To further the HWA’s focus on education, we are devoting a significant part of our programming to a curriculum run by some of the best and brightest in the horror field. Horror University is a series of workshops and presentations offered at StokerCon2017 on The Queen Mary in Long Beach CA.
Horror University workshops are hands-on, intensive, two-hour classes.
Would you like to apply for The Scholarship From Hell? The application period will open on February 1st, 2017 and run until March 15, 2017. For more information, please go to The Scholarship from Hell page. The winner of The Scholarship From Hell will receive coach airfare (U.S. or Canada) to and from Long Beach CA, a 4 night stay at The Queen Mary, free registration to StokerCon2017 and as many workshops as you’d like to attend! Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss out!
Friday April 28 11am-1pm Royal Salon
Have you read Save the Cat? Have you poured over Story? Can you quote passages from The Hero With a Thousand Faces, The Writer’s Journey, and Story Engineering? Are you looking for a new approach to plot? If your answer to these questions is “YES” then Gretchen McNeil would love to introduce you to Constantin Stanislavski. Known as the godfather of modern acting techniques, Stanislavski’s approach to character reaches far beyond the acting stage. Gretchen will demonstrate how she uses Stanislavski’s fundamental questions, super-imposed upon 3-Act Structure, to plot her young adult horror novels. The class includes a lecture, exercises and a crowd-sourced plot demonstration.
Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror Possess about a teen exorcist debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. Gretchen’s follow up Ten – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth, a finalist for Washington state’s 2015 Evergreen Young Adult Book Award and Vermont’s 2014-2015 Green Mountain Book Award, and was nominated for “Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012” by Romantic Times. In 2013, she released 3:59, a sci-fi doppelganger horror about two girls who are the same girl in parallel dimensions who decide to switch places. In 2014, Gretchen debuted her first series, Don’t Get Mad, also with Balzer + Bray. Get Even and Get Dirty follow four very different girls who form a secret society where they get revenge on bullies and mean girls at their elite prep school. Relic was released March 8, 2016 and I’m Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a YA contemporary novel will be out in the fall. Gretchen’s novels have been optioned by Hollywood production companies, and have sold internationally in Chinese, Spanish and Turkish.
Friday April 28 9am-11am Queen’s Salon
The writer is the brand. The writer is the face and voice of his/her business. Successful writers know how to create a brand that both sells their product but also protects their privacy. Act Like A Writer is one of NY Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry’s most successful programs. It teaches writers –however reclusive or introverted they might be– how to create the public version of themselves so that their careers have a winning and manageable face. This program includes business etiquette, branding, public appearances, readings, how to be a good panelist, giving interviews and more.
Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and comic book writer. He writes in multiple genres including suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and action, for adults, teens and middle grade. His works include the Joe Ledger Thrillers, X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate, Mars One and many others. Several of his works are in development for film and TV. He is the editor of high-profile anthologies including The X-Files, V-Wars, Scary Out There, Out of Tune, Baker Street Irregulars, Nights of the Living Dead, and others. He lives in Del Mar, California. Find him online at www.jonathanmaberry.com
Saturday April 29 11am-1pm Royal Salon
Writing from Experience, Writing from the Wound is an exploration of using your darkest secrets and fears, along with your past experiences, to bring them to life in your work.
Jack Ketchum is the author of 32 books to date — novels, novellas, story collections, nonfiction, plays and poetry. Five of his novels have been filmed – The Lost, The Girl Next Door, Red, Offspring, and The Woman – the last written with Lucky McKee, their script for which won the Best Screenplay Award at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain. He is the four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award (R) from the Horror Writers Association and was nominated three times more. He was named Grand Master at the 2011 World Horror Convention. He lives in New York. Visit his website for more information: http://
Saturday April 29 3pm-5pm Royal Salon
Scary Forms: The World of Structured Poetry for All Writers is a workshop to play with the different constructs of poetry (haiku, sonnet, villanelles, free verse, etc.) to hear variations of ‘music’ that can add to your own creative voice. We will explore several poetry forms and their rules to understand how they are created. Some time will be available for attendees to practice writing.
Linda Addison is an award-winning author of four collections including How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend and the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®. She has published over 300 poems, stories and articles and is a member of CITH, HWA, SFWA and SFPA. Visit her website for more information: www.lindaaddisonpoet.com .
Friday April 28 11am-1pm Queen’s Salon
Author interviews can be a powerful tool to let readers know about your book, your personality and your unique take on your genre. They can also be difficult to do well. How much energy should you spend on an interview for a blog? How long should you make your answers? How comfortable are you with appearing on recorded interviews (whether they’re done by audio or video)? Would you ever do an interview that was broadcast live? How does a small press or self-published author get interviewed by venues with large audiences? How can you face your fears of public speaking and give a great interview even if you’re scared? Once your interview is complete, how do you promote it so it has the greatest possible impact? Are there ever any interview requests that you should turn down? This workshop will help you answer these questions. It will also include actual practice sessions in simulated blog and in-front-of-a-camera interviews.
Workshop instructor (and Bram Stoker Award winner) Nicole Cushing has been interviewed by Rue Morgue, LitReactor, Black Static, the Lovecraft eZine video chat, Zombiepalooza Radio Live, and more blogs and podcasts than you can shake a stick at. Over her eight years in the field she’s developed a successful strategy for interviews that she’s more than glad to share with those who attend this workshop.
Nicole Cushing is the Bram Stoker Award® winning author of Mr. Suicide. She has also written the Stoker-nominated short story collection The Mirrors and three stand-alone novellas (including her Shirley Jackson Award nominated book Children of No One). Her work is noted for its use of horrific, surreal, transgressive and absurd content to explore themes of alienation and loss. Readers and reviewers sometimes liken her books to the early work of Clive Barker. They are not for the easily disturbed. She has garnered praise from various sources in the literary and genre publishing communities, including Jack Ketchum, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Thomas Ligotti, John Skipp, S.T. Joshi, Poppy Z. Brite, Ray Garton and Ain’t It Cool News. Nicole has previously taught writing workshops at Context (Columbus, Ohio) and the Indianapolis Speculative Fiction Guild’s annual retreat. For more information, visit her website: www.nicolecushing.com
Thursday April 27 11am-1pm Queen’s Salon
Write better stories faster with this workshop on the art of structuring your novel. Students will learn the four key phases and three game changing moments of story structure and then will work to develop a new concept, beginning with an initial premise and ending with a working outline they can use to prep a new project. Focus will be on creating a purposeful structure that will provide a powerful emotional experience and deepen reader satisfaction overall.
Joseph Nassise is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than a thirty novels, including the Templar Chronicles series, the Jeremiah Hunt trilogy, and the Great Undead War series. He also writes epic fantasy under the name Matthew Caine.
In addition to being a novelist, Joe is currently a writing instructor at Arizona State University, where he teaches in the Your Novel Year program developed by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. He is a former president of the Horror Writers Association and a multiple Bram Stoker Award (R) and International Horror Guild Award nominee. Visit his website: http://josephnassise.com
Friday April 28 5pm-7pm Royal Salon
Vivid scenes are tricky. John Skipp’s new workshop focuses on how to inhabit scenes with a sense of you-are-thereness. Grounding them from the inside. Feeling the world through their skin. And then making it “playable,” for actors and comic characters alike!
Our written assignment is a story or scene in first person, using a pre-described scenario. From there, we’ll do exercises from live dialogue readings to situational role-play to “casting” your characters. Fun will be had. And tricks will be shared, for all students of human (and non-human) moves.
John Skipp is a New York Times bestselling novelist, two-time Stoker award-winning anthologist, and co-director (with Andrew Kasch and a host of others) on the feature film Tales of Halloween. A born troublemaker and compulsive collaborator, his early work was at the forefront of the ’80’s splatterpunk revolution. His 1989 anthology Book of the Dead laid the foundation for modern post-Romero zombie literature. And he continues to inspire and foment insurrection as acquiring editor for Eraserhead (bizarro), Deadite (cult horror), and his own Fungasm Press, dedicated to works of unclassifiable genre-breaking asskickitude. You can read his thoughts on the state of the art in his regular column, Nightmare Royale, at Fangoria.com, where he is noisily advocating for the noble cause of “Women In Horror Century”. He also loves teaching in the crash course format, and, as a multi-instrumentalist, can jam all night. His latest book is a solo short story collection, The Art of Horrible People. Follow him on Twitter @YerPalSkipp
Friday April 28 3pm-5pm Royal Salon
Hosted by writer/artist Josh Finney (World War Kaiju, Casefile: ARKHAM, Batmant Giantsize 80) and Editor in Chief/artist Kat Rocha. This workshop will walk writers through the process of thinking visually when writing a script for a graphic novel or comic. Creators will be encouraged to come up with a story and then try to fit that story into premade comic pages. We will analyze scripts from some of the medium’s finest creators and discuss how to talk to your artist to best communicate what you want from them.
Kat Rocha began her publishing career as a collaborating artist on such graphic projects as Titanium Rain for Archaia Studio Press and a Catwoman stand alone story in Batman 80pg Giant for DC Comics and She produced numerous concept designs for Spartan Games and has had work featured in Interzone magazine.
In 2011 Kat founded 01Publishing with the goal of producing the best in science fiction, fantasy, and horror of both prose and graphic story telling without the crutch of a “safe space.” 01Publishing’s catalog of books have received acclaim from the Huffington Post, SF Signal, Kirkus Reviews, Innsmouth Free Press, and The Examiner.
Josh Finney is an author of horror, gritty sci-fi, and neo-noir. He is 5’6”, weighs 155 lbs on a full bladder, and has black hair that is slowly going silver. If someone was to play Josh Finney in a movie of his life, it would be a young Brad Dourif, best known as being the voice of Chucky—although Josh is more akin to Brad’s portrayal of the Twisted Mentat Piter De Vries in the film Dune.
If Josh were a beverage, he’d be a cup of scalding coffee. If Josh were a celestial body he’d be a planetoid in the Oort Belt. Josh’s best friend is a rodent. He gets his best ideas while in a half-awake state. He eats raw oatmeal. Every day. He listens to music that could be mistaken for a factory collapsing. He’s seen ghosts, spontaneous human combustion, and a UFO in broad daylight. One of those prior statements is not true. Josh does not believe in ghosts. The UFO was a silver disc gliding over an Air Force Base. Spontaneous human combustion is impossible.
If you were to break Josh down into his key chemical components he’d be at least 3% coffee. The rest would be piss and vinegar. His atomic number is 60: Neodymium. When Josh throws parties he serves heavy water and yellow cake.
His body of works includes: Batman 80pg Giant, Casefile: Arkham, Titanium Rain, Utopiates, and World War Kaiju.
More information can be found at www.01Publishing.com
Saturday April 29 9am-11am Royal Salon
The medium of sequential art offers endless opportunities for great horror stories—but writing comic books and graphic novels is unlike writing for any other medium. Although they share some common ground of visual storytelling with films and television, comics and graphic novels have unique elements of design, characterization, pacing, and creating suspense. Blending words and pictures to tell a story requires an understanding of the storytelling techniques that comprise the “comics vocabulary” and how to use it. Drawing on twenty-five years of editing, writing, and publishing comics, James Chambers will explore the elements of sequential art storytelling, how to break out of the “prose perspective” to tell visual stories, and how to write strong scripts.
James Chambers started in the comics industry writing for Comic Book Collector Magazine (later renamed Combo Magazine), covering the collector’s market, writing reviews, and providing features and interviews in the early 1990s. He interviewed creators such as Dan Brereton, Howard Chaykin, Michael Jan Friedman and Rob Liefeld and twice visited the offices of Valiant Comics to interview staff and creators during the company’s original heyday. He went on to Tekno*Comics to edit Gene Roddenberry’s Lost Universe, Isaac Asimov’s I*Bots, the graphic novel adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, and Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, which he also wrote for several issues, including two special issues co-plotted with Mr. Nimoy. At Tekno, he worked with many top comics creators, including Art Adams, Dan Brereton, Howard Chaykin, Steven Grant, Paul Jenkins, Gil Kane, Jae Lee, George Perez, Walt Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Kirk Van Wormer and contributed to Tekno’s shared worlds which included Neil Gaimain’s Lady Justice, Mr. Hero, and Teknophage; Mickey Spillane’s Mike Danger, and the Wheel of Worlds. After leaving Tekno, he co-created and wrote The Revenant with artist Pat Broderick, which ran in Shadow House, a critically acclaimed, independent horror comic he co-published, with Christopher Mills, Dan Brereton, Kirk Van Wormer, and Fred Harper. Other projects include the web comic, Tabula Rasa, for Adventurestrips.com, and a four-issue adaptation of a horror screenplay (not yet published) for CinemaGrafix. Most recently he has written the graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe, published by Moonstone Books. www.jameschambersonline.com
Friday April 28 1pm-3pm Royal Salon
This session presents techniques for creating original, effective horror fiction. Topics covered include:
· The difference between crime, suspense, thriller, and horror.
· The difference between dread, terror, horror, disgust, and shock.
· The horror equivalent of the hero’s journey.
· Avoiding clichés.
· Making your horror personal.
· Taking new approaches to old archetypes.
· Avoiding clichéd story patterns.
· What, if any, are the limits in horror fiction?
· How much – or how little – should you reveal?
· Using the techniques of suspense to build horror.
Shirley Jackson Award finalist Tim Waggoner has published over thirty novels and three short story collections. He writes both original and media tie-in fiction, and he teaches creative writing at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio. Find out more about him at:http://www.timwaggoner.com/
Thursday April 27 1pm-3pm Queen’s Salon
Lord of the Flies: Fitness for Writers will show you how to take a day-by-day approach to living a healthier lifestyle. You’ll learn how to unleash hidden energies that can alleviate stress and disease in your life and improve concentration. Finding time to be more active can help you overcome writer’s block and procrastination caused by fatigue. Starting today, you are on your way to doing just that! By adding just fifteen to thirty minutes of physical activities to your day, you not only add years to your life and lower the risk of many common health problems, you’ll improve your focus and concentration and make your mind sharper.
Ace Antonio Hall (born July 4th, 1966) is an American urban fantasy and horror writer. He is best known as the creator of Sylva Slasher, a teenage zombie slasher who also raises the dead for police investigations, which includes novels and short story collections. He was born in New York, but grew up in Jacksonville, Florida with his grandmother, Sula G. Wells. He is the youngest son of artist and jazz songwriter, Christopher Hall and RN Alice Hall (Thomas). A former Director of Education for NYC schools and the Sylvan Learning Center, Hall earned a BFA from Long Island University. While teaching English, he studied to be a certified ACE personal trainer with the Equinox Fitness Club one summer, but never pursued it professionally. Hall currently lives in Los Angeles with his bonsai named Bonnie.
Photo by Kate Szatmari
Thursday April 27 5pm-7pm Queen’s Salon
Writing styles are as varied as writers themselves, but a common complaint among editors and publishers of horror fiction is that writers use too many words to say what they mean to say. This interactive workshop will focus on squeezing every ounce of meaning from each word. Participants should bring a 200-300 word prose sample from a work in progress.
Patrick Freivald is the four-time Bram Stoker Award® nominated author of Jade Sky and Black Tide, where he used the word “was” only in dialogue. His now-defunct blog, Word Soup, focused on boiling all the excess words from prose, and his beta reading group were a featured panel at the 2015 World Horror Convention and StokerCon 2016. For more information visit his website: http://patrick.freivald.com/
(Photo credit: Seth Binnix, Messenger-Post Media)
Saturday April 29 1pm-3pm Royal Salon
Does the Death card mean death? Is the Lovers card all about hot sex and romance? Does the Hermit card mean you vant to be alone? Tarot cards have been used as a tool for thousands of years to make sense out of our crazy world. However, tarot cards aren’t just for divination and self-reflection. You can create interesting characters and plots with the use of tarot cards. Using tarot cards as a creative tool can open up the world of possibilities for your writing project. The cards may help you visualize or discover choices for your characters, settings, and plot that you may not have considered. For this introductory course, you don’t need to know anything at all about tarot cards as Sèphera Girón will lead you through a series of exercises. This class will consist of a short introduction to tarot cards, and then will dive right into creating an interesting character, a setting, and then a very basic story plot or chapter description.By the end of the class, you will have a new character, setting, and rough outline of a new story. If you happen to have your own pack of cards, you can bring them in to show the class! Be certain to bring pen and paper or some sort of writing device.
Sèphera Girón is the Ontario Chapter Head of the Horror Writers Association and the author of over twenty horror novels. She has been a professional tarot reader for fifteen years and has given several presentations on how to combine writing with tarot cards. Sèphera has a B.A. from York University in Toronto. Her recent work includes “The Next Big Thing” in Intersections: Six Tales of Ouija Terror and the Witch Upon a Star erotic horror series. Her Leisure books backlist is now being published by Crossroads. Sèphera often posts free weekly tarotscopes at http://www.youtube.com/sephera Other sites: http://sepheragiron.ca http://www.patreon.com/sephera
Thursday April 27 1pm-3pm Royal Salon
Saying More With Less—how to make your (and your characters’) words be worth a thousand pictures.
“Omit needless words” is as close to a Prime Directive as we authors get, but how do you as a writer decide what is and isn’t needed? In this class I’ll focus on tips and techniques for energizing your prose through economy and efficiency, the power of verbs and the huge exception to the rule regarding them, understanding how tight dialogue both establishes and reveals character, how to write action scenes that propel the reader through them, and how understanding the reasons some stories resonate while others fall flat can free you from a tendency to overwrite.
Friday April 28 3pm-5pm Queen’s Salon
Thursday April 27 5pm-7pm Royal Salon
Concrete advice on tightening your writing from an editor, author and student of the craft. We’ll concentrate on specific issues and hot buttons. See what doesn’t work. See how to fix it. From passive voice to head-hopping to adverbs and scaffolding, a dense class in modern style to please editors, readers and writers.
Johnny Worthen grew up in the high desert snows and warm summer winds of the Wasatch Mountains. He graduated with a B.A. in English, minor in Classics and a Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. Johnny is best known for his award winning, nationally acclaimed, best-selling young adult novel, Eleanor, The Unseen. Then you can pick up Celeste, The Unseen Book 2 and know what’s going on so you won’t be lost when you read David, The Unseen Book 3. Johnny entered the world of mystery with his award winning novel, The Brand Demand, a tale of blackmail, activism, and ethics. He followed that up with The Finger Trap, a genre-bending, coming-of-age, mid-life crisis, social satire, comedy noire (with quiche) that introduces Tony Flaner, a slacker, every-man detective who can’t throw a punch but will slay a room with sarcasm. Johnny’s debut novel, Beatrysel, an occult horror, and its companion story, Dr. Stuart’s Heart explore the dark sides of love and Magick “I write what I like to read,” he says. “That guarantees me at least one fan and a hectic job for my publicist.” When not pounding on his keyboard, attending conferences and conventions, Johnny Worthen can be found with his wife and two boys in Sandy, Utah.
Saturday April 29 9am-11am Queen’s Salon
This two hour workshop will cover insider tricks and tactics for crafting horror imagery—not just icons of the genre, but direct appeals to the reader’s sensorium— images that really hit readers in the guts. It will include a live writing activity with the aim of improving description of a gory or scary scene. Open to novelists, poets, flash fiction writers … anyone looking to sharpen their writing skills—from the crafty suspense writer to anyone eager to “go for the gross out.”
Amityville-born horror writer Michael Arnzen holds four Bram Stoker Awards® and an International Horror Guild Award for his often funny, always disturbing fiction and poetry. A 10th anniversary edition of his Stoker-award winning story collection, Proverbs for Monsters, was recently re-released by Dark Regions Press to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Other recent Arnzen titles include his novel, Grave Markings (Raw Dog Screaming Press) a non-fiction study, The Popular Uncanny (Guide Dog Books), and a helpful collection of “story starters” for dark fiction authors called Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side (Mastication Publications). Arnzen holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon and since 1999 has taught full-time at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, in their MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. Always experimenting, Arnzen’s work in the genre has appeared in everything from poetry magnets (Fridge of the Damned) to Palm Pilots (Gorelets) to playing cards (Play Dead) to moving pictures (Exquisite Corpse). Learn the latest and sign up for his newsletter: http://gorelets.com
Saturday April 29 11am-1pm Queen’s Salon
Author and theater veteran Tom Leveen brings his standing-room-only class on crafting excellent dialogue to StokerCon. Dialogue is often cited as the most difficult aspect of storytelling craft, no matter what format you’re writing in. This class includes both long-term craft advice and some quick-and-dirty tricks to make your dialogue stand out.
Tom Leveen is the author of eight novels with imprints of Random House and Simon & Schuster, including the YA horror novels Sick, Hellworld and the thriller Shackled. A twenty-two year veteran of acting and directing for the stage, Tom’s passion and excitement for fiction of all kinds shines through in his frequent gigs speaking and teaching at high schools and libraries, as well as several cons and conferences including RWA, SCBWI, AETA, AzLA, Tucson Festival of Books, Vegas Valley Book Fest, Phoenix ComiCon, and many others. He has also teamed up with Todd McFarlane writing Spawn, the comic book series. He recently did a ten-day tour in Germany for his novel Random, and is an instructor for Arizona State University’s Your Novel Year certificate program.
Short Story Edit
First 4 Chapters Novel Edit
Each editing package includes a critique of the manuscript with light annotation and line-editing. These discounted packages are offered as a StokerCon2017 exclusive to registered guests of the event.
$45– Short Story critique package
A critique of a short story manuscript, up to 7,000 words. Includes light annotation and line-editing.
$250 – First 4 chapters Novel package
A critique of a novel manuscript up to 20,000 words. Includes light annotation and line-editing.
A 20% discount on my regular rates if you choose to have me complete the editing of this manuscript.
Kate Jonez is a Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award nominated author and the chief editor at Omnium Gatherum. In the six years Omnium Gatherum has been in business she’s worked with many authors to produce over 60 outstanding books, many nominated for awards. You can see them here. Kate is also a freelance editor who has worked with many clients to get their books and screenplays in shape for publication or production.
“Having worked with Kate Jonez on multiple occasions, I can say with full confidence that she is an impeccable editorial talent: precise, clean, thorough, and devoted to nothing less than perfection. Her work has zero kinks or blemishes. She is always the first one I call.” –Eric Shapiro, Ghost Writers Central
*works submitted through Horror University are not under consideration for publication with Omnium Gatherum
Thursday April 27 3pm – 5pm Queen’s Salon
Crash course in two hours: How to up the ante for your screenplay to get it noticed. The gatekeepers of Hollywood, the ones who decide if your script meets the eyes of a producer or executive or an actor, all read thousands of scripts for a living. And they are tired and they have seen it all. This two hour class will focus on the elements of scene, character, and tension and those ever important First Ten Pages. Using examples and in class exercises, you will come up with something new, different and engaging that will get your screenplay noticed.
After 20 years in the film industry working for William Morris, Peters Entertainment, Sylvester Stallone’s White Eagle Productions, Village Roadshow and Demarest Entertainment, Kate Maruyama turned to fiction. Her novel Harrowgate was published by 47North and her short work has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. She teaches for Antioch University Los Angeles’s MFA and BA Programs, for inspiration2publication.com and for Writing Workshops Los Angeles.