Thursday, April 28, 2022

Four State Comic Con

APRIL 30 & MAY 1 2022

I don't have much to write about this month, so I thought I would shamelessly plug my first major appearance since before Covid. Join me at Four State Comic Con! I will be signing and selling books all weekend, and I can't wait to reconnect with my friends and fans.
Meet celebrities, see cosplayers, buy art, and just have fun! I hope to see you there!
Bring money!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Half a dozen Brave New Girls

Hey everyone! Mary here with a totally shameless blog post this week. Back in 2014, fellow sci-fi author Paige Daniels and I were ranting on Facebook about we didn't see enough tech-savvy girls in sci-fi, especially YA. At least, not as the main characters. Oh, you'd have your bespeckled lab nerd making gadgets for your dudely superhero, or your PhD-at-22 babe who's there to dissect the villain's doomsday machine for exposition purposes and get rescued then swept off her feet by a bro-y action star. But we wanted to put the nerd girls front and center.

So we crowdfunded a YA sci-fi charity anthology about girls in STEM, with proceeds from sales being donated to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund, and published it in 2015. Then we decided to make another one. And another. And another. Oh, and another.

And now, we're back again with our sixth volume, BRAVE NEW GIRLS: CHRONICLES OF MISSES AND MACHINES, which just went live for preorder! And here's our pretty cover, art by Streetlight Graphics:

Why do we keep putting out volumes? Well, because we want to. And people seem to like them (we do most of our selling at conventions, and some people are happy to come back every year for the newest volume). We've raised about $8,500 so far, which may sound like peanuts compared to the major charity operations out there but is a big deal for us small-time indie publishers. Plus, there are now about 140 more stories about girls in STEM out there than there were before. So we'll keep going, because why not?

Here's the full list of stories and authors who will be in this year's volume, coming July 5!

The Adventure of the Listening Machine by Veronica Lee
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Flor Contreras
Blooming Where She's Planted by JD Cadmon
CompAInon by Chris Kanther
Girls Rule the Steampunk World! by Ira Nayman
The God-Maker by Tyan Priss
Intergalactic PenPal Program by Andrew K. Hoe
Jupiter Jaguar by Kris Katzen
Mystery Aboard the Old Faithful by Karissa Laurel
Mainframe Magic by Denise Sutton
The Microscope by Brad Jurn
Tuesday Evening Social Club by Paige Daniels
A Planet Named Beatrice by Melanie Harding-Shaw
The Pod by Josh Pritchett
Premature Emergence by Raphael Sutton
The Price of Progress by A.A. Jankiewicz
A Special Theory of Circus by Mary Fan
Tercio by J.R. Rustrian
Vandermecha by Jelani-Akin Parham
Webs by Elizabeth Stombock
Wendy's Findings by Annie Gray
ZIKES by Mackenzie Reide

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Law & Order - DUN DUN!

 Did you ever watch Pet Sematary, Stephen King’s story about a burial ground that brings the dead back to life, but different? Do you recall the creepy scene where the Dad is considering burying his dead child in the sematary to resurrect him, only to be warned that “sometimes dead is better?”

I was thinking about that scene while watching the newly resurrected season of Law & Order.

Dun- DUN!

In case you have been in a 32 year coma or your cave didn’t get basic cable, Law & Order is the classic crime show that spends the first half with detectives solving a crime and the second half with the DAs prosecuting them. Debuting in 1990, the show was a major change from the crime shows of the eighties - shows like Hill Street Blues and Cagney and Lacey - that were as much about the private lives and struggles of police officers as they were about catching criminals. L&O was all business, a throwback to the “just the facts” days of Dragnet. They only hinted at the detectives’ off-screen lives, usually by Lenny Briscoe making a joke about his many ex-wives. My Dad loved it and got me hooked on it as well. I would watch marathons all afternoon on A&E on my 13” TV when I first moved to New York back in the 90s and was only working nights. I’m such a fan I even wrote a scene into my book where Law & Order is Orson the bulldog’s favorite show. (Lenny Briscoe is his favorite, too.)

The secret to the show’s success was the formula. Every fan of the show can give you a rundown of a generic plot. In the opening scene, a couple random New Yorkers are chatting about their jobs or girlfriends and they trip over a dead body. The detectives are called, the legendary Jerry Orbach makes a qup or two, and they follow the bread crumbs until they arrest a suspect, usually after they question a Guy Stacking Boxes and the Bartender Who Remembers Every Customer. 

This would be followed by ADA Jack McCoy - played with full righteous dudgeon by Sam Waterson - bending every rule to secure a conviction, while his second chair lawyer would admonish him and DA Adam Schiff would scold him for overreaching and tell him to make a deal. (These tropes were affectionately parodied by John Mulaney in a great bit.) 

The formula was soothing. The formula was relaxing. You could leave L&O on for a marathon and not worry if you missed a scene or zoned out while folding laundry, because the plots (with a few exceptions) were pretty much on rails. There is comfort in the familiar. This is why there are thousands of McDonald’s restaurants. Characters could be swapped out for younger, hotter, and cheaper actors without upsetting the flow. The show ended after 20 seasons, and probably could have kept going if not for producer Dick Wolf and NBC fighting over the budgets. Still, it was survived by numerous spin offs - SVU, Criminal Intent, Conviction, Organized Crime, Trial by Jury, etc. And Dick Wolf is still cranking out procedural shows (“Chicago Water Gas Electric” is sure to be on your TV soon.) 

In an age where every beloved (or at least somewhat well known) show is getting a reboot and television is desperate to fight declining ratings, bringing back a show that spawned over a thousand hours of television must’ve seemed like a no-brainer. 

Unfortunately, just like poor Timmy Baterman, it came back with no brain. Sometimes dead is better…

Where to begin? Everything is just…off. The writing, the performances, the rhythms, everything is just not there. Like a beloved pet come back from the dead, it doesn’t move right, look right, or act right.

The cast was always a strength. Irascible, sarcastic Lenny Briscoe, Jesse Martin as the suave Detective Green, Angie Harmon’s tough ADA. All great characters, Who is going to fill those shoes and power suits? Jeffery Donovan, who I loved on Burn Notice, now plays a detective whose only personality traits are belligerent and angry. He is a dull, grumbly addition to the detective pairing, and has zero chemistry with Anthony Andersen, who has returned from the final season in 2010. Camryn Manheim, usually very good in everything, is playing the lieutenant and is just playing her as perpetually annoyed, This is in stark contrast to the great S. Epatha Merkerson, who brought a world of personality to the part. Hugh Dancy, fantastic in the Hannibal tv series, plays the lead ADA and he’s just so milquetoast here. There is none of the fire that McCoy had, none. I can’t for one second picture him trying out any of McCoy’s theatrics. Sam Waterson has returned to play DA McCoy, and frankly he looks too frail. I worry that a stiff breeze will knock him over. And there is Dancy’s second chair, who has thus far been given absolutely nothing to do. No one has any zest or chemistry, no one has any good one liners, it just lies there, leaden.

One thing the show would have to handle is the shift in public opinion towards the police. In the wake of the massive Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 that were spurred by police violence and brutality, a show where the cops intimidate suspects into confessing and DAs bend the rules to get convictions isn’t great. I still love the old shows, but I admit that when the detectives are grilling someone in the box I keep shouting “don’t say anything! Ask for your lawyer!” at the screen. McCoy is forever threatening reluctant witnesses with deportation and arrest, cops are always making prison rape jokes to scare suspects. That stuff just won’t fly anymore and needs to be dealt with.

Now there are about  a hundred ways L&O could have addressed this. Cast a brash young detective of color who clashes with an old school partner. Have a young ADA who wants to go after bad cops, but then the DA office gets stonewalled by the PBA and then McCoy has to come in and sort it out.

So how does L&O address this change in attitude? By not addressing it. At all. Except to have McCoy whine about “they tried to defund the police” and have Donovan threaten someone who’s recording him on a cell phone and grumble about “these kids today, they got no respect.” And, come on. For a show that would always tout cases “ripped from the headlines,” how can you ignore the dominant story of policing over the last two years? 

Oh and the plots… Everything is a “ripped from the headlines” show now. In the episodes I’ve watched, they’ve done Bill Cosby getting out of jail, Theranos, Brittany Spears conservatorship, Naomi Osaka, and QAnon. Can’t we just have a simple crime of passion or the obvious Kennedy family stand in trying to cover up a crime their crazy son committed? It doesn’t help that their takes on these headlines are just the laziest ones imaginable. (“Sure, the Cosby stand-in deserved to get shot, but this is a society!”) And there are no twists! The old show would often catch the wrong guy at first and then have to go back and reinvestigate, or the judge would toss out key evidence while McCoy fumed. Not here! These have all been “security camera footage shows this guy doing it, Let’s go get him.” And they get him. Just so dull.

It’s not good. In fact, it’s pretty bad. For such a timeless formula, it’s kind of impressive how badly this has been botched. 

How to fix it? The writers should sit down and binge watch a few of the Jerry Orbach seasons, like the rest of us do on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Re-learn the beats and the rhythms. Re-cast the detective parts, or at least make Donovan and Andersen spend a weekend together locked in a cabin so it doesn’t look like they met for the first time ten seconds before the cameras roll. And if you can’t figure this out, well then put it back in the ground. I’d rather have the memory of the old episodes and enjoy the endless reruns than watch this shambling mess. 

Sometimes dead is better.

Victor Catano lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim, and his adorable pughuaua, Danerys. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, production manager, and chaos coordinator. His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @vgcatano and find his books on Amazon

Monday, April 18, 2022

Just Keep Writing

P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame
I joined Across the Board in late 2019, and since then, I’ve written 30 posts on this blog. Once a month, I spent my Sunday morning thinking of approximately 500 words (or in this case, exactly 500) to put in a sequence that I hoped would get across something interesting or meaningful.
That’s about 15,000 words total, which adds up to the length of a whole novella, or a good chunk of a novel. All from writing for a few hours a month for a couple of years.
Today, I started reading a book called Just Keeping Buying, which is about the magic of regularly investing money, for a long time, and without worrying too much about what you’re investing in or trying to time it. The book’s title was itself inspired by a YouTuber whose secret to millions of subscribers was “just keep uploading.” I think this applies to a lot of things, writing included. Just keep writing, and even with modest effort and not overthinking choices about what to write, it adds up to something. Maybe even something good.
I just kept writing here on Across the Board, and I’m proud of most of the things I came up with. I got to document my unfiltered thoughts about the pandemic, from the beginning, to the awkward middle, until more hopeful times. I mixed in my day job as a brain scientist by writing about how to make people remember your contentthe appeal of horror, and why you shouldn’t listen to successful people. When I couldn’t think of anything for the month, I posted about miscellaneous stuff like what pretentious scotch reviews taught me about writingbikesthe sasquatch, and, uh, hands. And speaking of Just Keep Buying, I even wrote about retirement for writers.
As you may have guessed by the wistful reminiscing and past tense, I gotta retire. Not from writing or my job, but from ATB. This is my last post here.
It’s been wonderful, but I feel like a bit of a fraud, because I’ve barely written anything since I joined this blog that is (mostly) for writers. My lack of writing has primarily been because of life getting busy and pandemic stress, but also, those Sunday mornings are sometimes the only time I have for writing, so over the next few years, I’m hoping 15,000 words go toward an actual novella or novel.
Thank you to my fellow writers here on Across the Board. I have been reading every post and will continue doing that, plus I hope we stay in touch on social media because you’re all pretty cool. Thanks especially to Stephen Kozeniewski, who gave me the chance to join this blog and helped make the last two and a half years much better than they would have been otherwise.
You can find me on, and will continue to exist as a monument to not blogging.
That’s all for now. Have a nice day, and just keep writing. Bye.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Writing Careers and Evolving Goals

Probably, for most of us, when we started out as wee baby writers, we were either those who got joy from writing stories for ourselves at an early age, or those who, later in life, put pen to paper with immediate dreams of literary stardom. Or we were those who were something in between.

I think I'm one of the in between people. I can hardly remember a time when I wasn't reading, telling, or writing stories, even as a little kid. In middle school, my girlfriends and I wrote short stories on notebook paper about New Kids on the Block and passed them around (because I'm old and there was no AO3 or Wattpad or whatever back then). I kept journals of (very bad) poetry and song lyrics in high school. In college, there were more bad short stories and incomplete fiction scenes all written with the intent of 1) completing a course assignment; or 2) entertaining myself. It wasn't until well after college, after marriage, after starting to raise a kid that I took the idea of being a legit author more seriously. 

I wrote one complete novel (a contemporary romance that I have since come to understand was actually fan-fiction that was only slightly better than my earlier NKOTB fantasies) just to prove to myself I could write a whole novel. I didn't care about quality or salability. It was about showing myself I could start and finish a thing. Once proven, it was as though I had ignited a fire. Fifteen-ish years later, that fire is still burning. But where it was once a great bonfire of ambition and passion, it now more closely resembles a woodfire stove. Steady, but not blazing. Warm and cozy, but not threatening to destroy the neighborhood.

So what happened? Evolution happened, I guess. Growing up, raising a family, enjoying the privilege of a satisfying career/day-job that provided a comfortable lifestyle, a pandemic, radical political changes, another world war on the horizon... Perspectives shifted and, therefore, so have many of my goals and priorities. 

Those who know me know I tend to take up new interests with almost obsessive and compulsive levels of interest, but then, over time, I'll loose focus and drift away. I don't stop being interested in that thing, I just give it less energy so that I can make room for a new obsession (I'm looking at you, Bollywood and crochet infatuations). I bet you think I'm going to say that's what happened with my writing career, but... I'm not sure that's entirely accurate.

Writing is a part of me and has been a part of me for *cough*forty-some*cough* years. It's not going anywhere. But I think I can comfortably admit I'm no longer chasing dreams of literary stardom. There are still projects I'll be putting into the world (keep your eye out for the novel version of Serendipity at the End of the World, coming...soonish; and look for Mystery Aboard the Old Faithful, my short steampunk mystery  soon appearing in the latest volume of Brave New Girls, which should be out the summer of 2022), but I also want to go back to writing short stories with a focus on honing craft like I did much earlier in my career. I want to focus on producing quality and not just quantity, and if that means a quieter, smaller, and more circumspect future as a writer, that's okay with me. For now.

Ask me again in a few years and who knows? I might be ready to toss a log on that bonfire again.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Scares That Care AuthorCon I Autopsy

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Hey, everybody!  Around this time last week I was sleeping off a long convention hangover (both in the literal and more metaphorical sense.)  And what a con it was!  

I've been supporting and attending Scares That Care events for quite some time now but this past week was something new: the very first AuthorCon, focusing (as the name would suggest) solely on authors.  STC Weekend in August is author-friendly, but there are always actors and vendors there to draw fans.  This time the organizers took a real gamble, insisting on only authors and only writing-related programming.  Would it be enough to draw fans and be a success?  Read on, dear friends, to find out.

Last summer I went to STC Weekend on Wednesday evening and left Monday morning.  I've always wanted to take a prolonged weekend to see how it goes, but it was far too much.  This time I decided to try Thursday to Sunday, and I'm still not sure that's the right length of time, but I digress.  In any case, I arrived Thursday evening, hauling a trunk full of copies of CLICKERS NEVER DIE.  I no sooner walked into the hotel lobby than my co-author and dear friend, Wile E. Young, swept me up in his arms and swung me around in slow motion, Little John-style.

Wile E. was rooming with Wes Southard and as usual, Wes Southard was screwing over all of his friends, this time by arriving late and making Wile E. sit in the lobby without access to his room.  Finally, Wes deigned to grace the rest of us with his presence, and the three of us made for the reading room.

Ah, the STC reading room!  A staple of so many glorious late-night discussions.  And the place was bopping on Thursday night!  I got to see Mary SanGiovanni, Matt Wildasin, Jay Wilburn, Brian Keene, Richard Wolley (who nobody has heard from since World Horror 2016), Paul Goblirsch of Thunderstorm Books, and many, many more.

Me, Bridgett Nelson, and Wile E. Young.  (Not pictured: Jesus H. Christ.)

When the party petered out a few of us headed back to my room to continue discussing Wittgenstein over a game of backgammon (read: drinking.)  Wile E. decided it was time for me to find Jesus and spent the rest of the night trying to baptize me in the hotel room ice bucket.  When I - finally! - managed to throw him out, I immediately heard a tap-tap-tap on my door.  It was Wile E., back, because apparently Wes, jerk that he is, had locked Wile E. out of their room.  So I, being a river to my people, let him spend the night, provided he admit that Satan is king and bow to the small shrine to Richard Dawkins which I bring with me everywhere I go.

In the morning we woke up to learn that Wes had spent the night laughing about locking Wile E. out and then went to go get cheesesteaks without us, presumably out of spite.  I mean, we didn't really get up until after noon, but even so.  So I went to go set up my table for the con.

And while I was bringing in my books, who should I run into but the Prince of Extreme Horror himself, Daniel J. Volpe!  I quickly tricked him into taking a picture so that I could appear important as well.  I also tried rubbing his bald head so that some of his success would rub off on me, but so far it does not appear to be working.

Me and Daniel J. Volpe

I also got to meet some of the other New Splatterpunks - Aron Beauregard, Candace Nola, Rowland Bercy, and Carver Pike.  I also spilled half a venti White Chocolate Mocha on Aron Beauregard within twenty minutes of meeting him, which is a super-not-awkward way to get to know someone.  And while I was desperately hoping that some or preferably all of them would turn out to be jerks so I could go on resenting their success and feel justified about it, they all turned out to be frustratingly nice and personable.

Around 4:00 pm Friday we had our vendor meeting.  The STC organizers outlined for us their hopes and rules for the weekend, reminded us that this was all for charity, and bade us bon chance.  At 5:00 the doors were thrown wide, and my God how the fans poured in!  Sales were not just good for a Friday night, they were good period.  And all of the Splatterpunks had to pull up stakes after only two and a half hours because we had a panel that night.  So, really, it was just half of a Friday evening, and by all accounts a massive success for everyone present.

Like I said, everyone at the convention who was a Splatterpunk Award nominee or winner had a panel on Friday evening on the future of the genre.  There were like 14 of us!  Luckily we had Jay Wilburn along to wrangle the stable, and brag about his two consecutive Grossout Contest wins, which, if we're being frank here (and I think we all are) are far less impressive than two non-consecutive Grossout Contest wins, say 2016 and 2018, for instance.  Apparently this was Candace Nola's first convention and first panel!  Don't worry, Candace, if you're reading this, they don't usually have 14 people on them.

That night I got to meet up with Wes, Wile E., Kristopher Triana, and the owners of Grindhouse (and publishers of THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE) C.V. Hunt and Andersen Prunty.  We had some more of that terrible pizza that Wile E. keeps insisting is good because he's from Oklahoma.  And then after dinner we headed back to the reading room, which was a bit more of an intimate affair that evening.  I guess everyone had either heard that I was going to be there and fucked right off or else they were all preparing themselves for Saturday, like Roger Daltrey pounding his chest in preparation for the big "Yeah!" at the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again."

I did, though, Friday night, get to talk about witchcraft with Mary SanGiovanni and a few others, which was seriously eye-opening.  I saw a side of Mary I've never seen before, a steely resolve which made me not want to fuck around with her ever and very nearly made me change the conclusion to my witch-related reading for Saturday night.  But, don't worry.  I didn't.  If the author is not bold, then he is nothing.

Saturday kicked off at 10:00 am, which doesn't even sound like a real time that should actually exist.  But, somehow, bleary-eyed, I stumbled into the vendor's room for day two.  And, if anything, day two was even better than day one!  I got to see many people, some of whom I haven't seen in years.  I even got to tell Lesley Conner she needs to bring THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS back into print, and I think she may be seriously considering it now.

Me and Lesley Conner

L - R: Me, Jeff Strand, Bridgett Nelson, Wesley Southard

Me and Erica W., a fan

That evening Kris Triana, Wes Southard, Wile E., Aron Beauregard, Daniel Volpe, and myself headed over to the Italian place across the street for dinner.  I suspect any horror fan worth their salt would have given their eyeteeth to be at a table with such luminaries (assuming I wasn't there, of course), but don't worry, we mostly just talked about "Death Wish" and the New Orleans episode of "King of the Hill."  Also, as usual, Triana's dog Bear was the star of the show.  By the end of dinner the restaurant crew had practically recreated the spaghetti scene from "Lady and the Tramp" for her.

Then at 10:15 pm came the big show: The Carnival of Chaos!  Trust me when I say that two weeks ago nobody, including the people involved, had any idea what a Carnival of Chaos was or would be.  But I suspect it will now be an indelible keystone of STC AuthorCon.

I was proud to step up as the ringmaster of this...SHIT!  I just realized ringmasters are of circuses, not carnival.  DAMN IT!!!  I fucked the whole thing up.  Ah, well.  Anyway, we had readings of a stupendous nature from six of the finest performers who...happened to be at the front of the room that night.  Then we had a heavy metal trivia contest (including a very special guest, one of the greatest horror writers in the world!), the musical stylings of John Wayne Communale, and one more round of readings including, yes, that thing with the witches I was talking about earlier.  I also wore a shark costume for some reason.  I think everyone present was in agreement that a fine time was had by all.

L - R: Me, Wesley Southard, Jeff Strand, Wile E. Young, Kristopher Triana, John Wayne Communale

The Carnival of Chaos segued into a final night of debauchery, where I got to hang out with Matt Blazi, Aron Beauregard, Paul Goblirsch, and just about everybody else at the con.

Sunday came and with it 11:00 am, which, somehow, sounds like an even more preposterous time to wake up than 10:00 am on a Saturday, if such a thing were possible.  We sold a few more books, had a few compliments on the previous night's Carnival, but Sunday is always a funereal time at a convention.  The sense of things ending had descended like a miasma on us.  And ahead of me lay a miserable four hour journey home which somehow ballooned into six hours of ass-clenching Richmond traffic.

But!  There's a final bit of good news.  As of Friday, the board of STC has announced that AuthorCon was a success, and they were able to cut a check to one of the charity's beneficiaries already.  Even better: there will be another AuthorCon next year.  And you, my friend, had better fucking be there!

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Does Experience Matter?

I don’t really know how to take time off. When I was younger, I was taught that you did the job until it was finished. That life was all about the art of accomplishing something and then moving on to the next. You work, you get better at working. You write, you get better at writing. This is why I’d always stressed to find a job you’re passionate about as you’ll end up spending more time working than you will be doing anything else.

I took a lot of pride in the idea that experience points mattered. That there was a linear progression of sorts, instilled in us, by our progressive school education system from K-12. We level up. And eventually, if you push hard enough, anything is possible. Or so we’re told when we’re younger.

I think getting older is realizing how much of this was a lie.

Because there are no trophies for just showing up. The linear model of growth over time stopped working when we as a culture, seemed to become so obsessed with efficiency. The only work that seems to matter--especially in today’s world where everything is measured in data points, compensation, and at worse: social media engagement conversions--are the actions people see in the public eye.

You’re here to satisfy the numbers. Whether it be job performance, sales quotas, or visits through the metaphysical door of requirements. Hard work is rewarded with more work. The idea of mastering something is valued less in a world where everyone sells themselves as a master in something. This is why it’s kind of important to stop and step back as a creative and scream:


I haven't been in this game that long but I see how much talent goes unseen. It's not to say that experience is underappreciated, but rather, I genuinely think we've entered a culture where the loudest voices seem to not necessarily be from the wisest or most talented of people; but rather, the ones who just know how to rally a crowd. Online or otherwise.

I don't know what it means to be an influencer. I do take slight offense when I'm propositioned for a job by someone who's less than half my age.

It makes me question what did I do wrong? Why is this 15 year old likely my future boss? And most importantly, did all these years honing on my craft mean anything if 15-year-old Bradley, from London, can use his influencer money to hire 4 people just like me to ghostwrite a better book than I ever could write...

As creatives, we’re constantly questioning ourselves and breaking our abilities apart. We're jotting fragments of thought onto the page. Investing both ourselves and our time into our craft.

Why do we do this? I don’t really know.

I'd like to think it's because the years of experience have ingrained discipline into the fabric of our everyday being. But I think it's more than that...

Part of it is the dream of becoming famous. Some of it is to fulfill this itch to make something. Most of it--at least for me, anyway--is because we just tuned into this art without really knowing another healthy way out to express this. It speaks to us. It calls to us. Make me, daddy... or mommy... or whatever gender-appropriate parental authority figure kink is right for you, so long as it's the right age and deemed consensually appropriate.

Whether you're writing your first book or your hundredth, I think it's important to remember why we're writing in the first place. Appreciate the journey and the years accumulated in building up that experience in order to build our craft...

So that when Brad, with all his followers, and all his charisma of a well-meaning snickerdoodle--they're cookies for children if you ask me, in that they snicker as they doodle--asks if I will join his team as a minimum wage intern... I'll tell him:

No. Value my experience. Ya, little itch.

And then show him up by hiding from his legion of followers and writing a blog post about it.

Monday, April 4, 2022


Hi everybody, it's me again - your friendly neighbourhood Kayleigh. Last month I told you all about my favourite horror movie adaptations from books/graphic novels, and now i'm going to tell you about my 5 favourite television show adaptations (within the horror genre).

Before we start, I want to give an honourable mention to this fella, who I haven't included only because it's an anthology show based on a comic, which doesn't quite fit in with what I'm doing here. But this dude has always been known in my house as His Royal Highness, The King Of All That Is Spooky.

So, in no particular order...

TRUE BLOOD (based on The Sookie Stackhouse novels, AKA The Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Charlaine Harris)
2008 - 2014

I watched the show before I read any of the books, and I loved it. I assumed it was just another teen vampire romance series like The Vampire Diaries or Twilight (I'm not slating YA fiction by the way, it's just those particular properties aren't for me), and then lo and behold there was extreme violence and gore, graphic sexual content, and the foulest language my little ears ever did hear. Count me in!

Everyone in this show is so full of character and individuality that it was impossible for me to dislike/be uninterested in any of them, no matter how heinous. My favourite character was on a constant rotation. The plots are generally suspenseful, funny, and well-written, and Sookie's love-life was surprisingly un-annoying to me. So imagine my surprise when I picked up the books, expecting an even better, more in-depth original version...

For the life of me, I do not understand why everyone loves these books so much. I'm so sorry Charlaine Harris (who is most definitely not reading this because she's busy making a lot more money than me, as well as much more significant contributions to literature), I just HATE Sookie as she was originally written. I've never encountered such a self-serving, shallow, woman-hating protagonist as Sookie in all my reading life. This is one of the very rare occasions where I will confidently shout that the adaptation far exceeds its source material. It added a lot of racial and sexual orientation diversity in the characters, and the main cast were considerably more relatable in the show than on the page. 

Still, Harris's idea about beginning the whole thing with vampires "coming out of the coffin" was a stroke of genius.

THE WALKING DEAD (based on the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard)
2010 - 2022

A lot of people say that the show, in recent years, has taken a nose-dive in quality. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, but what I want to talk about is the first couple of seasons of the show, which were developed by Frank Darabont. I have never been more impressed with a show-runner's ability to subvert the expectations of a pre-existing audience.  Take the scene (S01, E01) where Rick is making his way down the pitch-black hospital stairwell, with only his constantly-dying lighter to guide him. I knew because of reading the comic that at any minute, he'd flick that lighter back on only to be confronted with a stairwell full of zombies. My heart was in my mouth. And then, he just made it out, with nary a deceased shamble to be heard. This technique of replicating scenes from the comic and then veering off in other directions was used often in the first few seasons, and was really effective because the built-in audience couldn't guess what was coming.

I'm still sore about Darabont getting the axe. The cheek! The sheer cheek of such a thing! The dude spends 6 years developing the show that becomes the highest-grossing pilot in that network's history (up to that point), and then they turf him out! And who in their right mind gets rid of the guy responsible for adapting The Shawshank Redemption AND The Green Mile, right BEFORE the season set in a prison?

Madness. Absolute madness.

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (based on the novel by Shirley Jackson)

The novel is an atmospheric masterpiece that the show somehow manages to expand on in the most wonderful, creative, and scary ways, opening up the lives of the characters and giving everyone the most compelling stories. Plus, it was scary as hell. I'm not going to say much about this as there are twists and turns in every episode and I'm afraid of spoiling anything for those who haven't seen it. Perhaps my favourite thing about the show is the amount of agency and personality it gave to Hill House - it was like a character of its own.

CASTLE ROCK (based on multiple works by Stephen King or, if you prefer, The Stephen King Multi-verse)
2018 - 2019

Admittedly, there were times during the first season that I found a little too slow, even for me (although there is an episode starring Sissy Spacek that is masterful), but season 2 had me grinning like the Cheshire Cat. It was a... dirty birdy.

If you're not much of a Stephen King reader, there's no reason you shouldn't enjoy the show anyway, but being a fan really makes those characters and references delicious.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE (based on the novel by Margaret Atwood)
2017 - Present

Before you say "but this isn't horror, it's dystopian drama!" allow me to respectfully nudge you off a cliff. There are few things more terrifying than losing bodily autonomy, being forced into sexual slavery, being permanently separated from loved ones, being forced to conceive, carry, and birth children that are immediately taken from you forever, and worst of all.... so much worse that I can barely type the words.... losing the right to read. I shudder at the thought.

This is another adaptation that I believe exceeds its source material. It took a horrific premise and kept amplifying and expanding it and then it flowered into the most hideous thing ever (but in a good way).

So that's it for this time, see you next time!

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