Click the PIC for ALL AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

Monday, May 6, 2019

TOP 10 ANNOYING HORROR REVIEW HABITS

I write reviews for a variety of sources so on Mondays, I make sure that books I have reviewed for SCREAM Mag and Cemetery Dance get their proper lead times before I share them on Amazon and Goodreads. It's helpful for book reviews to be represented across multiple outlets.
I was doing just that this morning--copy & pasting a particular review to Goodreads and Amazon-- when I got distracted reading some other reviews.
My blood began to boil.
I felt a rant coming on...
Instead of unleashing on Twitter, which tends to get me in trouble, I decided to think on it and run the rants through the filter of writing them out properly instead of knee-jerk reacting.
Also, instead of giving myself too much space to ramble, I'm narrowing this down to a TOP 10 List. So here it is:

TOP 10 ANNOYING HORROR REVIEW HABITS:

1. GIFS in Reviews on Goodreads. I'm sorry but these suck and I almost always scroll past them. Often times they're trying to be too funny or cute to be taken seriously. I think there are reviewers on Goodreads who have a following or an audience that specifically shows up for these GIF reviews but I don't think they're at all helpful to anyone and I'm not amused by them. No shame if that's your jam. It's just my opinion that they're annoying.

2. Lowering the star review for not being "scary". It doesn't bother me if the reviewer mentions that they didn't find the book particularly scary but to lower the score for that reason alone is lame. The merit of a quality horror book doesn't rest on if it fulfills one person's standard of scary. All of us are individually scared by different things and it's not the authors sole purpose to meet every, single reader's expectation of scary. That's ridiculous. 

3. Long winded retellings of the plot. It's my understanding that many authors don't particularly enjoy or look forward to writing the synopsis for the back of the book. A lot of work and frustration goes into making that description as concise and informed as it possibly can be without too much detail or not enough details, so a reviewer spending all this time to go over the plot is unnecessary and oversharing to the point of spoiling reader discoveries. 

4. Suggesting people not buy the book. What?? Are you kidding me? Why on earth would anyone recommend that people not "waste their time" or "not buy the book"? I mean, unless the author personally and directly attacked you or harmed you in some way that we should all know about, there is absolutely no just cause in recommending people not read the book or buy it. A review is basically your unbiased reading experience. It's not an opportunity to put people off from trying it for themselves. If your review is written well enough, people may or may not make a choice based on how you felt about the book-to go the extra mile of telling them what to do is over the top. In my humble but strongly felt opinion.

5. Technical aspects. With the exception of editing-like grammar/spelling/typos that make it through to a final copy-I don't think font size or printing errors, publishing mistakes, orders taking too long to arrive--like anything about the condition of the book that doesn't have anything to do with the author, should bare any weight on the actual merit or score. It's just not important. I don't mind when a reviewer mentions it but I get annoyed with whole opening paragraphs being a rant about something that has nothing to do with the story or the author who wrote it. Sorry. It certainly shouldn't reflect in the rating.

6. Rating a book three stars or less but then writing a glowing review. This confuses me so much. If you scored a book 3 stars or less but don't mention anything even remotely critical, it makes me wonder why it's missing those stars. I'm sure anyone who reads the review will wonder what happened or why it didn't rate higher. If there's nothing unsavory worth mentioning, maybe it should rate higher? 

7. Talking too much about other books/authors. I always get a little sad when a book/author falls victim to being compared to other authors/books. The reviews I read this morning were about a book that has a semi-familiar plot trope (not an overused plot trope) and this reviewer spent ample time explaining why they enjoyed this other book with a similar plot trope better. Why?? That's so annoying. Comparison in a favorable way like, "Hey, fans of Stephen King might like this one!" or "This guy writes a bit like Cormac McCarthy" are flattering. But comparisons in the negative like, "This book was trying too hard to be Dracula and here's how it failed in 20 different ways to BE as good as Dracula" isn't helpful because what if your comparison is totally off? I've seen that. Or maybe you should just read Dracula if that's your favorite vampire novel and you compare all other vampire novels to it. It's just unrealistic. (Unless the author is straight up copying someone or something, then full on say that--I have said that before)

8. RUDE, RUDE, RUDE. You don't have to be a bitch in a review of a book you didn't enjoy. It's immature. I recently read a 2 star review of a favorite book of mine where the reviewer praised the concept of the book but then had the audacity to recommend authors that would be better suited to write the book. WTF?! Does it get any more rude? No friends, it does not. The concept and plot of a book comes from the mind of the author. It is the author's story to tell. To suggest that it was a good idea but someone else should have written it, is rage inducing. It's just horribly rude. I also don't think you're qualified to make a statement like that. Who are you? Stay in your lane. 

9. A book is not responsible for your expectations. I've had this discussion before about people saying that a book was overly hyped as being good but then it is the reviewer's assessment that everyone was wrong and the book fell short of their high expectations. Come again?
If a book is getting praise from other reviewers/readers who know their shit and then you read the book and don't like it, it doesn't mean the book was overly hyped or that the hype is wrong. It just means that the praise doesn't line up with your reading experience and that's on you, Sweetheart. It doesn't mean everyone else is wrong. It just means the book wasn't for you. Own it. Don't blame the hype-the hype might be real and the problem is you. That's OK! It's not okay to be arrogant by suggesting the problem is with everyone else. 

10. Tangent reviews. I'm all for a good tangent/rant. Look at this post! It's cathartic for me to write this stuff because it helps me to calm down after I've gotten it all out. But it's not okay to use review space of a specific book to go off on some tangent or pet peeve. I see this a lot. Maybe it's a social issue the book brought up or maybe it's a genre or a writing style, whatever the case may be--save it for a blog post or a tweet or your best friend's text messages--but the review space is for that book. It's not fair to turn it into a personal diary entry.

Anyhoodles.
I feel better.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

REVIEW POLICIES- Sadie Hartmann aka Mother Horror

BOOK REVIEW POLICIES:

Hi! My name is Sadie Hartmann. I currently review horror fiction for Cemetery Dance and SCREAM Magazine.
I also post my reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.
My friend Ashley and I started a horror fiction review group called, Night Worms. I am the point person for getting your book submitted for a Night Worms group read & review.
sadielouwho@hotmail.com

Night Worms is also the name of the horror book club monthly subscription company that Ashley and I currently own and operate. You can find out more about Night Worms (the business) at NightWorms.com
Night Worms email: nightwormsreviews@gmail.com

I am currently OPEN to new horror review copies for 2019

Before you email your request, please read the following:

  • I accept physical review copies only. I am an influencer on social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. My reviews rely heavily on having a photograph of the book I'm reading. 
  • I reserve the right to read & review books on my schedule. If you need your book reviewed by a specific deadline, I'm probably not the right reviewer for you. I do try to keep to an order of when books are received but I enjoy the freedom to make changes to the order.
  • Reading your book does not always result in a review with Cemetery Dance or SCREAM Mag. My editors have left what books I review to my discretion. Reading your book might not result in a review if I choose to not finish the book for personal reasons. Accepting your book also is not a commitment to photograph it or post it to my social media platforms. If you feel like sending me a book is a promise of any of those "requirements" please don't submit a request.
  • I write honest, unbiased reviews based on my personal reading experience. This may mean an unsavory or low starred review. Please don't take my reviews as a personal attack or an invitation for a discussion. 
  • I generally post 3-5 star reviews EVERYWHERE because I'm a passionate reader and love to fangirl over the books that I enjoy and love. It's my greatest joy to encourage others to read awesome horror fiction so I spread the word like a freakish, magical, horror-loving megaphone so if you don't want to be tagged on social media posts gushing about the merits of your writing ability, please let me know in advance.
  • Please browse my reviews and social media accounts to see if your book would be a fit. I'm currently reading mostly horror fiction in all the 20+ sub genres, dark fiction and some dark/horror poetry. I'm not interested in much else at the time.
  • A link of your book on Amazon or Goodreads is required. I don't read books that are not listed on either of those sites. I DO read books that are Indie, Small, Self-Published and Traditionally Published (they just also need to be listed on Goodreads so I can track my progress)
  • If I have accepted a book from you before and you have my address, still submit a request for any future books--don't just send them to me. This creates confusion for me as I get books in the mail that I am expecting, on a daily basis and your unsolicited book might find its way into a Little Free Library instead of my bookshelf.
  • I read & review because I love it. Not because you're paying me to do so, please be kind and courteous! I look forward to hearing from you if you agree to these terms and conditions.
~Sadie Hartmann

Monday, April 1, 2019

Bookstagram for Newbies: Photo tips

I conducted a poll on Twitter about social media platforms and quite a few people commented that they would be more likely to use Instagram if they could take better photos.
I'm assuming they mean bookish photos since my entire network of people on Twitter is primarily focused on books: Reading them and Writing them.
The temptation is to think, "Why bother?"
But if you're looking to engage with other readers, build a brand, promote *anything*, spread the word, boost the signal or sell yourself (your reviews, your books, your whatever) than Instagram is as good as any. It's free and it has a lot of users.

So here are some simple tips on how to take good photos on Instagram.

1. ALWAYS, ALWAYS use natural light. If it's dark or cloudy, don't bother. Never use indoor lighting such as lamps or overhead lights-anything with a bulb. This will create grainy, yellow, dark photos that are unappealing. In this photo, I'm in the kitchen where I get natural morning light:
I haven't edited it in anyway. I took this with my iPhone. The pink square is one of my painted backgrounds. I have a lot of props that I use to fill negative space (blank spots in the frame) just to make it more appealing to the eye:

I'm generally drinking coffee in the morning and I love drinking a warm beverage while I read so it's a good representation of who I am. I also collect vintage typewriters and cameras so I'll use those in my photos from time to time. I also have some fake foliage that I'll throw in for added drama but you can just as easily do what is comfortable to you. Here I have taken the same items but eliminated the painted background, doily under the coffee and the typewriter. I just put them on my floor:

The result is just as nice, I think. It's natural light and the colors are true. I will emphasize that no filter is needed-Instagram suggests filters but I think they change the quality of the photo. I don't think photos of books arranged on carpet or anything with too much pattern look as neat & tidy. Too much visual textures that confuse the eye and distract from the beauty of the book covers.
For Night Worms, I use a simple, black canvas:
I also adjust the "black point" on my photo editing features on my phone. Just to really emphasize the black tones. See here:
You can mess with a photo too much in editing so I only recommend doing that if you really need to, which you shouldn't if you're using natural light. Another tip is glare. Some books are shiny so if you're using direct light from a window, you'll need to move the book around to find the spot without glare. I'll show you:
I have a wall next to a window that I like to use to show a book in my hand. If I angle the book towards the window, you get a glare and you can see the residue from a sticker that was on the book cover (why do publishers DO THAT?!)

But if I angle the book towards me with a slight twist of my hand, the glare goes away:
I also edit my "book in hand" photos with the "black point" tool to really make those book covers pop:
So those are some easy tips with zero pains in the ass and minimal props. You can ask me questions anytime on social media or tag me in a photo where you used my tips! I'd love to see your new photos!

xo
Mother Horror

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Cover Reveal: THE SEVEN DEADLIEST

I am a book cover snob. It's not a secret. I have been known to buy a book simply because the cover caught my eye and begged to come home with me. So when John F. D. Taff  (The King of Pain himself!) asked if I would like to be one of two bloggers to share a cover reveal of a highly anticipated anthology, of course I said, "YES PLEASE!" My bros over at InkHeist are doing a cover reveal today too, so check it out!

I'm also a huge short story fangirl so author collections and horror anthologies are insta-buys. This one is called, THE SEVEN DEADLIEST. I heard some early buzz about it from various sources on social media. I heard that this was a themed anthology where each of the authors had one of the seven deadly sins to works with for a story. I also knew a few of the authors that were in it so this was something I was sure I'd I want to read.

You know what the seven deadly sins are right??

PRIDE

GREED

LUST

ENVY

GLUTTONY

WRATH

SLOTH

Of course we all got schooled on the sins in 1995 with the movie SE7EN.
"A woman... so ugly on the inside she couldn't bear to go on living if she couldn't be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug dealing pederast, actually! And let's not forget the disease-spreading whore! Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example. What I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed... forever."


But you didn't come to hear me ramble! Let's take a closer look at the contributing authors for this book:

Avarice--John C. Foster, "Gilda"
Anger--Bracken MacLeod, "A Short Madness"
Pride--Kasey Lansdale, "Cap Diamant"
Jealousy--Brian Kirk, "Chisel and Stone"
Sloth--Rena Mason, "Clevengers of the Carrion Sea"
Lust--Richard Thomas, "Ring of Fire"
Gluttony--John F.D. Taff, "All You Care to Eat"
Release Date: May 7, 2019 by Cutting Block Books.
Edited by Patrick Beltran and D. Alexander Ward

Yes, please!
And that cover...


Release Date: May 7th, 2019!!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

SHAM SPAM

This is a public service announcement:

We, the Makers of SPAM, work really hard to make SPAM. We make SPAM in a very specific way with very specific ingredients. 
It's cool that there are so many SPAM lovers out there. *forced applause*
But we're concerned.
Example: We're seeing people make "SPAMWICHES" and post photos of them on social media. Thank you for spreading the word about SPAM. We think the way you stage the photo is little bit "extra" and unnecessary but your passion is... cute. We're used to our SPAM fans looking a certain way and acting a certain way. They would never show SPAM next to a cup of coffee or decorated with flowers but we are mildly amused by your enthusiasm.

At some point, however, we need to let you know that you're doing it wrong.
You are enjoying SPAM in the wrong way. First of all, making tofu taste like SPAM is wrong. We don't give a shit that you're vegetarians now but you still enjoy the taste of SPAM. Tofu isn't made of ground up pig butts and chicken lips. Tofu is soybeans.
Only SPAM tastes like SPAM so quit trying to enjoy SPAM without actually eating it.

Also, Luncheon Loaf isn't SPAM. We're sorry if you can't afford $2.62 on a can of SPAM and you have to buy generic labeled food. If you really loved SPAM, you'd find a way to pay for it. Only true fans of SPAM eat real SPAM so please do not call yourself a SPAM-FAN if you can't even afford it.

SPAM is meant to be unflinching, raw and uninhibited. You can't make a sandwich out of it. Sandwiches are for the weak and fainthearted. Man up and eat real SPAM.
You can't make "SPAM-FRIES". I mean, for fuck's sake, does SPAM have to be more tasty? Do you have to make a big deal out of all these other things you add to SPAM to make it more palatable for YOU?? It's not true SPAM! Accept no imitations! There are lots of so-called SPAM artists out there that make SPAM for the masses but they're a bunch of hacks. They've created this false SPAM-FAN-BASE of wanna-be SPAM FANS who think they know SPAM but they don't. They're ignorant. I bet they think SPAM is ham!! Hahahahah have you ever heard anything more ridiculous in your life? I love to ask people who claim to enjoy SPAM if they know what SPAM is and then they open their mouth and drool while they spit out the word, "Uhhhhhh...ham!?"
Hahahahah idiots. Also, when we think of all the people who say they love SPAM but then talk about how they can't eat it anymore because they're on a diet or they don't eat processed food anymore--it makes us rage spew! The Makers of SPAM surround ourselves with other SPAM purists and talk about how there are no "real SPAM fans" anymore. *sigh*

The real way to enjoy SPAM is how we, the Makers of SPAM have intended for it to be enjoyed. There's only one way--our way--anything else is wrong and you might as well build a tower of SPAM cans in the street and light it on fire if you're going to enjoy SPAM in any other way.

Directions for enjoying SPAM:
Open the can
Give the can a jiggle releasing the SPAM.
Lick the weird jelly-like substance off the surface of the SPAM cube.
Shove the whole cube in your mouth.
Done.
There is no other way to do it. And if you like SPAM and claim to be a SPAM fan, you can only eat it in this singularly designed, simple way. Any other preferences is what we have decided to call "SHAM SPAM". Which is basically SPAM enjoyed in any other way than how we have deemed worthy. 
SPAM doesn't need anything to make it more enjoyable. Just because you don't like it the way we intended for it to be consumed doesn't mean there's anything wrong with our way--it means YOU are wrong and you are harming the integrity of our SPAM by enjoying it in other ways apart from the way we made it. You're also stifling our creativity and making us sad and causing us to act out in ways that are detrimental or harmful to our career in making SPAM. We can't be held responsible for the infantile ways we lash out at wanna-be SPAM fans. Sorry not sorry.
Please, if you enjoy your SPAM with Miracle Whip or cut up in an egg salad or something, think about your life! Think of how every time you eat SPAM and enjoy it in a way that is right for you, you are selfishly depriving the makers of SPAM their right to make SPAM the way they want. 
Just eat TUNA for pity's sake!
Sincerely,
The Makers of SPAM



Monday, January 21, 2019

Recommendations for Women in Horror Month!

Women in Horror Month is February! You can prepare now by visiting some of these dedicated websites, blogs, podcasts:

WiHM.com
Ladies of the Fright Podcast
Ladies of Horror Fiction

Here are some of my recommendations for those of you building an "All Ladies" TBR for next month (this is what I'll be doing as well!)

1. THE CARROW HAUNT by Darcy Coates- this is on my TBR and it was nominated in the Best Horror Category for Goodreads last year. "The dead are restless here..."
 2. CRUEL WORKS OF NATURE by Gemma Amor- I'll be reading this one with the Night Worms crew next month! Join us!

"Curiosity may have killed the cat, but supernatural curiosities brought it back."

 3. THE HUNGER by Alma Katsu- I read this one last year and I feel like it has so much going for it in terms of great character development and engaging drama.
"An NPR Best Horror Novel"
 4. MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS by Emil Ferris- a powerfully gripping, beautifully illustrated graphic novel. "the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography."
 5. FOUNTAIN DEAD by Theresa Braun- Another Night Worms read! We're all very excited to read it next month. "Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house's dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history."
 6. THE RUST MAIDENS by Gwendolyn Kiste- Also on my TBR I've heard nothing but excellent reviews for this book. It is on the preliminary ballot to win a Bram Stoker!
"Something’s happening to the girls on Denton Street."
 7. HAG by Kathleen Kaufman- One of the best stories about witches I have ever read. Read my Cemetery Dance review HERE
 8. THE GABRIEL DAVENPORT SERIES by Beverley Lee- a 5 star series! Each book is excellent. Literally the best vampire fiction on the market right now.
"Blood calls to blood"
 9. EVERYTHING THAT'S UNDERNEATH by Kristi DeMeester- I will never stop singing the praises of this short story collection. Visceral, raw and uniquely feminine. Creepy as hell.
"Crawl across the earth and dig in the dirt. Feel it. Tearing at your nails, gritty between your teeth, filling your nostrils."

 10. BEHIND HER EYES by Sarah Pinborough- This was a page turner for me. I didn't want to stop until it was done and when it was, OH HOLY HELL, what an ending. LOVE!
"“You should read Behind Her Eyes…It’s bloody brilliant.” Stephen King"
 11. SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLOOD SOAKED by Christa Carmen- One of my favorite author collections last year. Every story was something different and I loved them all.
"a compelling exploration of horrors both supernatural and psychological, and an undeniable affirmation of Carmen’s flair for short fiction."

 12. BENEATH by Kristi DeMeester- another from Kristi but this time a novel but she can do short stories and novel length stories like a horror pro. I love her!
"What will happen when occulted horrors writhe to the surface, when pallid and forgotten things rise to reclaim the Earth?"

 13. PRETTY LITTLE DEAD THINGS by Mercedes M. Yardley- This was such an interesting combination of a lyrical style fairytale and dark fantasy/horror. I loved it.
"Bryony Adams is destined to be murdered..."
 14. CRY YOUR WAY HOME- Damien Angelica Walters- I haven't finished this collection but I have read like half of the stories and Damien's storytelling ability is brilliant. Highly recommend!
"Once upon a time there was a monster. This is how they tell you the story starts. This is a lie."

 15. ALL THE ANIA AHLBORN!

Seriously. Read them all. Start with BROTHER.

 16. I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK by Michelle McNamara- One of the scariest books I ever started and I didn't finish it because it was too scary for me. So, if you want to be horrified by true crime--this is your jam.
 17. THE GRIP OF IT by Jack Jemc- I love quiet, subtle horror and this one was written with beautiful imagery and atmosphere.
"Jac Jemc's The Grip of It is a chilling literary horror novel about a young couple haunted by their newly purchased home."
 18. YOU & HIDDEN BODIES by Caroline Kepnes- If Joe Goldberg's sociopathic love for Beck isn't horror, I don't know what is--addicting and compelling this book won't leave you alone until it's over!
“Hypnotic and scary.” —Stephen King

Friday, December 28, 2018

Mother Horror's Anticipated Reads in 2019

2019 is going to be a stellar year for horror. I can feel it in my old lady witch bones. Here is a list of books I'm excited to read in the coming year. I've already started this one...

I have two stories left. Stay tuned for my review coming on Cemetery Dance! Spoiler Alert: I LOVED IT. (no surprise) preorder HERE

I have this book in my hot little hands as well. Trust me when I say I want to crawl inside this book right now and live inside of it until all the words are gobbled up. Preorder HERE

The 6th and FINAL book in the Miriam Black Series! SAY IT AINT SO!!! But Chuck made this jagged little pill a bit easier to swallow since we have THIS riding on its heels... (PREORDER VULTURES)


An epic apocalyptic tale for summer reading?? YAAAAAAAS PLEASE!!! (preorder)


In 2018, Andrew Cull blew us away with his debut collection, BONES and in 2019, we will get a novel called REMAINS. I'm so stinking eager for this!!! Click HERE

I was lucky enough to beta read a short story that Ania Ahlborn was contributing to this collection with a witch theme and told by an all female guest list. WANT NOW! (have to wait for October-not even available for preorder)

I can't wait for this book!! And I'm stoked that Ashley and I are working with Kealan Patrick Burke on a very special book club package for Night Worms including this new release, a previously released anthology with a KPB story in it and some original artwork by this multitalented horror author and book cover designer. And it doesn't stop here because this announcement was made earlier this week...(visit KPB's BLOG)

WARD is a prequel to SOUR CANDY so my recommendation is that if you haven't read SOUR CANDY, now is your chance! Click HERE


I'm so excited that Flame Tree Press is releasing the entire back catalog of Jonathan Janz! Click HERE to see all the upcoming books! But here are the ones I'm most excited about:

Oh, it's all of them actually. Tricked you.

Andrew Pyper is an amazing storyteller and I'm SO EXCITED to read this book THE HOMECOMING--taking place where I currently live in the PNW! I will show up for anything he writes. Preorder!


Speaking of authors that I will show up to read every, single, time...THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU by Chad Lutzke is coming in January! I can't wait. Follow Chad on Amazon for release

New Robert McCammon?
Me: Okay.
*stands in line*
Click here


WILL HAUNT YOU by Brian Kirk will be my first Brian Kirk book and I'm SO EXCITED because I've heard such high praise! PREORDER

I read a short story by Sarah Lotz in 2018 and my curiosity is locked in! This book comes out in April and I WANT IT. Click HERE