Posts Tagged ‘New England Horror Writers’

Collection cover 3

 

 

 DARKNESS AND REDEMPTION, HOPE AND HORROR ALL IN ONE NEAT LITTLE PACKAGE.

DETAILS COMING SOON!

TOC

logo_nehw_185The other day, I made the decision that it was time for me to step down as the Co-Chair of the New England Horror Writers /NEHW formerly known as HWA-NE.

I’m not sure when I joined the Board exactly. I think it’s been about four years. I remember though the first time I ever attended an NEHW event. It was called HWA-New England back then and was an offshoot of the HWA. It was in 2003. It was a a pub in New Hampshire. I don’t recall all the players but do know Rick Hautula and Holly Newstein were there as well as John McIlveen, Lauran Soares, Mike Arruda, John Harvey and Jack Haringa. I’d only just met everyone a few months before at my first NECon (my first conference at all for that matter).

Over dinner, where we discussed horror movies and the correct way to use commas,  good and bad writers and paying markets, Rick Hautala told me about a message board called Shocklines.  “Everyone you need to meet is there. You should sign up.” I did.  Almost all the friends I have now I met at NECon, on Shocklines or as spinoffs from one of those places. I’m grateful to the Booth family, namely Bob Booth for creating NECon, a haven for writers who arrive as strangers and leave as kindred spirits. To Matt Schwartz who created Shocklines which kept me in touch with so many, and granted me new friendships. And to whoever actually started the HWA-NE/NEHW. I think it was Mike Arruda and John Harvey and hopefully they will confirm.

After several years of attending sporadic NEHW meetings, someone asked me to join as the Events Coordinator. I agreed. Back then we only met a handful of times a year so it was an easy post.

When Lauran Soares opted to step down as Co-Chair (serving with Dan Keohone). Dan asked me if I wanted to be Co-Chair. I agreed. The Board then consisted of Tim Deal (Shroud Magazine), TJ May, Dan, Michael Todd and me. Small group. We often talked about doing an anthology but it was hard to get it off the ground.

It seems within a matter of months or so though, everything changed. Michael Todd, our newsletter guy, left and we asked Jason Harris to step in. Then I saw Danny Evarts at Writers’ Event. Till then I only knew him online but he was so filled with energy and exuberance I asked him on the spot to join. We soon after voted him in.

We had our first meeting with all the new staff in the basement of a pub in Portsmouth, NH. Stacey Longo Harris tagged along with Jason, and suggested someone take notes so I said, “Hey, want to be our secretary?” We had a quorum so boom, she was voted in.

To say the time that followed was dizzying and intense would be an understatement. We suddenly had a group of folks who were really high energy. At that meeting, in March 2011 we decided we were going to publish an anthology to release at AnthoCon’s debut on 11-11-11. It was a crazy time. We had no money or bank account or plan. But we were going to do it.

As you know, we succeeded. We opened a bank account, assigned a treasurer, Dan Keohane. He changed positions and so we voted Stacey as my Co-Chair. We sold t-shirts to raise money, and held raffles. We got a new website, published the book, Epitaphs, in time, paid our authors, got a Stoker nomination for it and came out ahead financially. Not way ahead but we had a bank balance.

There’s been some Board member turnaround since then, as it’s damn hard to maintain that level of energy. Some great people have left but new ones have joined.

Jason has graduated us from a once a month newsletter, to adding almost daily updates on the NEHW blog.  We’ve got a busy Facebook NEHW page with over 200 members, and a Twitter Account. The NEHW members are up to over 300. We have group signing/selling events almost monthly, and now started the process for our next anthology. And we just released the new t-shirt designed by Jesse Young.

And so now it’s time for me to step down and take a much needed break. I’ve paid my dues and leave the smoothly running NEHW in very good hands.

Kudos to the Board for all their past and future hard work. I know the new anthology will be spectacular!

-Tracy

75X2CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL TRACY’S WORK FOR SALE

Maybe the best thing about AnthoCon is that it’s not a big conference. This is the second year that Shroud Publishing and the Four Horsemen: Tim Deal, Mark Wholley, Danny Evarts and Johnny Morse have hosted this event in Portsmouth, NH and it was wonderful. I don’t know the final tally of attendees but I’d guess about a 100.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years: NECon, Thrillerfest, ReaderCon, World Fantasy, World Horror, CrimeBake, Love is Murder, and probably some others I’m not thinking of. They each have their great and bad points and most are genre specific.

 The first year Thrillerfest ran, they hosted it in Arizona and it was amazing. It was reasonably priced, they had great panels and guests, workshops for writers, the rooms were inexpensive and luxurious. There were a lot of attendees but it was small enough so people could get to know each other.

But the next year they moved it to NYC which drove up the room cost, and food cost for nonsponsored meals. In addition they split off the Con to add CraftFest, for writers, from ThrillerFest-supposedly a reader/fan conference. So you had to pick one or the other or spend an insane amount of money and 6-7 days. And many of the “big guests” were sequestered behind tables. They signed books but did not hang out after hours. It was a fancy, dress up con and if you were an aspiring writer you’d make great connections. But it was expensive and exhausting, for me at least, to be that dressed up and to schmooze for four days. It has its merits, as there’s a lot of talent all under one roof, including pitch sessions with agents and publishers. But in all the years I went, I never once could relax.

On the flip side there’s NECon which I will always hold dear in my heart. It’s a small con, capped at 200 people.  One low price and everything is included for the weekend: room, board, panels, games.You don’t go to NECon to make connections or pitch ideas; you go to hang out and meet people like yourself. You make lasting friends. And somewhere in the midst of that you make “connections” but it’s not about finding a publisher. It’s the place award-winning published writers can go and not be hounded by fans, and a place where new writers can meet them as people, not as icons. You don’t dress up. You just get to escape and relax for four days.

What AnthoCon has done, and I love them for it, is to make an autumn-weekend-in-New England Con with multi-genres, that is a perfect mix of other cons. It was informal yet also had a business aspect with pitch sessions and people breaking off in groups to talk to publishers and make deals. Last year the sponsor was a man from the Lucid Absinthe company. This year is was Sam Adams. Very cool.

Someone referred to AnthoCon as NECon-lite and they were correct. Many of the local New England Horror writers attended, but there were also dozens who write in different genres from all over the world. I can say “world” because Richard Wright comes all the way from India for this. AnthoCon has brought us all together.

This year marked their first anthology, stories and poems selected from last year’s members and called Anthology. It has a stunning cover and a brilliant and touching collection of works.  There will be another Anthology  next year which is also incentive for new people to join. You can’t submit if you haven’t attended.

The con will no doubt grow as word spreads about all they have to offer: low admission price and vendor table cost, cheap but classy hotel, easily accessible location, concurrent and well-thought out panels, art and book dealer rooms, and a large amount of really cool but humble people. As this conference increases its numbers, I have a sense the mood and comfy intimacy level will stay the same.

I eagerly look forward to AnthoCon 2013. Hope to see you there.

Check out my new thriller, Restitution on Amazon, which made its debut this year at AnthoCon.

My first mainstream adult novel will be formally released at this year’s Anthology Conference the weekend of November 9-11, 2012. It’s called Restitution and I am excited this book is coming to fruition.

This is a novel I wrote for the NANOWRIMO competition two years ago. It was written in a whirl of creativity and sleeplessness with the help of a full bottle of Black Bush and my trusty Mac computer. 30 solid days of writing. By the end my hands were sore, my eyes were blood-red and I had an overwritten story that I forced to 50,000 words to finish.

Almost two years later I opened it up, read and thought, WOW! Except for those last 5,000 words that turned to story into a miasma of crap. Easy fix. Deleted the words I didn’t need-which should always be a major step. I rewrote, renamed some characters and then edited it about four more times. Then some folks read it so I edited it again. And again. And then one fine day, it was done. Well except for that very last edit.

Throughout the month I will be posting more information but for tonight a quote and the synopsis.

A blurb from one of  my early readers, Kristi Petersen Schoonover: 

“Restitution is a tension-filled ride…a fast-paced twister of a mystery that will fill readers with dark glee and leave them breathless.”
— Kristi Petersen Schoonover, author of Bad Apple and Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales from Haunted Disney World

So what’s it all about? Here’s the synopsis:

Destiny intervenes for Tucker Millis, a delusional writer who needs a purpose in life and a plot for his new novel. When he discovers his new phone number once belonged to a man on the verge of turning himself in for a twenty-five year old murder, it’s a dream come true. Tucker uses the messages and calls intended for the murderer to manipulate lives and to craft his story. But he’s propelled back to reality when he can no longer escape the full horror and dire consequences of the world he’s created.

In upcoming posts I’ll reveal my inspiration for the book, the writing process, and how it is to work with my new publisher.

Can’t wait till the book comes out to read my fiction? Check out some short stories to hold you over. CLICK HERE.

-Thanks and happy writing

Tracy

I’ve been making bread and butter pickles for the last couple of years but am always looking for variations. A couple of weeks ago I combined a few different recipes and came up with the one below. I’ve also included some step by step pictures to ease the process.

Always start by sterilizing your jars and lids. I put the jars, even brand-new ones, in the dishwasher. The lids should be placed in boiling then a hot water bath till you use them.

The ingredients I used were:

4 lbs or 15 cups pickling cukes, cut in 1/4 slices, 4 medium onions sliced thin, 1/3 cup Kosher salt, 4 and 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups brown sugar plus 1 cup white granulated sugar, 3 tbls mustard seeds, 1 and 1/2 tsp celery seeds, 1 and 1/2 tsp ground tumeric, 1 and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 1 and 1/2 tsp ground ginger.

First, wash your cucumbers. Cut the ends off and use a mandolin to make the rippled edges. This is optional but it just doesn’t feel like a pickle to me if they aren’t ridged. Set the mandolin to make them 1/4 inch slices. This way they will have the perfect crunch texture. 

Next, slice the onions. Layer the cucumber slices and onions in a large glass or metal bowl with crushed ice. Toss with 1/3 cup salt. Some recipes call for more salt or soaking in water instead of ice. I’ve tried them all and this is the method and measurement I prefer. Cover the bowl in a wet towel and put something heavy on top. I use my flour canister. Leave them for 90 minutes or so.

After enough time has lapsed, rinse your cuke/onion mix. Rinse three times if you need to. Too much salt will ruin the whole recipe. Since these pickles are sour and tangy, salt flavor shouldn’t be evident.

Fill a canning pot with water to a level just higher than the jar tops and turn the stove on high. While that is reaching a boil…

Combine all your ingredients except the cukes and onions in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiled, pour in the (well rinsed!) vegetable mix. Bring that to a boil, which will take some time. About 20 minutes or so. You’ll know they’re done when they go from dark green to the caterpillar green pickle color.

Ladle this mix into waiting clean jars. Leave 1/2 inch head space. Cover with the hot lids (waiting in the pot of water) and screw on the bands. Don’t make them too tight but do tighten them. In this last batch, I had a jar open up on me when I took them out of the canner when they were done.

Once the water boils again, start your timer at 10 minutes. When they are done, take them out and set them on a dishcloth to cool. Don’t open them until they are completely cooled. I usually wait until the next day. This yields about 5 pint jars.

  Next step, enjoy!

To see Tracy’s other recipes, check out her Writer’s Kitchen or Canning page. For more information on her fiction writing, please go to her AMAZON PAGE.


It’s funny the things that can block you from writing. Since I was about five years old, and learned to relay the creative/crazy thoughts in my head into the written word (in very bad penmanship which has not improved) it’s been mostly easy.

I’d come home everyday itching to transform what happened in my day from hum drum to exciting, to take disturbing life events and give them happy endings in stories, and mainly to purge myself of whatever angst I was compelled by at that particular point in time. Some periods in my life were more productive than others. From the time my daughter was born, for example, until she was three and I got a divorce, I couldn’t write. I should have, as it might have relieved my stress but I couldn’t. I was tired and overwhelmed and didn’t even give it much thought.


Once I got a divorce, I wrote like a maniac, non stop for years and years. A lot of other life stuff happened in between and I wrote through all of it. The more stress the better as far as my fiction was concerned. My body not so much. I was always losing or gaining weight, battling migraines and hives. I got an inhaler a couple of times because I had trouble breathing. And then there was the time I had to get a heart halter monitor because of all irregular heartbeats. In the end, there’s never anything wrong, just drama that fueled good fiction.

So the last six months I’ve had my share of drama but probably about 75-80% less than I’ve been used to most of my life. And what little there is, I shrug off. The problem is that I’m content. I met my boyfriend coincidentally when all the drama stopped, or more likely he was at the heart of my recognizing insane situations and walking away.

Or maybe it was just time to let go of bad habits and rabble-rousers. In any event, because I’m content and happy and not riddled with angst and worry, I find myself pretty blocked from a creative standpoint. I have nothing to say, nothing to exorcise.

I spend a good deal of time marketing my work so that takes keeps me busy. And another chunk goes to editing my old stuff for the Kindle and an upcoming collection being put out by a new press. And then there’s the NEHW and Epitaphs and the marking of that. But when I was really  “writing,” I always found time. I had to or else I’d implode from all the stuff in my head.

But now…well, as much as I hate that I haven’t been writing much new fiction, it is really nice to feel like this: Unburdened, calm, not battling my responsibilities alone.  Things come up, life isn’t perfect, but now I have someone to lean on and that makes all the difference.

I’m sure I’ll find a way to be happy and to write, but in the meantime, taking a break isn’t such a bad thing. If I can learn to live without stress certainly I can learn to write without it.

Tracy L. Carbone’s novel The Soul Collector is available on Amazon. Please check her main Amazon page as well to view all her fiction work.

Last month I visited a middle school in New Hampshire and taught five classes of seventh graders all about Brainstorming. As I posted about in an earlier blog, for each classroom I started with a central idea, then branched off to show characters  and their actions to create a story. Each group got a different story idea. Afterwards, their teacher photographed the brainstorming charts on the white board and each class was charged with writing a full story based on our extensive brainstorming and outlining.

The winning story from all those entries goes to Kaity Moore. For a seventh grader she’s a heck of a writer. I was pleasantly surprised when I read her story. Great job Kaity! I hope she pursues writing as she’ll be a great addition to the craft.

Dylan’s Dream

By Kaity Moore

Entry one: So I have a journal. I don’t care. My therapist advised me to use it.

Yeah, I’m Dylan and I have emotional probs. So, I’m really shy. I spit a lot and I have long black hair with razor sharp bangs that slide just over my left eye. I’m a pyromaniac, and now that we’re talking ‘bout fires, I’m burned on my face. Just, don’t ask. Okay, I’m done writing in this journal o’ mine. I wanna tell you the story of THE DAY I WON THE LOTTERY.

It was a sunny day, that April 27th and my dad and I were at the gas station. Standing outside the station was a man dressed well, in a charcoal gray suit, with a black tie and loafers. He was holding a huge cardboard sign with the words, “1, 5, and 10 bucks each! No better deal!” I asked him what his sign was about, and he asked if I wanted to buy a lottery ticket.

“Purchases over five dollars are going to go towards a foundation of your choice,” he said to us. I looked at my dad and he nodded to the man.

“We want the dollar one, sorry.” My dad pointed at the ticket with aliens on it. “Here’s a coin, Dylan. You can scratch the numbers off.”

The man gave me the ticket and smiled. I scratched off the numbers and handed it to my dad. “Dylan, you just scratched off the winning numbers!” My dad yelled happily.

“How much did we win?” I asked the man, as my dad gave him back the lottery ticket.

“How about, you just won the lottery!” The man smiled. “The winning prize is 89.2 billion. It’s been all over the news. Haven’t you watched it?”

“No, not lately but more importantly, we just won how much?” My dad asked gaily. The man handed over a white envelope, and my dad checked to make sure its contents were valid and then he shook the man’s hand. “89.2 billion dollars! Here’s your check.”

“Thank you.” My dad said. The businessman nodded and my dad and I walked back to our car.

When we pulled into the driveway, my mother ran out of the house, her ankle-length skirt flowing in the wind when she yelled to my dad, “Oh my gosh, Mark is it true? You won us the lottery?”

“Nope, I didn’t honey. Dylan did.”

My dad rustled my shiny black hair. “Now we can afford surgery to make your face smooth again.”

“Dylan, that’s so great of you! Now we can travel more.” My mom and dad winked at each other. “But Dylan, since you hate flying, I guess we’ll leave you at Cameron’s house.”

I squinted. Cameron was my best friend and all, but my parents were going to go away on a trip and just leave me here? That’s cool, not.

“I have a great way to celebrate, let’s go to the hospital right now and get your surgery done!” My mom smiled. “C’mon, hop in the car!”

While sitting in the back seat of the car, I think of all the cool things I’ll be able to do when my parents leave on their trip. I take out my journal and start writing.

Entry two: Skydiving, scuba diving, cliff diving, so much diving! I can do it all when they’re gone. Ha-ha, yes!

When we finally get to the hospital, I’m sent to the ER and the doctors start right away, demanding me to quickly drink the elixir, so I fall asleep faster.

Two hours later, I’m brought out to my parents who are waiting in the hallway. They guide me to a wall mirror, my dad blindfolding me with his hands. “1, 2, 3, open!” my dad says, as my eyes blur from being shut. Then, when they’re finally clear, I glance at the mirror and gawk in surprise, rubbing my hand down my now visible cheek bones, making sure what I see is the real thing. “Oh man dude, I’m so beautiful now. Like, whoa!” I laugh, still feeling around my face.

A couple days later, my mom and dad kiss me goodbye as they bring in my last of three bags I’ve brought to Cam’s house. “Bye sweetie, we’ll pick you up sometime next week. Call us every night.” My mom kissed my head and backed from the door.

“Mom, I’m thirteen, and you’re treating me like I’m five.” I say as Cam stands next to me, snickering.

“Just making sure you’re safe, we don’t want to leave you here, but-”

“Dad, I’m thiiirrrrr-teeeeeennn. I’m fine.”

“Do you have your pills?” He tilts his head, gaze fixed on mine.

“Yeah dad, now bye, love you too and all that mushy gushy lovey-dovey stuff that you old people want to hear now-a-days.” Cameron and I laughed.

A week after my parents have been gone, Cam and I call our best friend Ayla, sometimes called A, asking her to come over, that we had a surprise for her, not knowing that her surprise is my face. She knocks on the door and yells, “Hello, Cameron, do you have my present?”

“It’s not a present, Ayla, it’s a surprise.” I say back to her, unsure of why we’re talking behind doors.

“Whatever, open the door and hand it over.” She says as I open it slowly, then jumping out from the side and scaring her.

“Omigod.” She gasps bringing her hands to her mouth. “Your – your face, it’s,” she pauses. “Smooth!”

I laugh and gaze at her wonder-filled, envy green eyes. “Yeah,” I say with just a hint of sarcasm. “My parents won the lottery, they got me surgery as soon as possible and I’m staying here for a couple days ’cause they went on a trip. They’ll be back to get me tomorrow, all ready for school on Monday.”

Ayla looks at Cameron. “Dude, you seriously have got to get in the sun once in a while, you’re whiter than a ghost.” She laughs, making a joke at his Albinism. Cameron never really cared when people made jokes anymore; he’d gotten used to it. He laughed with her as they made more and more comments about the disease.

The next day, my parents brought me home, and the day after that, I got up, showered, smoothed my face, and headed off to school for the first time since surgery. I walked through the halls confident with Cam and Ayla by my side as everyone gaped and gossiped about the change in my looks. I overheard a lot of girls say I’m gorgeous and that they never could’ve expected a dork like me to be this hot.

Then I got tapped on the back. I turned around and a bunch of popular kids were standing behind me. “Dylan, right?” The girl said, pushing her curly blonde hair behind her shoulders.

“Uh, yeah?” I squinted at her and the group of boys surrounding her.

“Listen,” one of them said, “you’re like, totally cool now. Come with us.”

“But, I’m with my friends.” I looked around nervously, pointing backwards at Ayla and Cameron.

“No, uh, do what you want, Dylan. It’s fine, really.” Ayla stuttered, obviously intimidated by the popular crowd standing near her. I never really understood why she wasn’t one of them. She’s a total mean girl, she has the most luscious, wavy blonde hair I’ve ever seen, envy green eyes, and a perfect structure. Plus, her family was extremely rich, so she had all designer clothing and her own alpaca. Her alpaca had anger issues though, so that was always weird when I went over.

“Excuse me, Ayla? You don’t get to make the decisions anymore. You dropped out of the popular crowd years ago, remember?”

Ayla rolled her big green eyes. “Whatever.”

“Well, I’m going to …” I paused, letting Cam and A finish the sentence as I pointed backwards and walked away with the popular kids, Randy, Ray Ray, Kurt, and Stevie. They were all so gorgeous with their silky hair and designer uniforms worn in a public school. I never really ever thought about hanging out with Stevie, the prettiest girl in school, besides Ayla, but here I was, walking down the halls side by side, laughing at Randy’s jokes with her. She even asked me to hang out after school, but I said no, considering all the homework I had to get done. I could tell she was upset, but she just smiled and said, “Okay, maybe another time,” and walked off without me.

Soon after becoming a popular kid, I was insisted on wearing designer uniforms and getting my left ear pierced. I talked to my dad about it and he said he’d take me to get a couple uniforms next weekend. My cousin Ryan pierced my ear for me. He did it professionally, but it hurt more than I’d expected.

After about a month of being a preppy, stuck-up kid of the popular crowd, I started forgetting about Ayla and Cameron, my two best friends. Ray Ray and I always lit fires together after school, and I’d sit on the ground with Stevie roasting marshmallows and making S’Mores. Kurt, Randy, and I didn’t have much in common, but we had a couple sleepovers at my house, which was now a full mansion, with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and my own man cave, thanks to my winning scratch ticket.

For five months, I was popular, until that day on September 4th when everything changed. The popular crowd had a campfire one night without me, while I was away in New Mexico for the weekend, and when I came back, the police and my school principal had asked me all kinds of questions about a small campfire which spread into a wildfire, killing three people and burning two kids’ faces.

Those two kids were Ayla and Cam. I was watching the news one night when Cam and A came on, interviewed.

“I jumped into the fire, thinking my pyromaniac “friend” was the one who started all this. I started to think about why I cared, ’cause he abandoned me and my friend Cam for the,” Ayla gulped, “popular crowd.”

Next, they zoomed in on Cameron, who spoke words I never thought I’d hear from his mouth.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the cause of this fire was Dylan Drescher. He’s a maniac. Pyromaniac, that is. We were friends, but he came to be a snob and joined some other kids, but he doesn’t care about me and A now. I really hope you’re watching this Dylan, even if you didn’t start the fire. What was once your face is now mine and Ayla’s because we’re good enough people to forgive your mistake and even jump into a fire, willing to save you, but I guess you just don’t care, dude.”

I yelled at the T.V. “I wasn’t even there! I was in New Mexico, not Pennsylvania!”

I called up Stevie and started totally going off on her, yelling, saying that she was the cause of all this, asking her why she framed me, why she did any of this, but she didn’t answer. “I’m done with you people.” I screamed into the phone.

I ran to Cameron’s house, knowing Ayla would be there right about now and apologizing for everything, explaining that I wasn’t even here in Pennsylvania, I was on vacation in New Mexico. Even promising I would pay for their facial reconstruction surgery, everything.

We became friends again, but I couldn’t live like this. I pulled a lighter out of my pocket, lit up the grass in Cameron’s back yard as Ayla and Cam screamed, “No! No, Dylan don’t do this!” but I couldn’t live like this, knowing I hurt my best friends. So I lied down in grass and burned. I was just about two feet away from walking into the light when I woke up in bed and gasped. “It was all a dream?”

-The End

Tracy L. Carbone’s novel The Soul Collector is available on Amazon. Please check her main Amazon page as well to view all her fiction work.