opportunities were made. The show was a lot of fun and I know the NEHW will be back at this show in the future.

It was nice meeting Rick Silva of Dandelion Studios today. He will have a table at Anthocon next weekend.

Watts, Longo, and Goudsward will be attending Anthocon next weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Be sure to look for their books at the NEHW table at the convention.

Enjoy the following pictures from the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show.

George “The Animal” Steele

Zehara Nachash, sideshow performer

Longo and Watts talking.

Jason Deveau as Captain America and Panda Valentine as Peggy Carter

Jedi Adam Joyce, of Cambridge, MA., with lightsaber

Jessica Rabbit and friend

Eric Shafer, of Waltham, MA.

Harris, Longo, Shoemaker, Watts, and Goudsward

Darth Vader

Stormtrooper

Raymond Ramos, of New Bedford, as Blade

Mark Tauares as Superman and his son, Myles, as a stormtrooper.

New England Horror Writers at the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show This Sunday

Meet these New England Horror Writers at the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show on Sunday! by Kristi Petersen Schoonover

If you’re up in Fairhaven, Massachusetts this Sunday, Nov. 6, you’ll have the opportunity to meet a few New England Horror Writers—and pick up a few of their books, as well as copies of my Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World—at the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show. The following writers will be on hand:

David Goudsward

Goudsward is co-author of Shadows Over New England and Shadows Over Florida, but has a myriad of titles in horror, archaeology, and short fiction out there. You can learn more about him at http://goudsward.com/dave/

Kasey Shoemaker

Shoemaker is the author of Silver Vengeance, an urban fantasy novel featuring werewolves, witches, romance and bloodshed. You can learn more about Kasey at http://kaseyshoemaker.com/

Rob Watts

Watts paranormal thriller, Huldufólk , was released just in time for Halloween! Find out more about Rob at http://www.robwattsonline.com/.

Stacey Longo

Longo has had several short stories published in various popular anthologies including the all-female-written zombie collection Hell Hath No Fury. Read more about Stacey’s work at http://www.staceylongo.com/

Writer Nathan Wrann (Dark Matter Heart) and I will not be at the show, but our books will be available. You can learn more about Wrann here: www.daltongang-productions.com, and, of course, you can find out about me on my own website (www.kristipetersenschoonover.com). In addition to Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World, copies of In Poe’s Shadow — a Poe tribute in which my short story “Vanity” appears — will be available.

The SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show will run this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Seaport Inn and Marina in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. For more information and complete details, visit www.southcoasttoyandcomic.com.