My first time at Nebula Con

This past week I attended Nebula Con for the first time. This was my first writing con ever. And it was, let me tell you, an experience. So I thought it would be fun to tell you all about it today, including some lessons I’ll be keeping in mind for next year.

The con was entirely virtual this year. Which for sure had its pros and cons. I’ve never been to a live con before, so I can’t compare the experiences.

I can tell you that it seems like it would have been a lot harder to get to panels if I’d been there in person. Many times the panels are double up, so some serious decisions would have had to be made if I couldn’t watch the replay later. 

And there was just so much! There were a ton of panels about writing, marketing, and time management. You know, all my favorite things. There were Q&A sessions, meet and greets, and office hours with successful authors and agents. And of course, there was the Nebula Awards ceremony. Oh, such an inspirational vibe! If you can watch that and not get inspired to write some potentially award-winning words, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

If you’ve never been to a con, or are considering going to an online con, here are some things to keep in mind.

It’s exhausting, even if it’s virtual

I was expecting Nebula con to take a lot. Panels were often scheduled from nine in the morning until midnight, my time. And I wanted to get to as many of the panels as I could. I paid money for this con, I was going to squeeze every last bit out of it as I could. I bought energy drinks and planned to order in all three days. (Good thing, too. Because on the first day my kitchen sink exploded. Mercury Retrograde at its finest.)

Even with these preparations, I was just done. I’d taken vacation time from the day job, and I was so thankful I’d taken the Monday after off as well. My plan originally was to watch the panels I’d missed and go through my notes in more detail. What I did instead was sleep and read This is How You Lose the Time War. Then sleep some more. So if you can, plan on taking a recoup day after any convention, even if it’s virtual.

Prepare to take a ton of notes

This one I was ready for. I bought a specific con notebook and everything. And let me tell you, I needed it. 

Not only were there some amazing writing and marketing tips, but I was also getting story ideas left and right. I was also having realizations about my WIP. I was also learning about books I need to read, websites I need to lurk on, and opportunities I need to seek out. There wasn’t a time my pen wasn’t going during a panel. So, be prepared.

Your tbr list will explode

Oh, the books I learned about. So many of the panelists had great books they were talking up. So many of my fellow con attendees had great books, too. That isn’t even including all the writing must-reads that I learned about. And I was just writing them all down. Not like I already didn’t have a massive tbr list. But I learned about so many indie or small press authors because I was cracking jokes with them in the comment section. And what did the conversation always turn to? Of course, our books.

Take office hours if they’re offered, and prepare for them

I had the opportunity to talk to DongWon Song during the convention, and I was just star-struck. I knew I was going to get tongue-tied taking to them, so I wrote a list of questions I wanted to ask in advance.

I didn’t think of enough questions. 

Getting some professional advice from someone I admire was amazing. If you get a chance for office hours at a con, take them. And write down questions beforehand. Write twice as many questions as you think you have time for, and ask them in order of priority. Because I didn’t write nearly enough, and my social anxiety kicked in too hard for me to think of any more at the moment.

Meeting new writers is the best part of the con

I met so many cool writers during the con. We all followed each other on social media, made jokes, and gave each other advice in the comment section. We made plans to meet up like kids at sleep-away camp. It was awesome.

Having fellow writers around to keep you accountable and commiserate is amazing. They understand what it’s like to juggle day jobs with writing and marketing books, while maybe catching a few hours of sleep. So I was overjoyed to make some new writing buddies.

Nothing you learn there is going to do you any good if you don’t act on it!

Finally, it’s important to note that my Nebula con experience isn’t done yet. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a stack of notes. I also have some panels left to watch. I have websites to check out, writing exercises to try, and books to read. Because I can go to every con, read every book, watch every Youtube video, and it won’t do me a damn bit of good if I don’t act on what I’ve learned.

It might take me three months, but damn it I’m going to do it. 

After all of this, I think it’s clear that I’ll be going back next year. Hopefully, I’ll see you there. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you got something of value from this post, please consider buying me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi.

SmashWords and Amazon

It’s Quiet Apocalypse Launch Day!

Happy Friday the 13th, everybody.

And happy launch day. Quiet Apocalypse has now made its way into the world. If you haven’t yet, you can get your very own virtual copy on Amazon or Smashwords.

I’ll be documenting my whole day on Instagram if you want to follow along on my launch day adventures.

The end of the world began with a winter storm.

Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.

But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.

Not with screams, but with silence.

Some early reviews for Quiet Apocalypse

Here’s some early reviews from some amazing people for Quiet Apocalypse.

Nicole C. Luttrell’s *A Quiet Apocalypse *is a haunting tale about the horrors that lurk within what we think are our safest spaces. Her visceral imagery, witty dialogue and eloquent prose bring the story to life. We are sucked into a world we won’t, can’t look away from. It is a terrifying, exciting story that will haunt you and leave you yearning for more.

-Court Court

Nicole Luttrell’s story of a witch, a house, and a storm carries the primal nature, fury, and bone chilling fear of circumstances beyond the control of humanity and the horrific depths we may all very well succumb to when confronted by them.

-David Davis

From the very first page, “Quiet Apocalypse” weaves a subtly sinister spell, drawing the reader into its many-layered mystery. Fans of atmospheric horror will enjoy the way the tension builds until all hell breaks loose, and the real terror begins.

Kristen Cleaves

You can preorder Quiet Apocalypse now on Amazon and Smashwords!

Quiet Apocalypse, Chapter One

Quiet Apocalypse come out tomorrow! But for now, here’s the prologue and chapter one.

The end of the world started on a dark winter night.

Trees circled the apartment building at 437 Oakmont. They weren’t old trees, nor were they tall. Yet to look at them, one would think them ancient. They were twisted and gnarled. Every gust of wind found them, even when no other tree moved. The cold of winter clung in their branches, no matter the weather. Passersby didn’t like to dawdle along the sidewalk. The trees made them feel unwelcome. Children especially felt this, but of course, children always feel these things most keenly.

 But we weren’t talking about children. We’ll come back to them. For now, we’re discussing the trees. 

They’d been groaning and moaning for most of their lives. Sometimes you couldn’t hear them unless you were listening carefully. Other times the inhabitants of the apartment had to turn their TVs up to drown the trees out. But on one dark night in February, the sounds were unrelenting. There was a winter storm. The wind was hellacious, cutting through the town like a vengeful spirit. It took out hanging signs for stores on Main Street, brought down the old pine next to the library, and crashed Mr. Wallback’s patio table into his sliding glass window. Ashley Homestead regretted leaving her potted pine tree out for the night. It was thrown against the house from the back porch with such force that the pot shattered.

Leslie Richard’s trampoline, covered over with a tarp for the season, was lifted and thrown into the yard of his next-door neighbor.

The wind rattled windows, pushed its way through cracks in the walls and around doors. Heaters couldn’t keep up with the sharp, blistering cold. The families in the apartment building were kept awake by it, huddled under blankets to keep warm.

The storm built up steam as it headed for Oakmont. It was as though those trees in a circle were its target, and it meant to have them. The storm came to a head at almost four in the morning. One of the trees, exhausted from a night’s battle, couldn’t hold on any longer. It came down, crashing into the roof and jutting sharp, dark branches into the attic apartment.

The wind died away almost at once. Gentle snow replaced it, covering the ice. The next morning this would cause several accidents.

The trees that remained continued to scream, as though mourning their fallen brother.

Chapter One

Sadie sat in the doorway of her ruined apartment. Her eyes were itchy, there were rivets of tears dried to her face. She had cried herself out the night before. Now she only wanted a shower and a good long rest. But, as a tree had crashed through the roof of her apartment, neither of those things could happen. 

She knew she ought to be grateful. She’d been in the kitchen with Sage, her creamy colored lab mix when the tree came down. Branches seared through the exterior wall, crashing through her living room and bedroom. One had pierced right through her bed. It was still there, jammed right in the center of the quilt. If Sadie’d been asleep, she wouldn’t have survived. All she’d lost were things. She should be thankful for that.

When she was done mourning her things she would be. Her mother had made her that quilt. The crystals on the altar in her living room were all buried in the rubble. Her whole living room was a loss. What wasn’t destroyed in the crash or buried under the roof was damaged by the snow that had flooded in.

And her books! Her family had given her irreplaceable books. Thank the Green Man Himself that her grandmother’s grimoire was at Aunt Helen’s place. But Sadie had her mother’s grimoire. And now it was destroyed.

She looked at the cardboard box that contained everything she now owned. There was her teapot, gray with a design of cherry blossoms. The cups that matched it had shaken loose from their shelf and shattered.

There was her grimoire, a battered old sketchbook with a red cover. A french press, some herbs. A truly astounding assortment of tea. A handful of crystals and candles had been on her kitchen windowsill. Sage’s food and water bowl. That was all she had.

They were just things. Things that didn’t mean anything aside from everything. Ties to family members lost. Tools for her magical work and her mundane life. Decades of learning were destroyed in no time.

 The stairs behind her creaked. She looked back. Her landlord, Frank, was coming up slowly to accommodate his bad knee. He didn’t say anything. They’d known each other too long for that. He just stood beside her in the entryway, looking over the damage. 

Sadie thought Frank was the only person who could understand how she felt just then. This apartment was in the attic of a house that Frank’s family built. And now the roof was nothing more than a mess to be carted away and burned. 

 “I guess it could have been worse, but I’m not sure how,” he said. 

 “I could have been asleep,” Sadie said. “I’ll have to go stay with my aunt until you guys get this fixed, I guess.” 

 She said this with a hint of irritation. Helen was a great woman, in small doses. The thought of spending so much time with her was a bit daunting. 

 “There’s an open apartment on the second floor if you want it. It’s not as big as this one, but I’ll give you a break on the rent.”

 He gave her a grin that was something of a comfort. Being a witch, from a long line of witches, she was used to being frowned upon. To being not entirely welcome. But not by Frank’s family.

“That would be really great,” Sadie said. 

 “Here, I’ll get this box and you can grab the others.” Frank bent down and lifted the lone box.

 “Um, there are no others,” Sadie said. 

 “Oh,” Frank said. “Well, I’ll get this one anyway.”

There was no more reason to stay there, sitting on the landing. She stood, dusted the wood chips from her jeans. 

The studio was about the size of Sadie’s living room, but with a stove and fridge wedged into the corner. There was a closet and a bathroom. Two windows overlooked the side of the building, or would if she could see past the snow-covered trees.

Frank sat the box in the middle of the room, leaving Sadie to settle in. 

Sage sniffed over every inch of the place, her active nose trailing over every inch of the floor and what of the wall she could reach. Sadie peeked into the bathroom. There was a clawfoot tub, good sized. Some previous tenant had left behind a cache of monopoly pieces under the sink. The Park Place card and the racecar.

Sadie put her tea and teapot away in a cupboard above the stove. Then she set her crystals on one of the windowsills. After that, there was nothing left to do but call her aunt.

“What’s wrong?” Aunt Helen said, as soon as Sadie said hello.

“One of the big trees outside the apartment came down on the roof,” Sadie said. “My place is totaled.”

“I’ll be right over.”

 Aunt Helen was soon there in her red truck. She looked as she always had, brown hair brushed and pulled into a braid so as not to be a burden through the day. She wore a thick coat that was probably older than Sadie. Helen took care of her things. 

While Sadie and Sage piled into the car, Helen leaned over the wheel to peer at the remains of the tree. “I never thought I’d see that,” she said.

 “It was that awful wind storm last night,” Sadie replied. Helen gave Sage a good scratch before pulling out. 

“I’m surprised it didn’t do as much damage out at your place. You’ve got all those big oaks in the backyard.”

 “Those trees will outlive me,” Helen waved a hand at her niece. “But I don’t even remember hearing the wind last night.” 

 “Well yeah, but aren’t you taking Ambien?” Sadie asked.

“The kind of storm that brought that tree down? I should have heard it in my grave.”

By the end of the shopping trip, Sadie had a second-hand futon, a blanket, a kitchen table, three mismatched chairs and a small stand to use as a new alter.

Everything fit neatly into the back of Aunt Helen’s truck, along with a large paper bag.

“What’s this?” Sadie asked.

“Oh, I was wondering if you’d take a look at that,” Helen said. She held it out to her. Sadie glanced in the sack and whistled. “Where did this come from?”

It was an ouija board, but not the cheap sort found in toy shops made of cardboard and plastic. It was thick oak, smooth with age and use. The letters were highly stylized in a swirling font and deep black. The planchet was in its own little red velvet bag.

“Don’t touch it with your bare hands. Ruby picked it up from that creepy second-hand store downtown. She’s sure there’s something messy hanging around it. She tried to get rid of it, but you know how Ruby is. Soft hand with her kids, her dog and spirits. I’d take care of it myself but just don’t have the time for the full cleansing ritual.”

“Are you sure it’s not a two-person job?” Sadie asked.

 “No, I don’t think it’s anything big. Probably just some spirit hanging onto it. Nothing you can’t handle.”

“I’ll take a swing at it,” she said and set the sack in the back seat.

 “You’d better drive the truck back to your place and leave me with your car for the night,” Helen said. “My back’s been acting up all day. I need to lay down.”

“Sure, no problem,” Sadie said. Though this would mean she’d be carting all the furniture inside by herself, it was better than her aunt ending up in the hospital again.

 Fortunately, she happened to drop the futon frame in the entryway, directly onto the smallest two toes on her right foot. Her swearing fit brought Rina, the woman who lived on the first floor, out to check on her. 

 “Oh, what’s this?” she asked. She was a beautiful woman, with creamy brown skin and the longest hair Sadie had ever seen in real life. It was pulled back in a long braid, hanging down so low she’d have to move it to sit down. 

 “I’m moving into the empty apartment on the second floor while my place is being repaired,” Sadie said. 

 “Are you trying to move all this stuff up those stairs by yourself?” Rina asked. “You can’t do that. Hold on, I’ll grab Ajay and Eli. We’ll give you a hand.” 

 “Oh, I don’t want to put anyone out,” Sadie said. But Rina had already ducked back into her apartment and was calling for someone in Indian. 

A moment later Rina’s husband, Eli, and brother Ajay came to the door. “Get some new furniture?” Eli asked. Ajay, who only spoke a handful of words in English, just smiled at her. Damn, that smile. His dark hair curled over his face, framing his amber-colored eyes.

 “Yeah, pretty much everything I owned was wrecked,” she said, trying to focus on the present. “My aunt took me thrift shopping to get some new stuff.” 

 Eli turned and spoke rapidly in Indian to Ajay, who nodded. “Okay, we’ve decided. That’s far too much work for one person,” Eli said. 

They grabbed the futon frame without waiting for her to agree. Rina picked half of the mattress.

 “Thanks,” Sadie said, giving in. She lifted the other side of the mattress and together they got it up the stairs. 

 It took only three trips to get everything upstairs. Then, as there wasn’t much space to move things around, it took even less time to get everything into place. The futon was set up in the corner. The kitchen table near the stove, with the chairs grouped around it. The end table placed under the window. Sadie looked around the room. It wasn’t great, but it would work. She’d at least have a bed to sleep in. Maybe this wouldn’t be so awful. 

Then she heard someone coming up the stairs. 

 Melody and Andy were home. And they had no idea yet that Sadie would be across the hall.

Melody looked fussy no matter what she was doing. She always had some expensive blouse or sweater. Even in jeans, she looked proper. Perhaps it had something to do with being a librarian. Though she wasn’t like any librarian Sadie had ever known. She wasn’t the friendly sort who liked having kids in the building. She was more the sort to breathe down patron’s necks if they dithered too long.

Maybe that was why her kid was such an insufferable little pain in the ass. Even now, Andy had a sour look on his face at the sight of Sadie. He might have said something nasty to her, but she was the school nurse. He’d been in her office often enough, with scrapes and cuts most other kids would have ignored. Usually, they came about because he’d managed to push another kid into losing their temper with him.

 “What are you all doing out here?” Melody asked. 

 “Helping Sadie move her stuff,” Rina said, rubbing her hands on her jeans. “She’s staying in this apartment while they’re fixing hers.” 

 “Oh,” Melody muttered. She turned and put her keys in her door. “Here I thought you’d be staying somewhere else.” 

Why hadn’t Sadie thought of this? Would staying with Aunt Helen be so bad?

 “Frank offered me this place,” Sadie said. 

 Melody’s cat, Boots, scooted out of the door as soon as it was open. He was a fat old Burmese with a bad temper and a dislike for dogs. Sage, standing in the open doorway of Sadie’s apartment, whined when she saw him. Boots hissed and Sage made for the bathroom. 

 “Do you think you could keep that monster in your apartment?” Sadie snapped. It was an old fight. 

 “I thought witches were supposed to like cats,” Melody said. Her son snickered. 

 Sadie tensed. “I like all animals. What I have a problem with is bullies. And your cat is a bully.” 

 Melody scoffed and went inside, Andy trailing after her. 

 “What a fun time we’re going to have,” Sadie muttered. 

 “Maybe you two will get a chance to mend fences while you’re down here,” Rina chuckled. 

 Sadie snorted. “Not likely. You guys want to order pizza? My treat.”

Sadie was still driving her aunt’s truck the next day, not having had the energy to return it the night before. She pulled into the faculty parking at the school and just sat there a moment.

Sleep had been hard to find. Part of it had been the new location. The futon was a trial as well. They were great when she’d been a teenager, but her thirty-three-year-old back didn’t approve.

Then there were the tree branches scratching on her window. Had that always been there? She couldn’t remember ever hearing it in the attic apartment. But then, maybe the tree didn’t reach up that far. Maybe she just hadn’t noticed it before one of those trees almost killed her.

A cup of coffee and sigil for energy had gotten her dressed and to the school. She wasn’t sure how much farther they would take her. 

She had to go in, though. There wasn’t a substitute school nurse. Sadie took a deep breath and headed inside.

She shared her office with Gene, the principal’s secretary. He grinned at her when she came in. “Well don’t you look happy to be here on this beautiful Monday morning?”

“Be happier if I didn’t almost die over the weekend,” Sadie said. She sat her bag down next to her desk. “A tree came down on the roof of my building, right into my apartment. Right into my bed!”

“Wow, really?” Gene gasped. “Are you okay? What about Sage?”

“Yeah, we were in the kitchen at the time. But everything I own now fits in one little box.”

“My God, that’s terrible. Do you have somewhere to stay?”

“Yeah, Frank had a studio on the second floor he’s letting me use. But it’s right across the hall from you know who. So that’s going to be a fun couple of months until my place can be repaired.”

“I don’t know why you’re still renting in that ancient place to start with. Haven’t you been there since college?”

“Sorry, is working for an elementary school lucrative for you?” Sadie replied. She went to the coffee station in the corner and poured herself a cup. “Ugh, this stuff is the worst.”

“No arguments here,” Gene said, taking a sip out of his mug. “Well, it looks like we won’t have to worry about bad coffee tomorrow. We can all stay home and sleep in.”

“Why?” Sadie said. She walked over to Gene’s desk and looked over his shoulder at the weather report. “Oh, that looks like a nasty storm. We’re going to get hit hard.” 

“Looks like it,” Gene grinned. “Here’s hoping it dumps five feet on us.”

Sadie clicked her coffee mug against his in salute.

A child was coming through the open door. Sadie and Gene looked up, surprised. Classes hadn’t even started yet. 

It was Andy, clutching an envelope in his hand and crying. “I, I need to see Principal, Principal Conner,” he sobbed. 

“Go right in,” Gene said, pointing to the open door. Principal Conner was standing behind her desk, giving Gene a quizzical look. What had the kid done so early in the morning to be sent to the Principal’s office?

Andy went into the office and shut the door behind him. “That kid,” Sadie whispered. 

Before she could say anything else, Stephanie Rogers came in. “Ms. North, I’m not feeling good.”

The girl looked green. Sadie grabbed Gene’s wastebasket and shoved it into her hands. Just in time too, as she puked right into it.

Sadie sighed. “Go lay down on the cot. Is mom or dad home today?”

Stephanie had to be cleaned up, then looked after until her dad arrived. Then there was the crowd of kids who had prescription medication they had to take during the day to be checked in. Once Stephanie was packed away in her dad’s car, Sadie finally had a moment to return to her stone-cold coffee.

Gene was watching her, with a look of disgust on his face.

“What did I do?” Sadie asked.

“Nothing,” Gene said. He slipped over to her desk, and said quietly, “You’re not going to believe what Andy was in here for.”

“I’d believe anything of that little delinquent,” Sadie said. 

“He called Abigail a bitch,” Gene hissed. 

“No,” Sadie replied. Abigail was the second-grade teacher, and probably one of the most patient ladies Sadie had ever known.

“Yes,” Gene said. “They got into an argument over a letter from his dad.”

“He couldn’t have a letter from his dad,” Sadie replied. “Andy’s dad died before he was born. I don’t know if he ever knew Melody was pregnant.”

She thought back to the man in question. He and Melody had moved in around the same time Sadie had. They’d all been college students. Sadie had thought they’d be good friends. But they were distant right from the start. And after Arthur died, Melody’s distance had turned to outright disdain.

“Abigail must know about his dad,” Gene said. “And I’m sure she would have called him out for lying.”

“Yeah, but in the nicest way possible,” Sadie said.

Gene shrugged. “How nice can you be with that? All the kid gloves in the world can’t soften that blow.”

Preorder Quiet Apocalypse now on Amazon and Smashwords.

The creation of Quiet Apocalypse

Quiet Apocalypse comes out on Friday. And, I’ve just got to say, this launch is nothing like any other launch I’ve ever done. That’s because Quiet Apocalypse is nothing like any book I’ve ever written before. So I thought it might be fun to take a look at the journey I went through writing this book. If you’re a writer, I hope you’ll learn something from the trip. If you’re just a fan, you might like a peek into the spaghetti bowl that is my brain. 

Quiet Apocalypse is probably the most indulgent book I’ve ever written. It’s a patchwork of things I wanted to write about all pulled together. 

It started with a short story about an apocalypse brought on when no one was able to have children anymore. I was raised Mormon, and one of the many wacky things they believe is that there’s a finite amount of souls in Heaven waiting to come to Earth. As a child, I interpreted that to mean that someday, people would just stop having babies. 

While I don’t believe this anymore, it’s always lurked around in the back of my brain. So I wanted to write about an apocalypse that came about because people just stopped being able to bear children. 

That short story didn’t pan out. It was rather dull, just a man sitting on a park bench thinking back over the horrors that had ensued since people stopped having kids. Eventually, I gave it up.

Sometime later, I realized I wanted to write something about witchcraft. Specifically, I wanted to write a story with a witch as the main character. I was about a year into my witchcraft journey at the time, and it was consuming much of my life. I also wanted to write a haunted house story. Something that had a similar vibe to The House Next Door or The House on Haunted Hill. Or Goosebumps, The Ghost Next Door.

So that’s where we got the start of Quiet Apocalypse. Sadie, a school nurse from a long line of witches, is given an ouija board by her aunt, and she accidentally lets a ghost loose in her apartment while she’s trying to cleanse it. 

Hilarity and horror were going to ensue.

But this wasn’t enough to fill a whole novella. It was barely a short story, and not a satisfying one. 

But of course, this is why we say no writing is ever wasted. I was muddling around, trying to think of something deeper to do with Sadie and her faithful dog, Sage. I loved her. I loved her quirky little apartment building, with the elderly landlord and his husband. I loved the found family feel the whole building had. 

I turned to my notebooks and found the fragments of my apocalypse story. It wasn’t workable on its own. But maybe I could still use that idea. The thought of a world going silent. A world without babies would then turn into a world without children. 

Then, we’d have a very quiet planet.

All of this blended to create the novella I’ve now brought into the world. And I think it turned out pretty well. See what you think on Friday.

Quiet Apocalypse is coming out on Friday the 13th! You can pre-order your copy now on Amazon or Smashwords

Why I don’t watch ghost hunting shows

I love a good ghost story. Especially a haunted house story. And they’re even better when they’re real. I love going on ghost tours, or just reading about an encounter that cannot be explained. A good local ghost story will get me up to 11 every time. 

What I don’t love is ghost hunting shows. And let me tell you why.

(As a quick aside, I do like Buzzfeed Unsolved. I love Ryan and Shane’s new company, Watcher. None of what I’m about to say applies to them.)

They’re performative

Yes, I understand that these are shows, meant for entertainment. I would expect any show like that to be performative because they are there to, duh, perform. But this is an issue I have with reality tv in general. It’s hard to believe that anything is real when we know the participants are fully aware that the camera is on them.

Too often I’ll see ‘professional ghost hunters’ lose their minds over some small supernatural occurrence. Things that I feel like they’ve seen hundreds of times. So why are they so amazed today? 

Because it plays better. 

There’s often a fair amount of infighting on these shows as well. The ghost hunters often have the sorts of relationships that make you wonder why in the hell they’re working together to start with. Often this has less to do with their bad partner choices and more to do with producers hyping up drama where none exists.

By the way, you can make good tv without that. Mythbusters was on for over a decade without that kind of drama. And, fun fact, Jamie and Adam did not get along. But they were God damned professionals who didn’t act like children. 

And a bad working relationship might not be all these shows are faking.

They probably fake things

Do I know this for sure? No, of course not. Do I want to get sued? Not at all, I have no money. So am I going to say for sure that all ghost hunting shows besides Buzzfeed Unsolved fake footage? No, that would be an unprofessional and ludicrous thing to say without proof. 

What I will say is that they often portray footage that seems suspect. Things that look very convincing, and make you wonder how they could ever fake it. But then you watch a video from Captain Dissolution, and you see how they very much could fake it. 

I will also say that catching actual evidence of ghosts on camera would be amazingly difficult and change how we see the world forever. So maybe if a ghost hunting show is claiming that they do this regularly, that claim should be taken with a grain of salt.

They’re exploitative

This is something I take issue with in all reality tv. Far too often, we see people in their worst moments on this kind of content. 

Especially in the shows that do ‘house calls’, we see people who are confused and scared. We might see them making fools of themselves. We might even just see them saying things and making decisions that they might not otherwise. 

And the producers of these sorts of shows have no problem shoving cameras in the faces of distraught people. It’s sick, honestly. If I were to watch a real person on a show, rather than an actor, I’d like to see the best of humanity.

Not the worst.

Quiet Apocalypse is available now for preorder on Amazon and Smashwords. Premiers Friday, May 13th.

The end of the world began with a winter storm.
Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.
But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.
Not with screams, but with silence

Horror Subgenres Part Six

In case you missed them, here are links to parts one, two, three, four and five. 

And this is it! We’ve come to the last post about horror subgenres. Did I get them all? Probably not. But that’s alright. We covered a lot. And hey, if I missed a subgenre you love or one that you wanted to know more about, please let me know in the comments. No reason I can’t do a part seven if I find enough new subgenres.

Techno horror

At the introduction of every technological advancement, there is fear. There will always be some that believe every new way to communicate with each other is the thing that will bring about the fall of society. As though it would ever be just one thing.

While we might like to think that Techno horror is a new subgenre, it’s really not. Sure, there are lots of good stories about internet urban legends coming true. Plenty of ghosts in the machines, hunters stalking innocent prey in comment sections and message boards.

But before there was the internet, there was television, radio and telephones. And we don’t have to look far to see that each had its own set of horrors.

I still think a phone with no caller ID is pretty damn scary.

The Ring is a great example, with a vengeful spirit trapped on a videotape. But we can go much farther back, to the classic film Videodrone. We’re always scared of what we don’t understand, and we don’t understand technology. Even as we’ve grown so dependent on it. And so the Techno horror subgenre is alive and well, with later installments including movies like Pulse.

Urban Gothic

I’ve not been shy about loving city life. Even as I write this I’m sitting in front of a window that looks out over my tiny little city. I can see windows that lead to people’s homes and offices.

And yeah, so many people living and working right on top of each other will lead to some horror stories.

This subgenre is full of dark alleys and dangerous shadows. It’s a drug store at two in the morning, empty but open. It’s someone you see on the other side of the road, who’s gone after a truck goes past. It’s a fifth-story window being opened from the outside. It’s a scream from your neighbor’s apartment, followed by silence.

This is a subgenre that goes back to London. Real horrors like dirty living conditions and clashing politics lead to stories like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. But we keep right on creating out of this gothic subgenre. Half the Purge movies would fall into this category, as well as the classic American Psycho.

Vampire literature

I don’t know how much I need to say about this one. I think we all know about vampires. The evil, the tortured, the sexy and brooding. Vampire lore has been with us for centuries, even before Stoker gave us the eternal Dracula. And it’s a subgenre that keeps updating along with the times. Capes are replaced with trench coats. What was once a monster lurking in the night becomes an influencer with millions of followers and a deal with Hot Topic.

As a teenager, I was in love with the entire vampire subgenre. As an adult, I’m rather over it. 

Weird Menace

This is another subgenre that is wrapped up in a specific timeframe. In this case, the 1930’s and 40’s. It’s a blend of horror and mystery, with a hero pitted against Satanic villains. This was largely a comic book subgenre, featuring graphic gore and sexual portrayals. Many of these comics lasted only one or two issues before there was enough public outcry to shut them down. One that did last a little while was called Strange Detective Stories. I hate that so many of these were shut down. While I don’t know that I’d call many of these old comics art, they might have evolved into some great works if left the hell alone.

What stories have we lost to the deadly boot of censorship? 

Werewolf fiction

Finally, we come to werewolf fiction. Another well-known subgenre, but a bit more nuanced. Because while werewolves specifically aren’t universal, legends of people turning into monsters under a full moon pretty much are.

I wonder why that is. Why does almost every culture across the world have stories of people turning into animal-like creatures? The styles might change, the animals they resemble differ. But these tales abide.

I wonder why.

There are some great examples of werewolf fiction out there. Underworld was fun, of course, as was I Was A Teenage Werewolf. 

So that’s it. Don’t forget to give this post a like if you enjoyed it. And if I didn’t get to your favorite horror subgenre, let me know in the comments. 

Quiet Apocalypse launches next week, on Friday the 13th! You can preorder it now on Amazon and Smashwords. 

The end of the world began with a winter storm.
Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.
But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.
Not with screams, but with silence.

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you loved this post, please consider buying me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi. 

Horror subgenres, Part Five

Just in case you missed them, here are links to parts one, two, three and four.

This horror subgenre post might be my favorite because we’re going to talk about one kind of subgenre that I love. The Gothics.

Southern Gothic

Southern gothic is all about the dark corners of the southern American states. Which gets me every time. Aside from New Orleans, I don’t see much to enjoy below the Mason/Dixon line. If you’re from that part of America and you don’t like that, stop voting for politicians who are trying to take away reproductive rights.

That felt like a snarky point, but it does have something to do with the subgenre. You see, Southern Gothic tends to deal heavily with the complex political spectrum of the south. There is racism and hatred. Burning crosses and battered women. It’s hard for someone like me, who only spent a year there as a child then got the hell out, to grasp the weight of it.

The Southern Gothic subgenre has a lot of discussions of racism. A lot of focus is on the oppressive heat and the strangling kudzu. It’s the nightmares of men defeated in a war, and a people stolen from their homeland and sold as slaves.

Some great examples of Southern Gothic are Lovecraft Country, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and this one episode of Monsterland

Southern Ontario Gothic

There’s a funny story about this subgenre. Author Timothy Findley was being interviewed about his book, The Last of The Crazy People. The interviewer said it had a very Southern Gothic feel. Findley responded, “Sure, it’s Southern Gothic. Southern Ontario Gothic.”

This sort of work is essentially horror with the aesthetic of Canada. This is what I love about gothic genres in general. It is something that can’t always be understood by outsiders, but it is deeply felt by those who have roots in a certain community. Because we are all outsiders to some, and we all have roots somewhere else. Gothic stories are all about those dark corners we know about in our communities.

Because everywhere has dark corners.

Splatter Film

This subgenre has a far different vibe than the others we’ve talked about today. A splatter film glorifies all the gore and blood your dark little heart could want. There are few holds barred in this sort of film. Guts and blood are so prevalent, this feels more like torture porn sometimes.

Other times it can be funny as hell, like in Evil Dead or Dawn of the Dead. 

Splatter films come in all sorts of flavors. A fun one from a few decades ago is splatterpunk from the ’80s. Back when everything was punk.

Suburban Gothic

This is the gothic subgenre I’m most familiar with. As someone who just moved out of the suburbs, which I hate, I know all about this one. 

The suburbs represent conformity. They’re a place many people dream of living, but only because they’ve never done it before. Everyone’s grass is always cut. Their trash is brought to the curb. Everyone’s car is clean. 

Too clean.

My favorite example of this subgenre is The House Next Door, which explores madness in many forms. Another example is Nightmare on Elm Street, where a mob of suburban parents went to extremes to protect their children. Then there’s Poltergeist, which explores the desire to afford to live in this sort of neighborhood, and what lengths someone might go to to achieve that.


Ah, zombies. Another genre close to my heart, being from Pittsburgh and all. 

Zombies are pretty popular in pop culture. The fun thing is, that they can also fit into almost any of the other subgenres. You’ve got some zombie stories that are flat-out adventure tales, splatter films, gothic movies of every flavor.

What I love about the zombie subgenre is that it isn’t about the zombies. I mean, it’s a little about the zombies. But it’s more about how the living respond to this apocalypse. What do we do when there’s bad death threatening on all sides? When supplies are low. When we might be separated from people we love, unsure that they’re alright but with every reason to think they’re not. What do we do when the power goes out, the water goes out, the wifi goes out?

That’s the real terror of a zombie story. But it’s the real inspiration, too. Because the people who just look out for themselves, they’re the bad guys. They’re the ones who don’t make it. It’s the people who are looking out for their fellow man, who are risking their own lives to save others, that are the heroes. 

That’s one of the best things about horror in any genre. When faced with unimaginable odds, with the worst kinds of pain and horror, some heroes stand up and save others. Usually with nothing but the will to help and a double-barrel shotgun. Or a chainsaw arm. Whatever they have.

We’ve just got one more of these horror subgenre posts to go. Leave a like if you’ve enjoyed this, and I’ll see you next time. 

Quiet Apocalypse is available now for preorder! Check it out on Amazon or Smashwords. 

The end of the world began with a winter storm.
Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.
But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.
Not with screams, but with silence.

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you found value in this post, please consider buying me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi. 

Horror Subgenres, Part Four

If you missed them, here are links to parts one, two, and three.

Welcome to part four of our series of horror subgenres. I’ve been loving the research I’m doing for these posts. My TBR pile keeps growing with every one. And, if you’re a writer like me, this can help a ton when marketing your horror stories. Knowing what you’re working with can certainly help you narrow down your markets.

So let’s get into the subgenres.

Monster literature

This is a pretty easy to define subgenre. A monster story is all about good against evil. Evil is usually in the form of a monster. Of course, it could just as easily be in the form of the absolute idiot who put together a human being out of spare parts and then took off and left it. Or the human who made a potion to turn himself into a different man so he could do all the dirty twisted shit he wanted to do and not get noticed. Or the human who thought all the creatures who couldn’t go out into the sun were going to kill him. 

What I’m saying is, even if this subgenre seems straightforward, it’s really not. These examples (Frankenstein, Jeckle and Hyde and I Am Legend) are much deeper than most people give them credit for. I’m not saying the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein wasn’t a delight. I’m just saying there’s more to the story than popular media would have us believe. 


Most horror content is fake. We’re all fully aware of this. And if it’s not, it’s called a snuff film and that’s a sin against God and Man. 

The blood is fake, the lines are rehearsed. The acting is well paid. Even in my horror podcast, we use a ton of sound effects and other fakery.

Mumblegore focuses on a more natural approach. It focuses more on improv. The actors aren’t well known, the budget is a shoestring. It’s basically an amateur film, but on purpose. 

I haven’t had the chance to watch many of these films yet. But some examples from recent years are Save Yourself, Rent a Pal, and The Rental.

New Weird

This subgenre is an updated version of Weird Fiction. Starting in the ’90s and early 2000s, it’s a lot of pulp, lots of camp. There are always some sci-fi and speculative fiction elements, of course. And since this was the time I was starting to get into writing, and since I write speculative fiction, I’d say this is more my genre than any we’ve talked about so far.

Organ Transplant 

The first thing I thought about with this one is the old kidney heist urban legend. The one where a guy wakes up in a bathtub full of ice, about 160 grams lighter than when he passed out. 

And that’s the subgenre. We’re talking about people donating organs who didn’t plan to, or people getting extra bits grafted on that they didn’t need.

A classic example is the story Donovan’s Brain. But another good one is the storyline in the show Gotham. Fish Mooney is captured by a man who calls himself the Dollmaker. He’s taking bits off people to sell to others who need them. The rich eat the poor. Nothing new.

Penny Dreadful

Penny dreadfuls were the trashy entertainment of their day. That day being the 19th century in the UK. They were cheap paperback horrors full of gore and rather risque content. For the time, I mean. They sound like they were damn fun. 

Several were based on some true crime stories that were happening around that time. Most notably, the tales of Spring Heel Jack and Sweeney Todd. 

Psychological Horror

This is the stuff that gets to you. Most adults aren’t lying awake at night quaking because of a clown in the sewers. They’re thinking about whether they’re going to run out of food before payday. They’re thinking about what would happen if their kids didn’t come home after school. They’re thinking about that lump they felt, and whether they should make a doctor’s appointment.

The best horror makes us think of these sorts of things.

Psychological horror reminds us of our mortality and that of those we love. It makes us question the safety of our immortal souls. It relies not on monsters, but on the monstrosity, we all fear might lurk within us. There might very well be some supernatural elements. But that’s just a vessel to get us where we need to go. Smack in front of a mirror that shows us our darkest self, and the darkest corners of our world.

Some great examples of this are Saw, Butterfly Effect, and Split. The first two, I have no intention of ever watching again.

They scared me too much. 

That’s it for this time. I’ll be back soon with more horror subgenres.

Sleep tight.

Quiet Apocalypse is available for pre-order now! You can get it on Amazon or Smashwords

The end of the world began with a winter storm.

Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit. 

But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world. 

Not with screams, but with silence. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you found something of value in this post, you can buy me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi. 

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