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Women in the Horror Small Press 2013


Three years ago, I looked at how female authors were faring in the world of small press horror (click here for that original entry). The results were, to put it mildly, dismal, with an average of 7.07% of the authors being female.

Since I'm about to participate in an HWA Roundtable on Sexism in Horror (and since - if anything - it seems to be an even bigger topic in 2013 than it was in 2010), here's an updated survey.

My brilliant methodology: I frankly didn't take the time to actually figure out which releases were from 2013, so in most of these cases I just used the company's current in-stock listings on their websites. If there were two or more authors listed on a book, I counted each one as a separate title. If the book was an anthology, I used only the editor. I tried not to include each edition of a book, but counted a book only once, regardless of separate listings for the e-book, signed/limited, etc. I wanted to include JournalStone, but I was having trouble accessing their website today. And yes, I know that Stephen King probably skews the results unfairly in the case of Cemetery Dance.

In one case (Chizine), I used their "Authors" page rather than a stock listing of books.



Bad Moon CD Chizine Dark Fuse Dark Regions PS Samhain TOTALS
Total Books/Authors: 100 58 50 67 70 75 94 514
Male Authors: 86 55 38 58 66 72 91 466
Female Authors: 14 3 12 9 4 3 3 48
% Female: 14.00 5.17 24.00 13.43 5.71 4.00 3.19 9.33


Yes, women horror writers have gained over TWO WHOLE PERCENT in the last three years. Try not to celebrate too loudly, now - we wouldn't want to disturb anyone, after all.

EDITED TO ADD: Sorry, I had to disable comments on this because I was getting spammed to death, not because I didn't want to continue the conversation...

The Secret History of Los Angeles


Back in 2012 (August 16th, to be precise) I wrote an essay about finding the original Rancho Los Feliz adobe house in Griffith Park, where it's now used as a ranger station. This quaint little adobe (which is a reconstruction and may even have been moved north from its original location closer to the Mulholland Fountain) was the end of a treasure hunt for me, because of its importance in the story of Petranilla de Feliz, who supposedly (in 1863) cursed the land that is now Griffith Park.

That story obsessed me from the time I first discovered it, but that wasn't my first obsession with the folklore of Los Angeles. That happened back in the early 2000s, when I was researching The Halloween Encyclopedia. During one of my frequent visits to the Los Angeles Public Library's website, I noticed a small mention buried at the foot of the home page about "lizard people" (they redesigned the site some time ago, so don't go looking for that mention). Huh? What was this doing on the LAPL main page?

Of course I clicked the link, and it took me to a page that included several strange stories from L.A.'s past, especially one of a race of lizard people who supposedly lived beneath Los Angeles in a series of tunnels lined with gold tablets. According to one report, there was an entrance to the tunnel system somewhere in the basement of the library (this was also before a fire destroyed much of the library and it was extensively rebuilt).

Well, I was all over this. Lizard people?! Secret tunnels full of gold right under my hometown? I started researching the story more, and found it went back to a real guy named G. Warren Shufelt, a 1930s engineer who claimed to have created a device that used radio waves to locate anything. Shufelt enrolled the services of a "Hopi Indian Chief" who came with a map of the lizard people's tunnels, and together they actually got a permit from the City of L.A. to start drilling in search of the gold. Believe it or not, the city actually thought they were going to get a cut of this magnificent haul.


Needless to say, Shufelt never found gold and mysteriously vanished a short time later...but my interest in L.A.'s stranger side didn't. I started looking up more of our local folklore, and was amazed at how rich and deep it was. Catwomen called "La Japonesa" roamed the hills above El Monte; Lake Elizabeth was home to a monster; the ghost of Joaquin Murrieta haunted the arroyos of Pasadena.
Of course this incredible panoply of local legends began to find its way into my fiction. A story about "La Japonesa" appeared in Monsters of L.A. The lizard people confront my heroine in Netherworld, and also appear in my novelette The Lower Animals.

But it was the story of Petranilla de Feliz I thought about the most. I began to realize that tale was too good for a mere short story; it merited a novel.

I wanted the novel to be contemporary, though. And I wanted it to be specifically about what I'd come to think of as the secret history of Los Angeles. It would use all of this lunatic background that few Angelenos knew about. It would talk about Petra, and about Griffith J. Griffith, who did time for trying to murder his wife, and it would even go all the way back to the Gabrielinos, the people who lived here before the Californios arrived in the nineteenth century.
Eventually all of this folklore coalesced with other themes I wanted to develop - healing versus destruction, the nature of magic - into a novel that I originally thought of as Witch. It would be about a psychically gifted but psychotic young woman who would invoke the spirit of Petranilla de Feliz and ally herself to one of the darkest tales in L.A.'s early history. It would be about a folklore professor named Sam West who is writing his magnum opus, and of course that work would be called The Secret History of Los Angeles.

Eventually the book was finished, and I realized the title was wrong. I chose Malediction to reflect the curse at the heart of the novel.

The book was published in October by Evil Jester Press. I am still amazed that it was finally finished and at last saw the light of day. And I remain very proud of it.

Am I done with L.A. folklore now? Probably not. I've never even gotten into the city's haunted twentieth century, when it became a town centered on an industry of (frequently devastating) dreams. I'm about to start a non-fiction book on ghosts, and I have no doubt that what I unearth about haunted Hollywood will find its way into a future book. That's the great thing about folklore: There's always more treasure to dig up.

maledictioncover

Malediction is available at Amazon in print and e-book

The Last Night of October


Many of you reading this may recognize the name Greg Chapman as belonging to the artist behind Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, the graphic novel I co-authored with Rocky Wood; but what you probably don't know is that Greg is an equally fine writer. When I read his forthcoming Halloween novella The Last Night of October, I practically demanded that I be allowed to write the introduction, and - since I like to be arbitrary and wanted to celebrate The Last Night of October on the first day of October - I asked the permission of Greg and publisher Bad Moon Books to share my introduction with the world. Here it is, and Happy October!

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Introduction to The Last Night of October

 
I love it when people I know surprise me.

Yes, I know Greg Chapman and consider him a good friend, even though we have yet to meet in person. We became e-acquainted a few years ago when Rocky Wood asked us both to become part of a new project: I would co-author the graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times with Rocky, and Greg would provide the art. Being a nearly-200-page graphic novel, that book took almost a full year to put together, and during that time I became an admirer of the way Greg’s art captured emotion; his renderings of faces expressing fury, lust, grief, or terror were all stunning, and so it didn’t surprise me to discover that he was also a fine, expressive writer. I read Greg’s novellas The Noctuary, Torment, and Vaudeville, as well as a number of works of short fiction, and I was soon a fan of both his art and his words.

Now, before I tell you what surprised me about The Last Night of October, there are a couple of things you should be aware of. First, I know kind of a lot about Halloween…as in, I’m one of the experts, the author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween and The Halloween Encyclopedia (now in an expanded second edition).

The other thing you need to know: Greg is Australian.

In case you’re wondering what those two things have to do with each other and how they linked up to surprise me, here it is: During my Halloween research, I discovered that Australia is the only major English-speaking part of the globe that has never succumbed to the charms of Halloween. The related holiday of Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Day (held on the Fifth of November, another name for the festival) was celebrated until recently in nearby New Zealand, but aside from a few brief spurts of Halloween interest (mainly driven by merchants), Halloween has yet to take root in Australia. Maybe it’s a seasonal thing, since October is no longer an autumnal time down under…although it has become popular in South Africa, also in the southern hemisphere, so even that doesn’t quite work. Whatever.

So, what surprised me about The Last Night of October was how well it captured the feel of Halloween. Better, in fact, than many American authors – who grew up with the holiday – have been able to do. I read (as you might guess) a lot of Halloween fiction; I’ve even guest-edited the Halloween issue of an online magazine, for which task I read dozens of Halloween-themed short stories. Many of the stories had obviously simply crammed a mention of the holiday into an existing plot; others presented trick-or-treat in such a perfunctory way that they bored even me, the Halloween expert.

Halloween fiction has gained a major foothold in the horror genre over the last decade-and-a-half, and so much of it has started to resemble each other. Tropes have become established: The small town, trick-or-treat, a creepy house, an ancient evil. Scuttling autumn leaves. Cold winds out of nowhere. Flickering jack-o’-lanterns.
Here’s one of the other things that surprised me about The Last Night of October: It inverts many of the tropes, in ways I haven’t seen done before. The story’s protagonist is not a kid out in his costume going from house to house, but is instead from the other side of the trick-or-treat ritual: a homeowner expected to dole out candy. The story’s main setting isn’t the outside world, with its seasonal smells and weather, but rather a claustrophobic home. And the nostalgia that informs so much modern Halloween fiction is here revealed to also be the source of the evil.

Of course flipping Halloween fiction around on its ear, and yet somehow still capturing the essence of the holiday, aren’t what make the first reading of The Last Night of October so compelling. No, that turn-the-page-as-fast-as-you-can thing derives from Greg’s considerable storytelling gifts. He has a rare ability to combine suspense and surrealism with pathos and tragedy, all wrapped in a gift box of pacing and a unique style and characters that remind us of people we know.

All in all, I can’t think of another recent piece of Halloween fiction I’ve enjoyed as much as The Last Night of October.

And from an Australian, yet.

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The Last Night of October is now available for pre-order.

SMOG Blog #5 - The Other Half


And now, to wrap up my series of "SMOG Blogs", here's a look at the other novella that comes with Smog in JournalStone's Double Down #2. Eric Guignard's Baggage of Eternal Night is a fantastic piece of dark fiction set in 1950s Detroit; it interweaves the odd practice of "baggage auctions", a cursed antique phonograph, and the infamous Russian mystic Rasputin into a wonderful and very disturbing work of cosmic horror. Unlike Smog, which is also a period piece but was culled entirely from memory, Baggage obviously involved a tremendous amount of research, and I suggested to Eric that perhaps he could tell us a little about what went into it. What follows is his response (thanks, Eric!).

An Informal Chat About Online Research


Hi Lisa Morton followers! Lisa was gracious enough, not only in inviting me to participate in the DoubleDown project, but also in inviting me to guest-post on her blog. She thought it might be interesting for me to speak a little about how I researched my novella, as I’ve received kind praise on its historic atmosphere. I jokingly responded that the blog answer would be quite brief; all I’d done was use the search feature in GOOGLE.

On further contemplation however, it got me thinking how much the process of research has changed in such a short period of time. The power and convenience of the internet is apparent enough though, like everything, it has its drawbacks. In addition, perhaps I learned a few ‘net-surfing lessons’ that might inspire one of you with your own plotting ideas.

Here’s the backdrop: BAGGAGE OF ETERNAL NIGHT is my first novella, recently published by JournalStone as Book II of the DoubleDown series, alongside Lisa’s Smog. My contribution is set in 1963 and follows two men who bid in the baggage auctions of Detroit. Of course, I’ve never been to Detroit, nor was I even alive during the timeframe of this story, so that dictated a certain need for research in order to set a modicum of historic authenticity.

I’ve spent many years in college, especially during the late 1990’s and, back then, research required a lengthy visit to the local library. Oh, you wanted to study late in the Library? Too bad. It just closed. Oh, you wanted to make copies of relevant passages or quotes? Too bad. The Library charges ten cents per page, on a special “payment” card that was another added cost, and you didn’t have any money. Oh, you desperately need a book that the Library said was available? Too bad. Someone else just checked it out, and it won’t be returned for two more weeks.

Ugh.

Of course now, marvels of the net are boundless. Especially when one got past those awkward years of dial-up, every person with a computer literally has a library at their fingertips. Global information-sharing is the best thing since the invention of the wheel... no, strike that; It’s BETTER than the wheel. Better also than sliced bread. Better even than fire. After all, I can curl around my laptop and bask in the warmth generated by its 5 dual-core ARM processor.

But I digress. Internet research is wonderful but, like drinking at an open bar, it requires a certain amount of self-governance and savvy. One must go through the process many times to appreciate lessons learned and not find oneself lost eternally within the labyrinth of net porn.

In the case of my novella, I researched everything online. But that research also entails sifting through a lot of dreck that you may not normally find while in the dominion of traditional research.

To start with, simply typing in key words and phrases into Google or Yahoo or Lycos is great to get a basic sense of what’s available. If search engines come back with something that has millions of hits, it’s probably pretty common knowledge. If it comes back with only a couple hits, that means it’s either not well known, or incorrect.

If I want an overview of a topic, Wikipedia is great, but of course that just provides the basics, much of which is not always accurate. Whereas search engines provide the “scope” of available information, Wikipedia may provide “inspiration.” Still, at this point it’s a good idea to search further.

Next is to locate primary source notes. Have you used Google Books yet? OMG! It’s a searchable service that scans digitized books and magazines within its database. In 2010 alone, Google Books included 129 million books. In the last three years, that number has increased more so. These are original records, available 24-7 for free, just incredible source material to skim.
http://books.google.com/

Here are a few other sites I find trustworthy (depending on your definition) material:

http://scholar.google.com/ - This is like Google Books, but focuses on academia.

And:
http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html - This is a fantastic overview of the best websites to cull topics of information.

And:
http://www.dmoz.org/ - Directory of subject matter, very thoughtfully organized though not incredibly comprehensive.

Anyway, to tie all this in with how I researched my own story, it began as such: I had no idea what I wanted to write about it.

Aimlessly reading up on a million topics, I came across a memoir-excerpt about carnies that bid in the baggage auctions. On further investigation of this quip, I found there to have been an entire culture developed around this practice during the mid-1900s. Of course, as television shows about “found” or bid items are so popular today, I thought the basis would be perfect to translate to modern audiences. I then wanted my story to have a haunted object found inside, and was particularly drawn to the gramophone (no other reason than it seemed cool). I next decided to tie an early model gramophone to the spirit of a dead—though historic—villain. Google-search away and discovered Grigori Rasputin died in 1916. I’ve always been enamored with Rasputin’s lore; his mysticism is naturally viewed in so many different perspectives: some consider him a saint, others an anti-hero, and still others the beast of Hades himself. I was sold on his character, and there’s plenty of online research material to fill many textbooks of his life.

Such was the basics for my plot. I then Google-searched maps and photographs of Detroit in the 1960’s and used what I saw as descriptions or inspirations for settings. I needed to utilize Russian language, so Google Translate to the rescue! Of course, I didn’t entirely trust the Translate page, so I did my best with it, and had someone fluent enough to oversee my writing in that language. There were a couple minor corrections for clarification, but otherwise the online translator worked well.

Personally, I like to research online and compile notes before I write. Then, as I write, I regularly look up additional ideas/ explanations/ descriptions, etc. Overall, it may seem like a tedious process, but it worked for me. I edited as I wrote, and turned in the 35,000 word novella in about eight weeks, plus about four weeks more before that used for brainstorming.

I was pleased with my final version, and I hope you, dear reader, will be as well!

Thanks again, for checking out my ramblings. Thought I’m not a diligent blogger, please connect with me at:
http://ericjguignard.blogspot.com. Otherwise, I’m also on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ericjguignard.

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard



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SMOG Blog #4 - A Reading


The fourth entry in my five-part series of "SMOG Blogs" is an audio presentation: Me reading the prologue and first chapter of Smog.

http://lisamorton.com/podcast/?p=episode&name=2013-09-13_se_lisa_final.mp3


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SMOG Blog #3 - 1960s pop culture


Here, as promised, is a look at a few of the pop culture references scattered throughout my novella Smog.

Spies. My twelve-year-old protagonist Joey is obsessed with spy stuff. She watches The Man from U.N.C.L.E., loves James Bond, and reads Nancy Drew books (and yes, I know they're not exactly spies, but they were the closest we came in terms of kids' fiction back then). Since Smog is set in June of 1965, she's just missing out on my personal favorite, The Avengers.


I'm far from an expert on the '60s spy craze, but I can only assume it must have come from a confluence of the Cold War and technology (both U.N.C.L.E. and Bond depended on everything from pen-sized communicators to cars with ejector seats). This, mind you, was the period following the Bay of Pigs, when we knew the other guys had the same atomic capabilities we did, and our best defense was good intelligence. Interestingly, these fictitious spies rarely took on the Russians directly; the early Bond films now seem somewhat prescient in making their bad guys large, greedy corporations who are ultimately interested only in accruing vast wealth.

The Rolling Stones. In Smog, Joey talks about going around her neighborhood on a warm summer evening, when all the teenagers are sprawled on their lawns with transistor radios, and hearing that guitar riff from "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" echoing up and down the street. This is completely autobiographical; I wasn't twelve the summer that "Satisfaction" hit, but I do remember all those older kids with the tinny radios tuned to Los Angeles station KHJ. At another point in Smog, Joey is watching Herman's Hermits perform on an afternoon television show, but she's more interested in something nasty at the heart of the Stones. Weren't we all.


Journey to the Center of the Earth. Yes, this was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and I still enjoy it. It may not have the greatest dinosaurs in the world (although most fans agree that it did the "lizards in costumes" thing better than any of the others), but it does have that magnificent Bernard Herrmann score, those awesome cave locations, some amusing interplay between James Mason and Arlene Dahl ("Madame, are you wearing stays?"), and Gertrude the Duck. Back in the '60s, we only had a handful of television stations, and the local stations were apparently pretty cheap, so they'd show the same movie every day for a week. Whenever Journey or any of the Universal monster movies or Karel Zeman's masterpiece (yes, srsly) The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was on, I'd watch every day.

Space. Southern California's aerospace industry is important in Smog, just as it once was in real life. Remember "the space race"? It was all part of that Cold War thang; we had to beat Russia into space. But beyond that...it was exciting and adventurous and gave me a tremendous sense of optimism about America's future. In 1965, Ed White became the first American to open his capsule door and step out into the weightlessness of space, and all of America watched. My dad worked off and on in the aerospace industry, frequently as a consultant to NASA; as a kid, I remember him bringing home little space capsule models and actual Mercury program helmets and signed astronaut photos...none of which I have now, sadly. Well, that's not completely true - I still have the memories, of being a kid and crowded around the television taking in each breathtaking moment.

Five-and-dime stores. These stores used to ROCK! Woolworth's and Newberry's were the popular chains, but most 'hoods had their own little independent five-and-dimes (or just "dime stores"). Think the 99 Cent store but a little more upscale; they had the same wide selection of products, everything from toys to kitchenware. In Smog, Joey and her best friend Debbie visit a five-and-dime, where Debbie commits an act of petty larceny. In real life, I was more interested in buying monster toys at our local store; the '60s were also the golden age of "monster culture", and although I don't touch on this in Smog, I was pretty crazy about it (duh!) in real life. They were also where we went every October for our Halloween supplies.

Mattel's Thingmaker. In Smog, neighborhood psychotic Matthew Visser is described as luring naive younger kids into touching his Thingmaker, with dire results. Crazy toys abounded in the '60s, stuff that would have parents shrieking in outrage now. The Wham-O company made "Air Blasters" that fired huge blasts of air, there were toys modeled on those spy shows I mentioned above that did some pretty outrageous things (I remember having a James Bond attache case that fired a rubber knife out of the side), and Mattel offered up an entire line based on "the Thingmaker". The Thingmaker was a little square unit that you plugged in so it could heat up, and then you could cook metal molds in it filled with something called "Plastigoop". Depending on which toy you had, you might be making plastic bugs ("Creepy Crawlers"), scars you could wear ("Fright Factory"), crazy little figures you could stick on pencils ("Creeple Peeple"), or several other kits I didn't own (yes, I actually had the three mentioned above). You had to buy Plastigoop refills from time to time, but they were cheap and eventually they even produced Glow-in-the-Dark Plastigoop.
Haight-Ashbury. There's a brief mention in Smog's epilogue of one major character who apparently disappeared in Haight-Ashbury, never to be seen again. This, by the way, is not intended to implicate the legendary San Francisco district in any sort of evil doings...because I actually loved the Haight, and saw it in its heyday. By 1967, it had received a great deal of national press; it was the "Summer of Love", and the Haight was a mecca for hippies and other counter-culture types. We moved that year from Southern to Northern California, and my (very straightlaced) parents immediately headed to Hippie Central to gawk. I remember being pressed up against the window in the back seat of our Volkswagen bug, looking out at the flocks of young people in colorful clothes and with wild hair, hearing music on every street corner, and just thinking it was about the coolest thing ever. I was still too young to join them, or I might have vanished into the Haight along with Joey's best friend.



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SMOG Blog 2


As promised...this week's blog is really video.



If you didn't get enough of my past from that, click the link below to see a few extra photos on Flickr. Behold the Arcadia Public Library! The school! The bowling alley of doom!

/http://www.flickr.com/photos/7616624@N05/sets/72157635424251304/

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SMOG Blog 1


    I have two new novellas coming out over the next two months. One, Summer's End, is about a middle-aged Halloween expert named Lisa Morton.

    The other one (Smog) is somewhat autobiographical.

    Smog centers on a twelve-year-old tomboy named Joey growing up in a little suburb of Los Angeles. The year is 1964, and Southern California is ruled by the aerospace industry. Joey's dad is involved in the development of new rocket fuels, and after a mysterious explosion takes place in the skies over L.A. and turns teenagers into id-driven monsters, prepubescent Joey - who loves spy movies and shows - tries to figure out what's happened while just staying alive.

  For Summer's End, I wanted to add my spin to the long history of authors using their own personal relationship to Halloween in literature (I've written an essay about this that will appear as part of HWA's "Halloween Haunts" blog series). I originally considered naming my heroine something else, but I ended up opting to create a character called Lisa Morton. While she shares many aspects of my life - she lives in North Hollywood, she's written a number of books about Halloween, she has a partner named RIcky and a cat named Roxie - I still considered her a character, separate from me.

    In some ways I feel closer to young Joey. I wasn't twelve in 1964 (I was considerably younger), I wasn't in L.A. when I was twelve (we moved a lot; by the time I was twelve, we lived in San Diego), and I didn't have an older brother (I'm an only child). But Smog nevertheless uses a great many memories of my childhood in Arcadia, a sunny little San Gabriel Valley suburb about thirty minutes east of downtown L.A.


(9th Avenue in Arcadia seen by Google Satellite; our house was the one near the center with the empty kidney-shaped swimming pool.)
My dad really did work in the aerospace industry, designing helmets and flight suits for the Mercury astronauts (my God, I wish I had a fraction of the stuff he used to bring home for me to play with, everything from signed photos of the astronauts to actual prototypes of the helmets).


(My dad modeling a helmet and oxygen mask he designed)
My mom really was active with the local women's club (although I think in real life it was called "the Arcadia Juniors", and both my parents were members).


(The Arcadia Juniors, with Mom and Dad third and fourth from left, circa 1964)
Our house on 9th Avenue really did have a wash that ran behind it, with a dirt trail separating the house from the fenced-in wash, and we really did find Jerusalem crickets there. My best friend lived across the street from us, and I remember all the other moms back then sounding kind of raspy because they all smoked.

    And yes, the smog was terrible. I've read studies that have confirmed that the smog was at record highs during that time in that place. Our street ran right up to the mountains, just a few miles away, and most days it really was so smoggy we couldn't see those mountains. No wonder I have terrible sinus problems as an adult (it's a wonder I don't have asthma).


(The Santa Anita wash behind 9th Avenue, sans smog)

    I was startled recently to realize we only lived on that street in Arcadia for a few years; as I mentioned earlier, we moved a lot because Dad usually worked as an independent contractor, and when I was about eight we left Southern California for one year and two houses in Northern California (Novato, in Marin County). But there's no question that 9th Avenue in Arcadia was the place that shaped me and lives most strongly in my memory.

(This is the first in my series of "Smog Blogs". In the next installment, we'll take a video tour of some of the places I used as the basis for settings in Smog; #3 will feature a breakdown of the pop culture references I included; #4 will be a podcast of me reading a section of the novella; and #5 will be a look at Eric J. Guignard's novella Baggage of Eternal Night, which forms the literal flipside to Smog. Thank you for reading this first entry.)



Smog is part of the second volume in JournalStone's "DoubleDown" series; it's paired with Eric J. Guignard's Baggage of Eternal Night. The book is now up for pre-order in hardcover, paperback, e-book or signed limited edition (the latter also includes Summer's End). You can also enter to win a free copy of Smog/Baggage of Eternal Night at Goodreads.

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WITCH HUNTS banned from Facebook


And now a few words from my co-author on Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times:

Adventures in Censorship
A blog post by Rocky Wood, 29 May 2013


On Tuesday US time Facebook notified Lisa Morton, Greg Chapman and myself that the Facebook page for our graphic novel, 'Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times' had been suspended as someone had complained it contained 'bullying'. We could appeal. Lisa did so*. Without any further communication the page was deleted for not matching 'community standards' and to top it all off we were all banned as owners of the page from posting on Facebook for 12 hours.

I have fought censorship all my life and now this insult from a faceless corporation which shelters behind US law but has no respect for the First Amendment. There was nothing on our page which is not in our book. We deal with an historic tragedy - the torture and killing of innocents for centuries under the guise of 'witch hunting'. Our book is a nominee for a major literary Award from a highly reputable writers group. And not one post one our page could be classed as 'bullying' anyone, except perhaps the long dead inquisitors and witch hunters who so savagely hunted 'witches' (read those cast out of society, those who lands or wealth were coveted, and those who fell under the dead eye of jealous neighbors).

One encounters soft core porn, outrageous personal abuse, bullying, misogyny, misanthropy, racism, hate speech from and against Christians, Muslims and other groups on Facebook without even trying. Facebook infests my News Feed with ads for sex sites and 'dating sites' that are clearly a cover for porn, and invites me to Like or get involved with many things that offend me. Yet I accept this is part of free speech on social media. I have been abused and personally vilified on Facebook - my answer is to delete and block the person. I don't run to momma and cry on her apron strings.

But here is the real nub of the matter. Why was this page deleted? Did one crazy person complain and if so, are all our pages at risk from lone vigilantes supported by this faceless corporation, which clearly uses algorithms rather than people to manage its business? Is Horror itself at risk in Facebook (for much horror is a lot more graphic than our book)? Is History that doesn't suit the world view of some at risk on Facebook? Or can say one author who doesn't like another author or their work sabotage their pages in this manner? I wouldn't expect that was what had happened here but what's to stop that in the 1984 world of Facebook?

How far is it from Facebook deleting innocuous pages such as ours to book banning, and book burning? That slope is very slippery. I unreservedly condemn Facebook's capricious actions, lack of transparency in dealing with complaints, and the outrageous censorship they have indulged in.

Barely two weeks before a book I am very proud of is a nominee at a major Award ceremony the Facebook page is removed. There is more than a little irony in Facebook figuratively burning our page at the stake. For those who care about Censorship I would appreciate your sharing this story. For this who support our book, please be sure we will be back. In the meantime our website remains at http://www.witchhuntsbook.com/ (at least until such time as Facebook or other Internet censors find a way to remove it).

Shame on you Facebook. And the next time you spam me with your offensive ads or try to force me to spend money promoting my own posts you can be sure of my reaction.

Rocky Wood
Melbourne, Australia

*=The Facebook appeal consists entirely of a button you can press that says "Appeal". You are neither offered any explanation nor given the chance to provide one.

*******************************

And from Witch Hunts artist Greg Chapman:


Facebook.

We all use it to share with friends, to promote our books or just chat about writing, but what happens when it goes bad?

I discovered what happens today when Facebook, in all its omnipotent wisdom decided to shut down the official Facebook page for the graphic novel I illustrated, Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times.

According to a very vague message from Facebook, the site breached its community standards, specifically in the area of "bullying".

The thing is Facebook won't tell us what constituted the bullying. They just shut us down - even after we made an appeal.

There is nothing on our Witch Hunts page that constitutes bullying, or any other breach. In fact the graphic novel has received nothing but positive reviews from critics, is a textbook in a history program at a US college and is up for a Bram Stoker Award.

Worse still, mine, Rocky Wood's and Lisa Morton's Facebook accounts have been temporarily blocked for 12 hours.

Whether the complaint is genuine is now less important compared to the actions of Facebook. To shut down a page without a warning, or better still the opportunity to reply to the complaint - in other words to find us guilty before innocence has been proved - is ironically tantamount to wait for it ... BULLYING!

If someone out there has a genuine complaint then let's hear it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is also entitled to have a fair right of reply.

I ask anyone who reads this to share this on your social pages. The only way we are going to get Facebook to change its barbaric ways is to let the world know about it.

In the meantime, you can still find out all there is to know about our book at www.witchhuntsbook.com

WITCH HUNTS banned from Facebook


And now a few words from my co-author on Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times:

Adventures in Censorship
A blog post by Rocky Wood, 29 May 2013


On Tuesday US time Facebook notified Lisa Morton, Greg Chapman and myself that the Facebook page for our graphic novel, 'Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times' had been suspended as someone had complained it contained 'bullying'. We could appeal. Lisa did so. Without any further communication the page was deleted for not matching 'community standards' and to top it all off we were all banned as owners of the page from posting on Facebook for 12 hours.

I have fought censorship all my life and now this insult from a faceless corporation which shelters behind US law but has no respect for the First Amendment. There was nothing on our page which is not in our book. We deal with an historic tragedy - the torture and killing of innocents for centuries under the guise of 'witch hunting'. Our book is a nominee for a major literary Award from a highly reputable writers group. And not one post one our page could be classed as 'bullying' anyone, except perhaps the long dead inquisitors and witch hunters who so savagely hunted 'witches' (read those cast out of society, those who lands or wealth were coveted, and those who fell under the dead eye of jealous neighbors).

One encounters soft core porn, outrageous personal abuse, bullying, misogyny, misanthropy, racism, hate speech from and against Christians, Muslims and other groups on Facebook without even trying. Facebook infests my News Feed with ads for sex sites and 'dating sites' that are clearly a cover for porn, and invites me to Like or get involved with many things that offend me. Yet I accept this is part of free speech on social media. I have been abused and personally vilified on Facebook - my answer is to delete and block the person. I don't run to momma and cry on her apron strings.

But here is the real nub of the matter. Why was this page deleted? Did one crazy person complain and if so, are all our pages at risk from lone vigilantes supported by this faceless corporation, which clearly uses algorithms rather than people to manage its business? Is Horror itself at risk in Facebook (for much horror is a lot more graphic than our book)? Is History that doesn't suit the world view of some at risk on Facebook? Or can say one author who doesn't like another author or their work sabotage their pages in this manner? I wouldn't expect that was what had happened here but what's to stop that in the 1984 world of Facebook?

How far is it from Facebook deleting innocuous pages such as ours to book banning, and book burning? That slope is very slippery. I unreservedly condemn Facebook's capricious actions, lack of transparency in dealing with complaints, and the outrageous censorship they have indulged in.

Barely two weeks before a book I am very proud of is a nominee at a major Award ceremony the Facebook page is removed. There is more than a little irony in Facebook figuratively burning our page at the stake. For those who care about Censorship I would appreciate your sharing this story. For this who support our book, please be sure we will be back. In the meantime our website remains at http://www.witchhuntsbook.com/ (at least until such time as Facebook or other Internet censors find a way to remove it).

Shame on you Facebook. And the next time you spam me with your offensive ads or try to force me to spend money promoting my own posts you can be sure of my reaction.

Rocky Wood
Melbourne, Australia

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