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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Closing out National Poetry Month with Horror Poetry

Today I am closing out National Poetry month with a 2-fer set of posts on both blogs featuring my favorite poetry collection of the year, so far. A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng.

Here on the general blog, I am going to feature my review of the book and a wonderful interview between Sng and Horror poetry legend, Linda Addison, while on the horror blog, you can enter a giveaway for this book [and many more]. You can click here to scoot over to the horror blog at anytime.


Three words that describe this book: immersive, creepy, accessible  
What I love about Sng's horror poetry is how easily you slip into the world. she is creating. Readers new to poetry, might be worried about the format, but rest assured, this is not the poetry from hundreds of years ago that you were forced to read in school. 
The poems flow so easily. The unravel like stories, super creepy and unsettling stories, but ones that complete envelop the reader. You read along easily, feeling the world, the plot, and the unease she is. creating with each word with all 5 of your senses. 
Honestly, this is a collection that will remind many readers that they do like poetry. This is collection that will remove the barriers many readers feel poetry puts up in their way. That is because this is a poetry collection that is about using the format to tell an amazing and united horror story of the terror, dread, and unease within our collective human folk lore, fairy tales, and mythology. It is a collection that unites us as a species and pays homage to our historical desire to tell horror stories. 
As a result, it is a collection that is not only a fun read for horror fans, it is a great advertisement for the genre itself-- why so many of us want to feel the fear.
A COLLECTION OF DREAMSCAPES is the follow up to the 2017 Bram Stoker Award winning poetry collection, A COLLECTION OF NIGHTMARES. I highly recommend both. 
I would also like to make a general statement about the publisher of this collection, Raw Dog Screaming Press. Libraries, this is a publisher you need to know about. They are publishing the very best horror poetry in the country and the rest of their catalog is stellar also. I stand behind the publishers as people and their product. I have yet to find a bad book that they have published. Bonus for libraries, they are easily available through your regular ordering platforms and the physical books hold up to multiple checkouts. Click here for my glowing Booklist review of a story collection they published last year.
For fans of fairy tale and folklore inspired dark fantasy or horror like Oyeyemi or Novik. Other horror poets who are similar, Stephanie Wytovich and Linda Addison. If you like the short stories of Carmen Maria Machado, you also need to try Sng. 
And now, thank you to Raw Dog Screaming Press, I would like to share this interview between Sng and Addison. This interview between two immensely talented and award winning poets serves as a great introduction to horror poetry and the process of creating it.


**************************************

LDA: As you know, I’m a great lover of your work and was so excited when your book, A Collection of Nightmares, won a HWA Bram Stoker Award three years ago. How did that feel?

CS: I was elated, over the moon when I heard the news from my publisher Jennifer that Nightmares won the Stoker. It felt like a dream. Still does. And your video message made my day! 

LDA: Your new book, A Collection of Dreamscapes,is like a story cycle in poetic form from beginning to end, with each poem feeling like an extension of the previous and feeding the next. Can you talk about how this structure happened?

CS: For me, I believe strongly that my book needs to tell a story, from the beginning to the end. Even if each poem is different, they have to flow from poem together. It gives a collection weight and cohesion, each poem a microcosm of a life, a tale, a fragment of a larger whole. That makes me feel my collection is complete, which is why I often shuffle my poems around right till the deadline to fill the gaps in the story, to ensure the story is whole, that it is properly told.

LDA: This collection has poetry that fits in many genre areas: fantasy, science-fiction, horror, what was your process in selecting work for your new book, and putting them in the order/sections they are in?

CS: I have various themed folders on my computer and when a poem is published, I place it inside. When a folder is filled, it becomes a section of a collection or a whole collection. When I look at a collection as a whole, sometimes a poem fits better in another section, as it has before while compiling in this collection. So they move around till they fit perfectly, just like a jigsaw.

LDA: I’ve always enjoyed how your poetry uses fairy tales and myths in a very new grown up way; how did that come about for you?

CS: I have always loved myth. There is a deep history there, beyond culture, beyond religion that is all of us. Every myth has versions in every continent. It’s our shared humanity in stories and it is all of us. As I grow older, I find myself rather tired of the old tropes where the girl is helpless and has to be saved, particularly now that I have a daughter. I want her to grow up being the knight, not the maiden in distress, the queen with power, not the one obsessed with a mirror. I can’t change the old tales, but I can write new ones. At that time, I picked up Anne Sexton’s Transformations. The concept intrigued me, of completely subverting traditional fairy tales, which by themselves are already so multi-layered in their many iterations. 

So, with all that in mind, I decided to make Little Red Riding Hood the hero instead of a random huntsman. That inspired my first story ever sold, Red, which was in Space and Time some years back, and a series of Red poems and haiku. As a character, she intrigues me. There’s so much potential a girl has when you set her free in the forest with a crossbow in her hands.

LDA: Can you talk about the connection of the titles of your two collections, A Collection of Nightmares, which received a Bram Stoker in 2018 and, A Collection of Dreamscapes, your latest book? Is there a third coming in the future, A Collection of…?

CS: I feel that it gives the collection a tome-like authoritative feel. There was no plan for a second book when the first, Nightmares, was completed. It wasn’t meant to be a series. But it felt like a natural progression to have the next book with the same frame of “A Collection of” Of course, it has given me a lot of trouble with marketing, eg “Here is my collection, A Collection of...” It doesn’t quite work so I always have to rephrase the sentence. Still, I love a series. And yes, the third book is already in the making. It’s called A Collection of Gods and Monsters and it’ll be lat least 3-5 years before it is done.

Before that, I have a science fiction collection almost finished, without the series title because it was named years ago. It’ll feature a grand tour of the Universe and encompasses over 20 years of my best work in science fiction poetry.

LDA: What is your writing process like? Do you have places or things you do to setup a space to write?

CS: I can only write when it is quiet which really limits me as I have 2 kids at home with whom I love to have conversations. Often, when I am awake after they sleep, I pen a few poems, or if they are out with their friends, which won’t be happening again soon, I have a stretch of quiet time to write. The smart phone had been a tremendously helpful invention for me and I write and edit a lot on it, simply because if there’s a block of time when I can write, my phone is here with me. 

LDA: Do you have advice for other writers/poets/women interested in horror/fantasy writing?

CS: Read a lot, watch lots of movies, be inspired, find a writer or poet whose style you love and admire, study it, emulate it, modify it to become your own, then keep writing every day. A haiku, a poem, a story, a journal entry.

LDS: Tips for handling submissions/rejections?

CS: I have a system of keeping work out there all the time and honestly, these days, I forget about a submission once I send it out so when a rejection comes, I’ll look for a next market. While it is natural to feel dejected after a rejection, understanding that it is about the fit of my work to a venue’s needs rather than a rejection of the work or myself, helps. Sometimes though, it is about the quality so I have a habit of reading through the work once before sending it out again. Of course, if the editor is generous in giving feedback, I am very grateful and I’ll apply what they say to my revision before it swiftly goes out again.

LDA: In my early years I loved reading what others would consider non-genre poetry, like Edgar Allen Poe, how did you enter into writing speculative poetry?

CS: I think all the way from the beginning, I’ve always written dark poems. Afterwards it was just labeling it as horror or speculative or dark. I grew up hearing stories about how my home was haunted, watched horror movies with my brother, and grew up with the genre which was huge in the ‘80s when I was a teen.

LDA: I’m drawn to learning different poetry forms; one of my favorite forms I’ve learned is Fibonacci Sequence. I love your short poetry, can you talk about how you were drawn into haiku form?

CS: Given the little time I have had to write, I was fascinated by how much one could fit in so few lines and as a lover of the subject Logic, found it almost mathematical in its brevity. I can’t recall my exact journey to short poetry but Scifaikuest and Star*Line had a lot to do with it.

LDA: Is there a form you’re working with now or a new form you want to play with?

CS: I’m enjoying joined poetry, short poems linked together, something I can finish in one sitting and yet give it much more detail and depth than in a haiku or tanka. Sometimes it organically becomes a longer poem. I let it guide me to what it wants to become.

LDA: With your fiction publication in Space & Time Magazine and previous flash fiction in other publications, can you talk about the process of creating fiction vs poetry vs art for you?

CS: Fiction is something I feel I need more study on. I write my stories like a long prose poem but I’m learning it is quite different in many ways. I’d love more formal training in it when the kids are older and I have longer breaks of time to work on fiction craft, but for now, I am grateful to the editors who have given my stories homes. Those stories have often taken years to edit to their final forms.
Ladies of Horror Flash, which was introduced to me by the wonderful Marge Simon, gives out prompts monthly and writing regularly has helped me generate story ideas and work on flash fictions which I can finish in the time it takes me to write a poem or two. Poetry has been my therapy. I’ve been writing it since I was a kid. I have no formal training but I have an ear for it. It’s like music. I can’t read notes but I play the piano by ear. Not very well either but with poetry, it has to sound right and look right visually. 

For me, my poem has to look beautiful as poems are when we read them, so if you notice, it is important to me that the lines are aligned neatly and the stanzas consistent.

LDA: Have you considered doing something longer like a novel?

CS: Yes! But first I must improve my fiction writing. I have that one trilogy plotted out in my mind already with the characters all in place. I just need the time, the craft, and the skill to write it. And I’ll share a secret. I’ve already begun telling the story.

LDA: Can you talk about you the artist, you have a business website, and you run workshops, how did that side of you develop?

CS: After being home with the kids for some 13 years now, I felt I needed a way to generate an income for myself, something that was mine. Over two years ago, I met the woman who would be my art teacher at an art road show and she taught my children how to paint in pastels. When I started looking for a teacher to take the certification course in pastel art with, I found her face familiar and kind. Only after we began classes did I realize she was the same lovely lady from 2 years ago. She had built such an incredible community of artists and teachers in just 2 years. She gave me many teaching opportunities to help me kick off my business and while I have only begun, I hope to expand into eventually teaching poetry too. It was during this time, that I realized that I enjoy teaching and it brings me great joy to see my students experience the peace and fulfillment at completing a piece and discovering that art is in all of us.

LDA: What other career would you have chosen, outside of writing?

CS: I really wanted to be a part of Interpol, with my Criminology degree, but I was 20 years too early. They recently opened a branch in Singapore.


LDA: What do you have in the works for the future?

CS: A short story collection in about 5 years I hope, a dark horror poetry collection, my science fiction poetry collection, and hopefully a novel trilogy.

LDA: Where folks can keep up with you online?


About Christina Sng


Christina Sng is an award-winning poet, writer, and artist. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne and spent most of her career as a corporate writer, web consultant, content producer, UX strategist, and information architect. Her poetry has appeared in numerous venues worldwide for over two decades and received multiple nominations in the Elgin Awards, the Dwarf Stars, the Rhysling Awards, as well as Honorable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and the Best Horror of the Year. Christina won the Bram Stoker Award in 2017 for her first full-length book of poems A Collection of Nightmares.


About Linda D. Addison
Linda D. Addison grew up in Philadelphia and began weaving stories at an early age. She currently lives in Arizona and has published over 300 poems, stories and articles. Ms Addison is the first African-American recipient of the world renowned Bram Stoker Award(R) and has received four awards for collections: Four Elements written with Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon and Rain Graves (Bad Moon Books 2013); How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend short stories and poetry (Necon E-Books, 2011), Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (2007), Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes (2001). Dark Duet (Necon E-Books, 2012), a collaborative book of poetry written with Stephen M. Wilson, was a 2012 finalist for the HWA Bram Stoker Award(R). She co-edited Sycorax’s Daughters, an anthology of horror fiction & poetry by African-American women (publisher Cedar Grove Publishing, 2017) with Kinitra Brooks and Susana Morris, which was a HWA Bram Stoker finalist in the Anthology category. In 2018 she received the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

What I'm Reading: Survivor Song and Jesus and John

The May 1, 2020 issue of Booklist is now available online, and per my usual procedure, I am posting my draft reviews form that issue here on the blog. These blog reviews include more more information about the appeal of the book, more talking points for you to use with patrons, and more readalikes.

First up, what I predict will be one of the most popular books this summer:


Survivor Song.

Tremblay, Paul (author).July 2020. 336p. Morrow, $27.99 (9780062679161); e-book (9780062679185)
First published May 1, 2020 (Booklist).

Tremblay [Cabin at the End of the World] has become one of the most critically acclaimed horror authors in the world precisely because he is able to seamlessly combine reality with speculative elements, creating an immersive and terrifying reading experience. However, his newest tale may be his most prescient outing yet. An extremely virulent and fast acting form of rabies is spreading in Massachusetts, hospitals are overrun, and basic society is falling apart. Pediatrician, Dr Ramola “Rams” Sherman is called into action when her pregnant best friend, Natalie, flees her home after her husband was attacked and killed by an infected neighbor and she is bitten. Together they embark on a desperate journey to try to save Natalie and her baby. But it is in how Tremblay tells this story that it rises above. The novel is framed as a folk song, a song of friendship, a song of love [not the romantic kind], and a song of hope despite it all. It is a fast paced tale, told with a compressed time frame, full of dread, violence, fear, and panic, and yet, it also has moments of clarity, beauty, and lyricism. Gorgeously written about terrible things, Tremblay has captured our moment in history perfectly. Despite its shorter length, Survivor Song is a good choice for fans of epics in the pandemic pantheon like The Fireman by Hill, but also consider novels like The Rust Maidens by Kiste or The Only Good Indians by Jones which probe similar themes of friendship, family, and social commentary amidst chillingly realistic horror.
Further Appeal: This book is just as good as Tremblay's others, but I do want to point out a few differences in appeal, differences which I do not think will turn away fans, but will definitely attract new fans. 

First, there is no confusion here about whether or not there is a speculative element in the novel. In most of Tremblay's books there is a real world explanation for what is going on AND a supernatural one, he leaves clues that either could be the correct answer, and allows the reader to drawn their own conclusions. With Survivor Song, the speculative event, a super infectious rabies virus, is a given. There is no question it exists in this world. Everything leads from that "fact."

Second, the ending of this book is definitive, and there is an epilogue to see what happens in the future. Tremblay's previous horror novels all have open endings, something many readers [like myself] love, but others hate. Everyone will know what happens in Survivor Song.

The main thing to communicate to readers about the way this story is told is that this is a book framed as a song. It is an ode to friendship more than anything else. Multiple friendships, not just the 2 main characters. It is about non romantic love and the importance of that in the world.

Like a song, certain themes, lines, experiences repeat, but also like a song, especially the very best ones, certain scenes and lines will stay with you, forever.

I cannot stress enough how gorgeous and lyrical the words here are. Gruesome and awful things happen, but every action rings true, and the beauty that underlies it all is undeniable.

Three Words That Describe This Book: compressed time frame, lyrical, ode to friendship


Readalikes: Look, any pandemic epic would work for many readers, but Survivor Song does not have an apocalyptic angle. The entire world is not at risk, but for those in the "zone" things are desperate. I mentioned The Fireman as an example of these apocalyptic contagious disease epics because the main characters in both are pregnant. The Wanderers is also a great choice. But both of those are very long and most people die, while the Tremblay is short, fast paced, and hopeful.

I think the friendship focus of the Jones and Kiste titles listed above, hit more on the general appeal of the story even though they are NOT about a contagious disease in any way. You can use the links in the review above to access more readalikes.

Jesus and John.

McOmber, Adam (author).
June 2020. 226p. Lethe, paper, $15 (9781590216736)
First published May 1, 2020 (Booklist).
Terror and religion collide in McOmber’s atmospheric, thought provoking, and unapologetically queer exploration of true devotion in a retelling of the resurrection as a horror allegory. When Jesus’ risen body is found outside of its crypt, able to move with purpose but in a mute, fugue state, the Apostle Peter asks Jesus’ lover in life, the fisherman John, to keep watch over Jesus, while he spins the message of the missing body. What follows is an emotional story of their journey as John follows Jesus to a mysterious mansion in the center of Rome, the Grey Palace. Upon entering John finds few inhabitants, talk of an upcoming “celebration,” and a realization that they are trapped in a nightmare. John needs to find a way out and keep Jesus safe, but in a house that is impossibly larger and more menacing on the inside than its plain appearance belies, that goal may be unattainable. Both beautifully honoring the message of the New Testament while also consciously and actively challenging its application, this is a tale of love, honor, and belief; it is about hope amidst darkness, but it is also undeniably a horror tale, firmly rooted in the tradition of weird fiction, full of unsettling situations, strange and menacing creatures, and unearthly phenomenon. It is a short, compelling, and immersive read for people of all faiths, and a great option for fans of the cult classic House of Leaves by Danielewski or the psychological tumult, allegory and lyricism of Fever Dream by Schweblin.
Further Appeal: I want to get this out of the way, you do not have to be religious or even Christian to appreciate this book. I am not Christian but I really liked it. It was an honest and thought provoking look at the meaning of devotion. And man was it a great example of weird fiction.

Now, there will be some who think this book is heretical, but I would disagree. There is an underlying love for the teachings of Jesus here with an active challenge to how we apply these teachings in the real work today.

That all being said, you can also remove all of the religion from this book and it is still an awesome horror story of people trying to out run disorientation, menace, and threats, as they seek safety.

Three Words That Describe this Book: disorientation, allegory, immersive

Readalikes: I have so many more to list than the 2 above. Although those 2 are an excellent starting point.

Books I have read that I thought of immediately with links to the reviews with longer explanations:
Also, this is unabashedly a gay horror story, so some readers might be looking for more on that front. A Lamda Literary nominated author in the category of SF/F/H who I think writes with a similar appeal is Matthew Bright. I would also suggest the excellent The Seep by Chana Porter, a weird fiction tale that is also LGBTQ.

Finally, one of my ALL-TIME favorite books is another speculative retelling of the Jesus story, The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Suggestions From Your Colleagues at Booklist as CE

Booklist's latest episode its podcast Shelf Care just came out and I think it is one worth a listen to every one of my readers both to help them and help their patrons. In this episode, Susan Maguire caught up with her Booklist colleagues to ask them what they are enjoying. What books, movies, and TV shows are most satisfying to them right now?

But why do I think you HAVE to listen. [I mean besides the fact that it will make my editor Susan happy?]

First, many of us are struggling with not being able to focus enough to read as much as we normally do. I am being paid to read, but I am not sure if I would be reading as much without that incentive. It is nice to hear from those, like all of you, whose job it is to suggest books to readers. To hear them share what they are personally struggling with now.

Second, this is another great resource to find suggestions for your patrons. Because they are professionals, each guest talks about the media they are consuming and WHY they are enjoying what the most. Not only will this help you to craft lists for different readers and situations, but also, those WHYs that they are sharing are a great conversation starter to use with patrons.

It is hard to engage patrons in active RA Service virtually. Normally, most of it is passive, such as posting lists. But we are all starting to do more active RA through forms, online interactions, chat service, or through social media. Often without facial cues or time to learn more about a specific patron through multiple conversations, it is hard to get to know a new patron's likes and dislikes. However, I really liked how this episode of the podcast introduced me to multiple people with completely different opinions on what is working for them and why.

You can use this info to help other readers. Ask them about one of the items mentioned or use the experiences shared by these Booklisters to craft a leading question. Such as, what shows have you found worked with your family to watch all together? Or, what music focuses you now? Which version of Emma is the best? [Listen to the podcast for some answers]

Third, just listening to different people talk about what they are enjoying and why is so energizing to those of us who do RA. I bet many of you are starting to feel out of practice. With many weeks away from the daily interaction with a variety of readers, I know some of you are craving the practice. Before our building closures, many of you were concerned about how few people actually come up to the desk and ask for RA Service on a day to day basis, but being away for going on 6 weeks now, I have heard from many of you, there was more RA work going on than you realized. No that it is gone, the absence is glaring.

This podcast, will not replace the lost interactions with patrons, but it will go a long way toward helping you feel a little better.

Click here to listen and see the full list of media mentioned.


Shelf Care, Episode #8: Shelf Isolation

All of us here at Booklist are self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are turning to books and movies and TV and games to keep ourselves entertained while the world . . . does whatever the world is doing. Host Susan Maguire talks to her coworkers about what media is bringing them comfort in an episode that may or may not have been an excuse to talk to her coworkers. (Weeping emoji.) 


Here’s what we talked about:


Monday, April 27, 2020

Interview with the Duo Behind the @PublishrsWeakly Twitter Account

Today I wanted to pass on a story from the publishing world, the parody account @PublishrsWeakly on Twitter [whose feed you can read with or without an account by clicking here].

Well, actually, it began as a parody account but is now moving into activism and that is why I want more library workers to know about it.

First, the obvious confusion issues. I have seen some very prominent people in the publishing world admitting to begin initially duped by the account. For a while it used the official Publishers Weekly logo and was trying to confuse people.

But now, the Twitter account, run by an out of work bookseller and indie publisher are speaking out, if still anonymously, about why they created the account and the conversations they hope its existence will encourage.

And these are issues that needed to be had before the current pandemic. These are not isolated issues that have sprung up out of nowhere.

Click here to read the in-depth interview with the people behind the account and Electric Lit from last week. Whether you knew about them before today or not, this is an interview everyone who works with books and leisure readers needs to take a few moments to familiarize themselves with the larger conversation.


Click here to read the interview

Friday, April 24, 2020

Graphic Novel Preview in Library Journal

Yesterday, Library Journal's Graphic Novel Preview went live. You can read it for free here.

As someone who writes one of these preview articles each year [I am working on the horror one for the July issue right now, literally, it just switched tabs to write this post], I know how useful they are. Not only are these articles a great way to get a list of the most anticipated upcoming titles in a format or genre, but they also assess trends for the coming year.

Even if you do not order for your library's graphic novel collection, please check out the Graphic Novel Preview. It will get you up to speed on the format's trends and arm you with some great suggestions for readers. Remember, reading about books is just as good as reading them [one of my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service].

I happen to enjoy graphic novels myself. You can click here to read posts tagged "Graphic Novels" on the blog including resources, recommended reading lists, and my personal reviews.

Click here to read the Preview

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Updated Booktalking Tips

A couple of days ago I had a post about getting your staff to record themselves booktalking. After posting this I realized it had been a while since I had posted the slides from my popular Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town presentation. So here is a completely updated version that I will also be giving today for an IL library.

These slides have many links to more information about how to be a better book talker including a step by step guide on how to gamify booktalking at your library, links to booktalking prompts, and basic tips and tricks.

Even without hearing me deliver this talk, there is much here you can learn from. And many of the exercises can be done in zoom meetings with your departments or by doing the recordings mentioned above. The practicing does not need to stop when we are working from home.

And who knows, if you are really active with virtual booktalking, you might even inspire some patrons to send in their own book talks. That would be an awesome outcome for sure.

So begin learning how to book talk your way tot the friendliest library in town right now.

Click here for slide access

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

RA for All Virtual Road Show Visits NE Ohio for RA Rethink: Merchandising and Upselling

Today I am presenting my completely updated and overhauled program RA Rethink: Merchandising and Upselling for The Northeast Ohio Regional Library System.

This is a program that was on the books pre-virus, but I am happy to announce that I have added 2 more programs with this group in the meantime, both coming in May: my signature RA for All training and Recharge Your Book Club.

More on those later. Today we are going to talk about how to use your RA skills to build better displays, in person and online, and organize your collections in a way that is interactive for your patrons.

There are dozens of links embedded in this presentation, tips and tricks scattered throughout that you can use right now to help make your RA service more patron friendly. This is a fun and engaging presentation that provides tangible activities. It is an instructional pep talk, encouraging libraries to work together and think outside the "shelf" in order to serve patrons better.

And as always, if you have questions or want me to present for your group or staff, contact me here.

Click here to access the slides

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Stock Your RA Pantry: Quick Video Book Talks and the [Unintended] Benefits of Highlighting Staff

I am back with Stock Your RA Pantry, a series of posts that address the things you can do from home to enhance your RA Services and Resources both now and going forward. And, these are all things any library worker can do, no matter what their official job at the library happens to be.

I have heard from a few libraries that you are using these posts to get your staff motivated to provide RA Service more easily in a virtual environment. In fact, a few have already begun to take my previous advice a step further, and have begun collecting videos of their staff talking about a book they love.

This is not as hard to do as you may think, and in fact, many library workers may be more comfortable speaking about a book they love rather than writing about it, as these posts have been more focused on.

And anyone on staff can do this. Again, we don't want to limit who on staff can help with RA ever, but especially right now. When we honor the different ways our staff feel most comfortable sharing their own good reads, we are also honoring the different ways our patrons may prefer to take in information.

So considering allowing staff to record themselves talking about books they have enjoyed, on their phone or home computer. 2-3 minutes is a good length. If they do not have the book with them, they can show a printout or online image of the cover. Encourage them to talk about WHY they enjoy the book, not what it is about. 

You should create a shared Google drive where staff can upload the video from their device. This will make it easier for you to upload it to your YourTube channel. In the comments, you can add links to digital copies of the title and even readalikes. Make it as easy as possible for staff and have your more official RA team do the uploading and annotating parts.

Once the video is on YouTube you can easily share it with patrons throughout a variety of platforms.

And, here's the "stock your pantry" part of the post, these don't go away when our "stay at home" orders end. If you can stock up and build a great playlist of staff suggestion videos, by encouraging all staff to help, they will be there to help you going forward. The videos themselves will be there in perpetuity. You can use them in your RA work in the future, to make suggestions, to build displays, to start RA conversations, and more. They will be an outpost on the interwebs where new patrons may find you. 

Working together you can make many more videos than just you, the staff member reading this, can do alone. Also with more voices, you also get a more varied range of title suggestions, thus reaching a wider audience of patrons looking for a good read. And, you might find a few staff members from unlikely corners of the organization who end up catching the booktalking bug-- a condition that can lead you to becoming the "Friendliest Library in Town."

But these videos also serve as a way to merchandise your staff. Show them all off, even those who work behind the scenes. Do not underestimate how much this will help you in your efforts to keep everyone employed. Your staff are your greatest asset. We know that, but our patrons do not.

I am hearing from a lot of libraries where the community and leadership are laying off library staff because the building is closed. Yes our buildings are closed, but the library itself is open. That is because the library IS its staff and the work they do. But we have always done a terrible job communicating this key fact to our patrons and communities, and now, we are paying the price of focusing on our place as a community space. We have allowed our patrons to lose sight of the fact that the library is still functioning when the physical space is closed. 

Show your community how great your staff is, even those many may think have "nothing to do" with the building closed. Of course, I know these staff have projects and jobs, many of which are going to help the organization more toward a better future, but the public can't understand that.

Seeing staff members, as many as possible, sharing a good read, will go a long way toward showing your community that the library more than the building. It will show your community the importance of the people who fill that building that they miss. Those people who are the library.

Here is an example of a library who has taken the quarantine leap into the world of video book talking. I wanted to highlight a library who did NOT do this before our current situation to show you how you don't need to have access to any special equipment or training in order to begin.

Just give it a try. And click here for more ideas on the Stock Your RA Pantry Archive page.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Using Awards Lists As a RA Tool: Bram Stoker Awards Edition

This is part of my ongoing series on using Awards Lists as a RA tool. Click here for all posts in the series in reverse chronological order. Click here for the first post which outlines the details how to use awards lists as a RA tool.

I am sorry to be a broken record, but Awards Announcement are THE BEST RA tool. You can use these to create displays [virtual on in library], for collection development, as a suggestion resource, and for backlist suggestions.

Thankfully the Bram Stoker Awards has an easy to use database of all of the past winners and nominees here.

Now to the official press release of the winners.

2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Winners
Los Angeles, April 18, 2020
The Horror Writers Association (HWA), the premier organization of writers and publishers of horror and dark fantasy, announces this year’s Bram Stoker Awards® winners after a ceremony held via Live Stream. “This year’s winners reflect a great showing of impressive works from a wide range of competitive finalists,” said John Palisano, HWA President. “This year’s winners truly represent a broad spectrum of titles in the horror and dark fantasy. HWA members and awards juries have again shown objectivity and dedication to the selection process for outstanding works of literature, cinema, non-fiction, and poetry.”


We proudly provide the list of talented winners along with the finalist nominees. 
Superior Achievement in a Novel
Winner: Goingback, Owl – Coyote Rage (Independent Legions Publishing)

Also nominated:
Malerman, Josh – Inspection (Del Rey)
Miskowski, S.P. – The Worst is Yet to Come (Trepidatio Publishing)
Murray, Lee – Into the Ashes (Severed Press)
Wendig, Chuck – Wanderers (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Winner: Read, Sarah – The Bone Weaver’s Orchard (Trepidatio Publishing)

Also nominated:
Amor, Gemma – Dear Laura (Independently Published)
Guignard, Eric J. – Doorways to the Deadeye (JournalStone)
Lane, Michelle Renee – Invisible Chains (Haverhill House Publishing)
Starling, Caitlin – The Luminous Dead (Harper Voyager)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
 Winner: Nzondi – Oware Mosaic (Omnium Gatherum)

Also nominated:
Bérubé, Amelinda – Here There Are Monsters (Sourcebooks Fire)
Dávila Cardinal, Ann – Five Midnights (Tor Teen)
Gardner, Liana – Speak No Evil (Vesuvian Books)
Marshall, Kate Alice – Rules for Vanishing (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Salomon, Peter Adam – Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds (PseudoPsalms Press)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Winner: Doran, Colleen & Gaiman, Neil – Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples 
(Dark Horse Books)

Also nominated:
Bunn, Cullen – Bone Parish Vol. 2 (BOOM! Studios)
Liu, Marjorie – Monstress Volume 4: The Chosen (Image Comics)
Manzetti, Alessandro – Calcutta Horror (Independent Legions Publishing)
Tanabe, Gou – H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness Volume 1 (Dark Horse Manga)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Winner: LaValle, Victor – Up from Slavery (Weird Tales Magazine #363) (Weird Tales Inc.)

Also nominated:
Manzetti, Alessandro – The Keeper of Chernobyl (Omnium Gatherum)
Taborska, Anna – The Cat Sitter (Shadowcats) (Black Shuck Books)
Tantlinger, Sara – To Be Devoured (Unnerving)
Warren, Kaaron – Into Bones Like Oil (Meerkat Shorts)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Winner: Kiste, Gwendolyn – “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” (Nightmare Magazine Nov. 2019, Issue 86)

Also nominated:
Chapman, Greg – “The Book of Last Words” (This Sublime Darkness and Other Dark Stories) (Things in the Well Publishing)
Landry, Jess – “Bury Me in Tar and Twine” (Tales of the Lost Volume 1: We All Lose Something!) (Things in the Well Publishing)
O’Quinn, Cindy – “Lydia” (The Twisted Book of Shadows) (Twisted Publishing)
Waggoner, Tim – “A Touch of Madness” (The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias) (LVP Publications)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Winner: Tremblay, Paul – Growing Things and Other Stories (William Morrow)

Also nominated:
Chiang, Ted – Exhalation: Stories (Knopf)
Jonez, Kate – Lady Bits (Trepidatio Publishing)
Langan, John – Sefira and Other Betrayals (Hippocampus Press)
Read, Sarah – Out of Water (Trepidatio Publishing)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Winner: Peele, Jordan – Us (Monkeypaw Productions, Perfect World Pictures, Dentsu, Fuji Television Network, Universal Pictures)

Also nominated:
Aster, Ari – Midsommar (B-Reel Films, Square Peg)
Duffer Brothers, The – Stranger Things (Season 3, Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt) (Netflix)
Eggers, Robert and Eggers, Max – The Lighthouse (A24, New Regency Pictures, RT Features)
Flanagan, Mike – Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros., Intrepid Pictures/Vertigo Entertainment)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
Winner: Datlow, Ellen – Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories (Gallery/Saga Press)

Also nominated:
Brozek, Jennifer – A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods (Pulse Publishing)
Golden, Christopher and Moore, James A. – The Twisted Book of Shadows (Twisted Publishing)
Guignard, Eric J. – Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror (Dark Moon Books)
Wilson, Robert S. – Nox Pareidolia (Nightscape Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Winner: Kröger, Lisa and Anderson, Melanie R. – Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction (Quirk Books)

Also nominated:
Beal, Eleanor and Greenaway, Jonathan – Horror and Religion: New Literary Approaches to Theology, Race, and Sexuality (University of Wales Press)
Earle, Harriet E.H. – Gender, Sexuality, and Queerness in American Horror Story: Critical Essays (McFarland)
Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra – Masks in Horror Cinema: Eyes Without Faces (University of Wales Press)
Kachuba, John B. – Shapeshifters: A History (Reaktion Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction
Winner: Kiste, Gwendolyn – “Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” 
(Vastarien: A Literary Journal Vol. 2, Issue 1)

Also nominated:
Liaguno, Vince A. – “Slasher Films Made Me Gay: The Queer Appeal and Subtext of the Genre” (LGBTQ+ Horror Month: 9/1/2019, Ginger Nuts of Horror)
Renner, Karen J. – “The Evil Aging Women of American Horror Story” (Elder Horror: Essays on Film’s Frightening Images of Aging) (McFarland) 
Robinson, Kelly – “Film’s First Lycanthrope: 1913’s The Werewolf” (Scary Monsters Magazine #114)
Weich, Valerie E. – “Lord Byron’s Whipping Boy: Dr. John William Polidori and the 200th Anniversary of The Vampyre” (Famous Monsters of Filmland, Issue #291)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Winner: Addison, Linda D. and Manzetti, Alessandro – The Place of Broken Things 
(Crystal Lake Publishing)

Also nominated:
Cade, Octavia – Mary Shelley Makes a Monster (Aqueduct Press)
Lynch, Donna – Choking Back the Devil (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Scalise, Michelle – Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning (LVP Publications)
Simon, Marge and Dietrich, Bryan D. – The Demeter Diaries (Independent Legions Publishing)
Wytovich, Stephanie M. – The Apocalyptic Mannequin (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Named in honor of the author of the seminal horror novel Dracula, the Bram Stoker Awards® are presented annually for superior writing in eleven categories including traditional fiction of various lengths, poetry, screenplays and non-fiction. Previous winners include Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, Joyce Carol Oates and Neil Gaiman. 
Active and Lifetime members of the organization are eligible to vote for the winners in all categories. For more on the Horror Writers Association, please visit www.horror.org.