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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Personal EDI Mission Statement for Sadie Hartmann "Mother Horror"

 

Personal EDI Mission Statement for Sadie Hartmann "Mother Horror"

I have recently come to the realization that even though I have made personal, intentional standards for myself regarding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, sometimes those standards need to be clearly vocalized for accountability and to set an example since I have a loud voice in the intimate literary community of horror fiction. 


I, Sadie Hartmann, “Mother Horror” am committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in my reading/reviewing, business practices, and in my roles as a publicist for other companies. I will use my privilege and influence to amplify the voices of marginalized communities. 


Equity- I take a posture of listening to and learning about the ways systemic oppression of marginalized voices has caused underrepresentation in the genre of horror fiction. I actively look for ways I can support anti-racist efforts. I fight against exclusion by being inclusive to any and all disadvantaged groups as much as I can. This will always be a work-in-progress. I am constantly being challenged by mindful, loving members of the community, to grow and mature in this area. I have great mentors I turn to who help keep me on this path. 


Diversity- The “D” is my favorite part of this mission statement because it celebrates the ways we are different while embracing the ways we are the same. It’s tempting to define diversity by external differences we see with our eyes but it’s equally important to recognize that we are internally and invisibly different as well. That’s why getting to know my community through meaningful relationships is an important value to me that I strive to maintain. People reveal more about themselves in situations where there is trust and support. I take my relationships very seriously and work hard to build a diverse network of creatives in order to present a whole picture of what the horror genre represents to readers and people in my sphere of influence. 

I do not advertise or exploit an individual’s inner diversity (sexual orientation, gender, neurodiversity, etc.). People can assume I am intentional about amplifying voices that normalize inclusion without making it the reason or the cause for celebration (only during their “months”) 


Inclusion- the environment providing the opportunity for inclusion in the form of reading, reviewing, curating packages for the business I co-own, author events, speaking engagements, panels, book lists, articles, etc., and making sure all individuals are valued for their unique insight & perspectives. It’s my goal that all people can recognize/see themselves reflected in the horror fiction community. 


Experience/Organizations/Companies
Contributor: SCREAM Magazine

Contributor: Cemetery Dance Online

Contributor: Tor Nightfire

Contributor: LitReactor

Member: HWA

Publicist: Stygian Sky Media | Death’s Head Press

2 Years with The Children’s Museum of Tacoma and Play2Learn

Resources/Guides

RA for ALL EDI Mission Statement

EDI Statement for the ALSC

EDI Statement for the American Library Assoc.





Saturday, April 24, 2021

Book Review: TWISTED: TAINTED TALES by Janine Pipe


TWISTED: TAINTED TALES by Janine Pipe

I think it’s important to let other readers know that the author of this collection is a friend of mine and it’s always difficult to be entirely honest about my reading experience knowing full well that they will read every word and take it to heart. But I did decide I would read/review this with my critical hat on and make sure to be totally true/honest and approach this review like I would anything else.

I would shelve this particular collection of short stories next to my Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Treasury. The writing feels straightforward and accessible in the same tradition. Janine writes much like she talks; it’s unfiltered and free from any pretenses or fussy literary devices. Clean & simple. 
As far as the format is concerned, I had some issues with the introduction in the beginning and the use of introductions for every story. They prefaced the stories too much, almost like a way of explaining to the reader how to feel about the story before reading it. I’ve never encountered anything like that before and I decided to skip them halfway through. Reading the author talking about their own work from an imaginary POV just didn’t work for me.

In contrast, I loved the author’s notes at the end of the stories. Because Janine is my friend, these notes were like having a conversation with her after each one. 
All of that being said, Janine Pipe’s storytelling is like the blade of a knife piercing through your innermost parts with the deft precision of a skilled maniac.
Clearly, she is influenced by her favorite authors (who are some of my favorites too). I love the passion and dedication she shows improving her craft. I took notice of Janine right away when she burst on the scene. I remember DMing Tim Meyer on Twitter like, “Woah! This Janine gal!” If I were to write a blog post about her, the title would be “Who’s That Girl” (Madonna) because I can’t imagine our horror community without her big personality. One minute it was a quiet night with a full moon and the next minute Janine was howling at that moon inspiring all of us to howl along with her. 
I am proud to call her a friend and I’m excited to sit back and watch her career blossom. Kicking ass, taking names, and checking off that bucket list. Debut author collection? Achievement unlocked. 

Foreword- Glenn Rolfe
Introduction- Jill
Track 1- FOOTSTEPS: This is Janine's story in DIABOLICA BRITANNICA which is an anthology for charity. I haven't finished that book but I did read Janine's tale and thought it was great werewolf Splatterpunk. It has been nominated for a Splatterpunk Award so other people must have thought it was great too!

Track 2- WHEN DOVES CRY: A short, almost flash fiction style story because there's no real meat on these bones; no filler; doesn’t need any. Reads like a Scary Story to Tell in the Dark folklore/legend style.

Track 3- I WANT TO BREAK FREE: A "his" and "her" narrative with a predator/prey/human monsters theme. Fast and urgent. Uniquely Janine's whip-crack style.

Track 4- MANEATER: One of my favorites in the collection. Janine's wheelhouse is in writing what she knows, authentic dialog, and a fast-forward pace that keeps readers engaged. This one as it all.

Track 5- ADDICTED TO LOVE: Pretty gratuitous sex and violence simply for the sake of it. This would make a great addition to an anthology of similar stories but all by itself, I found it to be a little thin.

Track 6- SWEET CHILD O MINE: A proper story that I enjoyed but it ended as soon as it got going. I wanted a little more from this one. Maybe just like two more pages worth of character development or exposition. 

Track 7- TAINTED LOVE: Okay, this one had a few issues that irked me. Some real confusion between love and lust and also, how the fuck did the narrator know that the guy's name was Adam? He seemed to be a total stranger on the bus! I went through it twice looking for the moment or opportunity for the name and couldn't find it so now I'm like, HEY! Lol

Track 8- LOST IN THE SHADOWS: "Hunter's Hamburgers Catering Company" Lol. Janine works in pop culture references like an artist in clay. Fun story.

Track 9- IT'S A SIN: Another favorite in the collection. I love when Janine writes from a child’s POV. It feels very authentic and the narrative just flows easily and fluidly with sweet innocence. 

Track 10- LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD: This is a case of too many pop culture references. It kind of muddies my brain with a lot of imagery from other works and not enough originality to stand on its own. I lost my way with this one.

Track 11- RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL: I love this tale! Another great example that Janine’s writing shines when she’s in very familiar territory. The Legend of Trent Barrow feels like it could be the titular tale in a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark tribute anthology. I related to the narrator as she navigates her teenage scene. So realistic.

Track 12- PARADISE CITY: Ugh. I tapped out of this one actually. The subject matter with young boys jerking off and stuff just skeeved me out. 

Track 13- SCHOOL'S OUT FOREVER…: Authentic dialog. Easy, accessible storytelling. Fun.

Track 14- LIVING ON A PRAYER: Fun flash fiction. Authentic POV.

Track 15- BONES OF BOARDED-UP BABY BODIES BEHIND THE BATH-PANEL: I love when Janine leans into her context and utilizes Brit-slang. I enjoyed this one. I liked the ambiguity. It works.

Track 16- NOBODY'S FOOL: I could see this story idea more fully fleshed out in a novella. This stands well on its own as a very short story but I think there’s more here to uncover because I was left feeling a little unsatisfied. I want more, Janine!

Track 17- THEY: A favorite for me. I enjoyed the storytelling on this werewolf tale. It’s easy to see that Janine strives after her influences to produce stories her mentors would be proud of. This particular tale is fashioned as an homage to them, clearly. 

 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Book Review: MIDNIGHT IN THE PENTAGRAM edited by Kenneth W. Cain

 

MIDNIGHT IN THE PENTAGRAM has big shoes to fill as a follow-up to its 2019 predecessor, MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD. Very much like a hit album from your favorite band, GRAVEYARD is a cover to cover success; no skips.


Even with expectations set extremely high, PENTAGRAM rose to the occasion; or should I say “levitated”?

All of the stories in this anthology have something to do with demons, Satan himself, or the occult. If you’re going to venture off into this tome, be mindful that ritualistic sacrifice and demonic possession play heavy roles in these dark tales.


Kenneth W. Cain is quickly becoming a favorite editor; pulling together an impressive TOC and setting the bar high in terms of quality. “All killer, no filler.”

Readers get to enjoy a foreword from a prolific horror writer, Ronald Malfi. He writes,

“What do you do to relax as the world comes to an end? You read a bunch of short stories about various breeds of possession, of course.”


Well, it’s April 2021 and we’re still wearing face masks and social distancing. But I do find a little hope in the fact that I’m getting the first dose of the Moderna vaccine in just a few hours. So until then, I’m writing this book review. I star rated the stories I read and left the ones I skipped (DNF) blank for simply not working for me at the time but I typically go back and re-read so I will likely try again another time.


TABLE OF CONTENTS 

(shoutout to Aiden Merchant for posting the TOC in his review. I Copied & Pasted it for my review)

Foreword by Ronald Malfi

THE CORN MAIDENS by Brian Moreland-starting off with a HUGE impact on readers, this might stand as my favorite story. A young girl is banished from her community, believed to be a witch. She’s taken in by real occultists. *****

 

FATHER MACLEOD by Tony Tremblay- This was terrifying! So realistic. A priest is given a deal from a demon in possession of his young nephew. ****

 

OPENING THE DOOR by Kenneth McKinley- Two junkers hit the jackpot looking through an old estate but wind up getting more than just a way to make some quick cash. ***

 

THE OTHER by Laurel Hightower- A man feels haunted by the presence of ‘the Other’. He wonders if he’s experiencing mental illness or the onset of early dementia. This reminded me a bit of COME CLOSER as it edged closer to the demonic. ***

 

LEGION CAST FORTH by Robert Ford- I loved this story. A man has a deal with local churches where they can bring possessed parishioners to his farm in order to cast the demons into his pigs. The one caveat is what to do, or NOT do with the pigs afterward. *****


ANGEL DUST by Shannon Felton-


WHAT I WOULDN’T GIVE by Chad Lutzke- A man is having a very casual conversation with the devil at the crossroads. Hilarious. I enjoyed it. ****

 

HELLSEED by Tim Curran- Utterly terrifying. Very atmospheric and some of the best monster(demon)-building I have ever read. *****

 

DEVIL’S INK by Mark Towse-

 

BABY TEETH by Azzurra Nox- Reader Advisory: This one was pretty violent/graphic in its handling of the subject which is clear right from the beginning. I thought it was extremely intense/visual and read like a little horror movie. ****

 

MY BODY by Wesley Southard- A food critic discovers a new restaurant and quickly learns why the food is so tempting/delicious. TBH, I’m not entirely sure I know what happened. Lol ***

 

THE RED BUTCHER OF WROCLAW by Graham Masterston- I’m not sure why this story felt familiar to me or where I might have read this tale before but I had deja vu the entire time. A legend about a butcher during the holocaust. ***

 

DOG EAT GOD by Kenneth W. Cain- I do love Cain’s storytelling voice. This was an accessible, compelling story employing humor & horror to spin a great yarn. ***

 

THE OUBLIETTE OF ELIE LOYD by Catherine Cavendish- I have come to look forward to Catherine’s offerings in anthologies. They always seem to stand out. This one is no exception. A chilling story about a sightseeing tour that learns about the dark history of an oubliette. ****

 

DISCOVERING MR. JONES by Cameron Ulam- a clean-up crew is prepared to go on a “big job” but nothing really could prepare them for what they had to encounter. This terrified me. The description of a ‘book’ and its ‘contents’ was all kinds of disturbing. Solid horror. *****

 

THE GODS OF OUR FATHERS by Todd Keisling- Exhausting religious oppression & manipulation leading to even harsher abuses. Poor Mary. This is a difficult tale that keeps getting worse until...the Nameless. *****

 

I KNOW HE LOVES ME by James Newman- “I was 15 years old when a demon came into me.” I love this story. The narrator’s voice. And the reader *thinks* they know where this story is going, but they don’t. This is what I adore about James Newman. *****

 

SECOND SIGHT by Allan Leverone-

 

FAMILY REUNION by Stephanie Ellis- A domestic dispute between Satanists escalated quickly! This is a pitch-black tale exposing the dynamic of relationships within a coven. ***

 

A NIGHT ABOVE by John Quick- A gaggle of girls accidentally summons a demon. The story is from the demon’s POV. This is hilarious. Like, laugh out loud funny. I wish it on SNL as skit comedy, it’s funnier than anything they’ve ever put on the show. ****

 

BRUJERIA by Michael Patrick Hicks-

 

WHITE WALPURGIS by Tim Meyer- A wedding photographer is asked to take pictures of an unconventional ceremony. This was interesting. I’m not entirely sure it worked for me but I always enjoy Meyer’s storytelling style/voice. ***

 

FAMILY BUSINESS by Charlotte Platt- The family business is in antique dealing and repair but there is much more to the family business than what meets the eye. I enjoyed the way this one opened up to reveal its secrets. ***

 

FLAKING RED PAINT by Armand Rosamilia- Okay. This was a fun story to read but one of those tales where I am sure I’m missing something. I felt confused when I finished. A child is solicited by a creepy old man in the neighborhood to do menial chores around the house in exchange for finding stray cats. **

 

DIMINISHING RETURNS BY P. D. Cacek-

THE STORY OF A LIFETIME by JG Faherty-

THE FURIOUS POUR by Amanda Hard-

 

A VIRGIN BIRTH by William Meikle- Christmas folk-horror? Yay! I added this to my list of stories to read this holiday season.

 

COMPLEX by Jason Parent-A couple is on some kind of religious quest. A ‘culling’ of the herd as foretold by ‘Messiah’. Basically, people are being picked off by wolves. Unbelievers/heretics are sacrificed. Good folk-horror. ****


BLACK JAR MAN by Mark Steensland-It’s no secret that Mark Steensland is a favorite author of mine. I think is storytelling voice is so practiced and natural. This one is no exception! Immediately compelling- a tale about what happens when the monster wins. A scary one! *****

 

BABYLON FALLING by Brian Keene- I’m going to confess that I typically don’t enjoy movies or books set in wartime. This has everything to do with me getting burned-out on the genre doing too much research for a one-act play I was starring in during high school drama. My heart is just emotionally worn out. However, Brian Keene is a favorite & a vet and I enjoyed this story very much. Keene’s authentic dialog, love for pop culture, and talented character development shine. *****

 

EXPRESS by Edward M. Erdelac-A desk manager/night security for a big building does not get paid enough money to investigate the disappearance of a bunch of people on one of the building’s floors. This one is short & sweet. ***

 

WITCHES’ NIGHT by Owl Goingback- My favorite story. A coming-of-age tale with a group of friends who agree to meet up in a cemetery to learn more about Witches’ Night. “Just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it’s not real.” I loved the balance between real-life & otherworldly horrors. *****






Saturday, April 17, 2021

Book Review: THE COCKROACH KING by Andrew Cull

 


THE COCKROACH KING by Andrew Cull
Definitely delivers on what I’ve come to expect from Andrew Cull as a storyteller. Cull is skilled in the art of short fiction. I highly recommend his collection, BONES as well as the novella, REMAINS. In just a few pages, readers can trust Cull will execute on great character development and a unique story concept.

The Cockroach King is further proof. 
A single mother, Cass, finds a home that feels like a place she can settle into with her young son and build a life there together.
With the help of a friend, Cassie slowly begins the daunting task of making the house her own. Digging in the yard one day, she discovers bones.
From this moment on, Cull begins to build that sweet, sweet tension as Cass slowly begins to realize that the house is...well, problematic.
This tale capitalizes on several different realistic fears: Homeownership (if you don't think that's scary or stressful, have you owned an older home?), single parenthood, Entomophobia (fear of bugs), isolation (being alone in this world especially after the end of a relationship or the death of a loved one) and lastly, a good ol' case of 'what the fuck is wrong with this house' trope.

I wish that bugs freaked me out more-there were some intense scenes in this book that missed the mark for me, had they been spiders-it would be a different story but roaches don't skeeve me out the way spiders do. There's one thing that happens toward the end that I thought turned the dial leaning more into horror and I appreciated the level up.

This is another great Andrew Cull story. I think new readers could start with any of Cull's works and gain access to fandom. 



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Review Policies: 2021

 


REVIEW POLICIES 2021

  • 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 a book does not always result in a review with Cemetery Dance or SCREAM Mag. Reading a book might not result in a review if I choose to not finish the book for personal reasons. Accepting a book also is not a commitment to photograph it or post it to my social media platforms. 
  • 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 to 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)
  • Manuscripts or blurbs- I am only accepting manuscripts, beta reading, or "blurbing" for authors I have already read and enjoyed before. 
  • 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. 
  • sadielouwho@hotmail.com for submitting a request for me to review
  • nightwormsreviews@gmail.com if you are interested in Night Worms









  • Friday, March 26, 2021

    Indie Horror Publishers

     Over the years, I have been quite obsessed with my favorite indie horror publishers. Reviewing horror fiction both as a hobbyist and professionally has deepened my relationship with dozens of small, independent presses and boutique publishers. I honestly think that they are among some of the coolest people I've ever met. I'm happy to call them friends. Support INDIE HORROR PUBLISHERS!

    Here are some of the shoutouts I've done on #bookstagram over the last 3-4 years. I also want to highlight Off Limits Press, Rooster Rebuplic, Bloodshot Books, BloodBound Books, Undertow Publications, JournalStone, WickedRun Press