Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Release Celebration & Tick Tock Coming Soon

Today's my book release party in Colorado Springs for Blue Sludge Blues. Woo-hoo! Wish me luck!

Congratulations to the winners of the Rafflecopter giveaway for e-books of  Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations: Tamara N., Traci A., and Arlee J.!

Now guess what? The IWSG anthology is coming out in just over a week, so here's a quick word on the book release:

Themed anthologies are a great way to become acquainted with new writers and reconnect with those writers you enjoy. This newest one from Dancing Lemur Press offers an exciting variety of styles and some "against the clock" tales to keep you reading.

The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

Coming May 1!

Add it to your Goodreads TBR List.
Preorder your copy.

Link time. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Blackbird is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Up to 8000 words (or query for longer). Paying market. Deadline April 15.

Epoch is seeking literary fiction, poetry, essays, screenplays, cartoons, graphic art, and graphic fiction. Submit by mail only. Pays $50 to $150. Deadline April 15.

Galli Books is seeking speculative short fiction and cover art for Speculative Masculinities. 1000 to 7500 words. Pays £0.08/word. Deadline April 15.

Circlet Press is seeking asexual romance speculative fiction. 2500 to 8500 words. Pays $25 for an e-book edition then $25 for a possible print anthology in the future. Deadline April 15.

Visions is seeking speculative fiction with the theme of Home. Up to 5000 words. Pays 4 to 5p. Deadline April 15.

Third Flatiron is seeking space opera and sci-fi for Galileo's Theme Park. 1500 to 3000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline April 15.

Spider and Ladybug Magazines (for kids) are seeking LGBTQ+ inclusive fiction, poetry, and non-fiction for an Over the Rainbow theme. Up to 1000 words for fiction, 800 words for non-fiction. Pays up to $.25/word. Deadline April 15.

Evernight Teen is seeking YA contemporary romance for Kissed. Must begin and end with a kiss. 15,000 to 25,000 words. May be royalty paying, but not specified on the anthology page. Deadline April 20.

Will you be purchasing Tick Tock? What do you think of the cover? Any of these markets of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Release Day! Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations

Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations
by Shannon Lawrence

Release Date: March 15, 2018
Horror short story collection

A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how much we have to fear: A creature lurking in the blue, sludgy depths of a rest area toilet; a friendly neighbor with a dark secret hidden in his basement; a woman with nothing more to lose hellbent on vengeance; a hike gone terribly wrong for three friends; a man cursed to clean up the bodies left behind by an inhuman force. These and other stories prowl the pages of this short story collection.


From For Love of the Hunt:

"The taste of his dying heart was the most succulent flavor I'd ever partaken of. The thick, rich blood flowed into my throat and I felt it burning its way through my entire body, even as that great muscle pulsed against my lips. His strength belonged to me now."

You can read other excerpts at the blogs of those helping with my book release. Each person has an excerpt from a different story:

Tamara Narayan - Know Thy Neighbor (and she's telling a scary real life story)
Christine Rains - Shifting Sands
Mina Burrows - Cravings
Jennifer Lane - What the Fire Left Behind
Lisa Southard - Maelstrom
Diane Burton - Sound Advice (and info on skinwalkers)
Meka James - Salvation Lottery
Patricia Lynne - Metamorphosis (and she's telling a scary real life story)
Juneta Key - In the Dark (and a bit on writing about horror)
Elizabeth Seckman - The Blue Mist
Catherine Dilts - Blue Sludge Blues
Pete Aldin - Faceless
Joylene Nowell Butler - The Tourist

Buy the Book

Also available from Apple and other countries through Amazon

If you'd like to help share the news about my book, here are a couple pre-made tweets (and feel free to use any images posted here):

Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations by Shannon Lawrence now on sale at Amazon! Also B&N and Kobo. Get your horror fix in with this collection of short stories @thewarriormuse

Killer mists, creatures in rest stop toilets, and neighbors you should beware, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations by Shannon Lawrence now on sale at Amazon! Also B&N and Kobo. @thewarriormuse

The dark side of being the sole survivor, creatures in the woods, and more, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations by Shannon Lawrence now on sale at Amazon! Also B&N and Kobo. @thewarriormuse 

About the Author

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes mostly fantasy and horror. Her stories can be found in magazines and anthologies, including Space and Time Magazine, Dark Moon Digest, and Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. When she's not writing, she's hiking the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster.

Social Media Links

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG - Safety in Numbers

It's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group again!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the IWSG is to air your insecurities while supporting others doing the same thing. Anyone can sign up by clicking HERE. Be sure to bop around and visit others, too.

This month's co-hosts are:

This month's optional question is: 
How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?

I don't usually celebrate a goal/finishing a short story, but I do celebrate when I finish a novel by having a milkshake. And when I place a short story, I get a Funko Pop villain/monster. I've just recently added Carrie, Jack from The Shining, and Norman Bates, all there on the top next to Pennywise and Cthulhu. 

My husband added the third shelf while I was away a couple weeks ago, because the other two were getting too cluttered. What happens when I fill that shelf? I can't wait to find out!

As far as my insecurities this month...well, I've got my first solo horror short story collection coming out. Sure, I've been published in magazines and anthologies, but it was never just me. I feel like I'm about to walk in front of a room full of people naked, and it's mildly terrifying. What else? I'm having a public book release celebration and signing (if you're local, there's information on my appearances tab about it, but the quick version is I'll be at 3.14 Sweet and Savory in Colorado Springs from 5-9 PM on March 22), and I'd hate to sit there all alone and pathetic with my box of books, which is why I'm having a book release celebration instead of signing at a bookstore (for now, at least.) I desperately did not want to sit there all formal behind a table, staring at the door, wondering when someone would show up. Instead, I'll be somewhere familiar, with wine and food and pie, so I can drown myself in calories if no one comes.

By the way, my book release will be March 15, and each blogger posting it has an excerpt from a different short story. Some of you asked about quick tweets. I'll put some of those together and get those out, too. It's available for pre-order in e-book right now, with paperback and e-book release on the 15th.

I guest posted at Pete Aldin's blog with book release information. You can check it out HERE. I talk about four ways horror can be beneficial, and you can get a sneak peek at the first excerpt from my collection.

Moving on, here are my stats for last month. I post each month to keep myself accountable.

In February, I:

Submitted 10 short stories
Got 2 short stories short listed
Got 2 acceptances
Got 8 rejections
Got 1 invite to submit 1 of those rejected stories to a different anthology by the editor
I currently have 12 short stories on submission

A pretty good month! Believe me, it doesn't always look like this, so don't get discouraged if you're submitting and getting rejections. I went through a major dry spell for several months with tons of rejections and no sales. So please get out there and submit! And relish every rejection you get. And feel free to post your stats in the comments so we can celebrate short stories together.

Finally, let's get to the links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along, so always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

West Branch is seeking poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. No more than 30 pages. Pays $.05/word. Deadline April 1.

Paper Dog Books is seeking speculative short fiction the Robots Live Now anthology. 1500 to 5000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline April 1.

Bikes in Space is seeking stories with the theme Dragons. 500 to 8000 words. Will pay a minimum of $30, with how much more depending upon the Kickstarter. Deadline April 1.

Radiant Crown Publishing is seeking adult and erotic romance with a strong speculative element for Mystique Masquerade, an anthology. Novelettes and novellas, so 7500 to 40,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline April 1.

Syntax & Salt Magazine is seeking short literary speculative fiction. Up to 3500 words. Pays $10. 

Flash Fiction Magazine is seeking flash fiction. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $40 for stories chosen to be published in the anthologies (pays nothing if published on website).

What do you celebrate, and how? What are your current insecurities? Any submission stats to share? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cover Reveal! Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations

Today's the day for the cover reveal of my horror short story collection, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations!

A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how much we have to fear: a creature lurking in the blue, sludgy depths of a rest area toilet; a friendly neighbor with a dark secret hidden in his basement; a woman with nothing more to lose hellbent on vengeance; a hike gone terribly wrong for three friends; a man cursed to clean up the bodies left behind by an inhuman force. These and other stories prowl the pages of this short story collection.

Release Date: March 15, 2018

Available for Pre-Order in e-book now at the following locations:

Will also be available in trade paperback from Amazon US and UK, and ebook through Apple and Amazon in other countries.

Thank you to my husband, Jeff Lawrence, for the cover design, and to Jared Hagan for my author photos.

Thank you to everyone who helped with my cover reveal today! Please consider stopping by to say hi to each of them:

Ellen (posting Saturday)
C. Lee
Jennifer Lane

May you find your Muse.

Book Release Tour: Jennifer Lane - Twin Sacrifice

Twin Sacrifice
by Jennifer Lane
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Release Date: February 28, 2018

My twin brother is determined to kill himself, but I won’t let him. 

I just discovered the sacrifice he made for me when we were young.

Now it’s time I return the favor. This time I’ll be the one with the secret.

Psychologist Matthew Durante’s twin brother, Justin, has struggled with mental illness since their parents died in a house fire. After Justin is accused of setting off a bomb that killed an innocent woman, he lands in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

In the face of Justin’s unrelenting suicide attempts, Matthew grows frantic to keep him alive. And as the pieces of their past fall into place, Matthew decides bold action is his only choice, no matter the cost.

Set against the backdrop of weapons manufacturing, terrorism, and a dark family secret, Matthew and Justin fight for survival, redemption, and most of all, for each other.

Psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane invites you to her world of romance, sports, and suspense! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun.

Jen’s first psychological thriller launches in 2018: Twin Sacrifice. Psychologist Matthew Durante risks his own life to save his twin brother’s as their foster father tries to take them down.

Jen loves to create sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez finds her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Spiked (Blocked #3) completes the series and features Lucia’s younger brother Mateo.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the free New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good BehaviorBad Behavior, and On Best Behavior.

Whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Two Great Giveaways - be sure to enter them both!

to win a Paperback copy of Twin Sacrifice

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Did you buy your copy? Have you entered the Rafflecopter giveaway?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Truly Horrible Women - WIHM Guest Post - J.H. Moncrieff

If you haven't signed up for my book release blog hop (March 15), there's still time: CLICK HERE to SIGN UP.

Also, you may have noticed I now have a newsletter signup in the right column under the "About Me" section. I intend to send no more than one per month, and only in months when I have an actual announcement (book/magazine releases, basically).

This week's woman in horror is one you might recognize from blogging circles already. She posts true stories about serial killers and creepy events. Today, she's talking about Truly Horrible Women:

Since we’re celebrating Women in Horror this month, it’s only fitting to ask why women have such a tough time getting a fair shake in this genre.

Part of it is undoubtedly still skepticism that the so-called “fairer sex” have the ability to make their readers cringe, shiver, or gasp the way male writers do.

Which is BS, of course. Here are five true accounts that prove the female of the species can be just as deadly as the male.

Katherine Knight

Many a woman has grown frustrated by a partner’s unwillingness to pop the question. When Katherine’s boyfriend John Price refused to marry her or let her move into his home, she had a most unusual way of expressing her displeasure.

After having sex with Price on February 29, 2000, Katherine waited until he fell asleep. The Australian woman then stabbed him at least 37 times, skinned him, and hung his skin from a meat hook. As if that weren’t enough, she decapitated him and lovingly roasted parts of his body with a variety of vegetables. She invited Price’s children over for dinner, clearly intending to serve them their own father.

Thankfully, Price’s employer became concerned when the man didn’t show up for work, and went to the house to investigate. After seeing blood at the front door, the employer and a co-worker notified police, who discovered Price’s head in a pot on the stove.

Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood

Nurses are supposed to heal, right? During the late eighties, Michigan nurse’s aides Gwendolyn and Cathy had a bizarre concept of what “taking care of their patients” meant.

Bored of the same old routine at the Alpine Manor Nursing Home and desperate to prove their love for each other, Gwendolyn and Cathy developed a macabre game. They started murdering their elderly patients, choosing victims whose initials would spell “MURDER.”

When that grew too taxing, the women decided to count each murder as a day, feeling that every killing bonded them for life. After the two women split, Cathy told her ex-husband about the five murders, and he eventually went to the cops. The nurses’ diabolical murder plot came to light after some good ol’ fashioned police interrogation.

Belle Gunness

A Norwegian-American serial killer, Belle is suspected to have murdered over forty people in Indiana in the 1800s, including her husbands and children.

Belle used ads asking for husbands to lure men with money to her farm. Once they were on her property, she served them dinner and then split their heads with a meat chopper while they were eating. Other times she simply poisoned their coffee.

When a hired man and would-be suitor threatened to betray her, a mysterious fire broke out at the Gunness residence. Once the smoke cleared, the bodies of Belle’s three children and a headless woman were found. Originally believed to be Belle, the decapitated corpse was eventually ruled out, as it had belonged to a 5’3” woman, while Belle was at least six feet tall and weighed over two hundred pounds.

So many remains were found on her property after the fire that it was impossible to tell how many victims she had claimed, especially since she had fed several to her hogs. To this day, Belle has never been found, though for years there were reported sightings of her across the United States.

Amelia Dyer

Single mothers have never had it easy, but back in England’s Victorian age, they faced ostracism and worse. Some of the most desperate turned to so-called “baby farmers,” women who would temporarily adopt their infants for a fee and care for them until the mothers were able to return for their children.

One of those baby farmers was Amelia Dyer, who had originally trained as a nurse. While there is some indication that Amelia intended to care for the children, she quickly realized her profits would be greater if the infants died. And thus began her career as a murderess. She would wind tape around the babies’ necks and watch in delight as they suffocated.

Imagine the horror of the mothers who came to Amelia, distraught and begging for their children, only to be told their babies were no more. The law finally caught up with the baby farmer when the body of an infant girl was fished out of the Thames. The corpse had been wrapped in paper marked with the name of the alias Amelia was currently using.

During her trial, Amelia plead insanity and was executed by hanging in June 1896. It is estimated she could have murdered as many as four-hundred children, making her one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.

Juana Barraza

In the late ’90s and beyond, a serial killer stalked Mexico City’s elderly women, strangling them to death. Because of the strength required to manually strangle, police were convinced the killer was a man.

They were wrong.

So persistent was their belief in female fragility that, even when several witnesses reported seeing a woman leave the scene of the murders, the police clung to their theory that the killer was a man. They detained and questioned transvestite prostitutes, putting them through a brutal, humiliating investigation.

Justice caught up with Juana when a tenant discovered his freshly murdered landlord and called police, who were able to nab the serial killer before she could escape.

Instead of the man they had been searching for, their murderer was a forty-eight-year-old single mother of four who could bench press over two hundred pounds. Juana was well known as The Silent Lady, a professional wrestler in the sport of luche libra – Mexican masked wrestling. Wearing a butterfly mask and hot-pink spandex, she was a stunning sight in more ways than one.


Moncrieff began her writing career as a journalist, tracking down snipers and canoeing through crocodile-infested waters. Her articles have appeared in many publications, including Chatelaine, FLARE, Writer’s Digest, and The Globe and Mail.

When not writing, she loves exploring the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

Thanks, J.H.! This reminds me of a tour I did of a prison museum in Canon City. It had been an all women's prison adjacent to a men's prison (still open). They detailed how late the prison was opened, compared to the men's prison, and how hard it was to get a conviction of a woman, due to the fact no one believed women could commit crimes. They were treated far better than the men, too, and prison life was fairly cushy.


Now for some links. Please bear in mind that I'm not endorsing them, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Sycamore Review is seeking poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art. Pays $50 for fiction/nonfiction and $25 for poetry. Reading window closes March 31.

Arachne Press is seeking stories and poems for the peace-themed anthology An Outbreak of Peace. Up to 2500 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline March 31.

Pantheon Magazine is seeking dark short fiction with a transformation theme for Gorgon: Stories of Emergence. Up to 2000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline for this theme is March 31.

Post Mortem Press is seeking short stories written by women for the anthology She's Lost Control. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $.0005/word plus royalties. Deadline March 31.

JMS Books is seeking queer and erotic romance with an astrology theme for the anthology What's Your Sign? 12,000 words or more. Pays quarterly royalties. Deadline March 31.

Writer's Co-op is seeking weird short stories and poetry for their anthology The Rabbit Hole. Up to 5000 words. Pays in royalties (or you can donate them to the Against Malaria Foundation.) Deadline March 31.

Circlet Press is seeking short erotic stories involving tentacles (must be consensual) for Safe, Sane, Consentacle. 2500 to 8500 words. Pays $25. Deadline March 31.

Mojo is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Pays $15. Deadline March 31.

Have you heard of any of these women before? Do you think women can be as terrifying as men? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? What woman in horror would you recommend? 

 May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dark Enchantments - WIHM Guest Post - Ashley Dioses

If you haven't signed up for my cover reveal (March 1) or book release blog hop (March 15), there's still time: CLICK HERE to SIGN UP.

Also, you may have noticed I now have a newsletter signup in the right column under the "About Me" section. I intend to send no more than one per month, and only in months when I have an actual announcement (book/magazine releases, basically).

This week's woman in horror is Ashley Dioses. We "met" online after being published in the same magazine, only to then be in yet another mutual publication not long after. (Bloodbond and The Literary Hatchet.)

The following piece first appeared in the Official Newsletter of the Horror Writer's Association, December 2015/Volume 25, Issue 185.

Dark Enchantments:

I was in middle school when Edgar Allan Poe became my influence in becoming a poet of dark and Gothic verse. I have always been a huge horror and fantasy fan and he filled my horror craving in poetry. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found my craving for fantasy and dark fantasy poetry fulfilled as well.

The poetry of Clark Ashton Smith struck me in a way only Poe had struck me before. His poems were rich in imagination and his words were so spell-binding that they read like an enchantment from my lips. His poem “The Witch with Eyes of Amber” is such an example.

The Witch with Eyes of Amber
I met a witch with amber eyes
Who slowly sang a scarlet rune,
Shifting to an icy laughter
Like the laughter of the moon.

Red as a wanton's was her mouth,
And fair the breast she bade me take
With a word that clove and clung
Burning like a furnace-flake.

But from her bright and lifted bosom,
When I touched it with my hand,
Came the many-needled coldness
Of a glacier-taken land.

And, lo! the witch with eyes of amber
Vanished like a blown-out flame
Leaving but the lichen-eaten
Stone that bore a blotted name.

With those first two rich, enticing lines, that poem begs to be read aloud and so should all poetry. A poem should be written in such a way that it enchants all who hear it. For dark poetry as well, a poem should begin with a grabbing line and end with a line that will haunt the reader after they’ve finished it, just like any horror fiction piece.

Smith is known for using elaborate and, oftentimes, difficult vocabulary, but one needs not a dictionary to evoke stunning imagery. My poem “Witch’s Love,” published in Centipede Press’ Weird Fiction Review 5, compares a witch’s lover to various images of nature and is written in iambic tetrameter, which lends itself to a musical beat when read aloud.

Witch’s Love
Twin moons of palest crystal set
In cerulean eyes; star-fire
Enflames his crown with ruby jets
As red as Hades’ grandest pyre.

My lavender and rosehip blend,
Enchanted with my witch’s touch,
Was not used as I did intend;
His heart, at once, was in my clutch.

His taste is honey on my lips,
His silver tongue is sweeter still,
His touch is silk on my soft hips,
His love is master of my will.

He is the cosmos and its ice,
The oak and its deep steadfast roots,
The green absinthe and its high price,
The diamond from the ash and soot.

In only me his interest peaks,
For I alone enrapture him.
In me my magick love he seeks,
For I choose love not on a whim.

I am his witch and he, my love.
He, my desire, for only I
Can melt his ice from skies above,  
And temper his poisonous high.

Each line is wrought with words to evoke one of the senses and creates a picture to shape the reader’s imagination. The vivid colors, the thick lavender scents, the smooth feeling of silk, and the sweet taste of honey can all be conjured forth with a reading.

I’ve heard that not all poetry should be beautiful, but doesn’t the very word inspire beauty? When you watch movies and a character executes a memorable line, isn’t it often remarked as being almost poetic? When you watch a romance, doesn’t poetry come to mind? Well, when it comes to horror, beauty can be a bit more subjective.

The beauty of words and the evocative images they evoke are not just limited to fantasy or even dark fantasy for that matter. This is also what makes it fun to write dark, horror-filled verse. Is your poem aimed to inspire fear or is it written to disgust your audience? What senses would you want to conjure up? Make your audience taste the blood spilled in your verse, conjure that metallic taste, and that sticky hot mess on their fingertips. Make your audience feel the cold steel of that dagger or the acidic taste of poison on their lips. Inspire fear with the magic of words that will slice through the tension-filled air.

My poem “Carathis,” published in Hippocampus Press’ Spectral Realms No. 1, and also chosen for Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror Volume Seven recommended reading list, is written after the character from William Beckford’s Vathek. She is a dark sorceress who is the epitome of evil and, in writing this poem, I tried to replicate the sense of dread I felt when she appeared on the page.

Her skin of burnished bronze, so silken to the touch;
Her hair of blackest midnight, wafting scents of such
Intoxicating aphrodisiacs; and her
Enticing eyes of hazel that made weak hearts stir,
Belonged to the dark Sorceress of high Samarah.
Fools only would court this dark queen whose mouth is marah.
Her heart was ice within a cage of blackened bone.
Carathis was her name, and she would rule alone.

Inside the high witch-tower of her dark delights,
She decked her walls with hanging bodies all alight.
Her floors were red, her followers were all deaf mutes,
And mummies who attended to her brews of newts.
Emitting fumes of mummies and the blazing flames
Frequently filled her working space as, without shame,
She practiced rituals, with offerings spread out.
Her tainted mind had found for certain, without doubt,
An entrance to the Palace of Subterranean Fire.
A place of treasures and rare knowledge to desire.

Such sacrifices of serpents and scorpions
Soon insufficient grew, and fresh new champions
Were needed to appease her gods of pain and Death.
Servants, friends, children were the same, for every breath
Could easily be stilled, for passage down below.
Reciting savage incantations soon let go
Her earthly limits, and she entered down with bliss
Into the palace where, awaiting, was Eblis.

He greeted her as newly hired within his ranks,
And offered food and wine, which eagerly, she drank.
He gave free range of his grand palace, and she soon
Surveyed every dark corridor. How she did swoon
When finally she came upon her long sought prize:
The talismans of Soliman that held the skies
And conquered all beneath them! Quickly grabbing one,
Her heart burst into flames with a heat like the sun!
Explosive cachinnation pierced the many halls
As her shrill screams forever echoed in his walls.

- After William Beckford’s Vathek

A poem should have beautiful language. Beautiful language, not necessarily the theme, makes a beautiful poem. If you describe the stiffened contours of a lifeless lover or the mangled cadaver of your latest plaything, then describe it richly, beautifully, darkly. Show the details of her crimson-stained hair or conjure the scent of his aged and rotting flesh. Do not spare a single psychotic notion in your verse.

David Park Barnitz, the author of the Book of Jade, is a perfect example of an author who could spin such enchanting language while describing a corpse. For example, consider these lines from Barnitz’s poem “The Grotesques”: “As one that the sweet pangs of passion bore. / And from its passionate mouth’s corrupted sore, / And from its lips that are no longer red,” (8-10). A dark romance with a fallen lover makes me wonder how long ago those lips were still red! I can feel his passion and can imagine the corpse from these lines. It creates a heavier blow than simply telling me he has lain with a dead body. The language is striking here as it is with the rest of the poem.

Now enough of love! Excuse the romance, and let’s get back to the horror. Not everyone wants romance in their horror and dark verses but that doesn’t excuse the lack of that enthralling language. Let’s look at another one of Barnitz’s poems, “Corpse.” “A dead corpse crowned with a crown of gold / Sits throned beneath the sky’s gigantic pall; / Gold garments from its rotted shoulders fall,” (1-3). A very fitting image for the title and it does not disappoint.

With a title as captivating as “Corpse,” you should expect the poem to cover, well, the corpse. A lot of images come to mind when reading or hearing that word. If you have such a title that you have your poem wrapped around, do not disappoint your readers with lack of imagery. Make your images, your lines, your verse more haunting than any image they can conjure up.

If you aim to strike fear, rather than repulsion, with your verse, not too many examples can instill the demise of Man and conquer that feeling with the last two lines of Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm.” “That the play is the tragedy, ‘Man,’/ And its hero, the Conqueror Worm,” (39, 40). Whether you wish to instill fear, repulsion, or drear lamentation, do it with your language. Even if the horror is subtle and only hinted at, enthrall them with your language. Poe did an excellent job at hinting at the demise of his narrator in these famous last lines from “The Raven.” “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor/ Shall be lifted—nevermore!” (107, 108).

Spin your dark enchantment around your readers and spellbind them with words they can ever be haunted by.

Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and weird poetry from southern California.  She is the author of Diary of a Sorceress, a dark poetry collection published by Hippocampus Press.  Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Spectral Realms, Weirdbook Magazine, Black Wings, and elsewhere.  Her poem “Carathis,” published in Spectral Realms 1, appeared in Ellen Datlow’s full recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven list. She has also appeared in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase 2016 for her poem “Ghoul Mistress.”  She is an Active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA.  She blogs at

To purchase a copy of Diary of a Sorceress, click here: HIPPOCAMPUS PRESS.

Thanks, Ashley! Aside from Poe, I haven't read a lot of horror poetry, but it deserves another look, and I hope others will check it out, too.

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

This one's a bit different than usual. Alsina Publishing puts out short stories with the intention of learning languages through storytelling. 400 to 1200 words. Pays royalties on stories per read.

Fictional Pairings Magazine is seeking science fiction, mystery, and fantasy short stories. 200 to 1000 words. They will be pairing your story with a piece of music on Bandcamp. Pays up to $1.25.

Manawaker Studio is seeking flash fiction for their podcast. Ideal length is 800 words, but they will take a bit above or below. Pays a half cent/word.

Dark City Soul Magazine is seeking crime flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $5 per story.

Blue Marble Review is seeking stories appropriate for middle school and up. Up to 2500 words. Also accept poetry, nonfiction, and art. Pays $25 per published piece.

Dakka Press Presents is seeking stories appropriate for podcasting. Should be 20 to 30 minutes when read. Genre fiction and popcorn reads. Pays 1.5 cents per word up to 3500 words, and .4 cents per word after that.

Foundry is seeking poetry of various types. Pays $10 per poem.

Bosley Gravel's Cavalcade of Terror is seeking horror and dark fiction flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $5.

The Sunlight Press is seeking personal essays, fiction, poetry, reviews, art, and photography. Word limits vary per type of submission. Paying market, but does not specify how much.

Vanity Projection is seeking humorous essays and satire. Pays $5 per piece.

Have you read any dark poetry? Were you aware that horror came in the flavor of poem? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.