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Post-Arisia 2018 Report

I think this was one of my favorite Arisias. First off, I had a bunch of panels, including a reading panel. That's always fun. In addition, all of the panels I went to were interesting, well-run, and gave me a lot to think about. I can only hope that my own contributions to Arisia were as worthwhile to the audience.

I certainly had my fill of stimulating conversations. As always, this convention gives me that singular chance to catch up with both friends and the state of SFF in general. I was happy to catch up with Matt, Alex, John, and Melanie, as well as Wendee and Dan. I got to see a few familiar faces from the con circuit: Gillian Daniels, Andrea Corbin, and Gillian Daniels and I met a bunch of awesome writers and reviewers. I even got in a great session of RPG, playing Masks, a superhero RPG powered by the Apocalypse. I was happy to see the Indie Expo return to the con even though the offerings were some what slim this year.

But mostly what I got from this convention were a b…
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We Have Always Lived in Haunted Houses

As my final pre-Arisia post, I'd like to tackle ghosts. Metaphorically, of course, because ghosts are intangible and also don't exist. 


I don't believe in ghosts. Not the sort of ghosts, anyway, that float around decaying old mansions or scare impressionable media personalities. Physics, at least the way I've grown up understanding it, precludes the existence of energy that cannot be detected reliably. Put another way, physicist Brian Cox stated that if ghosts existed the Large Hadron Collider would have almost certainly found one by now.

So, when I say I'm a fan of ghost stories and tales of haunted houses, am I being hypocritical? Possibly, but I also think one can appreciate ghosts and haunted houses in a different way. Even though they might not exist in a 'peer-reviewed' and 'experimentally replicable' fashion, phantoms absolutely exist as a potent symbol of the past.

When we talk about ghosts what we're really talking about is that annoying…

Writing for Emotional Impact

In addition to a panel on writing horror, macabre, and supernatural tales, for Arisia 2018, I'm also in a panel entitled "Emotional Impact - Making Readers Care!"


Assuming for a moment I've written stories containing characters readers care about, what advice could I give to aspiring writers?
To repeat a bit from last post, my big three pieces of advice are rather simple and self-evident:
Read EverythingWrite as Much as PossibleReflect on Your Art To paraphrase from the previous writing advice post, read everything simply means an aspiring writer must first be a diligent reader. You must be a fan of those books generating a strong emotional response.

As you begin to figure out what you like and don't like in stories and other types of literature, begin to write. I do not think you need to write every single day to be a writer. I also don't think you somehow stop being a writer if you put down the pen (so to speak) for a day, week, year, or decade. However, like a…

Updated Schedule for Arisia 2018

Next week is Arisia 2018 and I'm on a few panels you might be interested in. In addition to my first couple of writing panels, I'll be joining in conversations about ghosts, haunted houses, and Steven King. If you find yourself at the convention, please consider stopping by!

In order of occurrence with location, time, participants and brief panel description:

Writing Horror, the Occult, and the Macabre 
Bulfinch (3W), 8:30pm - 9:45pm Chris Philbrook (moderator), Hillary Monahan, Tom Deady, Douglas Wynne, Morgan Crooks From the revival of Stephen King's dark fantasy series 'The Gunslinger' to long-running post-apocalyptic dramas such as 'The Walking Dead,' horror is hot ... it just lurks under different names. Come learn how to use the horror conventions to ramp up suspense, weave the supernatural into your stories, use real-life elements to prey upon your audience's fears, and how you can create your OWN dark and edgy worlds where no character is safe and …

Writing Horror

I'm wary offering advice to other writers. 

First of all I've got the whole imposter syndrome thing and whatever advice I give feels like a good way of revealing how little I know about anything. Second, what I've learned mostly relates to solving problems in my own writing. What advice does a dog have to offer to a duck on how to swim? 
However, for Arisia 2018, I'll be participating on a panel of doing just that - giving advice to aspiring horror writers about writing horror.

So, what truths can I impart?

Some advice feels absolutely true, if a bit self-evident.

You must read. If you're trying to write horror then you must read horror. Not just one novel. Not just one author. You should make a sincere effort to read everything by everyone. The more recent the better. The classics are always going to be there, but if you want a sense of where your stories could fit, you need to see what is being published out there.

You must write. I do not think you have to write …

Stephen King's 2017

Despite the release of a single novel and a few short stories, 2017 has to rank up there as one of the more Stephen King ascendant years. No less than four movies based on his works appeared, including one of the most successful horror films of all time, the first part of IT. Of course, with King, for every high, there are plenty of lows and 2017 also provided a number of examples of how to do his works wrong.

But let's start with the good stuff. The movie adaptation of IT, directed by Andres Muschietti and starring a number of talented young actors (including Finn Wolfhard of "Stranger Things" fame) really captured, for me, a lot of what I liked about the original novel. Being scary certainly helped, but with King, the horror slice is never really the whole cake. What makes King King, at least for me, is the combination of earthy, believable characters with lurid, "Tales from the Crypt" style horrors and an ever-present sense that the universe just doesn't…

Alive in 2017

As a long, strange year comes to a close, I guess the big emotion I have right now is simple gratitude. I got a bunch of stories published this year, from way back in February with "Killing the First Gods," in the A Book of Blasphemous Words anthology to "Promontory" in the fantastic A Breath in the Sky anthology, to "The Boy in the Picture" and "Implicate Order," in Grievous Angel and Lamplight Magazine respectively. I've never left a year feeling more certain of my dedication of time, emotional energy, and creativity to the act of writing than this year. I don't know what 2018 will bring in terms of my stories but I can't help but feel a degree of cautious optimism.
I feel optimistic perhaps because I see how much talent is out there producing the kind of fiction I love reading. It is not possible to list all of the writers active out there right now without feeling I'm slighting someone so I'll just say that if you like the…