Category: World Horror

Office politics from the seclusion of my desk chair

angst, HWA, personal, publishing, World Horror, writing life April 19, 2016

Who knew that one would have to deal with office politics even when one works alone?

I didn’t.

Okay, I mean, I know I don’t live in a vacuum, and do still deal with people, so it couldn’t go away completely, but I did hope that the DRAAAAAHMA would be minimal. It trickles in. Last week was more of a deluge. And it was a thousand times worse for some of my friends and fellow writers.

Once I started seriously writing, it didn’t take long for me to realize what a huge place the writing world really is. I decided to join a couple writers’ organizations. At the time, the Mystery Writers’ of America and the Romance Writers’ of America were my two choices (my graduate thesis was a mystery with a bit of romance). I ended up writing horror and mystery, so here I am now… a member of MWA since 2010, Horror Writers’ Association since 2011 (I still have my welcome email from then-president Rocky Wood), and International Thriller Writers since 2014.

I consider the HWA my “home” organization.

I am not going to pretend that I have been around in these organizations as long as many other writers. I started writing later(ish) in life than many writers. There are folks who have been involved for a lot of years. I tip the hat of respect to those who have weathered some of what has come before me.

I’m not sure what I expected when I joined the HWA. There have been some really wonderful opportunities– pitch sessions at HWA-sponsored events, panels and seminars, classes, other programs I have not taken advantage of. However, I see a few things that make me go hmmm.

Two of these hmmmm things share space: exclusivity/non-transparency and conflict of interest. To a lesser degree, availability and dissemination of information is another problem, mostly because the website is such a pain to navigate.

Please don’t accuse me of being merely a hanger-on. I volunteered during one of our conferences. It was not a good experience, which speaks to the exclusivity problem the HWA is facing. I was not made to feel as if I was a part of the organization. I didn’t go into volunteering even expecting a pat on the back (from other volunteering I do, I know that doesn’t happen), but it would have been nice to have questions answered when I asked them.

Before I go any further, I would like to recognize and show appreciation for current HWA president, Lisa Morton. She removed her work from Stoker consideration while she serves. Given the rumors that abound (and as far as I personally know, JUST rumors) regarding nominees and winners relationship with the board, she did the right, if painful, thing.

Many of the processes the HWA uses are not transparent. There was recently a problem with a juror for the Stoker awards. Chaos ensued after this juror himself made public his position. If the jurors were listed on the website, those concerned enough with who makes up those juries could check and then communicate with the board directly and potentially avoid the public flap we just saw. We (“we” in the grand sense of “we”) would have nothing to complain about if we don’t catch it. I understand that the identities of the jurors are kept on the down low¬† in order to help prevent people from harassing them, but I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the organization.

I’m also talking about people in positions of power who could possibly damage, or at least put up some roadblocks to, careers. Being put in infuriating situations that I can do absolutely nothing about without potentially being blacklisted. In the last week, I’ve watched that happen and I’ve watched some of the fallout. It’s not easy being a writer not firmly established in a genre. There’s no room for mistakes or perceived insults. It’s terrifying. And when someone in that position of power takes advantage of their clout… well, it’s a game changer.

More transparency and fewer influential people at levels of authority would go a long way in making the HWA more useful to authors in general.

I know these things are very difficult, given the scarcity of volunteers. Finding new ways to attract volunteers is another issue. I’m not talking about money-oriented things. Something like a pre-registration gathering for volunteers interested in one would be great. It would be a way to get questions answered and familiarize everyone with faces. When I volunteered, I didn’t even know who I could turn to with questions.

HWA is an organization poised to be able to do a lot of good for writers. I think the org needs to decide what the top priority really is and make that clear.

Because I, for one, really hate the office politics.

 

 

Blogging is rough work (or I think it would be if I did it more often)

agents, conventions, genre fiction, Habeas Corpse, idols, KillerCon, marketing, Mistresses of the Macabre, publishing, release, World Horror September 30, 2013

Hey there intrepid readers!

Seriously? Have I been so remiss about posting that I haven’t actually written a blog entry since February??

*puts self in blogger time-out*

I’m equally bad about tweeting. Twitter is overwhelming to me, so I generally don’t use it. I do like Facebook, so if you like my blog, come like my FB author page, too (just click the link there). I am a little better about posting to my FB page than I am here.

So anyway… things have been busy since I last posted. Lots of writing, plenty of editing, a motorcycle accident that left me with a broken elbow and some awesome bruises, a couple of conferences, a retreat, the loss of a dear friend. I’ll spare you an epic post and just write about one thing at a time. You can come back for more later.

In June I went to New Orleans for World Horror. This was my third HWA convention, and I always have a blast. I did not, however, enjoy New Orleans. The whole trip started off wrong when my flight down was canceled (this has never happened to me… like, a complete cancellation) due to poor crew scheduling. How does that happen? Anyway, the flight was canceled, which meant two whole different flights, and I got in almost six hours later than I was supposed to. I think I got to the hotel around 1AM, and I was feeling pretty pissy because I’d actually gotten up at 3AM to make the flight that was canceled before the airline (*cough* United) even contacted us. It was hot (like REALLY hot… New Orleans in June…) and the smell in the French Quarter was… was… Let’s just say every time I left the Hotel Monteleone I said to anyone standing within earshot “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SMELL??” My best guess is it had something to do with the fact that the French Quarter is below sea level, so nothing drains, there’s trash out 24/7, human *substances* in the street and it’s all mingling and baking that incredible heat. I have what might be called an acute sense of smell, perhaps to make up for my terrible hearing, and it was torment.

That said, the Hotel Monteleone was gorgeous. The beignets were oh so yum. The company was second to none. I had the opportunity to speak with some of my writing heroes and they knocked my socks off. The panels were great, particularly the women in horror panel. I spoke with an agent who’s interested in seeing some of my work, and I’m hoping to have good news on that front in a few months. I was asked to sign a few copies of Mistresses of the Macabre at the mass book signing, which was an awful lot of fun, and I finally got to meet Lori Michelle, my editor for Mistresses. Here are some pictures from World Horror Con 2013:

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Panel on writing dialogue with some of my peeps.

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Panel on working with an editor with my own fab editor, RJ Cavender.

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And a panel on women in the horror genre with Lucy Snyder.

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The Walgreens in New Orleans carries alligator heads.

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Sign on Bourbon Street.

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Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and Bar. Really just a bar. It was built between 1722 and 1732 and is believed to be the oldest building in the US used as a bar. No electric lights. Questionable odor and the guy in the banana hammock out front really added pizzazz.

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Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.

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The Hotel Monteleone has no 13th floor. Where is it?!?!

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Random view of Bourbon Street.

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Cafe Beignet, just a block away from the Hotel Monteleone.

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My husband and mentor/brother-from-another-mother waiting for beignets and coffee.

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BEIGNETS!! I tried my first one and proclaimed, “It’s a funnel cake!!” (I was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country). Scott promptly gave me the smackdown and said,”NO! It’s a BEIGNET. If you call it a funnel cake, it’s a SNACK. If you call it a beignet, it’s BREAKFAST!”

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I tried to keep my nose buried in a cup of coffee most of the time so I didn’t have to smell the air.

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My new friend.

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How can a writer NOT like a place called THE BACK SPACE BAR?

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Here we were waiting to take a vampire tour, which I was convinced would be full of delicious cheesiness and perhaps people jumping out and yelling boo, but ended being the highlight of the trip.

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See why I thought the vampire tour would be cheese-a-licious? Nope, he was very knowledgeable about NOLA history and gave a fantastic tour.

World Horror Con is always super awesome, and besides the odor of New Orleans, this year didn’t disappoint.

I’ll write a post on the SHU In Your Write Mind later and also one about KillerCon, which I’m just recovering from.

I do have some excellent news on the publication front… we have a release date for Habeas Corpse! On November 2, 2013, the world will meet Theo. Write it on your calendar and buy a copy! Buy three! Buy one for your mom! I’m really excited, and even more so since I met Marc Ciccarone and Joe Spagnola of Blood Bound Books at KillerCon. They’ve been great to work with and are genuinely fun guys. I’m glad to be working with them.

So NOVEMBER 2!!

Till next time!