Friday, December 15, 2017


from #1 bestselling author Summer Lane!
AVAILABLE TODAY on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
JUST 2.99 for Christmas!

I swore to protect her before I even knew her. Now, it’s the creed I live by.

Uriah True is a dangerous man. His past is cloaked in secrecy, and he writes his future in the blood of the people he kills. After the Great Global War, he leaves the militias behind to prey on the scum that remains loyal to the cruel and tyrannical regime of the defeated enemy Omega in this dangerous, new post-apocalyptic world.

Some call him The Hunter. Some call him Death.
He calls it vengeance for what the war took from him.

Hunt, kill, repeat.

When he uncovers a plot that could bring death to the only person he's ever loved, he’ll do anything to stop it.

The only problem? He may already be too late.

A Collapse Universe Story.

A suspenseful novel from #1 bestselling author Summer Lane, creator of the smash-hit Collapse Series, Zero Trilogy, Bravo Saga, Unbreakable Seal, and the historical romantic thriller, Running with Wolves. Vigilante is a novel that stands alone, and is set within the Collapse Universe.

This novel features fan-favorite Uriah True and offers a thrill ride like no other!


Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter to win an Amazon Fire TV Stick and an Amazon gift card!

This is my first "surprise" release. I have never released a book without a release date planned ahead of time for months in advance - sometimes years. Vigilante was a bit of a pet project of mine, and I wanted to keep it a secret so that I had time to work on it and not feel pressured to release it within a certain time frame. I'm glad to release it in time for the holiday season (because who doesn't love to read over Christmas break or load up their shiny new tablets with a fun book?), and I'm extremely grateful for the many bloggers and websites who are promoting the novel! I love you ALL!

When I first wrote the character of Uriah True, he was little more than a supporting role. He was a sentry guard who had a single line of dialogue in State of Rebellion. He became a star. He became a man that Cassidy loved in the Collapse Series. He's complicated. He has a lot of secrets. Vigilante sheds some light on his past and explains a bit about why he is the way he is, and why he loves Cassidy the way he does.

Vigilante's timeline falls between State of Hope and Resurrection: Shadows of Omega. This book will tie into both series. Like all of my books, every story line is connected, and every character is somehow linked to the original plot. Yet the book can also stand alone as an adventure novel.

I think I love Uriah True as much as Cassidy Hart does, simply because he is perhaps the most organic and interesting character I believe I have ever written. He quite literally revealed his story to me as I wrote the Collapse Series, and I am astounded at the admirers that he has amassed.

And yes, there are three fan camps:

Team Uriah
Team Chris
Team Cassidy Stays Independent Forever

Who will win?

We shall see. But for now, please enjoy Vigilante. I hope you like it. I had a blast writing it. It was a lot of work, but man: it was fun! And, hopefully, this will tide everyone over until the big release in January. The launch of my new big series will also coincide with my 20th publication. That's a serious joy ride, folks. I thank you all for your readership. As always, I am stunned by your love and support. A writer would be nowhere without their wonderful readers.

Thanks for reading Vigilante, and if you like the novel, please don't hesitate to leave a review! I appreciate every review from every reader. Happy reading, and Merry Christmas, all!

Enter to win below:

Monday, December 4, 2017

EMIC RIZZLE, TINKERER (Middle Grade Novel from Mary Ann Domanska + Special Guest Article)

Title: Emic Rizzle, Tinkerer
Grade Level: Middle Grade Fiction 
Author: Mary Ann Domanska 
Release: Available NOW!


Emic Rizzle is a tenacious girl interested in taking objects apart and making them better. Unfortunately her life is unraveling at a faster pace than she can repair: her beloved grandfather passes away; her parents need to move to a different state; she may lose old friends and the kids at the new school think she's weird. But nothing is more strange than discovering her grandfather was an actual WWII spy and that the antique camera found among his belongings might hold a vital secret that mysterious men in black suits will chase her for. Emic needs new ideas and friends if she is going to save the day.

Writing a Middle Grade Novel? Talk to an Expert. Talk to a ‘Tween!

By Mary Ann Domanska

I’ve been an elementary school teacher for fifteen years. I was also a Girl Scout Leader for 6 years. I obviously must love to be around kids. I especially cherish helping children learn important life lessons as they struggle to figure out who they are and what they believe about themselves. I feel passionate about guiding my students to be their best selves, accept that no one is perfect, and that being out of our comforts zones is where we do the most learning and growing. For me, making that leap into the world of publishing was definitely outside of my comfort zone.

I was always happy, even as a child, to spend hours channeling my imagination. I wrote thousands of poems, stories, essays, speeches, stories, plays, and even a couple of movie-scripts. I also prolifically kept more than forty detailed journals of my life experiences growing up in a small southern town in the foothills of North Carolina where my parents took in foster kids. But this writing was all for me; a personal endeavor of healing, reflection, and hope.

It was in my practice of teaching and the advice I was constantly giving to my students that I realized that to grow as a writer I needed to share my work with the world. My first step was, after completing the manuscript for my first novel, was to form a small focus group of middle school girls, all of whom I’d known to be avid readers with strong opinions. I knew that if I asked, this group would have no difficulty throwing unfiltered, sometimes brutal, critiques my way. After communicating with their families and giving them an early draft of my first middle grade manuscript, Emic Rizzle, Tinkerer, these ‘tweens got right to work. They quickly devoured the chapters and when we met as a group I quickly learned to be more careful about what I ask for. They were certainly outspoken and they tore my first attempt to shreds! Well, not really, but their careful observations and honest feedback helped to reshape my novel in dramatic and unexpected ways. I am still so grateful to these girls who are now all thinking about which colleges to apply.

Now that I’ve begun this journey again with a sequel, with the working title Emic Rizzle Commits Random Acts of Art, I’ve again decided I should work directly with my target audience to help ensure my words ring true and sound authentic to the ears of a 10, 11, or 12 year old. This past summer I was able to attend and speak at the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools 2017 conference in Washington D.C. called Education Innovation – Building Cultures of Creativity. There I connected with another educator who works with the Saint Peter’s Girls Prep School in Johannesburg, South Africa. We’ve already begun a collaboration in which all of her 4th and 5th grade students are reading my first book. Next they will critique draft chapters from book two. I am so excited about this partnership and plan on Skyping with them later on in the school year. I will be a virtual visiting author! And I can’t wait to get my hands on their unfiltered, straight to the heart responses. It is constructive criticism in its most pure form and to this writer, it is worth more than gold.

Social Media Links:

Amazon Author Page:
Kirkus Review:

About the Author 

Mary Ann Domanska is a 2nd grade teacher at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, Pa., where she has taught for the past fifteen years. Mary Ann earned a B.F.A. in Performing Arts with a minor in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.  There, she studied with the notable Latino poet, Martín Espada, and with Kristin Linklater, author of Freeing the Natural Voice. She spent her early career in Los Angeles where she held various positions in the entertainment industry including as a script reader for MGM Studios and as an assistant at the International Documentary Association (IDA) in Hollywood. She earned a masters degree in Elementary Education from Chestnut Hill College in 2001.  She attended The Creative Writing Institute (graduate level) at Arcadia University where she completed her middle grade novel, Emic Rizzle, Tinkerer, which had a release date in December,2016, through Mnemosyne Books. She published an article in the SCBWI Bulletin (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) entitled, Writing a Middle Grade Novel? Talk to an Expert. Talk to a ‘Tween! She has published several poems in the Philly Poetry Anthology with WRAGS Ink, Publishing (2012) and a collection entitled Unraveled through Moonstone Arts Center (Philadelphia).

She performs locally at the Stagecrafters Theatre in Chestnut Hill. She is on the board of MAAG (Mt. Airy Art Garage) and founded/hosted The Swerve, a monthly open mic poetry event (2014-2015).

Connect with Mary here

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Happy Reading! 
Starting today, ALL of my bestselling titles (a total of 18!), are available for just 99 cents each. The ENTIRE Collapse Series has been dropped to 99 cents per book, including the popular final installment, State of Hope

Get them on Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

The sale ends at 9 p.m. PST, November 27th.

 Thanks so much for your readership. I hope you pick up a few of the books this weekend and enjoy the stories - I only drop the prices ONCE a year, so take advantage of this sale (especially since there are 10 books alone in the Collapse Series - that's only 10 bucks for the whole collection!)! 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

What I'm Thankful For: Writing Belle's Thanksgiving Week

A lot of people look at Thanksgiving as perhaps nothing more than a purely American-only holiday, where families gather around a table and pig out on copious amounts of rich food. And hey: for some, that's probably true! The point of Thanksgiving, however, is to be grateful for the blessings in our lives, and to reflect on all that we have been given. Because I guarantee you - whether you see it or not - there are things in your life that are good. There are things in your life that are great. Sure, life is hard. Sure, life sometimes beats the crap out of us all. But there are people, places, and things that give us joy, warmth, and love. Thanksgiving is about remembering those things and humbling ourselves and allowing our hearts to overflow with gratitude. 

I'll be honest. It has taken me years to really stop and realize all of the blessings that are in my own life. Like many people, I always struggled with focusing on the negative rather than the positive, but I'm happy to say that I have clawed my way out of that backwards mentality to see the world for what it really is: a combination of highs and lows. How you feel about life comes down to your mindset. Thanksgiving is a reminder to me to be thankful for the lows and well as the highs. Without the lows, I wouldn't be able to learn, grow, or evolve. Without the lows, I wouldn't appreciate the highs. 

Here are 10 major things that I'm thankful for this year. I challenge you to make your own list, too. Tape the list to your desk or pin it to your bulletin board! It helps to keep things in perspective when the going gets tough! 

1. My job. I'll be the first to say that the career path I chose wasn't an easy one. Being a full-time writer was a hard thing to do. It still is! When I started working toward this job, I was only 13 years-old. I didn't get my first paycheck until I was 17, and for years, I pinched pennies and worked my butt off. Every step of the way was a learning experience, a painful experience, riddled with failures that paved the way to successes. Today, I'm so proud of what I do. I get to write books and manage a publishing company and work as a writing instructor. I'm grateful for every opportunity that my career brings me. 

2. My friends. I've never had a very big family, so I've always said that my friends are my extended family members. I have friends here where I live, as well as friends who live across the country. I'm thankful for all the guys and gals who make me laugh, offer a shoulder to cry on, and just like to have fun together. I love the saying, Friends are God's way of taking care of us. So true! 

3. Failures. This is a weird one, but I'm grateful for every failure I've had in my life. I still fail, all the time. It's hard to go through, but every time I fail, I can't deny that I learn something incredible because of it. Life is very painful, but it's also very educational. I have to be thankful for failures, because they have shown me the reality of the world we live in. Sometimes forcing yourself to be grateful for something messy or unhappy is hard, but it's a huge attitude game changer. 

4. My husband. I met my husband in a Sunday school class, of all places. I was still just a teenager, and at that time in my life (I was 19), I had honestly not given a single thought to ever getting married or even dating (I was very goal-oriented, and considered dating a waste of time, which some people thought was strange - but I thought it was efficient, haha). I was solely focused on one thing: my career. Don't ask me why; I just never gave marriage any thought back then, and still didn't, until later. My husband changed that. He was the first and only person to impress me enough to make me consider a relationship. We started dating after only a couple of weeks of knowing each other, and after 4 years of enjoying each other's company, we got married. I chose to get married not because I felt pressured to, or because Cosmopolitan Magazine said it was a good idea: I got married because he was my best friend, and we are equal partners in everything we do. I am grateful for him. Not just for his love, but for his willingness to do hard things, and for the way he and I function as a team to both enjoy and endure life. Marriage, to me at least, is about putting your partner first instead of yourself. It's really a very healthy thing, because guess what? It's not about us - it's about others. Always.  

5. My town. I live in a small farming community in California. I was born here, and despite an 8-year detour in Sacramento, this has been my primary place of residence. My town is known as the "World's Fruit Basket." Agriculture is the backbone of our area. Most of my friends are farmers. My husband and our family works in agriculture (I'm the anomaly, because I'm a writer!). The small town vibe is relaxing and quaint. Our local church is over 100 years-old. Our main street is 3 blocks long. I always said I wanted to settle down in the country, on the outskirts of a small town. Goal level? Achieved! It's funny, too, because when I finished high school, I had my sights set on moving to Anaheim, California, and working at the Disneyland Hotel in marketing. I ended up staying in my hometown (better for me, because I hate SoCal traffic!), and now I get to visit Disneyland as a guest every year! 

6. My students. I teach writing classes every semester. I started teaching simply because somebody asked me to, and I decided it was something I liked, and hey: I made a side career out of it. I have taught writing/grammar for about 5 years now, and every student I have ever had has added to my life in a wonderful way. Any teacher knows that we oftentimes learn as much from our students as they learn from their teachers. I am grateful for every kid I've ever helped teach writing to. They are a blessing to me.

7. My dog/animals in general. I'm a huge animal person. If I had more time (and room in my backyard) on my hands, I would be taking home every stray that needed a home. I love dogs, cats, and everything in between. I love my dog because she brings me laughter and snuggles and companionship. I'm a huge supporter of protecting animals. I support zoos and endangered species breeding programs. I do not support hunting (although I know some people who hunt, and my belief that sport hunting is wrong is not meant to offend anyone: I understand that everyone has their own opinions, and I respect that). I always encourage people to help out an animal in need; they're just like us: all they want is love! They brighten our lives by existing, and we should show them the same respect!

8. Music. This is pretty general, yeah. But without music, my life would be a lot less interesting. Music helps me to get with the program while I'm working. It inspires me, relaxes me, and touches me. I have been a music junkie since I was a kid, lying on the floor, listening to my boombox, playing my Sound of Music cassette tape over and over again until I knew every note of every song and instrumental. 

9. Traveling. Whether it's a day trip or a flight to another state (or country!), traveling every once in a while is one of my biggest joys. Traveling to new places gives me inspiration for new books and stories. I adore exploring new locations with my husband (he's not as much as a travel junkie as I am, but we make a pretty good balance). Traveling is one of the best parts of life! 

10. This country. I love living in the United States. Not only do I have the freedom to work and live as an independent businesswoman, I also have the ability to voice my own thoughts. I have the freedom to choose my religion. I have the freedom to write books without censorship. I have the freedom to go to church. I have the freedom to vote, to state an opinion (or withhold it), and to engage in free business. The first Thanksgiving was a feast. Native Americans and Pilgrim immigrants came together to celebrate the bounty that God had blessed them with in a New World, and that, my friends, is the root of Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the men and women who have fought and shed blood for this country for centuries. Thankful for wonderful veterans like my late grandfather, who gave 21 years of his life in the Navy to help protect the future of his children, grandchildren, and beyond. That is something to have deep gratitude for. 

What are you thankful for? I encourage you to reflect this Thanksgiving on the blessings in your life, big or small. Stay humble. Stay kind. Stay loving. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Monday, November 6, 2017


Title: Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone 
Author: Roy Huff 
Series: Everville #4
Release: Available NOW!
SALE ALERT: This novel will be available for just 99 cents in the UK on Black Friday (for one week), and the 1-3 boxed set will be free November 24-28! It's a good way to catch up on the series before reading The Fall of Brackenbone!


Two very different worlds, Easton Falls University and the magical realm of Everville are in dire need of a hero. Owen Sage embarks on an epic journey of monumental proportions to save these worlds all while fighting to keep the world within himself intact. This quest is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the weak of mind—only the bravest will succeed. 

Discovering the well-kept secret of The Fourth Pillar of Truth is only part of the feat. Owen will have to outwit the ever-powerful villain Governor Jahal and overcome countless other challenges along the way. Amongst all of the dragons, giants and grand chaos, will Owen's acquired skills and wisdom be enough to save both worlds or will peril be the ultimate fate of all?

Roy Huff is a bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction. He's one of those guys who gets things done, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed with the vast array of books he's published and the name he's made for himself. Roy has five degrees in four different areas (liberal arts, history, education, and geoscience!), and he has worked as a scientist (even studying Kilauea in Hawaii). The Everville Series is what he is most well-known for. Recently, he just released a book called Think Smart, Not Hard: 52 Key Principles to Success and Happiness. He is also now a contributing writer to The Mission on the Medium. I encourage you to explore his writing and his website, and to pick up his brand new non-fiction. I personally love books that help people to reach out and achieve their goals and dreams, and Roy's approach to publishing is both inspiring and fun.

Check out his official website HERE!

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I have begun booking into 2018!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Surviving NaNoWriMo! (Here's How!)

Take it from me, NaNoWriMo is an epic challenge! I've written a lot of books in my day, and although I don't actively participate in this event anymore (I literally do NaNoWriMo all year long), I have a lot of tips and tricks to offer to the budding writer hoping to tackle a 50,000 word manuscript during this month of whirlwind creativity. 

Most of my advice is rooted in pain. Seriously. I have learned the hard way what to do and what not to do, physically, emotionally, and creatively. When you've set a crazy deadline for yourself and nobody is holding you accountable except for YOU, things can look pretty bleak about halfway into the month, or 25,000 words in. Here are some surefire methods I personally use all year long (I write and publish several books a year), and that I have found to be fantastic tricks for surviving an event like NaNoWriMo. 

Don't be discouraged. The key to surviving National Novel Writing Month (or anything that overwhelms you), is to break it up into day-by-day pieces. If you look at the whole enchilada, you'll end up overwhelmed and paralyzed. I mean, come on people. The Death Star wasn't built in a day (oops, I've got Star Wars on the brain!). Let's take my week, for example: I had something going on almost every morning, afternoon, and evening. Sunday night, I started worrying about all the things I had to get done, and I was seriously stressing. It was then that my husband reminded me of what I periodically forget: "Just take one day at a time." He's right! If you look at everything all at once, there's NO WAY you can possibly tackle it all without dying inside. You have to break it up, focus on one task at a time. Before you know it, you'll be halfway there, and then rushing across the finish line! The average word count per day to stay on track for NaNoWriMo is around 1,600 words, which can seem overwhelming. Just remember: worry about 1,600 words ONLY. Once a day. Don't think about the full 50,000. Make it smaller. Make it work for YOU. 

Plan. So you're a pantser, I get it. You don't like to plan, you like to let it flow. I have some news for you: If you've never successfully completed NaNoWriMo before, being a pantser is probably why. Sorry to tell ya, but somebody has to! Pooping out in the middle of writing a manuscript is something I like to call "Middle Book Fatigue." The initial burst of creativity has worn out and suddenly, you're not sure where to take the story and honestly, you just don't care anymore because hey, you have a million other things to do and The Voice is on TV and you're pretty sure you need to vacuum your house. You can avoid this situation by having a plot plan in place before you write. I'm not saying you have to plan out every scene or piece of dialogue. I'm saying have an idea of how your book will be structured and how it will end so that you have a clear goal in mind. When you pull onto the road, you usually have a destination in mind. Why? Because otherwise, you would drive aimlessly about and eventually run out of gas, stranded on the side of the road somewhere. It's good to know where you're going, even if it's just a rough idea. 

Stay healthy. I have learned the hard way (and I keep learning, even after all this time), that one of the best things you can do to stay focused and productive is to take care of your body. Staying well-fed, hydrated, and rested will go a long way in helping you to tackle your daily goals and conquer NaNoWriMo. I have a bad habit of starting work early and remaining glued to my office desk until mid-afternoon, never pausing for so much as a snack. I hydrate with coffee only and then wonder why I don't feel good. Don't be me: take care of yourself! I've started to take a more serious approach to nourishing my body with things that are good for me by eating clean, cutting out processed foods/fried foods and sugars (buh-bye sodas and candy!), and trying to limit my overwhelming caffeine intake. I notice a huge difference in the way I feel about myself and the quality of work I put out when I'm exercising and eating correctly. 

Surround yourself with positive vibes. When you're trying to accomplish something big and difficult, you can only let good things inside your world. I have also learned the hard way to stop letting toxic people and situations affect my life. I had to take control of my world and say "NO MORE." I noticed that every time I was consumed with some trifling drama or dragged into a negative mindset, I found it more difficult to create and write. I was so consumed with my own jumbled emotions that I couldn't focus. SO NOT ACCEPTABLE. You have to learn to push the white noise away and focus on what's important. Surround yourself with people who love and care about you. People who constantly attack you or pick on you or tell you all the things you're doing wrong - constantly - are poisonous. I'm telling you: drop em' like it's hot. That kind of influence is permanently scarring. Drink in positive vibes. Do not, for a single second, allow self-doubt, negativity, or the idiotic and skewed judgement of others to impact your life in any way. You are YOU. You are in charge of your life, how you feel about yourself, and your journey is exclusively your own. Kick haters to the curb. Walk into a room and know that nothing that anybody says to you can change the way you feel about yourself and your dreams. Believe that you can, and you will. I'm serious. Be a go-getter. 

Finish. Right, this one sounds stupid. A no-brainer, right? But hey, all of the above advice is useless if you don't actually reach the finish line. Even if you don't reach your goal in the timeline that you set for yourself, getting up and trying again and again is literally the sign of a champion. Failure breeds experience, and experience paves the road to success. It comes down to you, my friend. Are you going to finish what you started or not? I encourage you to buckle down and do it - whether it's NaNoWriMo or anything else. You are the only person standing in your way. In the end, there is nobody to blame for giving up...except for yourself. I believe in you, and so should you! Life is a rollercoaster ride, and you have to ride it with your hands in the air and a smile on your face. Kick butt. Go into your mission with the mindset of I CAN DO THIS, and no matter what, you will not fail. You can't. Not when you've got a mindset like that! 

I've got a lot of advice about writing. Over the years, I've cataloged so much of it here on Writing Belle, that I was inspired to write a book about the art of storytelling and writing a hit book. I'll be releasing this compilation of my own writing journey and offering tips and tricks to any and all writers, young and old. Look for it in Spring of 2018! 

Monday, October 30, 2017


Title: Whispers and Fangs
Author: Meagan Noel Hart
Genre: Flash Horror/Fiction Collection
Release: Available on AmazonKobo & iBooks!


At its best, horror shakes us to our core and makes us cringe at our own humanity. It terrifies and humbles and offers a hell of a good time. Whether it’s a lonely ghost story or a gruesome murder, this collection of short and flash fiction offers 27 different glimpses into the dark and unnerving world that haunts us all. Open the book and unlock unstable minds, become a murder weapon, live as a ghost, and provoke the demons that haunt the edge of your vision. Don’t worry, it’s only fiction. Or is it?

Special Guest Article, Straight from the Author!

Writing Horror With a Pulse
By Meagan Noel Hart

Whenever I assign Stephen King, I assign his short story “The Last Rung on the Ladder.” In the story, Larry remembers in vivid detail the day, decades ago, that he both endangered and saved his sister’s life. It’s a beautifully detailed scene where Kitty hangs from a broken barn ladder and a fretful Larry rushes to lay down hay to cushion her fall. Since growing up, they’ve fallen out of touch with one another. The story ends by revealing that Kitty has committed suicide. Two weeks after her death, Larry receives the following letter:

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately,” Kitty writes, “and what I've decided is that it would have been better for me if that last rung had broken before you could put the hay down.” Or in other words, I wish I’d never been saved at all.

There is a lot to say about this story, but the first thing my students turn to is the deep emotional rush at the story’s completion and the sudden need to call their families. After that, there is usually some kind of comment of surprise. “Wait, isn’t this the guy that wrote It?” Yes, and The Shining, and Misery, and Cujo, and Carrie. King is an extremely prolific writer, but there is no question that his best-known works are those of supernatural horror. The question my students really mean to ask is -- how could someone who writes horror also write something like this?

This question actually gets to an inherent misunderstanding about writing horror.

While what might stand out to us about the scariest of stories are the building suspense, the jump scenes, an unforgettable monstrosity, and a lot of running in the dark, the truth is that good horror also has to have heart, and it has to tug, often indirectly, at the most internal and human struggles within.

We fear the dark because we fear the unknown. We fear possession because we fear that those we love may not be who we think they are, or we fear losing control of ourselves. We fear poltergeists because we fear that what is ours--the places we should feel most at home-- don’t really belong to us. We fear slasher films because we fear we live in a society where such violence happens everyday and there is no way to stop it. We fear zombies because they challenge our understanding of life and science, and we indulge in them because they allow us to live in a world without the stresses of school, work, social obligation, and debt.

My favorite modern monsters are the weeping angels of the Doctor Who series. Angelically gorgeous statutes that can’t move while you’re looking at them, but which spring to gruesome life the second no one is looking, moving faster than imaginable. If they catch you, then they steal you away to another time and place, feeding on all your lost potential. I mean, can you think of a single better metaphor for the sudden passing of time itself?

While some would write horror off as mere genre fiction, easy scares, shallow characters, and plots with nagging holes like “if the aliens can’t touch water why would they come to Earth naked?” -- the truth is, good horror isn’t really about the monster. The monster, if anything, makes the story palpable. It is something that can be fought, defeated, sorted out. We get a rush from facing and conquering our fears. Even if the characters do not survive, we do. And those last minute scenes of the hand popping out of the dirt or a hint that the monster isn’t really defeated are so effective because we know the real fear can never really die.

Horror can even be crafted directly around exaggerated, dreaded social challenges. Like the SAW films. People don’t linger on the ridiculous puppet riding a bicycle. What eats at them are the morally preposterous positions the victims are put into. In order to save yourself and your boyfriend, do you kill the girl he cheated with? Or do you let him die so the two people he wronged can live? Can you even trust your fellow victims? 

Ultimately, to write good horror, you have to tap into something much more human and banal than monsters: our primal fears, worries, concerns, and all those unanswered questions that haunt us in the night. Do they really love me? Am I an imposter? Without all those nagging social obligations and rules, would I survive? Could I save my family?

And, you have to let this connection happen naturally. Like all good ideas, and arguably all good metaphors, you need to trust your subconscious to take you somewhere meaningful, allowing the words and ideas to flow without judgement, and only after it is finished -- trust the conscious editor within to take the reins and make it pretty.

While there are many questions you can ask as you edit your horror story -- How do I build suspense? Are my characters well developed? Should I kill them anyway? Is the language here too vivid or gruesome?  -- none of them are going to matter if you didn’t ask the first, most important question, before you started writing:

What scares you?

And remember, it’s not really the clown.

About the Author 

Meagan loves a good scary story, but besides that one time she's pretty sure she caught a ghost on camera, her life is pretty normal. She usually writes flash fiction but occasionally poetry or essays. 

Her work has been included in Mothers Always Write, Everyday FictionWelter, and Unusual Pet Tales, and will be included in the Writers Workout's 72 Hours of Insanity in 2017. 

She has three collections of work, Twisted Together, Whispers & Fangs, and A Short Stack of Silly Shorts for the Morally Sidetracked. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, two rambunctious but lovable sons, and a house full of fur-babies. By day, you can find her teaching English at Stevenson University. She maintains a healthy fear of the dark.

Connect with Meagan Online: 

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