Monday, June 11, 2018

Twitter for Dark Fiction Writers

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

I shied away from Twitter for the longest time. It was noisy and I always found myself stuck in a time continuum there. I'd wake up groggy and wondering if I hadn't been abducted by aliens. While there is still a lot of static and it can suck my time like a vacuum set on turbo, I've recently begun to embrace this platform.

So, I wanted to share some of the chats, events, and hashtags that I've found useful as a dark fiction writer, and hope that it will help you find better engagement on Twitter, as well.

Twitter Chats are live discussions that use a hashtag to filter and stream the conversation. (For Twitter Chats I like to use Tweetdeck.)

#DarkLitChat Third Tuesday of every month 8-9pm ET hosted by @darklitchat, @deapoirierbooks, and @e_teskey. Get a reminder email by signing up at

#CreatureChat Wednesday chat regarding non-human characters in science fiction and fantasy 8-9 pm CT hosted by @OfTheWilds

#MagicalMon a chat for Fantasy Writers Mondays from 7-10pm ET. @MagicalMonWords Hosts: @wordcaffeine @saraofwhimsy, and @abookbumble

#CreatureChat and #MagicalMon aren't specifically geared to dark fiction, but they may discuss elements you are writing about. I'd check out their weekly topic to see if it is something that interests you.

Twitter events for writers are scheduled events using a unique hashtag and can include weekly topics for you to share lines from your work and/or aesthetics, pitching your manuscript to find an agent and/or publisher, find a critique partner, beta readers, and more. Each event has its own rules, dates and times, so be sure to check the event's or host's profile for more information.

Weekly Event Hashtags

@writevent posts topics for many of weekly writer event hashtags and way more information on contests and Twitter events than you'd probably ever want to know. But a great place to start seeing what's out there.

Here are some of my favorite weekly events. Hmm, make those my favorite Wednesday and Thursdays events. I'm sure awesome things are happening throughout the rest of the week. Maybe.

#talesnoir @TalesNoir managed by @john_cordial (Wednesdays)
#1lineWed managed by @RWAKissofDeath (Wednesdays)
#weirdwriters managed by @chipmunkofpower (Wednesdays)
#thursdayaesthetic hosted by @literarilyjess (Thursdays)
#folklorethursday @FolkloreThurs managed by @DeeDeeChainey and @WillowWinsham (Thursdays) - This one isn't a writer event but has some great inspiration.

Pitch Party Events

#PitDark @PitDark a bi-annual (May/Oct) pitch party for dark literature. All genres welcome if the manuscript has an element of horror or darker writing. Hosted by @JasonHuebinger

#PitMad is a quarterly pitch party. This is the most popular Pitch Party and includes all categories and genres. Hosted by @PitchWars

There are many other Pitch Party Events, several accepting multiple genres, and categories. Some worth checking out are #DVPit (Marginalized Writers), #KidPit (YA and MG), #AdPit (NA and Adult), #IWSGpit and #SFFPit.

Other Pitch Events

#PitchWars @PitchWars is a mentoring program, ending in an agent pitch round.

#CPMatch is a pitching event to find a Critique Partner or Beta Readers. Hosted by @Megan_Lally

General HashTags
Here are some general writing community support and accountability hashtags.

#amwriting (tip: try adding your genre to the end of this hashtag and you might meet others writing in your genre)
#5amWritersClub for A.M. Writers
#OwlWriters for P.M. Writers

#mswl is a hashtag used by agents, editors, and publishers to announce their Manuscript Wish Lists. Fortunately, you don't have to scroll through this hashtag to find a match for your manuscript because some divine beings have already done this for you and are posted in a database on You can then search them by genre or by agent, etc.  I highly recommend this if you are querying.

Are you already using Twitter? Are there other chats, events, or hashtags you recommend? Let me know in the comments.
And if you find yourself in the Twitterverse, be sure to stop by and visit me @ShadowLeitner.

Stay beautifully haunted, Night Writers,
♥ Shadow.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Night Writer - Renee Ross

If you thought Gothic Romance was dead, think again and keep reading. Gothic Romance is not just remembered as a distant memory, but is alive and kicking and is as chilling as ever. Come down the dark hallway with me and meet Gothic Romance Author Renee Ross.

About Renee Ross

I was born in October of 1961. Growing up in the era of the 60’s and 70’s, I was influenced by the Gothic romance writers of the day: Dorothy Eden, Victoria Holt, Virginia Coffman and many others. I was obsessed with the Dark Shadows original series – the Gothic soap opera that ran from 1966 to 1971. In those days, we didn’t have any means of recording programs so, every weekday at 3:15, I would run the few blocks home from elementary school just in time to see the commercials before the music and credits rolled up the screen. I was able to watch whole episodes during the summer months, at least. And today, I have every episode on DVD.

I was a big fan of Vincent Price, Christopher Plummer, and Boris Karloff. In particular, movies made from the novels of Edgar Allan Poe, of whom I’m also a fan. One of my best memories of childhood was the pajama party I had with my mother every Saturday night when we watched those movies in a dark living room with just the flicker of the television screen. I was an only child – very shy and introverted so, I didn’t have many friends. I always preferred solitude, books, and animals over people.

I’ve written six Gothic novels since 2005. My stories and my writing are evolving, with each book in the Thornehaven series becoming darker. I read both the Gothics of old as well as the domestic noir novels of today and find that the former often hasn’t the level of suspense I’m looking for and the latter hasn’t the level of foreboding. In this series, I’ve done a little genre-bending. I’ve kept the heavy Gothic atmosphere that readers expect while cranking up the excitement and plot twists.

Basically, I write the kind of books I want to read: Wuthering Heights meets Alfred Hitchcock. And, as both a writer and a reader, I look forward to what I hope will be the Gothic romance revival of the 21st century.

Can you tell us a bit about what you are currently working on?

I am working on my 4-volume Thornehaven series. Each book can be read as a stand-alone or in any order the reader chooses.

The Reincarnation of Anna, Book 1

When Corinne marries into the Thorne family, she's no match for her cold-hearted step-daughter who has daddy wrapped around her little finger. Julianna is an exact replica of her exquisitely beautiful mother, Anna, who died giving birth. Anna's identical twin sister - grotesquely disfigured in a fire - is convinced that Anna's soul entered Julianna's body as she left this world and her daughter entered it. Corinne finds this hard to believe until the evidence mounts and the threat against her life and that of her unborn child becomes horrifyingly real.

The Haunting of Delilah, Book 2

Lured by the imposing castle on a cliff, the first mistress of Thornehaven's untimely death marked the beginning of many tragedies that would befall its future inhabitants. Delilah, the second wife of handsome, brooding Jonathan Thorne, watches helplessly as unimaginable twists of fate strike those closest to them. When her husband turns his back on her, not even the fact that she's carrying his child is enough to break through the barriers of misunderstanding and smoldering resentment that divide them. As the birth of the long-awaited heir approaches, the wheels of cursed fate are set in motion, and the events that follow are so horrific that no one would blame the young bride if she lost her mind.

The Torment of Cassandra, Book 3 – Soon to be released.

Cassandra Powell is a young woman used to getting her way. So when she falls in love with Jeremy - a man in need of an heir - she keeps her infertility a secret. Not until she's living with the Thorne family does she learn of its horrifying history and about the room at the top of the stairs she's forbidden to enter. Her defiance sets off a fresh wave of tragic events and pushes their fragile marriage to the brink. After a year without conceiving, Jeremy grows darker and more distant than ever. When she intercepts a letter from his pregnant mistress, she hatches a diabolical plan to rid herself of the problem and have the baby she's always wanted. Only this time the price of having her way is so high, death would be a mercy.

The Possession of Juliet, Book 4 – still in the plot planning stage.

What is your favorite Dark/Gothic novel?

I would have to say Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. It proves that the Gothic romance is a genre that appeals to a wide audience and maintains its popularity over time. Books like The Turn of the Screw, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre are also good examples of Gothic romance classics.

What is your favorite Gothic motif/theme/element? Any particular reason why?

I can’t choose just one because I love them all. Especially thunderstorms, graveyards, large Victorian mansions, and black cats. I can’t say why either, but things like that have appealed to me in books, television, and movies for as far back as I can remember.

Which resource/s helped you the most in researching or writing your dark stories?

As well as Dark Shadows, I also enjoy watching classic Gothic films on YouTube. Films and books are a great way to study story structure. I love to create storyboards on Pinterest, collect character inspiration, historical fashion, as well as great writing tips.

Do you have plans to continue writing in this genre? If so, is there anything about it you would be willing to share?

Yes. I’ll be writing the final book of my Thornehaven series and then I’ll be sticking with single Gothic romance novels for a while.

Do you have any advice or insights for other Dark or Gothic writers?

Stay true to your preferred genre, and don’t let anyone tell you that Gothic books don’t sell or don’t have an audience. Write what you love, read what you love, and believe in your passion. There will always be a market for dark literature.

Please let us know where we can stalk you.

You can find me on my website I don’t blog, but please join my mailing list so I can let you know when I have a new release or if my other books are temporarily discounted or free.

I’m on Pinterest as Gothic Romance Remembered. There you can find storyboards for all the books I’ve written. Including The Ghost of Emily Grey and The Craft of the Wise.

I’m on Facebook and Twitter as Gothic Romance Remembred@reneerossbooks. I post Gothic romance covers of the 1960’s and 1970’s. People my age are so nostalgic about these books and I’m surprised and delighted at the number of young people who love them too.

You can also follow me on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you so much for sharing with us!

As always, Night Writers, stay Beautifully Haunted,

♥ Shadow.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Night Writer - M. L. Bullock

Cue the ghosts! 👻 Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you my Q&A with Author M. L. Bullock who knows a thing or two about spinning a great haunting tale. I know you'll enjoy her insights as much as I do. But Beware, there are goosebumps ahead. You've been warned. 😉

About M. L. Bullock

Author of the best-selling Seven Sisters series, M.L. Bullock has been storytelling since she was a child. Born in Antigua, British West Indies, she has had a lifelong love affair with beaches and island life. She currently lives on the Gulf Coast and regularly haunts her favorite hangout, Dauphin Island. A visit to Historic Oakleigh House in Mobile, Alabama inspired her successful supernatural suspense Seven Sisters series. 

Books she's written: Here are a few!

Seven Sisters

Historian Carrie Jo Dreams About the Past!

Will the ghosts of Seven Sisters allow her to tell their secrets?

Carrie Jo has a secret--she dreams about the past. The handsome and wealthy Ashland Stuart has hired her to uncover the history and the secrets of Seven Sisters, an aging antebellum mansion in sultry downtown Mobile, Alabama. A series of dreams, an untimely death and the betrayal of someone she loves lead her back in time to uncover the truth about a missing young heiress and a web of secrets. Will Carrie Jo slip into the shadows of Seven Sisters, following in the ghostly footsteps of the lost young woman, or can she solve this tragic mystery and find her own happiness?

The Ghosts of Kali Oka Road

On the Gulf Coast, Things Don’t Just Go Bump in the Night

They Terrorize You and Sometimes You Disappear!

The paranormal investigators at Gulf Coast Paranormal thought they knew what they were doing. Midas, Sierra, Sara, Josh and Peter had over twenty combined years of experience investigating supernatural activity on the Gulf Coast. But when they meet Cassidy, a young artist with a strange gift, they realize there’s more to learn. And time is running out for Cassidy.
When Gulf Coast Paranormal begins investigating the ghosts of Kali Oka Road, they find an entity far scarier than a few ghosts. Add in the deserted Oak Grove Plantation, and you have a recipe for a night of terror.

My Q & A with M. L. Bullock

Was there anything specific that drew you to this genre?

My own experience! Growing up, my father was in the military so we traveled. A lot. And we never stayed on base. My parents preferred off base housing so we always ended up in these kooky houses. Not all of them were haunted but at least two were, and one disturbingly son. My parents discovered a hidden door under the stairs and when they opened it it was like opening a paranormal door because things happened non-stop. Many of those experiences ended up in my books.

What is your favorite Paranormal/Dark/Gothic novel?

Gosh. One favorite? It's always the one I am reading, I think. I love Henry James' Turn of the Screw, that made an impression. Bram Stoker's Dracula, and I loved the movie and so many!

What is your favorite Gothic motif/theme/element? Any particular reason why?

Probably the Lady in White. I love that whole haunted imagery. Seeing her flutter through a tree line or walking up the stairs. She's an iconic gothic image. And she represents so much.

Which resource/s helped you the most in researching for or writing your novels?

My own experiences, I recently photographed something interesting in my pasture. It was totally weird and I didn't see it when I took the picture. I watch a lot of paranormal television shows but to be honest, I steer clear of anything that has to do with possession. It's a big turn off for me. Also, when I was kid I read a lot of books about ghosts. Legends, true stories. I read everything I could. I think that helped me prepare for my current career.

What’s next for you? Is there anything you can tell us about it? 

I write a lot. So yeah, I have a few things up my sleeve. The third book in my Lost Camelot is coming out in a few months, that's Guinevere Ascending. (Queen Guinevere as a vampire. Cool, huh?) And I'm continuing my Gulf Coast Paranormal series. The weather has warmed up a lot so I do plan on going on some day trips to local haunted places. That's always fun. 

Do you have any advice or insights for other Dark or Gothic writers?

My advice to up and coming writers is DO THE THING. The minute you to do it, you are a writer. So go write something now. Start with a short story if the idea of a long book paralyzes you for goodness sake, write. The key to success, I think is to write what YOU want to read. Sure, I think about my readers but I write to please myself first and foremost. As far as groups go, know ahead of time that writing can be a lonely pastime. Yeah, there are a lot of groups out there. I love the 20Booksto50k Facebook group but it's not perfect. Kboards will provide you with a lot of information. My advice for those going to those places is read a lot of posts before weighing in. And never let anyone tell you that you can't do it.

Please let us know where we can stalk you.

I'm on my Facebook Fan Page almost every day. 
My neglected website is 

Thank you so much, M. L.! I've got the chills now!

Night Writers, as always stay Beautifully Haunted!

♥ Shadow.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Monstrous List of Southern Gothic Elements

Photo by Ashley Knedler on Unsplash

I'd honestly love to see more Gothics set in the American South. So, I'm hoping to spark some writerly imaginations by providing a list of Southern and Appalachian Gothic elements. It would even be great to see some of these elements in a Dark Fantasy, Gothic Romance or some other unexpected Dark Fiction. Here's to your journey into the deeply dark and at times grotesque, but always disturbing, world of the Southern Gothic.

Decaying Plantations
Tin roof shacks in the woods
Swamp shacks
Derelict old houses
Southern Appalachia
Mississippi River
Deep South

Hellfire and brimstone preachers
Steely matriarchs
Henpeck husbands
White suited plantation owner
Corrupt government official
Southern Belles
Scantily-clad country girls
Shut in
Locked up grotesque, physically deformed or mentally deficient
Loyal housemaid/servant

Family Secrets
Dark History
Southern values
Moral integrity
Racial oppression
Domestic Violence
Social issues – Family, Race, Poverty
Decaying morals, decaying society
Mental disorders

Other Southern Gothic Elements
Rusty farm equipment/implements
Cotton gins
Spanish moss
The Klan
Lynching/Lynch Mobs
Corncob pipes
Chain Gangs
Shotgun weddings
Good O’Boy network
Civil War and the Confederacy
Heat/oppressive humidity
River baptisms
Southern hospitality

Notable Southern Gothic Authors and Reads
William Faulkner. As I Lay Dying.
Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird.
Flannery O’Connor. A Good Man is Hard to Find.
Cormac McCarthy. Outer Dark.
Truman Capote. Other Voices, Other Rooms.

There are many more by these authors and others, you can find more suggestions for Southern Gothic books.

What other elements would you add to this list? Do you have a favorite Southern Gothic novel? Are you using any of these elements in your writing? I'd love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments below.

Always stay Beautifully Haunted,

♥  Shadow.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

A Naughty Victorian Primer for Dark Fiction

The Dark and Gothic genres have always dealt with human depravity and included themes of taboo relations and sexual deviance. In the Victorian Gothic this was especially sensational, though in an age that appeared prudish they were anything but.

According to this post by Professor Calamity and Margaret Killjoy for, there were approximately 23 patents on fully mechanical dildos in the 19th century, some steam powered. Ouch. Strap-ons, dildos, and a sundry of other devices were available, along with all manners of kink, fetish and BDSM. Also, here is a list provided by Listverse of kinky books written by Victorians, that should give you an idea of just how not prudish they really were.

While I will not be going all Marquis de Sade here, I thought I'd share with you some bawdy terms, as well as a few other resources to assist you in your research. Though if you want to delve into the darkest of dark, reading Marquis de Sade would certainly assist you. He was not a Victorian nor is his work erotic, but both he and his writing are one hundred percent human depravity and sexual deviance.

A Short List of Bawdy Victorian Terms

Abbess - a Madame
Abbot - a Madame's favorite client
Bordello - brothel
Backgammoner - anal sex
Bagpiping - blowjob
Ballocks -  man's testicles
Bawbles -  man's testicles
Cooler - arse
Dollymop - a part-time prostitute
Dugs - breasts
French Envelope - condom
Fruitful Vine - vulva
Harlot - a whore
Knee Trembler - sexual intercourse standing up
Left-Handed Wife - a mistress
Mary-Anne - a male sex worker; homosexual
Night Flower - a prostitute
Prigging - sexual intercourse
Quail-pipe - a woman's tongue
Quim - vulva
Sheath - condom
Tart - an immoral woman
Tip the Velvet - going down on a woman
Toffer - a high-class prostitute
Tool - penis
Tom - a masculine lesbian

For more Victorian slang, I recommend checking out this post by and the Dictionary of Victorian Slang. There is also the Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue which dates back to before the Victorian Era, but still a great resource.

Recommended Blogs, Websites and Books

ListVerse: 10 Fascinating Facts about Prostitution in the Victorian Era

The Pearl: An almost complete collection of the Victorian Erotic Newspaper (1879-1881)

The Dictionary of Victorian London

The Victorian Guide to Sex: Desire and Deviance in the 19th Century by Fern Riddell

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

What other helpful resources have you come across in your writing research? Let me know in the comments and I'll make sure to add it to my list.

Stay Beautifully Haunted, Night Writers,

♥ Shadow.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Opposites Attract: 20+ Character Duos for Dark Fiction

It is no secret that Friction creates great Fiction. So, choosing a hero and a heroine from the opposite sides of the spectrum makes for the best heart rending stories. I've listed here some possible opposites for those Read in the Dark couples, though they can also be used for hero and villain combinations. Note: Genders are interchangeable.

20+ Opposites that Attract:

Bad Boy/Good Girl - 
This one is a classic, Byronic or Anti-Hero/Damsel, a similar combo is Jaded/Innocent



Similar combos are Nun/Knight, Nurse/Soldier

Includes Angel/Demon and Priest/Witch

A similar combo is Psychic or Magical/Skeptic

Includes Warden or Jailer/Prisoner


Beast or Creature/Human

Doctor or Nurse/Patient

Magical/Illusionist or Charlatan

Includes Death and the Maiden, Hades/Persephone and Ghost/Living

Couples from feuding families

Different Classes
Includes Ethnicity, Religion, Rich/Poor, Nobility/Peasant

Sexual Taboo couples
Old/Young, Incestual

Spy or Clandestine/Journalist



Bounty Hunter or Hit Man/Contract or Target


What other ones can you think of? Do you have a favorite Dark Duo that you read or write a lot about? This is just a jumping off spot, dive into your imagination and let me know what you find in the comments below.

Follow your HeArt and Stay Beautifully Haunted, Night Writers,

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Action Verbs for Gothic Hero Characterization

Trying to weave character conflicts in an intricate dance that will move the story forward has had me tied in knots on several occasions. I did a lot of research in hopes of refining this part of my process and came up with a ton of questionnaires, character arc outlining tips, etc. but nothing has really helped to really get to the heart of my characters or not quickly, anyway.

Then recently, I came across a great technique of choosing an overarching action verb for characters. And, Eureka! Read Author Damon Suede's verb technique of constructing characters here. This isn't just for writing Romance, Night Writers, this is a phenomenal technique for all storytellers.

I first came across the notion of applying verbs to characters' goals, while in the performing arts. Actioning is a technique of the Stanislavski's acting method. So, this idea of choosing action verbs for my characters really clicked for me. I think it will for you, too.

Since using action verbs to build my characters has been a game changer for me, I thought I would list out some possible verbs for the three types of Gothic Heroes. Yes, there are three types, the Byronic Hero, the Satanic Hero and the Promethean Hero. A great description of the three types can be found on Author Kristin Miller's blog post about Writing the Gothic Hero.

The action verbs I've listed may be applicable all types of Gothic Hero as there are obviously some similarities and sometimes a character can be a blend of one or more of these.

Gothic Hero Action Verbs

Adore Adulate Advocate Allure Amend Analyze Annoy Appraise Appropriate Assess Attack Attract Authorize

Balance Beat Beguile Better Belittle Blackmail Blame Blast Browbeat Bury

Calm Captivate Capture Castigate Censure Challenge Champion Charm Cheat Chide Circumscribe Coerce Command Compel Con Condemn Confront Conquer Constrain Control Convict Convince Correct Cover Covet Criticize Crush Curb Curse Cuss

Damn Deceive Decry Defeat Defend Defraud Defy Degrade Deify Delegate Delude Demolish Denounce Derail Derange Desire Despise Destabilize Destroy Dignify Disarm Disobey Drive Drown Dupe

Ease Elude Empower Empty Enable Enamor Encase Enchant Encompass Endorse Enforce Engulf Ennoble Enshrine Entrance Entrap Envelope Envy Escort Extort

Fascinate Focus Fool Force

Gag Glorify Govern Gull

Harbor Harass Hector Hoax House Humor Hush

Idolize Impel Instruct


Level License Lull Lure

Mesmerize Moderate Mock Motivate Muddle Muffle Mute Muzzle Mystify

Obligate Oblige Outlaw Overmaster Overpower

Permit Perplex Persuade Plunge Press Protect Provoke Punish Puzzle

Qualify Quell Quieten

Rebuff Reform Reject Repress Reprimand Reprove Revile Revere Rule

Safeguard Sanction Scold Scorn Screen Secure Shelter Shield Sink Strengthen Submerge Subsume

Thwart Tranquillize Treasure Tyrannize

Unsettle Urge

Veil Venerate

Warrant Worry Worship Wrap

This is definitely not a complete list of the possible action verbs, so if one here doesn't fit your Gothic Hero, I encourage you to search for one that does.

A great resource for finding action verbs is the book ACTIONS The Actor's Thesaurus.

Have you ever used this verbing technique? If you have, is it getting you to the heart of your characters? If you haven't do you think it is something you'd give a try? Leave me a comment letting me know.

Stay Beautifully Haunted, Night Writers!

♥ Shadow.

Update: Damon Suede has a book out on Action Verbing titled Verbalize. I highly recommend you add it to your writing resource arsenal.