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Bayou Whispers Media Page

Bayou Whispers Launch Event (29 April 2021)

(Click HERE and Fast Forward to the 23 min mark)


  • WATD-FM Boston Radio:


“A horror thriller with long kept secrets, dark family legacies, and New Orleans’s mysterious magic, Bayou Whispers is a fast-paced read, a page turner for sure, that kept me intrigued. A few surprises rounded out the end nicely.” —Debbie Christiana, AMAZON Review

“Set in new Orleans the horror starts straight away and continues to ramp up throughout the book. An exciting mix of horror and supernatural.

I loved the depth of the characters and the intricacies of the storyline. Such an interesting and creepy tale.

Definitely a great read” — AMAZON Review

“R.B. Wood wants to drag you down into the dark and tell you a story in hushed whispers about horrors, supernatural darkness, and the dark path of a survivor being drawn into the deep, mysterious secrets of the Bayou. You should go with him. It will be a ride you won’t soon forget.

I know I won’t.” —Emmett Spain, GOODREADS Review

“Bayou Whispers is a great book with many layers to both its plot and its detail. It casts a whole shipload of wonderful (and wonderfully fucked) characters, including some entities taken straight from Haitian folklore, and the history of the South. Like the ghost ship, Sultana, having risen from the afterlife wearing her scars of America’s worst water-faring disaster, along with her more than 2,500 casualties acting as guardians of the agenda for a malevolent Haitian god.”–HorrorDNA GOODREADS Review

“Wood wrote a compelling tale steeped in New Orleans flavor and dark magic. The characters are colorful, likable, and altogether a triumph.”–Mercedes M. Yardley, Stoker Award-winning author of Little Dead Red

“Bayou Whispers is a haunting, touching novel that blends the horrors of everyday life with that of the supernatural. Tapping into the tension and setting of films like Angel Heart and True Detective, this is a hypnotic story told from a place of loss, community, and resolute hope.”–Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration and Thriller Award nominee, Breaker

“Wood’s Bayou Whispers is a sublime cocktail of horror, supernatural thriller, and urban fantasy, where the mythos of voodoo clashes with the modern day. Fans of Jim Butcher and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will love this.”–Todd Keisling, author of Devil’s Creek

“The secrets in BAYOU WHISPERS unwind like a line of music. But it’s the music that plays just before the monsters jump out.”–Sarah Read, Stoker award-winning author of The Bone Weaver’s Orchard

Bayou Whispers Online Book Launch Event!

I will be hosting a Facebook Live event in conjunction with my publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing, on April 29th at 8:00 PM EDT! I’ll be in conversation with the esteemed Todd Keisling, and I’ll read a few scenes from the novel! Sign up today, it’s free!

Early feedback on Bayou Whispers:

Wood wrote a compelling tale steeped in New Orleans flavor and dark magic. The characters are colorful, likable, and altogether a triumph.

Mercedes M. Yardley, Stoker Award-winning author of “Little Dead Red”

Bayou Whispers is a haunting, touching novel that blends the horrors of everyday life with that of the supernatural. Tapping into the tension and setting of films like Angel Heart and True Detective, this is a hypnotic story told from a place of loss, community, and resolute hope.

Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration and Thriller Award nominee, Breaker

The secrets in BAYOU WHISPERS unwind like a line of music. But it’s the music that plays just before the monsters jump out.

Sarah Read, Stoker award-winning author of “The Bone Weaver’s Orchard”

Wood’s Bayou Whispers is a sublime cocktail of horror, supernatural thriller, and urban fantasy, where the mythos of voodoo clashes with the modern day. Fans of Jim Butcher and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will love this.

Todd Keisling, Bram Stoker nominated author of Devil’s Creek

The Word Count Podcast LIVE from READERCON (Episode 88)

LIVE from ReaderCON 30

My posts from the con will be up later in the month as I knock out this episode of the podcast and prepare for the next con this weekend in Rhode Island.

Between getting the book ready for the Beta readers, two cons, and my upcoming thesis defense, so of COURSE I agreed to do a live show at ReaderCon this year. I mean, why the hell not?

Only two of the Word Count Irregulars were on hand for our second live show, so we amped up the story times to 20ish minutes and had a ball putting on a show in Salon C at the Quincy Marriott on Sunday, 14 July.

Here was the prompt for the episode:

You can listen to  the latest show here:

Before we get on with the show notes, a reminder that we are looking to increase the number of likes on the show’s Facebook Page, so hop on over there and tell your friends about us (use the #WordCountPodcast hashtag).

Second, as always, the WCP is FREE to download and listen via iTunes or Libsyn. This show is brought to you by writers who love the opportunity to share their stories with you. In many ways, the #WordCountPodcast is a hobby for us, as there are no advertisers or revenue streams. It’s just us, a microphone, a four channel mixing board and a passion for sharing our words with you.

We are not asking, nor have ever asked, for monetary compensation. This is our playground, and once a month we invite you to join us around a virtual campfire and listen for a bit.

However, I and my colleagues would very much appreciate it if you shared links for the podcast on social media, and perhaps check out each author’s links and bios (posted below).

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to my talented friends:

Our Guests:

W. B. J. Williams – “Rebirth”

W. B. J. Williams holds advanced degrees in anthropology and archeology. He is an avid historian, mystic, poet, and author who manages an information security program at a prominent New England firm. He is noted for his bad puns, and willingness to argue from any perspective. He is endured by his beloved wife and two daughters, and lives in Sharon Massachusetts. When he is not at home or at his computer, he can often be found haunting the various used bookstores of Boston.


Twitter: @wbjwilliams

R. B. Wood – “Dear Dad”

R. B. Wood is a recent MFA graduate of Emerson College and a writer of speculative and dark fiction. Mr. Wood recently has been published online via SickLit Magazine and and appeared in the award-winning anthology “Offbeat: Nine Spins on Song” from Wicked ink Books.  Along with his writing passion, R. B. is the host of The Word Count Podcast—a show of original flash fiction.

R. B. currently lives in Boston with his partner Tina, a multitude of cats, and various other critters that visit from time to time.

Around the web:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon’s R.B. Wood page

July 2019:The Month of Shenanigans

Hi Everyone!

I hope the celebrations last week found you all in good form and relaxing with family in friends. I, myself, have been of two-minds for the last couple of years celebrating the 4th of July—so it’s good I had something else to focus on!

My upcoming novel, Bayou Whispers continues to progress. While I was delighted to type “The End” at the bottom of the last page of the manuscript, the end (in this case) is just the beginning of fine-tuning the story.

I currently have over 230 notes from the development editor I’ve been working with. She’s been a huge supporter, friend, and mentor to me during the final push to complete my first book in nearly seven years.

Walt and I will be doing the live show at ReaderCON together…

July is ‘the month of shenanigans” for several reasons this year. First, I have two conventions I’m attending (ReaderCON 30 in Quincy, Massachusetts, July 11-14–where I will be recording a live episode of my podcast The Word Count–and I’ll be at NECON in Rhode Island July 18-21). Second, along with the conventions this month, I’m just coming off a week visit with both my grown children. A fun-filled and hectic week, to be sure! An, of course, Third is the novel which is due to the Emerson Faculty reading committee on the 22nd of this month.

There also may be a series of announcements coming up regarding teaching and new releases–but that’s post-July.

When the current shenanigans are over.

NECON: German for “Shenanigans with Fucking Scotch”

That’s it for now…more in a week or so. Thank you again for being with me on this journey!

Peace, love, and hair grease,


What’s Next?

“What’s Next?”

Before the phrase “what’s next” was made popular by the series The West Wing, it was popular in my household growing up. When my brother, sister and I were very young, that question meant there were more chores and more work to do. As we got older, that question morphed into setting goals, reaching for them, assessing, and asking that very question while moving on to the next item on our to-do list.

During this week leading up to the Emerson graduation festivities where I will receive my MFA hood and degree, I’ve been thinking a lot about that age-old question of what’s next.

My 33-year corporate career is over—has been for a few years now. The last two of those years has been spent studying, reading and writing. Yet I haven’t published (other than episodes of The Word Count Podcast) since 2016.

I have three rejections for short stories in that time—all from people I know putting together anthologies. These were token submissions, at best. I have 20 short stories that I’ve written during the Emerson program that I should start shopping around a bit more aggressively.

I know I need to spend the summer finishing Bayou Whispers—my supernatural thriller set in New Orleans. And I have a couple of ideas for another novel and a few novelettes after that.

Reading, of course, is on the to-do list—you can’t be a writer without being a reader. Besides, I DO love a good book. I want to add reviews for books I read moving forward–one a week should be achievable.

The MFA I’m receiving is a “terminal degree,” which means I could start looking for potential teaching gigs. The stroke-induced anxiety I suffer from might impact my ability to stand in front of a class, but there is the possibility of teaching online courses or even writing essays. It might be worth trying both.

My “what’s next” has other possibilities as well. I’ll continue my podcast until at least episode 100—a personal commitment I made 9 years ago which I plan on fulfilling.

And there is the ongoing physical rehab that takes hours out of each day.

There are also people in this crazy literary industry I would love to work with. Editors, writers, agents and publishing houses I have jotted down in a sort of bucket list of talent I want to engage with and learn from.

So “what’s next” is just about anything I want it to be.

At the end of 2015, I nearly died from a pulmonary embolism, a heart attack, dozens of strokes and cancer.

And while I physically and mentally cannot do what I used to do for a living, in 2019 I find myself actually enjoying life more than I ever have.

“What’s next” is a question my parents ingrained in my very soul. That question, I realized years later,  stemmed from the fear of an unknown future.

So what’s next? Anything that I want.

Now the question excites me.

Peace, love and hair grease,


Welcome to 2019

2019. Well, shit. That happened fast!

Normally I like to reflect on the year that was and the year ahead the week of my birthday—but 2018 ended as it began—an Emergency room visit (this time, kidney stones) and an unexpected visitor (my daughter, which was a delight).

The end result is twofold—my “New Year’s Message” is late, and I’m grumpy.

That last bit is not unusual for my curmudgeonly self.

But it IS a new year, 365 (now 364) days of new opportunity, hope and excitement. At least I’m endeavoring to make that my focus.

Shall I begin again, then?

Happy New Year!

The year ahead is already shaping up to be a busy one.

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • My Son will graduate from College in May.
  • My Daughter is transitioning from music to English as her major in college
  • I will be graduating from Emerson with an MFA in August.
  • Boskone, StokerCon and ReaderCon are on the docket for the year and I just renewed my Horror Writer’s Association membership.
  • NECon in July
  • Season 9 of The Word Count Podcast(which kicks off in January)
  • A visit with my sister, mum, and cousins in Florida
  • A Summer excursion to Maine.
  • Extended stays by family at the Boston home.
  • Completing Bayou Whispersand shopping it around.

There are probably other things I’ve forgotten, but I’ll add them to the “must dos” list as I remember them.

2018 was the first year I haven’t published a story since 2015…I plan on correcting that. I have seven short stories now ready for submission (one is already under consideration) so I hope to up the count of published works from last year’s dismal “zero” to “greater than zero.”

And this month I’ve kicked off “NENoWriMo (New England Novel Writing Month)” for a few local writer-type friends and I. And I need to eventually decide on the fate of The Prodigal’s Foole  and the Arcana Chroniclesseries I began to pen earlier in the decade.

Working on my health is a major factor as well…I have my annual cancer check (post Thyroid cancer) in March and the Neurological rehabilitation is a long process which will continue as well.

There is a lot to look forward too in the New Year. So perhaps I should table a bit of the curmudgeon and look for more of the positive. That sound suspiciously like a…*shudder*…”resolution.”

All things considered—it’s not a terrible change to attempt.

From my family to yours—make 2019 YOUR year. Kick ass. Make me proud.

Just turn the music down and get off my lawn whilst making me proud, okay?


RBW-JAN 2019




NECON 38: A Retrospective

In Fall 2017, I attended the Gamut Writer’s Workshop, and one of the many (not entirely sober) conversations I had with Rena Mason was that I should join the “NECON group–they are all horror writers  from your area and are a lot of fun.”

“Sure,” I said, after hearing more about this writer’s convention. “Sounds like fun!”

Then, I fucking forgot.

At Stokercon earlier this year, I was chatting with Tony Tremblay and Matt Bechtel who told me (again) ALL about this conference called NECON and that I’d have a really great time.

“Great!” I said. “I’ll sign up right away!”

Then, I fucking forgot. Again.

Finally, I think it was Todd “Tarbox” Keisling who said (rather kindly, I thought), “are you gonna sign up motherfucker,  or do I have to kick your goddamn ass?”

“Fuck you, Wood”

I might not be remembering that accurately. I’ve had strokes.

Anyway, I signed up. So the weekend right after Readercon I caught a lift with my editor Amelia Bennett, her husband Paul, and Brian Kirk (IT WASN’T MY FAULT, BRIAN) and set course for Rhode Island and Camp NECON.

Holy Mother of God. What a fantastic experience. Damn, I hate saying Rena, Tony, Matt, Todd (and the others) were right–but they were.

You KNOW they’ll lord that over me until Cthulhu comes back.

I’m still processing the experience, but let me take a stab at why NECON was so amazing.


We checked into The Roger Williams University Baypoint Inn and Conference Center where NECON has been held for some time. The place is what you’ed expect for a Inn on a college campus: 80’s architecture, basic rooms and amenities.


I’ve never met so many NICE staff members in one place in my life. I was told the folks at the Bayport Inn liked the NECON crowd–but I didn’t understand what that meant until I walked through the front doors. Resourceful, ready (and genuine) smiles, always offering to help, always receptive. I dropped my luggage off and proceeded with the Crew to “1776” to pick up a few last minute things.

“Last Minute Things”

The first afternoon was geared toward setup, folks arriving, and the “In Real Life” reconnections that happen when you mostly chat with friends online for the better part of a year.

As evening fell, I found myself out in the quad–the courtyard of the Bayport Inn– where there was an organized Scotch tasting going on. I brought my newbie offerings: a bottle of Laphroaig Lore and a distiller’s edition of Oban. I also had a bottle of Single Barrel Select Jack Daniels for anyone not into the Scotch tasting.

“Damn it, there’s that bug spray…wish I’d actually used it.”

The problem is there were DOZENS of bottles of scotch brought to the quad for tasting. Okay…that really wasn’t the problem. The problem was that by the end of the evening IT WAS ALL GONE.

“Yes, I’m drinking a Newcastle. It was intermission.”

Tony Tremblay ( in the photo above) and Bracken MacLeod organized the shindig. In fact, I brought the Laphroaig specifically for Bracken to try–but he was late getting back from dinner. He found me cradling the Islay Single Malt, muttering “No more. Bracken only. G’way.”

After assuring me it was, in fact, himself, he took the bottle from me gently and poured himself a “wee dram.” The rest of the evening went very well. And I learned what a “Saugy” was…

“Bracken and Tony–I think this was from Tony’s camera but who the hell knows?”


Awake. God help us all.

One point of order before I continue. I might add a few notes here and there, but most of the kaffeeklatsch/panel notes below come from the NECON online program. 

After a breakfast that wasn’t half bad compared with the normal hotel buffet-style grease-fest, I hit three kaffeeklatsches:

Upon Further Review: Book Review Kaffeeklatsch
Stephen Cords, Brian Kirk, Frank Raymond Michaels, Madelon Wilson, Craig Wolf

An interactive discussion of reviews–what should and shouldn’t be in them. Some comedic moments when discussing some of the worst reviews people have received.

Read Any Good Books Lately?: The Year’s Best Books Kaffeeklatsch

Barry Lee Dejasu, Jaime Levine, Hildy Silverman, Erin Underwood, Hank Wagner


A nice discussion of the latest and greatest since NECON 37


And the Oscar Goes To: The Year’s Best Films Kaffeeklatsch
Michael Arruda, Scott Goudsward, Rena Mason, Charles Rutledge, Matt Schwartz, L.L. Soares

From the program: “Black Panther. There, I saved you all an hour.”

I agree with this. NEXT!

After lunch (pasta salad, sandwiches, and fruit) I sat in a few of my first NECON panels.

Angry Little Gods: The Art of World-Building
Dana Cameron, Charles Colyott, Craig Shaw Gardner (M), Charlaine Harris, James A. Moore, Nicole Peeler

For some authors, it’s not enough to simply create characters and plots; some feel the need to create their own worlds as well. Sometimes those worlds are identical to our own with just a few tweaks, and sometimes they’re vastly different. Our panel of architects discuss what it’s like to build your own sandbox before letting your characters play in it.

The Spark: What Inspires a Great Short Story
Meghan Arcuri-Moran, Christa Carmen, Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Toni L.P. Kelner, Ed Kurtz, Helen Marshall


It’s the question all short fiction writers hate — “Where do your stories come from?” And since most Necon Campers are too old to believe that old wives’ tale about a stork, we’ve gathered some of the best in speculative short fiction to give us a glimpse into their creative process.

At this point, I blew off the podcasting panel (sorry about that) to take a “too many people” break. And maybe get a beer. Maybe.

Changing Lanes: Writing in More Than One Genre
David Wellington, Dana Cameron, Chris Irvin (M), Helen Marshall, Errick Nunnally, David Demchuk, F. Paul Wilson

Horror, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy … How are authors successfully writing and building audiences across multiple genres? Our extremely versatile panelists discuss how they pull it off.

Dr. Wilson had the BEST response to multiple genres and the possibility of losing your audience if one switches. Paul writes the delightful Repairman Jack series among many other things…he decided when he wanted to write a medical drama, that Jack would be hired by a doctor. A noir crime story? Jack would be hired by a police department. Etc.

After a “class photo” was taken, it was off to dinner (chicken medallions) then the toast/update with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. For the record, Errick Nunnally did a fucking awesome job as host–even adding a Dallas Mayr (Jack Ketchum) fitting memorial:

“This bottle of scotch has to be gone in five minutes…starting now”

We all stepped up for a shot. It was empty in two minutes flat.

The shenanigans were followed by the “meet the author” party where I apparently proposed to Christopher Golden, cried a little when I finally picked up James A. Moore‘s Dinner for One (his memoir of dealing with his first wife’s death), and hung out with Todd and Erica Keisling who had copies of his wares, including his latest novelette The Smile Factory. I may have completely blown my book budget for the con in one night. 

“Budget blown. And this is only the first night. I believe the total stood at 42 new books by Sunday #SorryNotSorry”

The evening turned into a social event in the quad afterwards. I have no pictures of the afterparty, officer.

And I never did find that Cards Against Humanity game.


“For fuck’s sake. I’m a 53 year old disabled fat white guy. I need more than four hours of sleep!”

Remember that line. It bites me in the ass later.

Breakfast, then the morning programing started at 9:00. I was pretty excited–in the afternoon I was going to run an errand then go into Providence to hit some bookstores and have dinner with the Bennetts and the Keislings.

Doin’ It For the Kids: Children’s Literature vs. Mid-Grade vs. Young Adult
Patrick Freivald, Lynne Hansen (M), Peter Johnson, Kya Stillson, Jeff Strand, Trisha J. Wooldridge

You can never start a reader too young, but the business of publishing has made putting a book into a kid’s hands more and more complicated. Our panelists will discuss writing, selling, and marketing books aimed at the different pre-adult audiences.

I’ve been thinking about publishing some mid-grade fiction. My first indie book, The Prodigal’s Foole was considered by some to lean more MG or YA…except I used the word “fuck” too many times. Imagine that.

BOO!: Modern Ghost Stories
P.D. Cacek (M), Tom Deady, John Foster, Michael Rowe, Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel, Tony Tremblay, Dan Waters


The oldest horror tales in the world involve ghosts and haunted places, and they’re still going strong today. What keeps the public interested in hauntings? What are some modern examples that both honor this age-old tradition and put a new spin on it?

I love ghost stories–from Dickens classic A Christmas Carol through Rolad Dahl’s numerous collections and Rin Chupeco’s The Girl from the Well–I adore the genre. My upcoming Bayou Whispers is a Southern Gothic Thriller, but you can bet your ass there is a ghost or two in there.

Closing Time: Remembering the Life and Work of Jack Ketchum
Linda Addison, Jill Bauman, Ginjer Buchanan, Sephera Giron, Gordon Linzner, Doug Winter (M)

The horror community lost a giant when Jack Ketchum passed, but Necon lost our friend, Dallas. Our panelists discuss the man, his work, and his legacy.

Many of the Dallas anecdotes were personal and heartfelt. I met him once in New York–we were both smokers at the time and he was an amazing, talented, and generous man. It was a glorious five minute chat. About Scotch.

Leaving the compound was bittersweet. First, the crew dropped Brian Kirk off at T. F. Green airport as he needed to leave NECON a day early. It was great meeting him, though, and as a reminder IT WASN’T MY FAULT. Just sayin’ man. 🙂

Second, we hit a couple of bookstores in Providence, including the famous Lovecraft Arts & Sciences.  Wallets lighter, we then settled in for an amazing sushi dinner with martinis before heading back to Camp NECON.

All in all, a marvelous and hysterical (“Tarbox” and “Porno Batman”) afternoon/evening.


We got back in time for the infamous NECON Roast–this year’s victim was Matt Bechtel. By sacred oath, no more can be said in public about any NECON roast–sorry to “short” change you.

Remember when I wrote earlier that I said I would be bitten in the ass later?

Yeah. It’s later.

I was in quite a bit of pain (a leg filled with old blood clots will do that) and decided to call it an evening. I’d been in the quad two evenings in a row and knew what to expect. I was sad not to hang out with friends new and old of course, but c’mon! There would be nothing really new this evening right?


James Moore and Cullie Seppälä (Tessa) got MARRIED in the quad, and the ceremony was officiated by Bracken MacLeod.

And I missed it. Fuck.

“Credit the pic to David Wilson. I think. I dunno…I WASN’T THERE.”


Last days at conventions are always so bipolar–on one hand, I’m sad to be leaving an amazing group of wonderful people. On the other hand, the cosmic evil that is social anxiety is telling me to get the fuck out of there.

Eggs and sausages with a gallon of coffee made me feel a bit better, and it was time to get on with it.

All week, the weather had cooperated. But on Sunday, the last day of NECON, the rains came, fitting my mood perfectly. I went to one panel and the closing ceremony/town hall meeting before heading out with Amelia and Paul.

Being Weird in the 21st Century: Cosmic Horror and Weird Fiction Beyond Lovecraft’s Mythos
John Goodrich, Paul McMahon, Mary SanGiovanni (M), Darrell Schweitzer, K.H. Vaughan, Halli Villegas

The Old Ones may be timeless, but that doesn’t mean Weird Fiction doesn’t occasionally need to be refreshed. How has this style of literature stayed so popular and relevant through the years? Our experts share their insights.

I loved this panel–three separate Bayou Whispers epiphanies occurred during the conversation. By the end of the hour, I had eight pages of notes.

Necon Closing and Town Meeting
Tell us what we did wrong, what we did right, and what you’d like to see us do next year. Also, we award the Necon Olympic Medals!

The goodbyes were coming. Many folks left for the airport first thing that morning. Others were trickling out throughout breakfast and the last panels. There was a sense of closure in the air. Or mildew. Not sure which.

NECON is a family. We are weird, and “out there.” We will play RPGs and card games while drinking like fish and discussing whether or not Stephen King’s latest is as good as his last (SPOILER: Yeah, The Outsider is pretty good, IMHO).

This was the first convention that I din’t feel like an outsider. I was made welcome from the start, considered family by the end.

When Amelia and Paul dropped me off, I sat in my writing Lair for a few hours just processing the experience. I finally met the Bennetts and the Keislings in real life. I reconnected with Mercedes M. Yardley, Rena Mason, Hillary Monahan, Cat Scully, Jim Moore, Christopher Golden, Tony Tremblay, Jeff Strand, Peter Halasz, Bracken MacLeod, and so many others. I met Brian Kirk, Sephera Giron, Errick Nunnally, Heather Lovelace-Hack, Mary Hart, April Hawks (MAAAA!), David Demchuk, Vikki Ciaffone, Duncan Eagleson, Paul McNamee, Max Bechtel…

You get the idea.

Authors. Artists. Editors. Book Dealers. Renegades and rogues. Call them what you will.

I call them family.

Am I ready for NECON 39 in 2019? Goddamn right, I am. Where’s the Scotch?


ReaderCON 29

***Note: The ReaderCON panel by panel commentary that follows is in reverse order***







The con is coming to a close, and the scramble to pack up all the podcasting gear and *ahem* the ‘few’ new books now in my collection took me until 10:00 AM.

All About the Odyssey Writing Workshop – Jeanne Cavelos

Earlier this year, I applied to the Odyssey Workshop (on par with Clarion and other high-end writing workshops). My application was politely declined, but I received a lot of excellent feedback from Jeanne on my 4k word submission. My goal was to attend, listen, and see (other than a talent issue on my part) if there were other things I could have done to get me in the door of this six-week intensive program. Not only did I learn a few interesting things for next time, Jeanne remembered me and my application. Is that a goos thing? I’ll let you know if I get in next year.

The Shirley Jackson Awards

In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Jackson (1916 -1965) wrote classic novels such as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, The Lottery. Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind. The awards given in her name have been voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a board of advisors, for the best work published in the calendar year of 2017 in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.

Award Winners in RED below:


Ill Will, Dan Chaon (Ballantine Books)
The Bone Mother, David Demchuk (ChiZine Publications)
The Changeling, Victor Lavalle (Spiegel & Grau)
The Hole, Hye-young Pyun (Arcade Publishing)
The Night Ocean, Paul La Farge (Penguin Press)


Fever Dream, Samantha Schweblin (Riverhead Books)*
Mapping the Interior, Stephen Graham Jones (
The Asylum of Dr. Caligari, James Morrow (Tachyon Publications LLC)
The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, Margaret Killjoy (
The Lost Daughter Collective, Lindsey Drager (Dzanc Books)*
The Murders of Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson (

* TWO winners in this category in 2018


“Take the Way Home That Leads Back to Sullivan Street,” Chavisa Woods (Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country)
“The Resident,” Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties)
“Sun Dogs,” Laura Mauro (Shadows and Tall Trees Volume 7)
“The West Topeka Triangle,” Jeremiah Tolbert (Lightspeed Magazine)
“You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych,” Kathleen Kayembe (Nightmare Magazine)


“Blur,” Carmen Maria Machado (Tin House, issue 72, Summer 2017)
“Live Through This,” Nadia Bulkin (Looming Low)
“The Convexity of Our Youth,” Kurt Fawver (Looming Low)
“The Mouse Queen,” Camilla Grudova (The Doll’s Alphabet)
“The Second Door,” Brian Evenson (Looming Low)


Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
She Said Destroy, Nadia Bulkin (Word Horde)
The Dark Dark, Samantha Hunt (FSG Originals)
The Doll’s Alphabet, Camilla Grudova (Coffee House Press)
Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country, Chavisa Woods (Seven Stories Press)


Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow (Pegasus Books)
The Djinn Falls in Love, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin (Rebellion Publishing / Solaris Books)
Looming Low, edited by Justin Steele and Sam Cowan (Dim Shores)
Shadows and Tall Trees Volume 7, edited by Michael Kelly (Undertow Publications)
Tales From a Talking Board, edited by Ross E. Lockhart (Word Horde)

How Horror Stories End – Ellen Datlow, Nicholas Kaufmann, Jess Nevins, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry

The reader’s expectation of a horror story’s ending or anxiety over the question of how it will end significantly shapes the experience of the story. Which horror stories require cathartic happy endings, and which are satisfying even when evil wins? If the reader likes everything about a horror story but the ending, does that spoil the story or just lead to fix-it fanfic? What moral messages are sent by a horror story’s ending?

James Morrow –  Jim read from and upcoming work that he describes as a “demented Doctor Who episode.” It follows the biblical Lazarus through time as he ends up in the 1960’s, Constantine I’s Council of Nicaea and shenanigans in-between. It is typical Jim Morrow–thought provoking, blasphemous and laugh out-loud funny. This was a marvelous way to end the con!



Imagination All Compact – Carlos Hernandez, C.S.E. Cooney, Brittany Warman, Mike Allen, Sandi Leibowitz

A two-hour speculative poetry spectacular. Also, HAIL CLOCKIE!

Mental Illness in Horror – Erik Amundsen, Nadia Bulkin, Teri Clarke, Hillary Monahan, James Morrow, Terence Taylor

In June 2017, author Magen Cubed tweeted a detailed examination of mental illness tropes in horror, positing that representation has mostly been “schlocky [and] careless.” Sometimes mental illness creates a terrifying threat or antagonist; it can also influence settings such as hospitals and institutions. Cubed puts forth that both of these portrayals demonize mental illness. If horror writers begin to look at people with mental illness as actual people with their own possible heroic arcs, what kind of portrayals might be created instead?

This particular panel was the only one that I was a bit disappointed in. The first 20 minutes or so were rather upsetting personal stories of mental illness from some of the panel, and it took some time to get around to literature. The stories were heartbreaking, don’t get me wrong. But not what I was expecting.

Group Reading: Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers – Marcy Arlin, Rob Cameron, Teri Clarke, Randee Dawn, Brad Parks, Ted Rabinowitz, Sam Schreiber, Marcus Tsong

Various spec-fiction works in progress read by the group. Almost makes me wish I still lived in Brooklyn.  Almost.

C. S. E. Cooney Claire & Carlos are two of my favorite people to see at cons. Upbeat, brilliant and funny, I was delighted to find out that Claire would be reading from Desdemona AND that the book was recently purchased by Tor.

Funny, dark whimsey. Delightful stuff AND she gave me a FREE copy of her CD recorded under her musical whimsey name Brimstone Rhine.

TELL me Brimstone Rhine isn’t also a great name for a demon huntress?

New Frontiers in Fairy Tale Adaptation – Sara Cleto, Rachel Pollack, Veronica Schanoes, Shveta Thakrar, Brittany Warman, Navah Wolfe

Fairy tale adaptations continue to flourish in a wide variety of media including novels, poetry, film, television, and comics. In this panel, a fairy tale scholars and creative writers who have adapted fairy tale material will explore the innovative directions of recent work. How are artists putting the fairy tale to new uses? What contemporary work best exemplifies the potential of the form? Where can we go next?

This was a fascinating panel. I wrote a fairytale sequel a couple years ago based on an old Japanese story called “The Boy Who Drew Cats.” My story, “The Ink-Washed Cat,” is a disturbed and much darker exploration on the consequences of that first story and I wanted to see where it would fit in this new fairytale paradigm.

The Con Suite





So here is something y’all should know: playing Cards Against Humanity…as a DRINKING game…with a bunch of writers goes pair-shaped VERY quickly.

And now you know why it’s taken me days to finish this post.


I’m writing this early Saturday morning as Friday was a jam-packed insane fest–all goo things including a live recording of episode 78 of the Word Count Podcast! But that was a bit later in the day–let’s get to the readings and panels I attended first while trying not to throw up in anticipation of my first Readercon panel.

Gamification of Story Development – Liz Gorinsky, Auston Habershaw, Carlos Hernandez, Bart Leib, Lauren Roy, Gregory A. Wilson

Story-focused games can be useful tools for authors. What happens when a writer draws up a character sheet for their protagonist and lets someone else play it out? Which gaming systems are best suited to developing stories? How can games support writing without creating chaos?

A great set of discussions around complex gaming (tabletop and online) and the creativity behind game stories and their collaboration of development.

Kaffeeklatsch with James Morrow

Jim and his wife Kathy were in great form for this casual discussion of the publishing industry, Jim’s latest work (which he’ll be reading from on Sunday) and a general Q&A which focused on Jim’s research, love of movies and more.


Understanding Neuroscience – Benjamin C Kinney

With my work with Brigham & Woman’s Neurology department on the development of gaming and creative strategies for stroke victims, I was very interested to see what Mr. Kinney had to say. His presentation and discussion hovered around helping writers to understand how to think about the brain. How can one make sense of something so complex, and extract stories that are coherent, plausible, and free from the cliches of the past fifty years?

Group Reading: The New American Bizarrerie – Christa Carmen, C.S.E. Cooney, Carlos Hernandez, Julia Rios, Patty Templeton, Jessica Wick

From gothic to gilded, from Latinx SF to weird Americana, from the Icarus-altitudes of the surreal to the depths of the dark fantastic, readers C.S.E. Cooney, Julia Rios, Carlos Hernandez, Jessica P. Wick, Patty Templeton, and Christa Carmen will regale listeners with a glorious gallimaufry of contemporary speculative fiction.





The Word Count Podcast LIVE! – W.B.J. Williams, M. J. King, Eden Baylee, Bill Kirton, Kathleen Kayembe, R. B. Wood

Here is the podcast:

Episode 78 of The Word Count Podcast went live in Salon A with  a set of stories and a video all based on the following prompt:

W. B. J. Williams – “Where The Children Are”

W. B. J. Williams holds advanced degrees in anthropology and archeology. He is an avid historian, mystic, poet, and author who manages an information security program at a prominent New England firm. He is noted for his bad puns, and willingness to argue from any perspective. He is endured by his beloved wife and two daughters, and lives in Sharon Massachusetts. When he is not at home or at his computer, he can often be found haunting the various used bookstores of Boston.


Twitter: @wbjwilliams

M. J. King

Melissa makes her home in the woods of coastal Maine with her husband, where she writes many flavors of fantasy. Her short stories have found their ways into the anthologies Fight Like a Girl and What Follows, and she is an occasional contributor to the Wordcount podcast. Between writing, travel, the dreaded day job, and demands of family, she can sometimes be found reciting lines on a stage. Some might even call it “acting.” Follow her adventures on her personal blog or on Twitter (@mjkingwrites).

Eden Baylee  & Bill Kirton

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres.

She has written three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction ~ SPRING INTO SUMMER, FALL INTO WINTER, and HOT FLASH.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her trilogy with Dr. Kate Hampton—a psychological mystery/suspense called STRANGER AT SUNSET. In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created Lainey Lee for the Lei Crime Series, a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii. Her novellas are available on Kindle Worlds.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.




Twitter: @edenbaylee

Bill Kirton

I was born in Plymouth, England, studied French at Exeter University and graduated in 1962. While teaching at Hardye’s School, Dorchester, I started my PhD on the theatre of Victor Hugo and was a lecturer at Aberdeen University from 1968 to 1989.

I’ve also been a voice-over artist, TV presenter and have extensive experience of acting and directing. My directing credits include many French language plays as well as works by Shakespeare, Orton, Beckett and Ionesco. I spent a sabbatical year at the University of Rhode Island Theater Department, which commissioned translations of 3 Molière plays from me, one of which I directed myself. The script also won third prize in the British Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Translation competition, 1999.

I wrote and performed songs and sketches in revues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, stage plays, two of which were commissioned by Aberdeen Children’s Theatre, and radio plays for the BBC, two of which were also broadcast in Australia.

Since the late 1990s, my writing has concentrated on prose fiction. I’ve written many short stories and ten novels, two of which have won awards, with a third being long-listed for the Rubery International Book Award.

I’ve held posts as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at universities in Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews and, since 2015, have been organiser of a Scotland-wide scheme which places professional writers in schools to help students with the transition to writing at university. I still give workshops in schools from Orkney to Dundee as part of the scheme and I’ve written five books in Pearson Educational’s ‘Brilliant’ series on study, writing and workplace skills. I also co-authored ‘Just Write’ for Routledge.

Website (and blog):

Facebook pages:

Kathleen Kayembe 

Kathleen Kayembe is the Octavia E. Butler Scholar from Clarion’s class of 2016, with short stories in Lightspeed, Nightmare, and The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year, Volume 12, as well as an essay in the Hugo-nominated Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler. Her work appeared on the SFWA and Locus Recommended Reading Lists for 2017, and she is a Shirley Jackson Award nominee. She also publishes queer romance under the pen name Kaseka Nvita, edits part time, and runs the occasional Amherst Writers and Artists writing workshop. She currently lives in St. Louis with a beloved collection of fountain pens, inks, and notebooks, and never enough time to write what she wants.

R. B. Wood

R. B. Wood is a technology consultant and a writer of Speculative and Dark Fiction.  His first novel, The Prodigal’s Foole, was released to critical acclaim in 2012.  Mr. Wood recently has been published online via SickLit Magazine and and appeared in the award-wining anthology “Offbeat: Nine Spins on Song” from Wicked ink Books.  Along with his writing passion, R. B. is host of The Word Count Podcast, and is studying for his MFA at Emerson College.

R. B. currently lives in Boston with his partner Tina, a multitude of cats, and various other critters that visit from time to time.

Around the web:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon’s R.B. Wood page


Carlos Hernandez

I adore Carlos–he is one of these human beings that is genuinely Brilliant, curious, funny talented and nice. He is probably the most genuine person I’ve ever met. He read from his upcoming middle-grade novel.




Arrived at ReaderCon mid afternoon and setup for the live recording of The Word Count Podcast schedule for tomorrow at 5 PM. Logistics is something pre-strke me loved and post-stroke me struggles with, but in the end, we are ready as we will ever be. Melissa (with baby) and Walt will be joining me on the panel tomorrow and I meet with both of them to discuss final arrangements (okay—I met with Walt to discuss final arrangements. I meet with Melissa because: BABY).

After dinner with Glenn (as is tradition) I attended a delightful trio of back-to-back readings by authors whose work I enjoy and are genuinely good people to boot:

John Langan

John read a bit of his piece from the upcoming The Devil and the Deep:Horror Stories of the Sea edited by Ellen Datlow. A haunting tail of murder and hauntings.


F. Brett Cox

Brett read a few things for us. A couple of short poems and two pieces from his upcoming collection: The End of All Our Exploring.


Scott Edelman

One of my favorite Readecon mainstays and an amazingly delightful man, Scott read his story from  an upcoming anthology to be released in October 2018.


And now the Thursday program is over and I’m heading back to meet up with Glenn to cause more mayhem…ah…ReaderCon!

ReaderCON 29 -Pregame

This evening is the “free” portion of the Readercon program. As I look back over the decade of attending this particular conference, I’m amazed at how many people I’ve met through the con and how far I’ve come as a writer.

I’ve budget for FOUR conferences in 2018–I’ve already been to Boskone and Stokercon. This month Readercon and NECON are back to back, so it boils down to one question: Will I survive the month of July?

While I gird my loins (and pray my liver will serve me has it has in the past), I am delighted to let you all know the I will be doing a LIVE broadcast for episode 78 in Salon A at the Quincy Marriott, 5 PM Friday the 13th of July. I’ll be posting loads of pictures, recordings and descriptions over the next few weeks and hope you’ll join me for this bit of my writing journey.

And never fear–I have notes on Bayou Whispers to incorporate into the manuscript in-between sipping bourbon and catching up with old friends.

It’s Thursday, 12 July and Day One at Readercon. Let’s see what happens next.

Reflection and Hope

Happy New Year to you and your family. May this year be a blessing for you all.Copyright 2018 Boston Globe

I’m typing this via an iPad, by the way. So let’s just blame Apple for any typos, omissions, grammatical errors and stupidity, m’ kay?

Honestly, I hadn’t planned on a blog post until the new season of the #WordCountPodcast launching in a few weeks.

Then I saw one of my handwritten PostIt notes with the words “write more blog posts 2018” scrawled on it.

Might as well kick that off right now, then—it being the first day of 2018 and all.


2017 was a year with highs and lows like each year before it. My cognition hasn’t improved much since the strokes 2 years ago, and I developed new DVT blood clots a couple weeks ago.

But with both of these issues, I’m choosing to look at the silver lining.

My cognition hasn’t improved, but the work-arounds I’ve been learning and practicing under the watchful eyes of the brilliant folks at BWH Neurology continues to improve. The DVT’s, while worrying (no one seems to know why my blood acts up occasionally), the clots were caught and the situation is being managed pharmacologically.

There were many more triumphs this past year, and that is what I want to focus on in this post as the wins of 2017 will springboard me into 2018.

Highlights from last year include:

• My Wife started her own consulting company in 2017 and she already has two clients.
• My sister is shortly moving into her brand new home in Florida with my Mom. Construction began in 2017.
• My son began his Junior year at Albright College and is now living off campus.
• My daughter began her senior year in High School and she has already been accepted at college for the fall (announcement pending her final decision).
• Four published stories, one in an award-winning anthology.
• Completed the brilliant Contemporary Dark Fiction online class offered by Richard Thomas
• Met new friends in the class, and here I want to single out S. L. Coney and Becca Borawski Jenkins who have been and will continue to be marvelous friends, writing Sherpas and over all brilliant and delightful people.
• Was accepted at Emerson College and began my online MFA
• My first semester consisted of two graduate courses—a writing workshop and a literature course—resulting in a 100.00 and a 95.88 respectively.
• The Emerson Writing, Literature and Publishing department chair along with the Popular Fiction director at Emerson have added teaching courses to my curriculum which I also begin this Spring.
• I read 68 Books last year. Check out that list if it interests you over at my Goodreads site.
• I attended the Gamut Magazine Writer’s Workshop in Chicago—finally meeting both Richard Thomas and Mercedes M. Yardley. Those two were on my “must meet” bucket list. I was delighted to ALSO meet: Joe Meno, Jac Jemc, Lindsay Hunter, Jan Bottiglieri, Casey Frechette, Sarah Read, Rena Mason, Ashleigh Gauch, Alec Fugate, Pamela Dugan, and Alana Southwood.
• I attended BOSKONE and ReaderCon (and will be at both again in 2018) and signed up for StokerCon (coming this March).

That’s just the “highlights reel.” Friends and relatives came for visits, I finally decided to give up my car (as driving is a focus issue for me) and that was an incredibly free feeling. I have the love of an amazing partner, and a support system in place that I am incredibly great full for.

Focus on the positive. That is one of the mantras for 2018. The other is “be better.”

The Future-2018 Goals & Hope

There will always be things I want to accomplish and don’t get done over the year. I spend the first few days of the new year reflections on what was done and on what was missed. Are the missed things important? Are there things I need to logically accomplish first before I can tackle a specific goal?

These questions and more go into my planning for the next year.

I expect this list of future goals to be a “living” document. The first page of my new bullet journal contains the list I’m about to share with you. I do expect that it will change and morph as the months slide by. But has of today, January 1st, here is what I hope to accomplish in 2018:

• Attend my daughter’s high school graduation.
• Continue to grow and nourish the relationship Tina and I share.
• Build and execute a health regimen that takes into account my physical and mental limitations, yet allows me to work toward improving my physical situation.
• Continue to write every day. My goal: 500 words a day. Whether on a story, revision, blog post, what have you.
• Build a Social Media platform that makes sense yet doesn’t become the typical “time suck” that platforms like Facebook can become.
• Build a writer’s identity/Marketing plan.
• Write 12 short Stories (“publication ready”) and one novel. 500 words a day X 365 = 186, 500 words. At 5 k per short story (60k) and 90k for a novel, that should be doable if I push it.
• Determine the final direction for my “Arcana Chronicles” series.
• Crush another 24 credits toward my MFA. My goal is to graduate in May of 2019.
• Attend three writer conferences and one workshop beyond Emerson.
• Remap my finances—medical expenses has eliminated any hope at retirement, so I have to figure that all out this year and execute a financial plan.
• See my children as much as possible.
• Visit with my family in Florida for a week without the travel/health trauma I experience now (Currently I cannot travel more than an hour without significant anticoagulation—and I still ended up with more DVTs. A Solution must be agreed between my doctors and I).
• More author networking
• Sign up for and actually read TWO trade magazines
• Map a daily schedule that will allow for meditation, exercise, rehabilitation, writing, networking, school work and “down time.”
• Attend more Emerson events and plug into the WLP department more.
• Blog once a week
• Better planning, effective time management (which has been a joke since the strokes), and a more positive outlook.
• Be kind. As kind and loving as my wife is to me, her family, and all our kitties.
• Be Better. Be better at SO many things…

I’m sure more will be added to the living version of this list. But it’s a start.

I counting on y’all to keep me on task.

Peace and Love,