What you can learn from speaking about vampires

  • October 31, 2016
  • Blog

bats photo

Once upon a time, in the far-off land of the Bronx, a high school English teacher told her class that it was important to know how to speak in public. So, she created a spell—I mean, she told everyone to create a two-minute speech on any topic they liked, and each of us would speak in front of the class.

I chose vampires.

When You Need It to Be Creepy – Guest Post Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin

  • October 24, 2016
  • Blog


With Halloween coming up, who else to write a spooky post but a horror writer? Luckily, Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin, author of Snare, graciously agreed to offer her thoughts. Enjoy!

When You Need It to Be Creepy


Last night, flashlight in hand, I took our puppy Boomer for a walk. It was perfect Halloween weather, sharp and chill, with an edge of Something Wicked This Way Comes. Little yellow leaves blew across our path, pursued by the unseen. The ping! of acorns falling ricocheted everywhere in the dark. And the faulty aerator light in a nearby pond pulsed like a malignant sea creature.

To tell you the truth, I was relieved.

You see, the month leading to Halloween has always been magical for me. Why wouldn’t it be, for a writer of horror and other shadowy things? The fake cobwebs in bushes, the small ghosties fluttering from branches, the pumpkins with their evil grins—what’s not to love?

But it hadn’t been so this year. Don’t know why. Maybe a bunch of stresses were catching up. I was starting to get worried. After all, the Season of the Witch usually provides me with inspiration that lingers through the bleak winter. Did this mean I’d spend the next five or so cold gray months feeling like a flat landscape?

When my nephews were very young, my husband and I accompanied them on their trick-or-treating. There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood, and people really got into decorating for Halloween. One house I’ll never forget had a long, winding driveway and a wooden bench set near it with jack-o’-lanterns, large spiders in fake webs, and a stuffed ghoul. But the ghoul stirred when you walked by. And it was a human stir that made you realize someone had been sitting there the whole time, watching, waiting, patiently stalking disbelief.

Thank goodness I found no such ghoul last night—it’s not quite Halloween yet and that would have been a little too weird even for me. But he came to mind in the gusty dark, as did memories of holding my nephews’ hands as they tried to understand what was real and what wasn’t. The fact that I was at last tingly watching Boomer sniff and jump at things I couldn’t see or hear made me feel all is well again. So did Cthulhu throbbing in the pond.

May your Halloween, dear friends, be filled with wonder and delicious shivers.


You can find Carrie at www.cvnelkin.com, on Twitter at @cvnelkin, and on Facebook (Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin, Author)


The Strange Side of the Writing Life

  • October 17, 2016
  • Blog


Author Carmel Berman Reingold told me this story years ago: She ran into a friend one day and they chatted a bit before the friend said, “Are you still writing?”

Carmel smiled sweetly and (thinking of her many magazine articles and books) replied, “Yes, I am.”

“Oh, that’s good,” the friend chirped. “As long as you’re keeping busy.”

5 Authors Who Love Going Indie

  • October 10, 2016
  • Blog
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SMOKE COVER FINALSmoke: Tales Between Dark and Light


Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin


There’s a long, respected history of indie filmmakers and indie musicians. Now indie authors, too, can play with concepts that are on the edge. I love the ability to be a hybrid author—to traditionally publish some things while stretching into what is sometimes less-charted territory with other pieces. Indie entrepreneurship allows a collaboration that’s not always available otherwise. Our Penhead anthologies, Smoke and Hunger, arose from that kind of creative centrifuge.


J. M. Levinton


For me, there are two kinds of time to being an indie author. The first is obvious—my timeline is my own. How long it takes me to write and edit and work with the people to create a cover and paperback formatting—all this happens when I’m ready to do it. But the other kind of time, the time I’m saving, is the speed with which I publish. I don’t need to wait to find an agent or publisher and then wait a year or more before my book goes public. That freedom is what I love about being an indie author.


R.G. Emanuelle


There are advantages to being published traditionally, and having worked with several different houses, I know what those advantages are. But being an indie author gives you the freedom of doing what you feel is right for your book. I’m not impossible to please, but I do have strong feelings about things like layout, cover design, release dates, etc. As an indie author, I can make those decisions and work at my own pace to reach those goals. And, ultimately, I reap the majority of the rewards for my hard work.


Anne E. Wagenbrenner


I never set out to be an indie author. My vision was to travel the traditional route: traditional agent, traditional publisher. And, as a new author, I’m still trying to attain that. But I’m often tempted to ditch the whole traditional thing and go totally indie. The reason is this, and only this: Artistic freedom.


Arielle Prose


What I like about being an indie author is that you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself—and maybe to your writer’s group if you have one, which can be an advantage to an indie writer. It’s an added bonus if you have a writer’s group that you trust. There are pros and cons to indie publishing, (read my fellow Penheads’ comments), but the element of trust is essential. And you don’t always have that with a publisher of your work, especially when you’re starting out. To me the biggest advantage to having a publisher rather than being a publisher is that the publisher already has an audience for you, presumably, whereas being an indie you have to do all the work of finding that audience.


Why do you love going indie?






Happy New Year to All who celebrate

  • October 02, 2016
  • Blog
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There will be no blog post this week due to the holiday. In the meantime, I’m baking a honey cake, and please, if all you’ve ever tasted were the ones from the supermarket, find an easy recipe and make one. The difference is HUGE.

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