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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Eat me! Thanksgiving Horror

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I got to thinking (dangerous, I know), what horror stories go well with this holiday? And eventually, it came to me: Cannibalism stories!

So let's hear it, what are some of your favorite stories involving cannibalism, either in books, short stories, or film? I want to hear about all sorts of stories that involve people eating people in all of its various forms.

By the way, the photo is from my Facebook group. You can join us here.

Friday, November 2, 2018

My First Scholarship Haul

I received my first haul from the Horror Writers Association Rocky Wood Memorial scholarship for Non Fiction Writing recently (pictured above). I'm pretty sure the contents at this stage will make sense only to me, but I will attempt to explain them anyway.

The books with the face cover are my methodology, Kenneth Burke's dramatistic pentad (or pentad on dramatism). It is considered a pragmatic approach to analyzing literature, or any other rhetoric. I will post more thoroughly on this at a future date.

Next to Burke is the first film purchase, Jess Franco's Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein. I have a few other outlets to get films, but am pretty sure I will not be able to get this one from any other source, so I placed it in this first order. It's also a film I've been trying to hunt down for about 20 years. Jess Franco is (sort of) the Ed Wood of Europe, I like to call him. He makes horrible films, but has a certain amount of enthusiasm for the horror genre, which I can very much appreciate.

Below that are two books that I chose to order first because I think I can use them for far more than just this project. The Golden Turkey Awards is a list of the worst movies ever made. It didn't have as many Frankenstein films in it as I had hoped, but it is a fun read.

Next to that is a far more serious study, that of homosexuality in film, The Celluloid Closet. It is essential for one chapter, but it is a very important chapter, the one on James Whale's Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, which I will examine together. Whale was one of the first openly gay figures in Hollywood. I would also like to use the book to write another article or two on Whale and the horror genre in general that will be separate from this book project. The book doesn't look exclusively at horror, but LGBTQ images in Hollywood.

I've also finalized the title of my book, Franksploitation and the Rhetoric of Filmed Frankenstein. I will be posting much more about it in the future, so please keep checking back, and don't be afraid to subscribe.

Friday, October 26, 2018

My First Pitch Party

I'd been reading for some time that Twitter is the place for writers these days so I joined a while back. From there I learned that they occasionally have pitch parties, where agents and presses ask you to pitch your book using a specific hashtag. If any agents or acquisitions editors favorite ❤ your pitch, they are asking you send them a query.

The pitch party I participated in was specifically for horror and dark fiction, with the hashtag #PitDark, and here is what I learned. I made several pitches (the rules stated it was okay to make up to one pitch per hour), one general, and several pitches from the perspective of some of the main characters. Only one of my pitches received a ❤, but it was from two different acquisitions editors. This helped me figure out what kind of posts attract the most attention from decision makers in the publishing industry. When I sent the query I changed it a bit to better match the successful Tweet. And by the way, it hinged on the stakes of the story. So makes the stakes large and important.

Last night I sent my two queries, a little wiser about how to write them. By the way the winning Tweet was:

"The Times of London reporter, Leonard Atmore, has been handed the strangest story of his career, but it is so fantastic that if he prints it no one will believe him and his career will be ruined. If he doesn’t print it, hell could take over the earth."

Meantime, don't forget to eat your Monsters cereals. It's that time of year again.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Photos from Monster Fest 2018

Here are some photos of my presentation, Franksploitation, Frankenstein exploitation films from the 1950s to the 1970s, at this year's Monster Fest. I'll provide more information on this even soon.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

About That Scholarship

Last blog post I talked about some recent successes I've had as a writer. It's been a while, but I finally have a few. On the other hand, I also had another rejection letter in my inbox the other day too. Anyway, the biggest of those success was winning the Horror Writers Association Rocky Wood Memorial Scholarship for Non-Fiction Writing. This has led to some interesting developments so far. One of the schools I work for, Paul D Camp Community College, set me up to be interviewed by the local newspaper, the Suffolk New Herald,  for an article. I also notified my alma mater magazines. We'll see if they choose to cover this or not.

This is not some ego burst, but an attempt to draw up some interest in the project to hopefully sell books whenever I can finish it and get it to an agent and/or publisher. I'm also working on a presentation for Monster Fest next week on this very project.

I actually applied to both the Rocky Wood Memorial Scholarship and the regular HWA Scholarship. Sometimes you have to throw your hat into many rings before one decides to take you in, just like my last blog post, "Throwing Shit Against the Wall." After they reviewed all applicants for several weeks, I received an email asking if I could be more specific about what I will do with their funds. So I did several things to accomplish this. The easiest was to create a wish list on

I also knew I might need money for photos for the book, but I had no idea about the legalities of even using photos for books. I did know one thing, however, I knew David J. Skal wrote what I consider the best horror book I've ever read (and I've read a few), with The Monster Show. I friended Skal on Facebook, and interacted with him enough. This was not enough for me to say I "knew him" but enough to know he seems very approachable about this topic. So I Googled his name and found his author page, which provided me with his email, and I asked him about how to get photos. He proved to be as approachable as I previously thought as he replied to my email within 2 hours. I added this to my budget.

The third part of my budget was to purchase research articles. I work for two different higher education facilities, which allow me access to their article databases. These databases are enormous, and can provide a large amount of the information I'll need to write the book for free. However, while the majority of these articles are free, sometimes you have get an inter-library loan to get some of the articles. And these inter-library loan articles are often not free. I searched for some articles I knew I would have to pay for to get an idea of how much to budget for this. I found two articles that I felt were exemplary, one cost $6 and the other $36. So I budgeted as though these were the higher end and lower end of the articles I'd need.

They reviewed this for about another week or so, and then sent me an email telling me I won the scholarship. Now some of my colleagues at Paul D Camp are asking if I can do a presentation on my progress as I go. And I still need to contact someone to help me with the methodology, but that's a topic for another blog post.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Throwing Shit Against the Wall

I am from a blue-collar town in Pennsylvania, Erie to be exact. For whatever reason, everything up there relates back to various excrements and the crotch. We don't say a business went belly up, we say it went "tits-up." If an idea didn't work out, we say it "shit the bed." It's just part of the colorful way we talk.

So when we're trying all sorts of things to be successful, sometimes we'll say we're just "throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks." For some time now, I've been doing just that, and FINALLY, I have a few things that have stuck. Mind you, most of these things I was working on all summer in the hopes of drumming up some business during my slow time of the year as adjunct faculty. But then when things began to come in, it really began to pour.

First off, I spent part of my summer shopping my resume and a few clippings around to a few of the newspapers in the area to try and drum up business, keep busy, and bring in a few extra dollars. Well, they finally got back to me as soon as classes started again. I'll still work in a few articles into my busy schedule. I feel it is important for a writing teacher to continue writing for an audience anyway. And getting paid for it is always better than not.

Then the poem I sold at the beginning of summer is finally published in Teach. Write. Here it is. I seem to have a regular place to publish some of my more literary works since this is the second time they published my work. I have a personal essay I worked on over the summer that still needs some work, but when I do send it out, I will likely send it to them first. I like the publication a lot, and I think the piece is a good fit for them anyway. Their homepage is here.

Third, and most importantly, I just won the Horror Writers Association Rocky Wood Memorial Scholarship for Non-Fiction Writing for a non-fiction book idea I have on the history of Frankenstein in film. This is actually a really big deal. They split the award between myself and another writer, Joseph Maddrey, who seems like a real heavyweight, having published eight books and written and produced over 50 hours of documentary television. It's a tremendous honor just to be named in the same breath with someone with these kinds of accomplishments.

I'm sure I'll post much more about this scholarship and the project in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, since winning this scholarship, I've received two more rejection letters in my email, but somehow, they don't seem so bad now.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Return of Professor Staff

"Hello, I am Professor Staff," is one of my favorite ice breakers when starting off a new academic year. Some students get it, and some don't, but that's not the point. The point is you have to start with something, and it's often best to start with trying to get nervous people to laugh. At times, I've worked that into an entire stand-up routine. "What is this, a classroom or a yearbook picture?" or "Come on, I know you're out there, I can hear you withdrawing" are two of my other favorites (and there's always extra credit for anyone who knows anything about Henny Youngman).

Next week I go back into the classroom to teach college freshmen English composition courses. I enjoy my job immensely. I am only adjunct faculty, however, so that makes pay short, and pay periods awkward, but I'm not here to talk about that today. I enjoy helping students express themselves with words in ways they never thought they were capable. So after a few icebreakers, of course we start going over the syllabus, and talking about college expectations.

I've enjoyed my time off for the summer too. I'm nearly done with my honey-do list, like painting the living room. I also used a lot of time to write and submit. I also taught two summer courses, but that is a far cry from the 7 courses I am about to teach during the fall semester. I am always a bit nervous this time of year. Each new class has its own personality. I think I will continue to be nervous if I'm doing this 20 years from now. It's one of those things where if you're not nervous you're probably not doing something right.

So wish me luck, and if you didn't get the joke, adjunct faculty often appear in course catalogs as "Staff." Here's to (hopefully) another great semester for Professor Staff.